cross town, people walk barefoot. European accents echo around the bars and restaurants. And there is not a mask in sight.
While the allure of Dubai fades due to the United Arab Emirates’ addition to the UK’s “red list”, the Kenyan coast has seen soaring numbers of visitors and well-heeled Covid “escapees”.
On Lamu, an island off the coast of the East African nation and not far from the border with Somalia, I heard English, French, Italian, Spanish and Swahili on a single bar terrace in January.
The manager of the Peponi Hotel, one of the most well-known places to stay on the island – where a double suite costs $270 (£193) per night – said: “It’s crazy how busy it’s been. We’re full most weekends. A lot of Europeans and Brits are coming down to stay for long periods.” Peponi is seeing its best season in its history, with 80 per cent occupancy during January.
Brian Hingerty, a 22-year-old musician from California who is renting a flat in Shela, the upmarket village on Lamu island, added: “It’s almost entirely Brits. They say half of Notting Hill is here.
“Everyone you meet here has had a deadline [to leave] of 8-10-12 days, then the next thing you know they’ve extended another two weeks, three weeks…