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We bring you to the jetty of the sleepy fishing village of Shella on the island of Lamu in an old slow wooden boat. Tucked away in the back of the village, against the sand dunes, you reach the entrance gates to Fatuma's Tower and passing through them enter a secluded, peaceful world. The deep green foliage of flowering trees speckles shade over the raked sandy pathways and there are many tropical birds whose songs you will hear at dawn. A light sea breeze carries in a salty scent off the Indian Ocean as the sounds of the village fade away.
The Tower is named after Fatuma Abu Bakar, a Swahili noblewoman who lived in this sanctuary attended by five female slaves until the end of the 19th century. After her death and the abolition of slavery the house fell into ruins and the magnificent tamarind tree growing in the courtyard established itself in the ruins of the fallen masonry.
Carefully restored and modified in 1998 the historic Tower has five double bedrooms and a large yoga hall. Included behind the same compound wall is the Sand Castle with its ground floor family apartment of three double rooms.
In the surrounding gardens, the Garden Cottage has two double rooms both with bathrooms. The ten double rooms are all furnished with local antiques and fabrics in a simple yet elegant style to recreate the atmosphere of a fine Swahili house.
No two rooms are the same and the cool, airy spaces retain an informal feel while several shaded balconies provide comfortable areas for avoiding too much sun and generally enjoying the peace and fresh air.
The peaceful gardens have been recently enlivened by the refreshing sound of a fountain splashing over coral rocks into a small plunge pool. All rooms have solar powered hot water, fans and mosquito nets.
Situated on the fringes of the Indian Ocean, the Lamu Archipelago is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where life still retains the pace of traditional Swahili culture. Life here revolves around the sea. Lamu was an established Arab trading port as long ago as the 10th century and fishing, trading and seafaring remains its principal activity to this day. Arabic architecture and rich inlaid door carvings hint at an affluent past and the waterfront streets of Lamu and Shella ring with the five daily calls to prayer.
Lamu island is an area of stunning natural beauty with warm ocean waters and pristine beaches of golden sand. At dusk walking in the narrow alleys of Shella you will see Swahili women dressed in traditional black buibuis. Male residents sit on their doorsteps and greet you while donkies, the traffic of Lamu, shove past silently plodding home. The wooden counters of small shops, lit with gas lamps, are colored with local garden produce. Groups of men gather around awaiting the last call to prayer from the mosque.
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During your stay you'll enjoy an abundance of sweet tropical fruits, farm-fresh produce and home-cooked Italian, seafood and vegetarian dishes served in our spacious antique gardens. Our cooks are at your disposal for the duration of your stay, which makes food both affordable and delicious!
For all meals, great care is taken by our cooks to purchase the freshest local ingredients and produce their excellent combinations of Swahili and Italian cocina. Everything is fresh from the ocean, fish and seafood are their specialty.
You can take your meals in the shady courtyard dining area or on your terrace. At night lanterns are placed among the greenery surrounding the sandy garden and dinner is taken under the stars.
You have some choices to consider. This unspoiled, free of cars, and culturally fascinating island offers a wide variety of activities, from fishing, snorkeling and sunset trips in the wooden dhows for which the coast is renowned, to windsurfing, scattered scuba diving and visits to the ancient town of Lamu, its museums and the ruins on neighboring islands.
Also the Turtle Trust at Peponi Hotel runs visits to turtle nest hatchings along the oceanfront. Just minutes away from the village of Shella the eight mile white sand beach backed by unspoiled sand dunes stuns everyone with its expanse of pristine glory and long may it remain so.
We have a therapy room in the gardens for massage and other treatments. Two sisters who live in the village give excellent body massages, pedicures, manicures and are trained in reflexology and other therapies. Appointments can also be arranged with several visiting therapists.
"I enjoyed my stay with Fatuma's Tower in Lamu Island very much. All of them, Gilles and his staff (in particular Joseph, Offman, and the chef, in their different roles), made their best to make my stay unique....the one I was just looking for. I'm already dreaming to go back there!"
BookYogaRetreats.com website, edited
"Me and my sister had a wonderful week at Fatuma’s Towers. We would highly recommend it to anyone that wants to stay in simple but very lovely accommodation in the little village of Shela. We spent the morning on the beach and swimming, and enjoyed an hour of yoga every day. We ate fresh seafood and explored the area. The staff are absolutely fantastic, so kind and caring. You can do more yoga at a different place if you want to do more than one hour a day as well."
Fatuma's Tower, edited
"If you are looking for a homely, quiet time in a rustic peaceful environment this is the place for you. Lovely rooms, amazing food, friendly and helpful staff. They offer daily yoga lessons and discreetly placed meditation zones."
Trip Advisor, edited
"On a recent trip around Kenya, staying at Fatuma's Tower was definitely one of the highlights. Set in a quiet corner of the beautiful Shela village on Lamu island, Fatuma's Tower is an idyllic Swahili retreat. For those seeking inner peace, a place to practise and develop their yoga skills or just something different, Fatuma's Tower is just perfect.Gilles and his team will make you feel at home in no time. The food is first-class, the rooms are spacious and beautifully furnished, the grounds are lush and well maintained and the staff professional as well incredibly warm and friendly - we found absolutely nothing to fault in this place. The only problem we had with Fauma's Tower was leaving - but with absolute determination to return. As for security in Lamu - it felt as peaceful and friendly as ever!"
July 2015, edited
"We are in the middle of a one-week holiday on the island of Lamu, site of the oldest city in Kenya. The two towns on the island Lamu Town and Shela, the location of Fatumas Tower, are medieval Arabian, consisting of tiny twisting alleys. Transportation is by foot or donkey. The entire archipelago is Swahili mixing Arabian, Kenyan, and Indian into a single ancient culture.We highly recommend Fatumas Tower for anyone staying on Lamu Island seeking beauty, comfort, privacy, tranquility, and excellent food at a moderate cost."
June 25, edited
"This was our third visit to Fatuma's Tower and we will definitely be back again! We stayed in the Acacia Suite this time and it is our favourite room so far, especially with the terrace and hammock bed. We spent 6 nights, relaxing, eating the amazing meals of fresh seafood prepared by Fatuma's own cook and spending time on the beach. And yes, there is free wifi for those who cannot completely detach from the outside world when in Lamu. The gardens are beautiful and the staff are wonderful - they could not have been more helpful and we were completely spoilt! There are no security concerns or issues anywhere close to Fatuma's Tower - Shella is a very peaceful, laid back place. The only danger you might be in is of overeating the amazing food! "
February 2015, edited
"Approx 5-7 min walk from beach through Shela residences. Very peaceful property surrounded by trees with views of Shela rooftops. Can enjoy your own space and/or get to know other guests. Owner and guide are very chill/friendly, offered suggestions for activities but not pushy. Chef makes great meals--you can give your preferences or leave it up to him. Bfast included, lunch/dinner/beer/wine at extra cost. Take extra cash for tips for guide, chef, cleaner, and flower girls (they leave the female guests jasmine flowers for 100Kes each). Suggestions: walk to Lamu town (lunch at Whispers Cafe or Lamu House Hotel); drinks/meal at Peponi Hotel; sunset sail or dow trip."
September 3, edited
"We spent only two nights in this fantastic place, but we are planning to go back soon. Very nice and relaxing atmosphere. Very comfortable rooms and great food. Fiammetta and Gillis thank you for inventing this magical place!"
September 1, edited
"My husband and I stayed in Lamu in late November 2011, just after the kidnappings. As you can imagine, there was tension and fear in the air, and consequently very few tourists in Lamu. Despite this, our stay at Fatumas Tower was most definitely the highlight of our trip to Kenya."
"Gillies assistant warmly greeted us at the airport and guided us to Fatumas Tower. From the moment we walked through the doorway and onto the grounds, we felt like we stepped into a peaceful oasis. The grounds are surrounded by beautifully cared for gardens, with flowers diffusing tropical scents all around. The guest house itself is the restored home of a Swahili noblewoman. The place is oozing with character defined by Swahili doors, architecture, and dcor."
"We stayed in the rooftop suite. The room was inviting, comfortable, and clean. We spent a lot of time on our connected balcony taking naps, reading, and enjoying the sun. By far one of the best aspects of Fatumas Tower is its staff. They were extremely friendly and helpful, providing us with directions, advice about activities and places to visit, and anything else we needed. The food at Fatumas Tower was also amazing. We had traditional Swahili fish and seafood dishes every day; we even got to meet with the fisherman and request what fish we wanted to eat! It was most definitely some of the best food weve ever had."
"One of the most unique aspects of Fatumas Tower, which everyone who goes there should take advantage of, is the yoga classes. My husband and I took a one hour class every day. Gillies is a great teacher, as he has been practising yoga for over twenty years. The classes make you feel both relaxed and invigorated. We enjoyed the classes so much that we have continued practising yoga at home."
"While at Fatumas Tower, we felt safe, comfortable, and welcomed. As the British travel advisor has been lifted with respect to Lamu, it should be safer now and ready for tourist to visit Lamu in the numbers the island is accustomed to. When you go to Fatumas Tower you will experience tranquility and youll feel like youre in another world. My husband and I would go back in a heartbeat."
May 4, edited