Whenever I touch down in a new destination – and that’s often! – be it a buzzing metropolitan city or a sleepy village, I often revert to TripAdvisor, or similar, to unearth the best restaurants, cafes and nightclubs. But on my travels in recent years, there is one search that has cropped up invariably: great bars to watch football in?
And I have had great reason recently to be typing those very words into Google this past week, for the World Cup has just started.
I have been plying my trade in Nairobi, Kenya’s vibrant capital, over the past six weeks and, in a cosmopolitan city which could well lay claim to be the home to every nationality in the 32-team World Cup, you’ll want to find a nice den to enjoy the games.
So here’s my round-up of the best places to watch the festival of football after the end of week one:
Kengeles Bar and Restaurant…
Nestled in the corner of Lavington Green, Kengeles offers primarily standing-room only options, with wide-screen TVs dotted around the bar. The result during the World Cup is a raucous atmosphere of rabid footy fans.
If you’re eager on enjoy a more relaxed environment, there is a seating area on entry, where you can select from the restaurant’s menu of Mexican, African and Asian dishes and bar food, too.
Lavington Estate, Nairobi, Kenya, T: +254 (0)20 3877360
Is an a la carte restaurant which serves up a marathon meat fest – from crocodile tail to Giraffe neck steak to some of the tastiest chicken in town – but also has a lively and popular nightclub.
You can enjoy five local beers for the price of four and that enviable residents’ discount of 25%. Oh – and there’s five themed bars under the roof, boasting18 HD screens.
Langata Rd, Nairobi, Kenya, T: +254 (0)733 611608
The stylish 7th-floor bar of this five-star hotel has set up a large screen above the swimming pool, unfurled the 32-nations’ flags and dusted down the comfy sofas. If you’re a football purist and like watching a game in a relatively civilised atmosphere, washed down with some silky-smooth rum and ice-cool local Tusker beer, then this is the place for you.
Woodvale Grove, Nairobi, Kenya, T: +254 (0)20 4208000
Billed as ‘three themed bars under one roof’, Gipsy’s is located in the well-heeled part of Nairobi, Westlands, and brings together a fusion of locals and expats.
Its exterior looks quite uninviting, but – within – it has two giant screens which draw your attention and a medley of sports fans are served by kindly waiters looking to serve you more drinks in contrasting environments to suit your taste: upstairs more intimate, with sofas and shishas; outside livelier, where the Nairobi din can be heard from the streets.
Although if your team happens to be playing at 1am on a Saturday night because of the time difference with Brazil, you may struggle to get the DJ to turn down the decks and turn up the audio on the game…
Woodvale Grove, Close to the Jacaranda Hotel, Westlands, T: +254 (0) 733 730529
If you like your bars loud and your vibe local, this is the place to head. With four screens and surround sound centred around stadium-style seating, the Heineken-sponsored K1 Soccer City Stadium creates a local, Kenyan ambience that’s near-unbeatable.
Ojijo Road, T: +254 20 3749042