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Nairobi Nightlife

Nightlife in Nairobi is bustling to say the least. Live music is everywhere and even nightclubs host a mix of DJ sets and guest bands. There are plenty of bars and discos in the city centre but the best can be found in the suburbs, particularly in Westlands. Be warned: persistent prostitutes frequent many bars, even the more upmarket ones.

Bars in Nairobi

Casablanca

A chic Moroccan-themed lounge, Casablanca boasts cosy silk-covered sofas, an inner room that resembles a Bedouin tent and some top-quality shisha. Enormously popular with the expat community, other highlights here include a comprehensive cocktail menu and a lengthy wine list – a rare commodity in Nairobi. It's not the most feverish of bars, so don't expect thumping house or live reggae bands, but it has style in spades and plenty of space to relax.

Address: Kilimani, Lenana Road, Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 20 272 3173

Champagne & Fishbowls

One of the most upscale drinking spots in Nairobi, Champagne & Fishbowls is endorsed by Veuve Cliquot and really does serves up fishbowl cocktails in a variety of sensational hues. Part of the slick Seven restaurant, it might sound like a tacky homage to bling but in reality it's sleek, well-appointed and well-staffed. Yes, Nairobi's flashier types congregate here, but it's still worth a visit if only for the extensive champagne menu.

Address: Westlands, Waiyaki Way, Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 73 777 6677.
Website: http://www.experienceseven.com

Gipsy Bar

A mixed crowd of expats and Kenyans gathers at this fun, friendly bar in the suburbs of Nairobi. Don't expect a chic lounge or anything approaching it: the Gipsy Bar is cheerfully cheesy and boasts three themed rooms, including one that looks a bit like a gentleman's club circa 1952. Music is a mix of pop, rock and African beats, and there's a snack menu should you feel peckish in between beers.

Address: Westlands, Woodvale Grove, Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 73 373 0529

Lord Delamere Terrace

Named after one of the first British settlers to arrive in Kenya, the 3rd Baron Delamere, Hugh Cholmondeley, this elegant bar allows the colonial era to live on. Located at the smart Norfolk Hotel, visitors have been gathering at this historic watering hole since 1904 for a sundowner in front of the setting African daylight, and it's still a prime spot in Nairobi for an evening gin and tonic. They also serve an expansive menu of European and Asian food, ranging from regular steaks to ostrich fillets.

Address: Central Business District, Harry Thuku Road, Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 20 226 5000
Website: http://www.fairmont.com/norfolkhotel

Zanze Bar

This friendly top floor bar comes complete with pool tables, cheap food and a wide selection of drinks, including the ubiquitous Tusker and Safari brand lagers. It's extremely busy at weekends, mainly thanks to its reasonably priced drinks menu and the even cheaper pool on offer. Zanze is always welcoming and attracts an eclectic crowd of mixed locals and expats, and although weekdays tend to be quieter, plenty of Nairobi city workers swing by for a cold beer on their way home from work.

Address: Kenya Cinema Plaza, Moi Avenue, Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 72 411 9289

Clubs in Nairobi

Live music in Nairobi

K1 Klub House

With its rustic varnished log walls, bougainvillea-draped courtyard and safari-themed décor, Klub House may not be a sleek New York-style jazz club, but it's still pretty good fun. DJs, jazz bands, reggae outfits and even country music stars grace the stage at this popular Westlands haunt where the drinks (mostly beer and spirits) come well-priced. As a result it never really empties, particularly at weekends when it is packed all day and well into the early hours of the following morning.

Address: Parklands, Ojijo Road, Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 71 796 9500
Website: http://www.klubhouse.co.ke/

Classical music in Nairobi

Dance in Nairobi

Theatres in Nairobi

Kenya National Theatre

Opposite the Norfolk Hotel, Nairobi's main playhouse puts on classic and contemporary drama and musicals, with an emphasis on Kenyan actors and playwrights. One of the more popular theatres in the region, the regular performances here are always packed. Although it's the heart of the theatre scene in Kenya, theatre-goers are often treated to visiting shows from other African countries.

Address: Central Business District, Harry Thuku Road, Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 20 267 2843
Website: http://www.kenyaculturalcentre.go.ke/

Music and Dance in Nairobi

GoDown Arts Centre

Located in a converted warehouse on Dunga Road, this impressive artistic enterprise was set up to promote contemporary African art, music and dance. The building contains ten separate studios, all devoted to both visual and performing arts, and is the place to see the best up-and-coming local talent in action. As well as hosting excellent performances, the centre has workshops, a recording studio and an art gallery displaying the work of both Kenyan artists and those from neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania.

Address: South B, Dunga Road, Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 72 699 2200.
Website: http://www.thegodownartscentre.com

Mzizi Arts Centre

Located in the Moi Avenue City Centre, this community arts centre hosts contemporary dance and musical performance evenings, predominantly by local groups and companies. It is also the place to come for traditional, colourful spectacles presented by the Masai and Samburu tribes. Check local newspapers for listings.

Address: Sonalux House, Moi Avenue City Centre , Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 20 574 372

Culture in Nairobi

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Featured Hotels

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Sentrim 680 Hotel

This reasonably priced mid-range hotel in Nairobi is in a decent location. It is a bit shabby and not much to look at, but is safe, has clean rooms with en-suite bathrooms, useful facilities, a restaurant and its own bar. Rooms facing the main road can cop a bit of noise, so ask for one at the back.

Upper Hill Campsite

Part campsite for overland groups, part backpacker hostel, this expansive place is a hike from the centre of Nairobi, but it makes up for this with excellent facilities. Staff can organise all sorts of safaris and excursions, and the spacious, secure compound has its own bar, restaurant and games room.

Terminal Hotel

A good-value alternative to the backpacker crash pads, the Terminal Hotel in Nairobi is simple but well located. You get what you pay for in terms of luxuries, but the rooms have bathrooms and you can walk to everything in the centre. Ask for a room at the back, away from the street noise.

Giraffe Manor

Where else in the world can you be woken in the morning by a giraffe peering into your bedroom window? Attached to the AFEW Giraffe Centre, this grand Edwardian manor is decked out with Karen Blixen's old furniture, and staying here feels like staying in a posh country home. Factor in fine food and wine and a personal chauffeur and it's easy to see the appeal.

Kenya Comfort Hotel

Well looked after, central and friendly, the Kenya Comfort Hotel offers decent facilities at a reasonable price. It's a secure hotel in Nairobi, and the rooftop lounge offers beautiful views over the city. The rooms are tiled, modern and clean, and there's a restaurant and bar if you don't feel like braving the city streets after dark.

Hotel Ambassadeur Nairobi

Standards have slipped slightly since the days when this tall tower hosted politicians and presidents, but it's still a cut above the competition. The comfortable rooms are well appointed, and there's a good bar and restaurant. It's a popular venue in Nairobi for weddings and conferences, so book ahead.