Reviews summary

( 679 reviews)

15 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog

We travelled to Severin Sea Lodge last year and will be going again this year.

Reviewed Thu 13th of May 2010

"We travelled to Severin Sea Lodge last year and will be going again this year. We enjoyed our experience immensely and in complete contrast to the review from Jun 2006. We did not find any mould or moss growing on or in the bungalows and found when we arrived that we had been upgraded to a bungalow with a sea view free of charge even though we had only paid for a standard room. The room had the facilities listed and was cleaned daily. It was not a Western style Ritz but anyone going to Africa expecting to find that standard of plush comfort will be disappointed. It is not faesible.

The staff were extremely helpful and got to know us personally. Our sun loungers were always positioned and reserved for us by the staff before we had even gone to breakfast as they knew exactly what spot we liked.

The level of All Inclusive features weas exceptional. Many branded drinks were included. We also experienced the Masai show also and they did produce products for purchase at the end. Perhaps what the other guest could do with remembering is that they earn very little. This is their only source of income and I think it could be appreciated that they will want to try as hard as possible to sell their crafts in order to provide food for their families. Food is no longer abundant as they are not allowed to hunt as they would have done just a couple of decades ago. All wildlife is protected (rightly so) and if we, as tourists travel to see the wildlife that was their staple, thereby displacing their sustenance I do not think it surprising that they seek to replace it with money from that industry. Anyone who can afford to travel to Kenya is unlikely to have difficulty putting food on their plates so some degree of appreciation for those who do I don't feel is too much to consider. They are in no way threatening, I never once felt unsafe, and the same applies to the beach sellers.

We never had to wait at the hotel for service - in fact quite the opposite. We regularly found that our drinks were replaced when unfinished if the staff felt that they had become warm in the sun.

Our safari was booked through the beach sellars (North Coast Hunters) and we had an amazing experience. We will be going for a longer one this year. Water was provided and we arrived at the lodge for lunch after a fantastic game drive en route.

Julius was also our rep and I found him to be more than helpful. I wanted to spend time with the KSPCA in Mombasa and he organised this for me, including a taxi who took me there on two days and waited for me for the entire time of my visit. This cost just £8 to wait all day. Julius was helpful in this regard and was not dismissive in the least, contrary to the other reviewer's reports, despite it not being a scheduled excursion that would benefit First Choice or himself.

Overall a fantastic holiday with excellent service from the hotel staff and the rep. I loved it."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Wed 12th of May 2010

I loved it here. The people were lovely...

Reviewed Fri 27th of June 2008

"I loved it here.

The people were lovely and the food was brilliant.

So much to do and see.

Went on the Tsavo Safari booked with First Choice and it was amazing. Would advise to go here.

The hotel was superb. I personally couldn't fault it. It is by far the best place to stay in that area.

We didn't get hounded that much but you get it anywhere you go. Besides we are like millionaires over there.

They have nothing. The staff get paid £50.00 a month i believe.

Cigarettes are £1.00 for 20 emabassy.

Come on guys what do you want. Its Africa.

I think you should go and make your own mind up.

All inclusive is brilliant. The drinks are lovely and the food is all made fresh to order.

10 out of 10"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Fri 27th of June 2008

Having read some of the other views on t...

Reviewed Wed 31st of October 2007

"Having read some of the other views on the hotel, what people seem to forget is that it is situated in Africa, which is one of the poorest countries in the world. What were they expecting?

I have just arrived back from a two week stay at the Severin and it has to be one of the nicest places I have been to. The staff were so helpful and always remembered your name, they were interested in our culture and helped us with their lingo!

The food was also amazing and you always felt that anything you asked would be no trouble.

The only dark side would be the beach boys, who in fairness can be a pain, but at the end of the's their living, they were still very friendly.

My other half is 7 months pregnant and she felt very safe and happy in the environment which, with regards to cleanliness, there were no problems. Moussa who cleaned our room was great and always went out of his way to help us.

It annoys me that people complain about this place. Yes, there are a few things that need improving but hey this is Africa.

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Wed 31st of October 2007

Not up to 4 star standard. Had to upgrad...

Reviewed Sat 13th of January 2007

"Not up to 4 star standard. Had to upgrade room after 2 nights, air conditioning did not work properly.

We were only upgraded after seeing the rep, who was very good. Had to pay for upgrade but in our opinion, this room was still not up to 4 star standard although a lot better than the first one.

Food was very good though and the staff were very friendly. Would go to Kenya again but not to this hotel and not with First Choice."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sat 13th of January 2007

Not 4 star!!!

Reviewed Tue 30th of October 2012

"We stayed at the Severin Sea Lodge June/July 06. This hotel is supposed to be 4 star but we honestly found it to be 3 star, even less. Building works woke us up at 7.30 – 8am weekdays. The rooms were very basic, twin beds pushed together with a piece of foam down the middle, air con that didn't work and was very noisy to boot, mould in the shower and everything smelt musty and damp. Service in the second week was very slow; an hour wait for 2 coffees and a bottle of water! The FC rep was not professional and didn't do anything about any issues raised with him. The Safari Bar had “decorative” pools of water which were havens to biting insects, so we got bitten every time we sat in the Bar. The Sports Bar was closed when there wasn't a Word Cup match on and the Pool Grill was never opened. The hotel is very disappointing considering you spend so much money on the holiday. This hotel certainly needs a lot of TLC and money before it can claim to be 4 star.

We went on a boat trip (3.5 hours journey) and was offered sea sickness pills to start with, then we found that both dhows didn’t have enough lifejackets for everyone - we felt this to be unsafe and didn't board. We returned to the hotel (another 3.5 hours journey with no water, etc) on what must have been the oldest PSV in Kenya – we felt every bump and pothole! We complained to the manager but felt he was powerless to help.

Safari was the best and we would go back in a heartbeat. We went to Tsavo East and West and stayed at Voi Safari Lodge (ok but a bit bland) and Kilaguni Lodge in the West (wow!! Five star plus!!!). We saw everything but Leopard and Rhino. Would recommend you take water and food - it's a long trip from the hotel to the lodge. Buy safari hats at the supermarket rather than at the gate as it's half the price!

The First Choice rep was not professional and every time we complained, he argued and twisted it so that it was our fault. No-one we spoke to liked him.

Kenyans were lovely, some of the staff at the hotel made up for the rest of it. Thanks to Festus, Philip in the bar and the lovely Angela our waitress. We'd go back to Kenya, but definitely not this hotel."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Thu 24th of August 2006


Reviewed Tue 30th of October 2012

"Loved our stay at this hotel, the staff, the rooms and the surroundings were excellent, the food was great and there was a good selection although in week 2 it can become a bit repetitive so we went to the imani dhow which was great, the food was first class and not expensive at all (compared to how much you would pay back home) we went on a 4 day safari which I booked online before we left (secrets of africa) which was brilliant, our driver Charles was 1st class, the lodges were excellent even the tented accomodation in Tsavo East (we were a bit concerned about that) definately an experience not to be missed would recommend to anyone looking for a top class safari, on returning to the hotel we spent most of the time round the pool (word of warning give the pool attandants a tip and they will save your beds so you don't have to get up early) I always thought it was only the Germans who raced for the sunbeds (sorry folks English are just as bad or worse!) The monkeys came to the pool each day and although its dangerous to feed them its really hard when yo see the antics they get upto, I had cake and coffee one afternoon, put the cake next to me on the lounger and within 2 seconds a monkey was sitting on my lounger eating the cake (lol). We did get bitten by mosi's but it was not a major problem, one thing I would definately recommend is the trip we went on called the champagne dhow, (only go if you dont mind a good drink, superb food, great entainment and a laugh with the crew) we took our 2 children and although it is aimed at adults they had a fantastic time, Down on the beach there are beach boys all they are trying to do is earn a living, we told them that before we went home we would come down and buy some souveniors off them they accepted this and did'nt really bother us again and when we did go down on the last day they were shocked to see us (obviously some people don't keep to there end of a bargain), give them any clothes that you dont really want to take home or shoes, shampoo's and soaps etc. (tips work wonders and remember 100ksh is about 87p)

All I'l say is this is a great, brilliant, fantastic 1st class"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Wed 23rd of August 2006

Isolated location, but Ok for a week

Reviewed Tue 4th of December 2012

"We stayed here for a week in Feb and found that the people were generally friendly, although the beach bar staff weren't at all friendly. Bed was very uncomfortable, and the air con switched itself off when you left your room which meant you came back to a hot stuffy room at the end of the day. No TV whcih was fine for us, but room was basic and some lights didn't work and on 2 days our room didn;t get cleaned at all.

Beach was small and at low tide ahd seaweed on it. When the tide came in the waves could be rough and watch out for those jelly fish - I got stung every time I went in! You can go snorkelling, but you need to take a boat trip for that - which costs extra. Beach touts were eeverywhere but didn't bother you anymore than any other resort we've been too - although the prostitutes did try and make a pass at a few tourists during the day. we didn't fel safe at night walking about and everything was pretty much shut by midnight so evenings were very quiet.

Breakfast buffest Ok, nothing special, evening meal was not good. Portions very small, poor choice and the sea food buffet once a week meant you had to eat by the pool (no breezes there so very hot) and the food had been so overcooked I couldn't eat it, and I am not a fussy eater at all.

We are more used to staying somewhere where this is more to do than this place, you can't walk anywhere safely and apart from the safari we had booked ourselves before we left UK we didn't leave the complex.

It isn't all bad though, the gardens although small had just enough loungers for everyone and the monkeys came down at 4pm each day to raid the rubbish bins which made for amusing watching. The lovely breeze meant you didn't get too hot - so long as you stayed by the sea, and there seemed to be mostly people from Germany rather then too many from UK. Unfortunately you still had the leg tattooed, england shirt wearing chav brigade, but we successfully avoided them all week without too much of a problem.

Would we go back? Not to severin, but would try another part of Africa and would def recommend pre-booking your own PRIVAte safari before you leave the UK. we had our own guide and air conditioned 4x4 and having seen the crowded buses it didn;t make for a fun trip.

If you want a cheap beach holiday and want to feel you've gone somewhere different then go here - remember take sports socks - all beach touts wanted these to swap their goods for socks!We took kids toys and pencils with us and arranged with a guide to go and visit a local church, but he never turned up and we ended up bringing them back home again.

If you want to buy from the beach touts, as a rough guide you can get about 60% off the asking price and don't be fobbed off with paying anything more."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sun 13th of August 2006

Hakuna Matata (No problem!!)

Reviewed Fri 26th of October 2012

"Firstly I feel I need to say that last year we travelled to the Maldives and Sri Lanka, a holiday that we thought would be hard to beat, however Kenya surpassed our expectations and we certainly hope to return again one day.

Secondly – disclaimer – this review is a long one but we hope a fair one, tho of course all reviews are subjective & this is only our experience.

Where to start!
Ok. The beginning I guess.
Firstly the First Choice flight was fantastic. We upgraded to premium service (both having long legs!), so where whizzed thru check in whilst our luggage was given priority (last in, first off) labels. On the way out we were in row 1. Lots of space, but be warned, you are right by the galley area and the staff do tend to spend quite a bit of the night catching up on gossip! No problem really, unless you are like me, nosey! so end up listening rather than sleeping!! On the way back we were in row 3 and once again the 36 inch leg room does prove that “inches matter”. In flight food was good, drinks plentiful & free! The flights went extremely quickly with films and games galore and felt more like 3 hours than 9.

All was very organised at Mombassa and our coach trip to Severin Sea Lodge went smoothly (about 45 minutes tho maybe “smoothly”is slightly misleading given the state of the roads! Sports bra advised!!)

Check in at the hotel was wonderful. A cold drink and a hot eucalyptus flannel were very welcome.

First impressions
Severin is set in beautiful grounds with many palm trees and natural vegetation. There are two pools, one with a small water slide, where most families congregate and another that is slightly quieter (not that the other one is noisy). Both pools are cool, deep and very clean. There is a feeling of “space” at Severin. There are plenty of places to sit, both inside and out and the staff (more about them later) are abundant. There are a few shops, one selling wood carvings, a jeweller, one selling snacks, postcards and magazines and another selling gifts and clothes. Everything is accessible and nothing is too much trouble.

We were allocated room number 418 in a rondel (each rondel is a circular thatched unit on 2 levels, split into 4) which we were really pleased about. The room was clean, tidy and very adequate. Our only criticism was that the bed felt that it had been stuffed with a dozen dead zebras and was probably the hardest bed we had ever slept on. It was also pretty creaky, so I did feel sorry for our neighbours! But it was an attractive four poster with a very good mosquito net which is what really mattered. We had a lovely view of one of the pools (tho not too close that there was any noise disturbance) and the sea beyond that, which was lovely. We also had a fridge which I wasn’t expecting, although other visitors we spoke to didn’t have one, so not sure whether they are standard or whether we were being slightly spoiled. The bathroom was kept exceptionally clean and we did not have any problems with smelly towels etc. Whenever we wanted our towels changed we left them in the wicker bin and they were duly changed for fresh ones. The slight musty smell that was sometimes prevalent in the bathroom was we felt, from damp shower curtains, but it really did not bother us at all. Air conditioning was very effective, fully controllable & could be left on continuously.

What a fantastic all inclusive deal! Meals included are breakfast, late risers breakfast, lunch, 4 o’clock tea, dinner. Snacks and alternative meals are also available in two other restaurants. The choices at breakfast were not for the faint hearted. Fruit, cereal, toast, jams, freshly made pancakes and omelettes. A chef cooked bacon and eggs in various ways while you waited, and there were also waffles, hot croissants and freshly made bread rolls.

Lunch could be taken in the main dining room, which was buffet style, or the Flame Tree Restaurant which does the most amazing pizzas, salads, samosa’s and other dishes such as fish and chips, pasta or toasted sandwiches. These could also be ordered and eaten out by the pool area. This restaurant was our choice for lunch. Everything was so delicious. (The freshly baked rolls were something else). The service is not fast, but it’s a lovely open air area surrounded by palms and greenery, so you can while away an hour whilst sipping ice cold Tusker beer. We loved it!
Everything, even pizza bases, was freshly made & cooked.

Afternoon tea, was wonderful, and the monkeys always made it entertaining, as they jumped down from the trees and ran around to see what they could steal.

Evening meal could be taken in either the main dining room (inclusive) or one of the other restaurants.(Not) We tended to take the first option, which was a five course waiter service meal (as well as a small buffet). There were two choices every night, mainly a meat dish or a fish dish. The helpings were quite small, but believe me, by the time unlimited coffee was served we could hardly move. The food was hot and well cooked. We were told that Severin has its own farm, and all produce is organic. It certainly tasted that way!

We also ate two a la carte meals. One Japanese, where the food is cooked in front of you and again is delicious. (Approx £10.00 for the two of us) and we also went to the Imani Dhow on our last night, where we had 3 courses each including lobster thermidore and crab and unbelievably our bill was £30.00. (There is a 20% discount if you are on AI and both times we decided to stick to spirits rather than wine).

Served on an AI basis from 10.00 am to mid-night. All the spirits are the “real thing” and not cheap brands. Water is free. There is a great selection of cocktails and the fresh fruit juices are out of this world. We would have a pint of juice around 11 each morning, which was made in front of us and overflowing with mango, pineapple and passion fruit. And tea and coffee were available whenever we wanted one. Everything that is part of the AI is marked with an asterisk on the menus and drinks lists. Watching Peter or Komu at the Swing bar manufacture fresh fruit double shot cocktails with tons of ice at the end of a hot day, swinging gently in the cool India Ocean breeze, has got to be bliss!

Every evening there is volleyball at the sister hotel next door. Great fun and a very international event. The animation team put on lots of things every day, but no one is pressurised into taking part and it all goes on in a very discreet way so as not to disturb those who are not taking part. Football matches on the beach were great entertainment, and although I saw “crotchet” on the board one day, I am hoping that it was meant to read “croquet” tho I did go around looking for lots of people sitting knitting in the sunshine.

Because of the constant breeze/wind, the wind surfing is fantastic and is free if you have experience. (Ask for a 1hr ticket at the reception accounts window, open 24 hrs!) There was also some pretty impressive kite-surfing going on whilst we were there – tho the kit belonged to the participants, who were obviously pretty expert at this wonderful sport.

We went on a “sea safari” with the beach-boys which was really worth doing. This entailed waiting until low tide and walking out to see all the sea life. The boys are so knowledgeable and really happy to share their knowledge. We saw fantastic star fish, sea cucumbers, sea spiders and lots more. However we did wear aqua shoes as the number of urchins around at low tide is pretty amazing. Fine to hold and look at, but not so great if you step on one. We gave each of the two boys that accompanied us about 200 shillings each which they seemed really happy with.

We also went out on a dhow with the beach boys. They took us out for about an hour and a half and it was lovely to be sailing around. At that point there wasn’t a great deal to be seen, but we enjoyed it. We bartered on the price, tho I can’t remember how much we ended paying, but it really wasn’t very much.

We booked a snorkelling trip with the hotel and it is well worth doing. We went out in a glass bottom boat with two local guys who really knew their stuff. Our trip lasted about two hours and we had two opportunities to snorkel as well as a walk over the old reef to see all the sea life. The snorkelling was fantastic and the reef is full of coral and colour. We saw moray eels, sea-snakes and many, many fish as well as an octopus. I felt that the guide we were with was excellent, especially as one of our friends was a first time snorkeller. She was really looked after and encouraged to enjoy her first experience. This trip cost 1800 shillings each and was payable directly to the water-sports centre. They will also provide flippers and snorkels if you don’t have your own.

Our safari at Governors we booked independently before we arrived in Kenya. We booked via Mics Safaris who we found to be professional, courteous and excellent. (Separate review to be found under Governors camp).

We did go on a Dolphin Dhow which we also booked prior to our arrival in Kenya, and although fun (it was very rough and very wet at times) I felt that this was really a boat trip with a chance of seeing dolphins rather than swimming with wild dolphins. We did see the fin of one dolphin but we didn’t feel that the crew looked very hard, and after a 3 hour coach trip over rough terrain to get there, we did feel slightly let down. Lunch was good and the snorkelling ok, but it was a tiring day with not a lot of reward, but I guess it’s the luck of the drawer. After the abundance of dolphins in the Maldives this was slightly disappointing.

Every night there was some kind of formal entertainment put on. There were acrobats, snakes, singers, dancers and a “disco”. The acrobats and snakes were fantastic and well worth watching.

Our favourite haunt was the swing bar by the beach, both day and night. Peter and Komu are both amazing guys. They work very hard to make sure that everyone has a fantastic time. They make fresh juices, cocktails and serve the coldest Tusker Beer. Always with a smile, always with hospitality.

The beach (boys)
After the beach paradise that is the Maldives, Bamburi is a little different. The beach-sellers are on the beach from dawn to dusk. We didn’t feel at all intimidated and in fact had quite a lot of fun with them. I don’t think that this is really a “beach holiday” cos the beach is quite “ hectic”and not really a relaxing place to be. But don’t be put off. Talk to them, have a laugh with them, barter and buy a little from them – and then when you have bought what you want, be firm with them. We bought some carvings and some key-rings, compromising on prices that suited them and us. Once we made it clear that we had bought all we wanted, we then would chat to them and in the main be left alone. No one tends to sunbathe on the beach, tho you do feel the most popular person alive if you do go for a stroll and often end up with quite a few “friends” tagging along.
Take some white ankle socks with stripes, biros, pencils etc. to bargain with or give away, & if you want to be the most popular on the beach, a football shirt or 2!!
The sea is warm, a little sea-weedy, but lovely to swim in. At high tide it comes up to the rocks by the swing bar and at low tide it goes out as far as the eye can see.

Weather (mid July)
A lovely cooling breeze that was often quite fresh in the evenings. The temps were about 75 -85 degrees, tho the wind made if feel a bit cooler, so you need to be careful. The second week it did rain quite a lot, and boy did it rain. Some days it was pretty constant, others it was over and done quite quickly. There was always quite a lot of cloud, but we came back with tans. The joy of the breeze was that neither of us came home with one bite, tho others did seem to have some problems. I think it was because we were rarely inside in the evenings, choosing to go to the swing bar by the beach where not even the hardiest mossie would be able to land on anything. We also used mossie coils on our balcony, sprayed our net with 100% deet, used mosquito-ex every night and didn’t use perfumed products at all. Over zealous?? Nope, just hate being mossie-meat and usually get badly bitten even in the UK. I ended up giving most of my creams to others who had unfortunately been badly bitten.

The staff
The staff at Severin are amazing. If only service was half as good in the UK. Nothing is too much trouble. In the mornings our sun loungers were arranged for us, everyone calls out “Jambo”, everyone smiles, the waiters and the waitresses are courteous and always enquire about your day or your night. People are well educated and always have the time to chat. We made friends and shared stories of our different life styles and cultures. And not once did we feel that this was being done purely in order to extract tips! These people are genuine, kind and hospitable and made our stay a special and humbling experience. As always you get back what you give. We were interested in the culture, language & people and had that interest repaid many times over.

Laundry service
If, like me, you make the mistake of wearing white trousers in the Masai Mara during a torrential thunderstorm, don’t despair. The laundry service at Severin is fab. Trousers back in less than 24 hours at a cost of under £2.00.

We didn’t really see many at all, although people were getting bitten. We took a lot of trouble to avoid bites as I often get bitten to pieces in my garden in the UK.

What we did:-
Burnt a mossie coil on our balcony every night
Kept our air con on pretty cool
Used Mosquit-ex after our shower in the evening
Used unperfumed shower-gel and deodorant
Sprayed our mossie net with 100% deet (then left the room quickly!)
Tended to sit outside in the evenings (love that Swing Bar) rather than use the indoor bars
Sprayed 50% deet on our ankles

Neither were we bitten in the Masai Mara. However we continued our Malarone thru to the bitter end.

We took £400 in Kenyan shillings and we came home with £50, which included paying for all our trips, buying lots of gifts for ourselves and family, buying 1000 cigarettes, all tips and money for our drinks at Governors Camp.
Our extras bill in the hotel was less than £50 even tho we ate on the Imani Dhow and in the Japanese restaurant.

We loved Severin - It is not the smartest or the plushest place that we have ever been and as we said at the beginning having been to the Maldives and Sri Lanka last year it really was going to have a job following that, but it did. When travelling from the airport to the hotel or out & about, all you have to do is look around you and see the poverty and hardship that is sadly such a part of Africa. After witnessing the Kenyan people, who have little but are still so welcoming and hospitable, who then, I wonder would complain about slightly fading décor or even bother quibbling over star ratings. We fell in love with Kenya thanks to the Severin Sea Lodge. Go and enjoy. We most certainly did.

To see all our pics of Severin and Governors go to:

Happy to help with any questions at all – [email protected]"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sun 13th of August 2006

Severin Sea Lodge, Loved it! Great staff and a total chill down

Reviewed Tue 4th of December 2012

"Ok so we had our 3 glorious weeks at the Severin Sea Lodge resort and what a great time we had, in total there was 7 of us including the two grannies, 3 kids and us, so had 3 rooms. We were all together within like a lodge, the rooms are air conditioned and all beds have mozzie nets as standard.

The food is of a very good standard and the all inclusive is an excellent package,there is not much that is not on the all inclusive at all, you could if you were that way inclined, eat and drink all day as there is always service available including afternoon tea and cakes etc. There were 3 restaurants, the main one which name escapes me,the Flame Tree and the Dhow, the first two are part of the package and the Dhow is ala carte, all serve excellent food and come recommended.
The staff are excellent, very friendly, big smiles and nothing is too much trouble, our personal favourite was Matano who whilst very professional was an absolute star and hopefully a good friend of the future, but Charles the safari bar, Festus and Kenneth were also top people...

There are two pools onsite, both of reasonable size but not massive, enough though! There was entertainment every night,im not going to lie so whilst it was ok, as long as you don't expect too much you will not be dissapointed...It was ok! some better than others.....

The beach was nice,white sands leading to the Indian Ocean which was very warm, however you did get hassled by the beach boys and sometimes a NO thankyou is not enough, i guess they have small buisness to do but im afraid i didn't like this particular practice personally, my wife was accused of sunbathing too much and not buying off them which i thought was a bit rare, not much what was said but how it was said... I suppose we are not used to being hassled so came as a bit of a suprise... I will add that in general most were ok, only one or two were a bit OTT. The beach area does have guards on it and they do not come anywhere near the steps as a pre requisite! That said, you have nothing to fear and you can do the beach if you wished, just not sunbathe!

Got to say, this was without doubt an excellent holiday, chilled out to the extreme in very pleasent surroundings, the kids loved the monkies which visited everyday the pool area or your apartment, mind your food though if your eating as they will pinch it.. They are wild, but very soft creatures when you handed them food, just remember they are wild and stroking is not part of their remit, they will sit on your chair with you but do not like being handled.

My kids loved the Animation Team and to be fair they did look after the kids very well, keeping them occupied. Safari wise, you can book at hotel, cheaper through First Choice than the hotels version, depends which package you go for, you can get them off the beach boys cheaper,thats down to you. A visit to Mombasa can be booked through the local taxi drivers, cost 3000 kenyan shillings per car, see the tusks, Port, Markets and Fort Jesus, Fort Jesus is 700 shillings per person to get in and a guide will take you round,discuss his costs before you go round. Haller Park is a must,its 10 mins from hotel, best time to go is 3pm so you get to feed the giraffes,see the hippo and crocodiles being fed too... + The giant Tortoise,they are massive! Taxi will be 1000 shillings each car.

We also and i cannot say how managed a great day out to Malindi,where we visited a village, and ate a traditional kenyan meal with somones auntie who will remain nameless to protect them,we ate the white stuff as we called it and had a great time, the warmth of the kenyans is fantastic, also visited a school and stage managed village where we took part in the dancing and what have you, great day out,one which we will never forget,this was booked privately.

The supermarket is a 10 min drive by taxi, what a place,when you see the surroundings then the supermarket/shopping centre it does not seem right to be honest, but for cigarettes and chocolate etc which the kids cannot live without, its a break in the day, Taxi is 1000 shillings for there and back from the hotel,or if you are very brave you could try a Matutu, the local transport, hold onto your hats if you do for around 25 kenyan shillings, crazy but fun!!

There are activities going on all day through the animation team from excercise to walks,to archery to beach volley ball, so if you want to you can keep that fitness level up.

Question always is, would you go back. The answer quite simply "Yes" we would. Having only done the med in previous holidays,this was a great experience,both educational and relaxing,one which we would like to repeat. In summary : A great place to stay,excellent food, excellent staff and a real eye opener to us used to our luxuries when you go off site. Mozzies were not really a problem, but do take sensible precautions and you will be fine!!"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sat 12th of August 2006

Want to go back!

Reviewed Mon 5th of November 2012

"We have just got back from Kenya and definitely have the post holiday blues!

The hotel was very relaxed and the rooms clean. We had no stomach problems whatsoever nor did we get bitten by any mosquitos.The staff at the hotel couldn't do enough and we could learn a lot from their outlook on life. They have so little but give so much. Talking of giving, be prepared to tip, we found little but often helps the service even more!

The beach causes a lot of people problems it seems with other reviewers but we found that a game of beach football breaks down the barriers and just saying no thank you is all you need to do. Its definitely not for sitting on though, but we swam in the sea lots as it was warmer than the pool.

This is a country that relies on our tourism and is very proud of what it has to offer. Take pencils, pens, paper, t-shirts and even socks for them. They often need this more than your money. All in all, we loved it, made lots of good friends, and most importantly want to go back!!"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Wed 9th of August 2006

Overall great holiday and experiences tired and average hotel

Reviewed Sun 14th of October 2012

"Hi we are just back 2 days ago from 2 weeks at the Severin Sea Lodge.

Just logged on to post my review and our thoughts and experiences almost mirror the previous review from the couple from Vancouver.

We would have also rated the hotel around the 2* mark and definitely not 4* we have also travelled around the world a fair bit and must say when we arrived our initial reaction was that of disappointment.

The main reception area is nice and looks quite tropical, but as many other comments the room are very basic. Our first room before we set off on safari was 419; it had two smallish single beds and generally looked tired and a little tatty, the towels were a little smelly and green and a tad threadbare.

After our safari we had room 420, this was along the same lines but at it least had a double bed.

Think the management should spend some money on a refurbishment of the rooms and common areas, don’t think much has changed since the hotel was built in 1972.

The rooms are a long the same lines as you would expect going to Greece for £350 per person 10 years ago.

Our safari was 3 nights/ 4 days starting at Tsavo east and staying at Ngutini lodge, this is a tented lodge and a fantastic experience set in the middle of the bush we had hippos eating outside our tent during the night, we then moved on to Severin Safari camp, this has the most beautiful setting with an amazing panoramic outlook overlooking a watering hole, the last lodge was Kilaguni serena lodge, this also overlooked a watering hole and elephants would wonder along for a drink during the day.

The Safari was undoubtedly the holiday highlight even although we did not see any cats, always the next time!!!.

The food and accommodation during the safari was fantastic and must say that both the food and accommodation was actually better than the hotel itself.

We then travelled back to the severin for the final 9 nights of our holiday,

The main dinning room food was ok and although as people have noted some nights had set menus with 4 or 5 courses, it all had a rather precooked feel to it, the staff serving are lovely, but the service was rather rapid fire.

Overall it had a school canteen feel about it rather than a night out for a nice romantic meal, you are also allocated the same table for your stay.

Breakfast was the best meal with omelettes and pancakes cooked to order

We also eat at the Imani Dhow restaurant, this is not included as part of the all inclusive, but was excellent and by far the best food at the hotel freshly cooked with great service.

We were also both ill with gastro type problems for most of the 9 days on our return to the hotel and now home I am loosing 2lbs in weight per day, great for some quick dieting!!!!

We meet 2 lovely couples on safari and they were also ill on and off after returning to the hotel.

We all ended up eating at the Flame tree café for most of our time back, the food was much fresher and cooked to order, be prepared to wait though.

We went windsurfing, snorkelling, and go carting (go carting was only around £15 per person great value and just outside the hotel gates)

The School village trip was also great and moving, the hotel organised this and it cost around £20 per person. We took loads of pens and pencils as the kids need to buy their own, it was great to see their faces.

Beach, as all other comments forget it unless you want to haggle every few feet for hand carvings, shame as its lovely.

On a final note the staff and the Kenyan people probably are the nicest and among the most friendly that I have ever meet, although they have very little they always welcome you with a big smile.

If you don’t have high expectation or new to travelling it would be fine, I am writing this with no axe to grind and trying to give an honest opinion both the other couples we meet had similar thoughts as ours. Our last visit to the Indian Ocean was Mauritius and after that perhaps our expectations were rather high.

Overall great holiday and experiences tired and average hotel"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Wed 26th of July 2006

We went on holiday to the above hotel de...

Reviewed Mon 24th of July 2006

"We went on holiday to the above hotel departing 19th June for 14 nights on an AI basis. We did enjoy the holiday, but have the following concerns over the hotel's 4 star (First Choice) rating.

The hotel in general falls below the 4 star rating First Choice has awarded it. On weekdays, building works woke us up at 7.30-8.00. We were not told when booking this holiday that there were any building works at this hotel. The air conditioning didn’t work properly, even though the manager attempted to rectify it on numerous occasions. We endured twin beds pushed together with a piece of foam “bolstering” the join. The mattresses were hard, lumpy, damp, smelly and extremely uncomfortable – and the mosquito net had blood on it. We endured cold showers most days and shared the shower with black mould in the grouting between the tiles. The door was so badly fitted, mosquitoes and other bugs entered the room through the gap between the door and frame. The hotel was in urgent need of repair and updating – the outside walls were covered in dirt and moss.

We booked the Charlie Claw/Wasini Island excursion, which had two dhows. Firstly, we were offered seasickness pills by the Wasini Island rep, who went on to tell us that the weather had been bad the day before and lots of people had been very sick. There were a total of 38 people on the excursion but only 13 life jackets between the two dhows. The rep told us that they were perfectly safe as they were licenced by the Kenyan Port Authority, which would be no consolation if you ended up in the water with no life jacket. Julius the FC rep informed us that British safety experts had inspected the dhows concerned and passed them fit. When my husband asked for the contact details of these “experts” so that he could make a complaint about their work when back in the UK, Julius was unable to comment.

When we booked our safari (2.5 days, Tsavo East and West, which was FANTASTIC!) with the First Choice rep, we were not given any itinerary or told anything about how long the initial journey to the first lodge would be. It took us 8 hours to get to Voi Safari Lodge (during which time we had a game drive). We had “breakfast” at the hotel at 5:30 am, which consisted of bread, rolls, jam and coffee/tea. If we had known how long it would be before we ate again, we would have taken food with us, but again, the rep did not inform us of this.

Before reaching the Tsavo East gate, we stopped off at a souvenir shop where we could use the toilet and buy souvenirs. We were bombarded by staff who wanted us to buy as much as we could and did not listen when we said “no.” 8 hours is far too long to be without food and water and we believe that the First Choice rep/Somak Travel should have informed us beforehand.

The Pool Grill at the hotel was not opened, even though this was part of the all inclusive. The Sports Bar closed when there wasn’t a World Cup game on, even though the hotel had a Cocoa-Cola conference on the weekend of 1-3 July and the guest numbers must have increased by three times. This meant that we had to cram into the Safari Bar and wait ages for a drink or just sit around the hotel.

The Safari Bar had pools of “decorative” stagnant water, which was a haven for mosquitoes, so we ended up being badly bitten every evening we spent in the bar, even though we plastered ourselved in 50% DEET lotion. The service in the second week was terrible; it took over an hour to get a cup of coffee and a bottle of water. Also during the second week, there was a terrible smell of sewage permeating throughout the hotel – it was disgusting.

The First Choice rep should have been helpful and considerate. In fact, he was neither. When another guest and I complained about the 8 hour trip without food on the safari, he told me that I should have listened more carefully in the Welcome Meeting as he had explained that the trip to Voi was long. I said that at the meeting we had just arrived and was very tired, notwithstanding the fact that we hadn’t even decided what safari to buy. Julius was argumentative and did not empathise with clients; all he was there for was to take lots of money off the tourists, not listen or deal with any complaints or issues. However, when my husband and two other couples complained to him about the Wasini Island shambles, Julius did not argue with them – maybe he felt out-numbered.

Prostitutes arrived at the hotel on a regular basis. During our two week stay, there were four prostitutes who stayed for at least three days each with different men. This is not something we expect from a 3 star hotel, let alone a reputed 4 star.

Part of our “entertainment” one night was a Masaai warrior show. They were impressive and we believe all enjoyed the show. However, immediately after the show ended, we were bombarded by the warriors to buy their wares. They even had all the exits covered so that the tourists could not escape their persistent selling. We felt like sitting banks and we were angry that we had been treated like this.

All in all, the best part of the holiday was the safari, even though we had to wait such a long time before we could eat. However, we are extremely disappointed about the Severin and the FC rep – neither came up to the First Choice brochure description. The holiday was not worth the money we paid out and we are doubtful that we would to use First Choice again or even be able to recommend it to others.

However, on a more positive note, the safari was wonderful. We managed to see elephant, giraffe (two types), zebra, Thomson and Grant's gazelle, numerous types of birds, impala (who are just beautiful) and a whole pride of lions, complete with three cubs. I can thoroughly recommend the Kilaguni Lodge which is based on Tsavo West - the accommodation, food, etc is second to none. The view from the lobby has to be seen to be believed! We recommend that you take water (and food if necessary), binoculars and a really good digital camera. If you can, buy a safari hat (if you want to) from the supermarket before you go, otherwise you will be persuaded to buy at twice the price at the Tsavo gate!

Loved Kenya, just not the hotel and certainly wouldn't recommend anyone travel to Kenya with First Choice. Would definitely go back in a heartbeat and try the Masai Mara safari as I have heard it was out of this world. The people are lovely, try to learn some Kiswahilli before you go, they will really appreciate it. "

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Mon 24th of July 2006

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