Majlis: Lamu hotel with a wide private art collection

Friday May 06 2022
Majlis Resort.

Majlis Resort poolside pavilion. PHOTO | KARI MUTU


The Majlis Resort on Lamu Island has stylish rooms set in extensive grounds that make the place feel uncrowded. What fascinated me most was the large collection of art and artefacts.

Majlis was the Lamu home of Italian Nanni Moccia. In 2008, the property was expanded with two more villas to accommodate visitors. It was opened as a hotel in 2009.

Majlis is the Arabic term for a living room for hosting guests. The 39 spacious rooms with wood beamed ceilings are housed in three double-storey villas all facing the beach front.

The Majlis architecture fuses elements of coastal, Middle-Eastern and Indian designs, including arched windows, wall niches, engraved plasterwork and carved Lamu doors.

Moccia’s sons Stefano and Federico, now the hotel’s directors, are avid collectors of art.

“They love antiques and contemporary art. The Majlis is a way of keeping the art and showcasing it,” said general manager Alejandre Wolf.

Beaded Yoruba seats and Patrick Kinuthia's art at Majlis Resort.

Beaded Yoruba seats and Patrick Kinuthia's art at Majlis Resort. PHOTO | KARI MUTU

The "most Instagrammable spot" is the Arabic style poolside pavilion next to some old acacia trees. The exterior stone walls are engraved with carved window shutters and tall archways leading into a cool seating area. It was designed by Malindi-based Italian artist Armando Tanzini who is known for using recycled materials.

Other works by Tanzini include a large gold-leaf sculpture of an elephant head.

I came across works by contemporary Kenyan artists such as Patrick Kinuthia, Jimnah Kimani and Kivuthi Mbuno.

On the veranda of the villa I stayed at is a life-size stone lion.

Nigerian crocodile panels made of beads and cowrie shells hang on the walls.

In the sitting area are West African hand-beaded armchairs and decorative motifs of animals, birds and plants.

The newer pieces of furniture are made in-house by local artisans. They include customised, Swahili inspired four-poster beds, tables, chairs and sofas.

“It is a way to keep things unique and consistent from villa to villa,” Wolf said.