Dining in a rotating ‘rooftop’

The View Restaurant

The redesigned interior of The View Restaurant inside the Movenpick Hotel in Nairobi. 

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • As we arrived, the lift doors opened to a wonderful panorama, and we were led to a table by the circle of windows that wraps around the restaurant.
  • On the way, I stepped off a polished wooden floor onto the plush surrounding carpet, and suddenly felt a bit unsteady.

I remember landing in Thailand for the first time eight years ago. I was fresh out of university, and it was the beginning of an incredible two-month backpacking trip around South East Asia. I’d explored big cities before, but I couldn’t help feeling overwhelmed as I sped across Bangkok’s famous expressway in a taxi towards an unfamiliar, towering metropolis.

In the days that followed, I spent most evenings having a drink or a meal at the highest rooftop bars and restaurants that I could find. The views really helped me find my bearings, and it turned into a useful habit for the rest of the trip.

I was reminded of that trip by a visit to one of Nairobi’s own “rooftop” restaurants – The View at the Mövenpick Hotel and Residences in Westlands. It’s on the 24th floor of the hotel with long, 360-degree views out across the city. I was there for lunch with my wife last Sunday; on a hot and hazy afternoon.

As we arrived, the lift doors opened to a wonderful panorama, and we were led to a table by the circle of windows that wraps around the restaurant. On the way, I stepped off a polished wooden floor onto the plush surrounding carpet, and suddenly felt a bit unsteady. It was only then that I realised that the restaurant was revolving.

If I was a traveller and new to Nairobi, The View would be an ideal spot to learn the lie of the land. Our initial view as we sat down was towards the south-west, with the elevated expressway taking shape along Waiyaki Way to our right, and with the distinctive Ngong Hills in the distance. At this angle, much of the view down to Westlands is obscured by a tall apartment block, but the shimmering swimming pool on its roof terrace looked inviting in the heat of the afternoon.

The peaks of Mount Kenya

As we inched round, (it takes a leisurely hour and 25 minutes to travel full circle), we faced the skyscrapers of the CBD, with the surprisingly tall GTC Office Tower front-and-centre. The further north we rotated, the greener the city became, especially out towards Karura Forest. Eric, our host for the afternoon, told us that the peaks of Mount Kenya were visible in this direction on clear mornings and evenings. I’m sure that after a shower of rain, Mount Kilimanjaro would be visible to the south, too.

As we admired the views, we enjoyed a delicious meal. The restaurant has recently revamped its menu and its décor to give it more of a Mediterranean feel. On the ceiling above us and pillars around us were murals of blue skies and olive branches. There were olives on our table, too – rich, salty kalamata olives.

As vegetarians, my wife and I are obsessed with cheese; so we were happy to see lots of cheesy dishes on the menu. For starters, we shared the fried crispy camembert with a tangy red berry marmalade and roasted hazelnut dust, and the Mediterranean bruschetta.

For our mains, we enjoyed a creamy risotto fungi, and a generous roasted beetroot and walnut salad. For dessert, we had just enough space left to share an indulgent vanilla pavlova – a sweet assortment of vanilla meringue, fresh strawberries, custard cream, vanilla ice cream and wild berry sauce.

Like the restaurant itself, the prices are high, as you may expect. The average for the main dishes is around Sh2,400. But what you’re paying for is a unique and memorable experience. As its name implies, it’s worth it for the view.

For more information and to book a table, call 0709548183 or visit movenpick.com.

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