There are very few lovely old houses such as ‘Rosslyn’ still remaining in Nairobi – and perhaps none which have been owned and lived in by the same family for over 50 years. Built in 1919 by Major Andy Anderson, a well-known hunter and safari guide in early colonial Kenya, and surrounded by coffee plantations for the first sixty years of its existence, the house was bought by the present owners in 1963.

Rosslyn is first and foremost an elegant, comfortable, much-loved and lived-in family house – and one with a history, personality and authenticity that are hard to find in modern-day Nairobi. It is furnished and decorated throughout with antique and colonial furniture, family portraits, paintings, photographs and mementoes, and has an excellent and extensive library of books on Africa.

“An incredible opportunity to walk into a bygone colonial era. A wonderful house with hosts to match. Sylvia is full of fascinating recollections and charm and Bruce can advise on whatever you need to know about modern Nairobi. The garden is an absolute joy and the double room has its own private terrace to enjoy it from. We took dinner in the house – it was five stars and served in a manner fitting with the setting. Although close to the city it is an oasis away from the traffic and bustle – treat yourselves to something unique!”

Patsy, Dubai

The house is also a must for fans of the excellent 2005 film The Constant Gardener, based on the 2001 novel by John le Carre. It features frequently in the film as the home and garden of British diplomat Justin Quayle, played by Ralph Fiennes. Rachel Weisz, playing Quayle’s wife Tessa, received a best supporting actress Oscar for her role. And in its more distant colonial past the house had other connections with Hollywood celebrities and British Royalty.

There are two single bedrooms and one double bedroom which can be rented independently from each other – or the whole house can be taken together to accommodate a family or group of friends. Guests have access to and use of all the living areas of the house and grounds – including the elegant, high-ceilinged drawing room and dining room, front and side verandas, kitchen, courtyard and two acres of English-style gardens with expansive lawns.

“I have stayed here a number of times and dream of my next return. Its beauty, charm and simple elegance will take your breath away.  You will feel as though you stepped back in time. With beautifully kept gardens and incredible history, this is a must stay in Nairobi.  Sonia is a wonderful hostess with her warmth and amazing stories of the early days in Kenya.”

Carmen, Pennsylvania, USA

Guests can interact with the owners or other guests as much or as little as they like, and can opt to remain private or join whichever family or guests are staying there at the time. Rosslyn’s owner and hostess is Mrs Sonia Ryrie, known for her charm, erudition and wide knowledge of Kenyan history. She is often joined at Rosslyn by her son Bruce and other family members. Guests always comment upon how very welcome and at home the family and staff make them feel – as well as how peaceful and relaxing they find their stay.

Full English breakfast is a house specialty – with fresh fruit, tea or freshly brewed fine Kenya coffee, cooked breakfast with bacon and the house’s own free range eggs, toast, marmalades and muesli, oats, porridge and home-made yoghurt.  Bernard and Charles who look after the house and kitchen make sure that guests are well looked after and provided for.

“An absolutely lovely stay in what is a wonderful house. The house and gardens have real charm. We were very well looked after, and everyone we met (dogs included) were very welcoming. If only we could have stayed for longer!”

Oliver, London

The house is quiet, secluded and calm – a world away from the hustle and bustle of modern Nairobi. There is, however, good access to various different areas of the city. It is just a 5-minute drive to the Village Market shopping centre, 7 minutes to the United Nations offices at Gigiri (more at peak times), 10 minutes to Westlands or Muthaiga, and, traffic permitting, as little as 20 minutes to downtown Nairobi and 45 minutes to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Wilson Airport.

Summary

  • A beautiful and historic family home dating back to 1919
  • Elegant, comfortable, atmospheric accommodation and a warm welcome
  • Close to United Nations HQ, Village Market, Muthaiga, Karura Forest and Westlands
  • Sleeps up to 4 guests in 2 single and 1 double bedrooms
  • From Ksh 5000 per night for 1 single bedroom, bed and breakfast

Detailed information

Accommodation and Facilities

  • Bed & breakfast accommodation
  • Two single bedrooms
  • One double bedroom
  • Shared bathroom (if there are other guests staying)

Living areas include –

  • Dining room
  • Drawing room
  • Two verandas
  • Courtyard garden
  • 2 acres of colourful lawned garden
  • Good broadband internet connection

Location

Riding from New Muthaiga Stables

Riding from New Muthaiga Stables

New Muthaiga, also known as Thigiri, is a quiet, affluent, hilly and leafy suburb to the north of central Nairobi. Rosslyn is the oldest house in the area, and as late as the 1970s the entire neighbourhood consisted of a large coffee estate, which was subsequently sold off and divided into residential plots.

Within a few minutes’ drive of the house are the Nairobi headquarters of the United Nations, together with the global headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other UN agencies. The area is also home to United States Embassy and the Embassies and High Commissions of several other countries.

UN Headquarters Nairobi

UN Headquarters Nairobi

Close at hand on Thigiri Ridge Road is the New Muthaiga Shopping Mall, home to the well-regarded Café Tasse and other restaurants and shops. There are numerous other places to eat, drink and shop at the large Village Market shopping mall which is a 5 minute drive or a 25 minute walk from the house – and in nearby Gigiri which has a large expatriate community.

Village Market Mall

Village Market Mall

The nearby Karura Forest Reserve is Nairobi’s largest green and wooded area – and, at over 1000 hectares, one of the largest urban forests in the world. It has more than 50 kilometres of nature trails for walking, running and biking. Wildlife in the forest includes various species of monkey, bush baby, bushbuck, bush pig, porcupine, duiker, genet cat, dik dik and civet cat – along with more than 200 different species of bird.

karura Forest Trail

karura Forest Trail

Things to see in the forest include a waterfall, bamboo forest, marshland, Mau Mau caves and an old church – along with the incinerator formerly used by the Central Bank of Kenya to burn old currency notes! Further information on all aspects of the reserve can be found at the Friends of Karura Forest website http://www.friendsofkarura.org

Karura Forest Waterfall

Karura Forest Waterfall

How to get there

Rosslyn is situated on Thigiri Farm Road, just off Thigiri Ridge in New Muthaiga (also known as Thigiri). Access from the City Centre, Muthaiga and Gigiri is via Limuru Road and then Red Hill Road (turning left at the Polish Embassy). Access from Westlands is via Peponi Road (the first right turn after Spring Valley shopping arcade).

Visitor’s Book

“I love this place.  Sonia, the lady of the house, is a great hostess who really cares. The house is a homely retreat from the hustle and bustle of Central Nairobi.  Great access to the UN and Westlands. And a good honest English breakfast!  I am a particular fan of the large antique bath with the largest plug hole I have ever seen. If you want tranquillity and calm this is undoubtedly the place for you.”

John, Nairobi

“This place is a gem – the architecture, the atmosphere, the thoughtfulness and history of the interior, the mature garden. It is hard to capture in photos how beautiful the house is. Sonia and Bruce are absolutely lovely, welcoming and interesting hosts. Bernard and the other house staff are also extremely friendly and helpful. Breakfast on the terrace is a wonderful experience. It is possible to walk to one of the entrances to Karura forest (Thigiri Lane), which is perfect for trail running and walking. There is also a nice circuit training ground there. I also found it easy to walk to the UN and Village Market. A wonderful and relaxing place to stay – would love to come back.”

Edle, Bangkok

“I have stayed here a number of times and dream of my next return. Its beauty, charm and simple elegance will take your breath away. You will feel as though you stepped back in time. With beautifully kept gardens and incredible history, this is a must stay in Nairobi. Sonia is a wonderful host with her warmth and amazing stories of the early days in Kenya.”

Carmen, Pennsylvania, USA

“Staying in Sonia and Bruce’s wonderful house was such a fantastic experience.  I felt so welcome and enjoyed every morning and evening on the lovely veranda overlooking the most beautiful garden! This place is a small paradise in Nairobi.  An unforgettable experience –  I will come back as soon as I can!”

Mai, South Sudan

“An incredible opportunity to walk into a bygone colonial era. A wonderful house with hosts to match. Sylvia is full of fascinating recollections and charm and Bruce can advise on whatever you need to know about modern Nairobi. The garden is an absolute joy and the double room has its own private terrace to enjoy it from. We took dinner in the house which was five stars and served in a manner fitting with the setting. Although close to the city it is an oasis away from the traffic and bustle – treat yourselves to something unique!”

Patsy, Dubai

“Coming from a stressful job in South Sudan, this was what the doctor ordered!  I arrived at the Ryrie House to settle in with a nice glass of red wine next to the fire. Bruce and his mother Sonia are very lovely hosts, the house is gorgeous, working made easy on the veranda overlooking the garden, home-made yoghurt in the morning, playing with the 4 dogs and having chats with Bernard and Charles in the kitchen. But the best thing about this place is Karura forest which is just next door, where you can go for runs or do some yoga. I’ll be back :-)!”

Ilse, South Sudan

Rates

  • Double Bedroom – Ksh 10,000 per night, bed & breakfast
  • Single Bedroom – Ksh 6,000 per night, bed & breakfast
  • Single Bedoom – Ksh 5,000 per night, bed & breakfast

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