The Red Pepper House: Swahili Architecture with a modern twist

Swahili Architecture

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The Red Pepper House is a boutique hotel on Lamu Island Kenya, home to one of the oldest and best preserved Swahili settlements in East Africa. The property is a perfect example of Swahili architecture as an artful blend of African, Arabic, and Persian influences. It’s also a glorious introduction to  ‘Swahili Chic’: an eclectic and colourful decor blended with a sumptuous simplicity . Beyond that, the Red Pepper House is  a real experience of Swahili architecture described by many as the ‘Feng Shui of Africa’.

Swahili Architecture Red Pepper House

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Nestled between a pristine forest and the majestic Indian Ocean the Red Pepper House is set among neem and acacia trees. This design hotel was converted from a colonial house into a 5-roomed masterpiece by Spanish architect Urko Sanchez, an expert  of swahili architecture and design.  To best integrate the building to its environment and the flow of the surrounding, the architect has promoted local materials.

The African style ‘makuti’ roofs,  use locally sourced and sustainable palm leaves to weave the thatch, which is then juxtaposed against the Western elegance of the crystal chandeliers that hang from it.

The light and airy decor consists in large open spaces with few walls in place, and encourages  a free flow of the elements, leaving  guests feeling cool and refreshed, even during mid day heat and humidity.

Swahili Architecture The Red  Pepper House

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Swahili Architecture The Red Pepper House

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The ‘nyumbas’ (‘homes’ in Swahili)all have their own view of the Indian Ocean and access to the idyllic beach. They reflect exactly what one would expect from Swahili hospitality – welcoming, but regal elegance: tribal masks and colonial antiques dotted among traditional Swahili furniture, including pili pili beds decorated with peacocks (a symbol of passion)…

Swahili Architecture Red Pepper House

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Swahili Architecture Red Pepper House

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Guests are pampered in sophisticated style with tailored activities from dhow cruises to a remote beach, excursions to the Takwa ruins, trips into Lamu town,  customized dining options…

The Red Pepper House also serves a purpose: the hotel is neighbour to the Anidan Shelter House, an orphanage that was built with donations from the hotel  and others and that guests are invited to visit. The orphanage comprises a children’s hospital, dormitories and a nursery.

For further information:

The Red Pepper House

Coconut Beach 316

Lamu Island, Kenya

Phone: +254 729 406582


Author: F. Munshi

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