Queen of the Norfolk

23 March 2016 | Travel East Africa |

“For she will do
As she do do
And there’s no doing anything about it!”
(Loosely adapted from T.S Eliot’s delightful Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats)

This naturally is a tale about a cat. A cat named Regina who lives the most regal of lives in all of Nairobi, perhaps in all of East Africa. Queen Regina chose the Fairmont Norfolk as her home and there was no arguing with that!

Leaving her life as a stray firmly on the street, she checked into the Norfolk 18 months ago and GM Davide was so taken with her (well who wouldn’t be – have you ever seen a prettier cat?) that he decided the hotel would offer her permanent residence, FOC of course. FOC for those in-the-hotel-know means free of charge – something we try and avoid at all costs. Regina took to her new life with such ease and sense of nobility that Davide named her Regina.

‘The Naming of Cats is a Difficult Matter’ penned T.S: (once again slightly adapted for Her RH)

“When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
Her mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of her name
Her ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.”

Anyway, back to my story. Since that first day, she has not stepped her white little paws beyond the lobby but rather spends all her time befriending hotel guests or exploring the lovely courtyards gardens of the hotel. She has regular spa days where she gets her usual mani/pedi, has a personal vet who pays her monthly visits and there is always a fresh bowl of milk out waiting for her. And this is all absolutely true.

Regina visiting guests

It is not just the warm staff and calm oasis-like grounds that keep us returning to the Norfolk; my stay is never complete without a visit from Regina. Just call her name and she will come bounding. She leads the way to my room and stretches out on the furniture, rubs herself on my laptop if I’m working or sniffs out my smuggled biltong.

“She’s trending on TripAdvisor” proudly says Aisha, the Norfolk’s charming concierge. Aisha cannot talk about Regina without a big grin on her face and claims that she is one of Regina’s favourites and the sound of her elegant heels in the old-world lobby has Regina running out to greet her each day.

Taking Aisha’s lead, I paid a visit to their TripAdvisor and Facebook pages and I have to admit to being a little disappointed that so many people get the same attention from Regina. I always thought she saved her love and affection just for me but sadly it appears this is not so.

The next time you’re at the Norfolk, keep your ears open for a soft ringing sound, which precedes the appearance of Her Majesty Regina. You’ll thank me.

Regina and her people

Borrowing one last time from Mr Eliot on The Ad-dressing of Cats:

“With Cats, some say, one rule is true:
Don’t speak till you are spoken to.
Myself, I do not hold with that –
I say, you should ad-dress a Cat.
But always keep in mind that she Resents familiarity.
I bow, and taking off my hat,
Ad-dress her in this form: O CAT!”

Was he referring to Regina, I wonder?

 

Note from the Editor: Why we love the Fairmont Norfolk: the porters always greet you with a ‘welcome home’; Eunice and Tabitha at the front desk team are charming; Aisha is impeccably chic and helpful; the gardens are cool and quiet; the new tapas menu is delicious; the Millar and Harris of London soap is replenished daily; and Dukala Zawadi, the hotel shop, is open weekdays until 11pm.

ABOUT: Alison Mitchell

Ali is a key member of the Angama Mara team. If you ask her what she does she might take a minute to answer but it would probably be something along these lines: ‘on Mondays I market, on Tuesdays I work on the website, on Wednesdays I project manage, on Thursdays I place orders and on Fridays I plan for the safari shop at the lodge’. And on Saturdays and Sundays she writes blog posts.

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