Saturday, June 29, 2019

My Top Nairobi Service Recommendations

EDIT: I realized after posting that I had left off my favorite hair stylist and travel agent recommendations! I have now added them to the list.

As our departure date looms closer and closer, I want to make sure I share some of my favorite services so that others can enjoy! One of the fun parts about living in Kenya is that there's a "guy" or a "lady" for pretty much everything. For example: when my keyless fob for our car broke, I took it to the "car key guy" instead of the dealership on the other side of town. Here are a few of my top service recommendations:

  • Custom furniture: I love our furniture guy! Peter is so professional, comes to your house with photos and swatches so you can tell him exactly what you want, and charges a reasonable price. Our full outdoor furniture set of a couch, two armchairs, a coffee table, and cushions (pictures above) was 45,000 KES (~$450) total and looks much nicer than other furniture guys' work that we've seen. His number is 0716 178 335.
  • Baked goods: I actually have three recommendations in the "baked goods" category. (Can you tell I have a sweet tooth?) First, there's Sonia who makes deliciously soft and chewy cookies. My favorite are the classic chocolate chip, but she also has red velvet with white chocolate and double chocolate cookies. Her number is 0739 605 652. Then, there's Felina, who makes great value cakes and cupcakes - perfect if you're having a party. She delivers, too! Her number is 0721 952 111. Finally, there's Gladys, a baker whose products are a little pricier and a bit out of the way in Lavington. She's known for her elaborately decorated and moist cakes - great for a themed event or work function. Her number is 0721 173 021.
  • Massage at the spa: A lot of expats here seem to prefer massages at home, but I like getting a full-body massage once a week (amazingly, the Foreign Service Benefit Plan health insurance covers this) at a spa, where I can immerse myself in the spa vibe and enjoy fruits and tea on the patio afterwards. Most of the time, I prefer Mwanzi at Serenity Spa Kitisuru because she tackles my knots in a way that isn't painful. Caveat: I usually prefer a gentler massage and find most of the come-to-your-house massage therapists too intense. Nevertheless, if I'm extra sore and need some tough love on my tense muscles, I'll book Beatrice at Serenity Spa Gigiri. Her massage is painful, but I always wake up the next day feeling better. Serenity's website is here.
  • Nails at your house: I did not even know professional manicures and pedicures could be done at home until I moved to Kenya. Since it's so much cheaper in Nairobi than the United States, I got my nails done all the time. I tried a variety of popular spas and salons, but nothing I found beats Philomena. She used to work at one of Nairobi's top spas as a nail technician but decided to go solo. For 900 KES (~$9), you can get a manicure or pedicure that is simply divine and includes a luxurious massage of your arms or legs. She comes with the nail tools - all you need is a basin to put your hands or feet in, a towel, and soap. She's punctual and also just a delightful person who can chat while she does your nails or let you read a book/study/take a nap. She just did my nails, shown in the photo at the end of this post. Her number is 0722 330 776.
  • Shawarma: Shawarma is a regular feature at expat parties here, and there are a number of "shawarma guys" around. We have a team of shawarma guys, though, who provide what we consider by far the most juicy and delicious shawarma of them all. Just make sure you let them know they need to come and set up early, before your event. (The set up takes a while.) Their number is 0722 527 778.
  • Catering: I know it's odd to have two Middle Eastern food recommendations in a post about best services in Nairobi, but Cedars Restaurant catering is worth it! They are super responsive to email, offer services for a great price, and can host events at their restaurant or provide food for another venue. They also have a large variety of options to accommodate dietary restrictions. Most importantly, their food is absolutely scrumptious. Check out their website here. You can call Cedars at 020 2710 399 or 0722 512 916. If you want something a little more customizable, you can also reach out to Joyce at Foodie Fix at 0722 444 916.
  • Hair: I have very limited hair requirements, but I tried a number of salons that market themselves for white people hair in Nairobi, and Kavita's is by far my favorite. She has a salon out of a home not far from the Spring Valley/Westlands area, provides a women's haircut for about $27 that includes a luxurious scalp massage during the shampoo, and gives my locks the voluminous blowout they need every time. She does color, highlights, and more elaborate treatments, too - I just can't speak to those because I don't get them. Her number is 0714 601 665, and you can see examples of her work on her Instagram here.
  • Travel agent: Of course, if you work at the U.S. Embassy you have access to a particular travel agency that can be hit or miss. So I'm delighted to share my recommendation for the best local travel agent you can find! Eunice is Kenyan, so she knows her way around and can get fantastic deals that won't rip you off, but she has also spent a lot of time in the United States or working with Americans and expats, so she can manage a diverse clientele with ease and cultural sensitivity. Although she is based in Nairobi, she has contacts across the tourism sector of Kenya and is happy to present you with multiple options tailored to your timing, budget, and any other preferences you might have. Eunice's number is 0729 426 691, and her email is [email protected]. You can also check our her company's Facebook page here.

I hope these service recommendations are helpful for anyone who is lucky enough to live in Nairobi. It's fun to enjoy some of these services we wouldn't necessarily have or afford back home, while supporting an entrepreneur doing great work. I wish I could take all of these wonderful people back to the United States with me! Let me know in the comments below if you have any favorite Nairobi-based service providers to share.

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