What you need to know:
- Perched along Eldoret – Kitale Road is the age-old Soy Club that has a similar history to Nyeri’s Treetops Hotel.
- Both hosted Princess Elizabeth in 1952 when she visited Kenya on a honeymoon trip with her husband Prince Philip before she was declared the queen upon the death of her father King George V1.
- She stayed at Soy Club before leaving for Nyeri’s Treetops where she ascended to the throne.
There is an important connection between Queen Elizabeth, who died on Thursday, and two Kenyan hotels.
Perched along Eldoret – Kitale Road is the age-old Soy Club that has a similar history to Nyeri’s Treetops Hotel.
Both hosted Princess Elizabeth in 1952 when she visited Kenya on a honeymoon trip with her husband Prince Philip before she was declared the queen upon the death of her father King George VI.
She stayed at Soy Club before leaving for Nyeri’s Treetops where she ascended to the throne.
Workers at Soy club tell stories of the villa where the royals stayed, which has attracted many foreigners.
The villa, commonly known as Room 20, still stands in its original form. But like the club’s main buildings, it underwent a facelift.
Mr Henry Mulusa, a manager at the facility, says people, including foreigners, have been trooping to the club to see and take pictures of Room 20.
“This place is a jewel like no other. It is rich in history that it is unrivalled,” he says.
Built with VIPs in mind, the veranda at the entrance is big enough to accommodate bodyguards too.
It opens into a large sitting room that has a dual-purpose store – for the VIP’s valuables or personal travel belongings.
This special room holds a reception which has now been converted into a restaurant with a fireplace and a complete bar.
Away in Nyeri County, the Treetops Hotel is situated inside Aberdare National Park.
Princess Elizabeth was enjoying dinner with her husband Prince Philip at the hotel, which was built on top of a Mugumo tree when she received news that her father, King George VI, had died. It was then that she ascended to the throne.
She climbed the rickety ladder at Treetops as a princess on February 5, 1952, and descended the following day as a queen.
At the facility’s reception, two candles have been lit and placed adjacent to the portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth II.
Her room – known as the Princess’ Suite – stands out from the rest of the double suites available.
Inside the polished structures of the hotel, relics of the royal visit remain intact. Letters and prominent images of the then young princess adorn the walls, alongside those of her husband, Prince Philip.
Mr Amos Ndegwa, a ranger at the lodge, said yesterday the Queen had visited the facility again in 1983 and spent the night in her room.
“Most guests who visit are anxious to see the Queen’s room. She is the one who made this lodge to be known all over the world,” he added. The first Treetops hotel was built in 1932 and was on top of a Mugumo tree. It is the facility that the then princess climbed in 1952 before descending as a queen at the age of 25.
To protest colonial rule, the Mau Mau burnt down Treetops hotel. But in 1957, a new lodge was built opposite the spot where the original one stood.
Mr Jim Corbett, a hunter and author, immortalised the princess’ visit and wrote the famous saying in the visitors’ book: “For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into a tree one day a princess, and after having what she described as her most thrilling experience, she climbed down the tree the next day a queen. God bless her.” By Barnabas Bii & James Murimi. Daily Nation