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Reviewed 22 January 2017

We rented this cottage for New Years 2016 and did the booking through Top Africa. We had frantically searched for a beach rental from August (hint, book now for Christmas and NY 2018!) and were lucky to get a last minute cancellation. The attraction with Galu was unspoiled beaches, seclusion and beach access.

To begin with, the best way to get your family to forgive you for a Jambojet flight to Mombasa, traffic, ferry wait times and a 45 minute drive was to step onto this property. It is as open as it vast and the warm sea breeze and view over the inviting pool made up for the journey to get there.

This is not a cottage, but a proper house with five bedrooms all en-suite. It is formed by a free standing two storey, two room rondavel with king size beds and within the main house, three bedrooms, the larger upstairs having a proper walk through closet to a massive bathroom. The house itself has a good sized kitchen (which I only entered to fetch more ice and/or wine) an open living room area and an open upstairs balcony with full size day beds. Two of our guests opted to sleep out there every night and were protected by secure mosquito netting under a makuti roof and no walls preventing the cool night breeze which they thoroughly enjoyed.

Our wonderful stay was enhanced by the staff ten fold. Hassan, the majordomo went above and beyond to ensure our blissful state. Quick to run out to re-stock and make suggestions to enhance our vacation. He sourced the lobster and prawns for our New Year's dinner at an obscenely low price as well. Joseph from TopAfrica Safaris managed excursions for the more adventurous of our crew to Shimba Hills and overall ensured we were taken care of. Before we got there, we communicated frequently about the property (having booked it sight unseen) and organized the transport we would require prior, during and at checkout, the initial shop so we would have food and drink available at check-in and accommodated all requests we requested.

Once the booking is confirmed, they send you an FAQ about the property including the expected shopping list which is quite extensive for choice. We picked the ingredients and grocery items we required within our daily budget (budget 2 shop trips at $200 each for 7ppl). The grocery shop itself was fantastic to the Diani shopping centre (not the Nakumatt but Chandarana) which had a farmer's market that had everything and then some! Prices were beyond reasonable and you could pop into the the supermarket to stock up on the harder staples. Nakumatt is known regionally but I find they seem to add 10% on all their items yet you can tuk tuk down the road and find cheaper, discounted and occasionally better quality.

The Chef, Godfrey would produce the most amazing meals every evening and for lunch would do wonders with the leftovers that we queried where he procured with the ingredients to whip up the most delicious salads and mains. Godfrey ensured nothing went to waste with the groceries and created meals to match our appetites and dietary peculiarities at every single meal.We had every single meal out in the open at the large dining table with long benches. Within the main house was a well maintained kitchen, large open living room area which housed a full sized table tennis table and more importantly, no television. The house comes with wifi which was not city fast but extremely dependable and reasonably efficient.

Asiya (I hope I got that right) would provide excellent housekeeping service every morning and ensure daily laundry ironed to a crisp as and when necessary. There were two groundsmen who maintained the pool and the massive grounds the property stood on as well as a diligent night guard. The rooms are generous with space and come with fans, one wall mounted and free standing. There is no central AC but the rooms are designed to keep sea air circulating with fan assistance and open spaces so you never feel the need - and this was in December! The water in the rooms is slightly saline as someone complained in an earlier review. From what I gathered, this property is trying to be as eco-friendly as possible with limited energy waste. We lost electricity on the one night it was stormy but there was a generator on hand to keep the fridges going more importantly. The showers are warm and the pressure is great so that was not a problem. The bathrooms have jugs that can be filled with fresh water as requested for brushing teeth.

The pool is slightly saline and level throughout. There's no scuba diving here but it is deep enough to cool off. The smaller pool is knee deep with a ledge so it made for a great submerged "sit down with a book and a cocktail" cooling off area. There's a large table on a ledge over the beach with two hammocks that made for a great working off lunch while I nap spot. There are three massive canopy daybeds peppered around the pool with luxuriously comfortable mattresses that made me look at my own with contempt.

Why I can't give this place five stars is the lack of soft beach sand. That is abundant where the tide breaks but it is very shallow. The property sits on a reef beach which has lots of tiny rock pools and teems with sea wildlife which is great for exploring. If you are like me where you want to run into the warm soft water barefoot, it was not an option as you would walk right over an urchin. That was the main drawback for us but we quickly forgot about it during the after breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea naps.

I cannot reiterate how the ambiance, staff and seclusion of this place with its flaws makes me want to return. I consider it a regroup, redress and recover sport for anyone seeking a reset button. I spent six days there and three weeks later in the chaos of January I am still able to sit back and contextualize with ease. I would describe this property as a writer's retreat. There are no properties on either side and the beach is protected on either side by navigable reef cliffs so you are ensured privacy at high tide. The staff make this vacation spot the ultimate retreat that it is.

And we can never forget Harry and Taka, the resident mbwa kali terrier mixes of the property. The most adorable dogs you have ever met with the personalities of pit bulls while protecting the property. They patrolled the property every day, growling at approaching visitors at the gate, monkeys that got too close and occasional cows that were meters away as they took their protection job seriously. They are very well trained and did not go through the house at any one time and would trot faithfully around the perimeter. They sussed out who the guests were instantly and did not make noise when surprised by us and did not intrude into guest space (important for people who fear dogs) and maintained distance unless invited.

The location is further than the bulk of holiday properties to ensure seclusion but on a well maintained dirt road .I would recommend this as an adult retreat, also great with young children and infants who are budding water babies that you can keep an eye on at all times while relaxing. TopAfrica the booking agent were fantastic in availing transport at a more than reasonable price at all times and able to offer excursions for the few that would even dream of venturing out of paradise.

All in all, a perfect retreat to reset.

Stayed: December 2015
Thank Kenyan_Connoisseur
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
726joseph, VR Owner at GALU KINONDO BEACH VILLA (ON BEACH & SLEEPS 10), responded to this reviewResponded 24 January 2017

Hi guests,

We are proud for trusting us to work with us and we can assure other prospect clients that they would definitely experience the same if they decide to work with us. We welcome you again to venture in other destination and stylish service we render to make all our clients happy. You are all most welcome again again.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 June 2016

We were super pleased with our stay on Diani Beach in this house. Very nice, large house, plenty of room and plenty of furniture. 5 full bedrooms and bathrooms, decent showers, the beds were great. Nice living room and a couple dining areas. Beautiful view out across the ocean from the living room, with a nice little beach in front of the house. Decent pool, if a little small. House service is top notch, excellent food, beds always made nicely, floors mopped, etc. A/C in the bedrooms, decent wifi, perfect location. Couldn't be happier.

  • Stayed: June 2016
    • Service
Thank Jadon S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 12 June 2016

Dear Jadon,

Thanks a lot for your review. We are happy that you found our villa very good and we welcome you again.

Joseph Ikavi.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A Holiday Lettings verified reviewer
Reviewed 18 January 2016

  • Stayed: December 2015, travelled with family
    • Service
Thank A Holiday Lettings verified reviewer
This review is the subjective opinion of an individual traveller and not of TripAdvisor LLC nor of its partners.
Management response:Responded 19 January 2016

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC nor of its partners.
Reviewed 15 November 2015

For most of our stay we had no hot water, all the facilities are supposed to be checked before the arrival of guests. After a long journey getting there it would have been nice to freshen up before the evening meal with a hot shower, I had traveled from the UK and the rest of our party from Tanzania, we thought we where doing something wrong with the taps so we asked the house staff but we where doing it correctly, they said it's because the water is solar heated and there had not been much sunshine!! Ok so we accepted that to start with, the second day the same thing no hot water to wash with in the morning.. There was I believe a booster that could be turned on but that or something else was broken and also there was water leaking out of the pump more like pouring out. The agent was called and he said it would be fixed by the end of the day, we thought by the end of that day but sadly not to be, and his continued for five days bearing in mind within our party we had four teenage girls and one OAP. The agent came again after being told it has to be sorted or find us another villa, when he arrived it did not come and see us just left a message with the house staff to say a part was being organised for Mombasa. We demanded a meeting with the agent and it was a one to one meeting between Colin and the agent again he was told it was not acceptable as we are paying for a service to which we are not getting etc. He did however get it fixed but it was not very good as not able to run two showers at the same time in the two rooms off the main house. The showers where salt water so after a shower you really did not feel refreshed just sticky. The curtains in the bedrooms had rust marks on, the mat beside my bed was so disgusting I don't think it had been washed in a long time!! My bed sheet had a rip in it again could do with replacing. On the plus side our chef was brilliant he did some amazing meals. Just such a shame the house problems killed the holiday for us.
I have stayed at several other villa rentals in Kenya and all much better than this one, we will not be going back to this property in the future.

Stayed: July 2015, travelled with family
Thank Nicoleoctopussy007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 28 November 2015

Dear Nicole Smart,

I refer to your review email above and I would like to correct that your colleague Sandra Vaughan was reimbursed an equitable amount which I agreed with them while still in the villa and later the owner after or with a week was sent in to Sandra Vaughan and she confirmed received and so It is indeed causing disbelief when i see your review.
In the review you are saying that;
The agent came again after being told it has to be sorted or find us another villa, when he arrived it did not come and see us just left a message with the house staff to say a part was being organised for Mombasa. We demanded a meeting with the agent and it was a one to one meeting between Colin and the agent again he was told it was not acceptable as we are paying for a service to which we are not getting etc. He did however get it fixed but it was not very good as not able to run two showers at the same time in the two rooms off the main house.
Please I would like to demonstrate all what I did as per my email to the owner requesting for a reimbursement, YOU WOULD REALIZE THIS WAS FROM THE SECONG DAY AFTER YOUR CHECK IN TO THE FORTH DAY. See below;
from: Top Africa Safaris <joseph@topafricasafaris.com>
date: Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at 6:18 PM
subject: RE. Hot water problem.
mailed-by: topafricasafaris.com

?Kindly here is the breakdown as I wait for the feedback of the option of reimbursement of 2 nights. I did not mention or forward to you what refund they wanted as a result when the problem came. If I will, you would wonder.
I have incurred experiences of running up and down as a result which I am also requesting for a refund as nobody would want occupied and to be stressed as I was and leave it for free.
Please see refund breakdown below;
On July 11th 2015, I went to the villa to check what the problem was and came back, two trips (going and coming back) best charge KES 2,000.00
On July 13th 2015, I went to the villa with technician three times as below;
I took him there, best charge for one way KES 1,000.00
Came to buy fittings which Hassan reimbursed, KES 850.00, best charge for one way KES 1,000.00
I brought the technician back to Ukunda to go back to Mombasa as it was really late due to un expected water tower extra work, the outlet pipe did burst when he had gone to switch off or on and he did it wrongly or tightly giving him more work to fix up to 14:30 and he was supposed to be in Mombasa at 16:00 hours. The best charge one way KES 1,000.00
I went back to check if the water was hot and see the clients but they turned me back at Kinondo Beach Resort since the clients told me we meet in Lagoon Reef Hotel for the last discussion. We agreed I go back to the villa on 14th July 2014 at 10:00 hours on with solutions of total refund if there is no hot water and compensation of the previous days if there is hot water. The best charge for return KES 2,000.00
On July 14th 2015, I went to the villa s we agreed and by GOD mercy the hot water was there and were happy. The best charge for return two trips (going and coming back) KES 2,000.00
On compensation they said that they must leave since they had booked flights and I am waiting for their respond on your compensation proposal of refunding cash of 2 days. Only the guy was there that time.
In general that is all what took place etc.
The above total is KES 9,000.00 which I request you to send me the earliest possible.?
Using today exchange rate is as below;
9,000.00 KES = 88.2353 USD
Kenyan Shilling
US Dollar

1 KES = 0.00980392 USD 1 USD = 102.000 KES

My request;
Kindly I request you to take this problem as that could happen to other place and considering all my running up and down to help you as above demonstrated and your reimbursement of 2 nights as a settled matter. But please feel free to revert to me on the same.
Further having worked with this establishment for a very long time I would like to share with you other clients reviews for your perusal as below;
Anonymous said...

Une superbe villa au bord de la mer...
1585 , N/A, Diani, Coast, 80400, Kenya (812787)

Date of Stay
24 February 2014
Helpful votes:0/0
Cette villa de Kinondo Galu est une pure merveille de tranquillit� pour ceux qui cherchent � se reposer. L'acc�s � la mer y est contigu et la piscine est plus que profitable surtout en cette p�riode chaude. De par sa forme et sa conception, chacun peut y trouver un grand plaisir.
La possibilit� de "commander" du poisson aux p�cheurs du bord de plage est un vrai plus. Et c'est sans compter ceux qui avec leur bateau vous proposent d'explorer les fonds marins... tout �a � port�e de main.
Concernant le confort, cette ann�e il y avait en plus une connexion internet vraiment utile pour ne pas �tre trop coup� du monde.
Les chambres sont spacieuse et a�r�es, le personnel qualifi�, et toujours pr�t � vous aider.
Dans ce paradis, il y a cependant un point noir, il s'agit de l'�loignement de cette villa de tous commerce, et il faut imp�rativement louer un transport pour se rapprocher de la ville.
Egalement un point � am�liorer, l'eau venant certainement d'un puit, elle est quelque peu saumatre et pour la douche c'est pas toujours le confort de ces dames.
Cette villa est de plus toute �quip�e mais au niveau froid (frigidaire, cong�lateur), le mat�riel s'usant rapidement, il faut penser � le renouveller.
Pour conclure, Kinondo est vraiment une villa int�rressante et tr�s abordable, c'est mon deuxi�me s�jour ici, et c'est s�r, j'y reviendrais.
My Response
Hi and thanks for your testimony. As you have said it is a paradise and your home, welcome back and we would en-devour make it better all the time depending also on your commends which we highly welcome and as we continuously make it a luxurious place. We have already taken care of the well water and now it is salty but very clean, all private homes and hotels have salt water for general cleaning while clients and members of staff who are buy fresh bottled water for other domestic use. And further we have equipped the kitchen with new paraphernalia of the most best quality so welcome back as you have said it is your new home and you would see new fully refurbished kitchen. Thanks and see you again soon! Villa owner Joseph Ikavi

Katya M. said...

1585 , N/A, Diani, Coast, 80400, Kenya (812787)

Date of Stay
24 February 2012
Helpful votes:1/1
We had a wonderful time, thanks to all the staff, especially Maina and Godfrey.
The house is big and perfectly secluded. Three of the bedrooms have full sea views and breezy outlooks. The kids in particular enjoyed the vast pool with kiddy pool attached. The pool was always sparkling clean.
Godfrey the cook whipped up sumptuous dinners and lunches and even more sumptuous breakfasts!
A great location just 20 mins from Ukunda (Diani) airstrip but a world away from the hassles of life...
Thoroughly recommended.
Joseph Ikavi and the team at Top Africa Safaris ensured our transfers and transport needs were fully met and arranged a scuba diving course which was perfect.
My Response
Hello and how are you prospect customers, We are indeed privileged to serve you to our best and to know we exceeded your expectation is our greatest happiness. We are happy of you and we welcome you back and any other prospect clients would get the same top services possible, we are very contented with your reviews and is total manifestation to our future prospect clients that we offer the best service and our team is of fully experienced professional who are really dedicated to making our clientele pleased and nothing else all the time. Also the location of our luxurious villa offers endless opportunities of our diverse recreational industry in Diani beach and it`s environs and we pray that we would have many clients in coming time with interest of all or many of what our country is known for, a safari and beach holiday. All the time our clients are in this villa are guaranteed to get exclusive use of it and included in the price are; Exclusive us of the 5 bed room villa for your family alone A resident cook Waiters for serving you during meals time Room attendant on daily basis All 5 rooms are ocean facing Cleaner of the compound on daily basis Night guard on duty always And pool attendant To regards all and you are most welcome to work with us

Morsely said...

Wonderful Holiday
1585 , N/A, Diani, Coast, 80400, Kenya (812787)

Date of Stay
13 May 2011
Helpful votes:1/1
I was picked up from the airport, driven to Diani and received warmly by the staff. Even though we had been delayed for a couple of hours, they were all happily waiting to receive us. It was the warmest welcome ever. I stayed for 7 days and it was the best holiday,
I would recommend it without hesitation. I liked the following:
*Very friendly staff and helpful to all requests
*Excellent setting with easy access to the wonderful beach
*High standards in the Villa management
*The chef was very good
I also took my first safari with Joseph of TopAfrica Safaris who in my opinion were very professional. I was fascinated by the landscape, animals and nature in Tsavo and Ambosseli. It was a wonderful holliday.
Recommended for: Romantic Getaway
My Response
Dear guests, I refer to our past and prospect clients in this respond and want to say that we are charged with a total responsibility to serve our clients to their satisfaction and we are always very grateful to respond to our past clients as a way to reach the future ones. Our total determination is to serve to excellent optimum and we are very happy when we see such reviews and so we request our clients to tell us even if there are very little things they feel that if enhanced would help us in serving our prospect guests better. We highly do encourage that purely based on customer satisfaction. You are all welcome to work with us. Joseph Ikavi.
No said...
Holiday in Galu Beach Villa in Kenya
1585 , N/A, Diani, Coast, 80400, Kenya (812787)
Date of Stay
15 April 2011
Helpful votes:0/0
Dear Home Away Holiday Rentals, I would like take this chance to highly recommend to any one who may wish to go to holiday in Kenya coast not to worry when coming to stay in this villa. It is a very nice villa overlooking the ocean with all the rooms having direct view of the ocean, with nice private swimming pool only for the clients in the villa at any particular time, the swimming pools are for children and adults offering a view of the ocean and the garden with enough shed for resting under the sun and with a chance of enjoying Africa sun to accomplish your holiday, the members of staff are very friendly and we enjoyed every moment we were attended by them, the food we bought was prepared by the resident cook and was very well done, one needs only to tell them own to do it depending on ones choice on every means, our rooms were taken care of on daily basis as required for any VIP traveler and we have no word not to say big thanks to first Top Africa Safaris the tour operator that helped us to secure the villa through recommendation when we had not seen it, it is top kudos for them and generally for every one who took care for us during our holiday there. Generally choosing the perfect place to stay on holiday is sometimes tough and with this in mind the property; ? Was listing and description accurate regarding the location, layout, facilities, etc ? Was clean, and well-maintained in all aspects ? We were really provided with good customer service through our stay and we would live to treasure this holiday in Kenya ? We would recommend this property to dear friends and relatives ? We liked the wild life safari organized by Top Africa Safaris Tsavo West National Park, Amboseli National Park and Tsavo East National Park, we were very luck to see the big five in their natural habitants and restaurant was good although the food at our villa was very sweet we only went out once. I therefore without any hesitation would like to recommend any one who wishes to have a decent private holiday on self catering to work with Top Africa Safari and would for sure their stay in this villa or any other would be one of their life time.
Recommended for: People with Disabilities, Families with Young Children, Sightseeing, Girls Getaway, Tourists without a Car, Adventure Seekers, Age 55+, Romantic Getaway, Families with Teenagers

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 October 2015

On arrival looked ok, staff very welcoming, I was in a party of 8 adults 16 to 70 yrs we choose are rooms all ok. Come evening wanted a shower only to find not able to get hot water only to be told as it had not been very sunny the solar panels had not been so effective, also there was not enough water pressure to run two showers at the same time, The water was more cold than tepid!!! After a couple of days we complained and was told there was a problem with the water pump generator and was told it would be sorted by the end of the day, sadly not the case, there was a heated argument on the phone with the agent and he was told to get it sorted or move us else where, four of our party consisted of teenage girls. When the agent did come to the property he was not polite enough to come a see us!! After another angry call it did get fixed but the service was far too slow. My sheets where changed after three days and the ones put on the bottom sheet had a rip in it, very obvious as it was where I go in, not a good impression, the bed side mat was very dirty looking and did not feel very nice, I did not walk around with out flip flops on!! The bedroom curtains had rust marks on, all in all an update of towels mats and bed linens would help to improve the overall appearance. The house staff did there best with what they had, the chef did some amazing meals for us. I have stayed in several rentals in Kenya and all been far better than this one!! Please be advised I did not book this rental,this is my opinion of my experience as a guest so not able to comment on booking. I was picked up at the airport by prearrangement.

  • Stayed: July 2015, travelled with family
    • Service
Thank Nicoleoctopussy007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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