Westlands continues its revival. After a period at the top of Nairobi nightlife during the evenings, and it’s true business district during the day, the area began to slide downwards. Brands chose what seemed to be more luxurious options in Upper Hill, Kilimani and Lavington, leaving a shortage of heavy name players in what many had considered the heart of the city.
It was until the past few years that things began to look up once again for Westlands – mostly heralded by the arrival of big name brand hotels which as an effect, brought back the tourists and kicked off the area’s revival.
Movenpick Hotel and Residences has been one of the names instrumental in helping to redefine the city’s skyline. Encompassing a breathtakingly huge space along Mkungu Close in Westlands, it is by far one of Nairobi’s more superior accommodation options for tourists and business travellers alike.
A swimming pool, a selection of room accommodation for the short stay or long stay customer, a fitness center, and a seeming multitude of good options for anyone with an appetite!
From the broad spectrum base restaurant dubbed Baluba – to the five star revolving restaurant dubbed “The View” that offers you a fully immersive 360 degree rotational journey around Nairobi, with the promise of a deluxe meal to boot!
While dinner at The View can be considered a special occasion, there is no reason as to why it can’t be enjoyed at a less expensive price during the day. Movenpick has just launched a Business Lunch package from Tuesday to Friday, that includes 2-course and 3-course meals for lunch at 2,200 per person and 2,600 respectively from 12.30pm – 3.30 pm!
And then we have La Mesa – one of my favourite destinations in Nairobi for a quick after work drink if I’m in the area, coupled with devilishly great tapas in front of a big screen, pool tables and lounges full of friendship and laughter.
Sports bars can be elegant. And La Mesa does elegance and character well. Fantastic staff with a genuine understanding of the tapas on offer coupled with a helpful presence means everything to a traveller, or to someone who merely wants to enjoy the restaurant’s custom – and can make or break an establishment. Hotel staff would introduce themselves, make suggestions on food and drinks choices if you seemed stuck, and allow you the space to enjoy yourself without pushiness.
My favourite hot plates? The chicken tostada with toasted peppers and the spicy and succulent glazed chicken wings with coriander sauce. There is a lot on the menu, but it seemed to agree with my guest also! Usually, when you have a vast menu, something inevitably suffers. However because tapas refers to small bitings, the chef was able to handle the orders well.
Vegetarians are catered for, and the cost for hot plates will set you back generally between 600 to 1000 shillings. As is the way with tapas, it’s always better when you share – a group offers you a great opportunity to try from different plates and get a better sense of the food offered.
Cocktails at La Mesa don’t come cheap, however they are made with a lot of love from the restaurant’s resident mixologist. The Dusty Ginger was far and away my favourite of the few that I tried and came very well recommended by staff (although at a hefty 1300 shillings). The Tequila Old Fashioned was also quite nice and refreshing for those who don’t appreciate too much sweetness. The Old Fashioned was made with Tequila, syrup, bitters and orange zest and was quite memorable.
I got the sense that La Mesa is a place you could go to for half a year religiously, and leave with a different, albeit really good impression each time.
As long as it stays a stickler for service and delivers on flavour, it won’t need to worry too much about Westland’s rising competition.
Opening hours at La Mesa
Monday to Thursday: 4.00 pm – 11.00 pm
Friday: 4.00 pm – 1.00 am
Saturday: 2.00 pm – 1.00 am
Sunday: 2.00 pm – 11.00 pm
Main image: Movenpick