Governor´s Home Built by The Governor of The Sultan of Zanzibar 1823
Christina and Paul, the owners purchased this historic house, under the name Former Liwali´s House in 1991. The house was built around 1820 by Soud Bin Hamid al Busaidi from Oman, the governor at that time under the Zanzibar Sultan. It was a one-storey house, the only building in Lamu with this architecture. Over the years they restored and extended more stories and bedrooms.
Since 1997 the property is running as a 7 -8 bedrooms B&B on a 0.19-acre plot under the name Subira House (see Trip-Advisor). The audience room (Sebule) of the Governor to the right of the entrance is 12 m long with six windows and six arches and is used as a boutique. An interior vestibule with stone seats under the dome is for visitors waiting (Tekani). The unique domed entrance leads into a large beautiful open courtyard (Kiwanda)of five grand trifoliate archways. Here is the dining area with room for up to 20 people sitting. Here is also the former governor´s bedroom. Opposite is the hotel´s reception.
One of the downstairs rooms is now a kitchen opening to a garden with a Kilua fragrant tropical tree, a Pomme Granate Tree and a large covered well. There is also a small dining place. A door from the garden leads to an adjacent larger garden with trees, some vegetable beds and a small fish pond. A one-bedroom house suitable for staff and a laundry area is also here.
Back to the ground floor, you find the former women´s quarter, four rooms surrounding a small open courtyard with its four arches. One room is now a small kitchen and one is a storeroom with a back entrance. A staircase leads to the first floor. Today the house has three staircases to the 1st floor. Here are 4 double rooms with their own bathrooms. A tiled roof breakfast area looks out over the small garden and the neighbours. Each bedroom has its own spacious gallery for relaxing/socializing in the warm winds. On this floor is also the owner’s apartment of 1 bedroom, a bathroom, a large sitting room, a small guest room and a terrace with a view of the old Lamu Fort built in the same period as Subira House. The owners have turned an empty space belonging to the Lamu Fort into a small garden full of fragrant flowering trees.
Subira House is very spacious. The ceiling height downstairs is 4m 30. On the first and second floor 3m 60. The building has a smart self-ventilation system by its clever Omani architecture.
Above the owner’s apartment, there is one more guest apartment with a view over the Fort, the channel and the neighbouring island of Manda. Here you find one large bedroom, a bathroom with bath and toilet, a tiled roof sitting room and an open-air terrace. A great family-friendly apartment. From the owner’s apartment is a staircase down to an extra toilet, another kitchen and a big all-activity room. Through a huge pair of doors, you reach the reception and the large courtyard. Opposite the courtyard on the second floor, there is a second Top Top apartment with a double room, a bathroom and a tiled roof terrace as well an open-air terrace. Before reaching this you pass a massage area and a “star gazing” space.
Most of the toilets are traditional waterless Swahili long drops and the apartments on the top have Swedish Eco – Separate toilets. Lamu has no toilet drainage system and this is the reason why they have chosen to stay with the traditional dry toilets.
The hotel is Silver-rated by Eco-Tourism Kenya since 2010 which means the owners have worked hard to run the place as sustainably as possible. ?The building is of high architectural merit and of historic and socio-cultural interest (a historical house grade one) located within the historical part of Lamu Town which is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site