Iconic Treetops Hotel still closed despite link to the Kings' mother

A deserted campsite at the 66-year-old Treetops Hotel which has been non-operational since April 2020, October 31, 2023. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

As King Charles III and Queen Camilla's visit comes to an end today, one of the key strands of the story of their visit that will remain is why they did not visit the Treetops Lodge in the Aberdare National Park, Nyeri County.

The historical hotel remains a key element in the life story of current British Monarch's mother Queen Elizabeth II who became Queen while at the Hotel.

Today, it remains closed due to financial constraints.

According to the caretaker of the hotel Francis Muthami the hotel was closed in 2020 following the Covid-19 pandemic and despite its significance historically and economically to Kenyan and British ties.

The hotel is famous as the lodge where the late Queen Elizabeth, Mother to King Charles visited as a princess and left as queen following the death of her father King George.

Since it fell on hard times during Covid 19, the hotel has been abandoned and desolate with no visitors to its facility.

“The hotel remains closed indefinitely with the management remaining silent about the next move,” Muthami said

He said that the hotel is in a good state, and from time to time there is some renovation and cleaning that takes place to maintain the status.

“My duties are to maintain the cleanness of the hotel and prevent monkeys from damaging it since if they get inside they can be destructive,” Muthami noted.

Muthami said that the hotel has 36 rooms that are self-contained and ready to be used.

He insisted that the hotel has a good wildlife view with the big four including elephant, buffalo, rhino, and leopard.

A man-made watering hole is used to provide water for the wild animals at the same time give visitors a chance to see the wild animals from a closer view, but currently it has dried up and needs to be silted to restore water for animals.

KWS Assistant Director, Aberdare National Park  Elema Hapicha said that the royal family should visit the national park to enjoy the wildlife, as the park is connected with Queen Elizabeth Second as she acceded to thrown.

“The Aberdare National Park has great features that include olesatima, elephant hills and waterfalls,” The wildlife officer insisted.

She explained that Aberdare National Park has a rich history with the royal family.

The hotel was originally built in 1932, Treetops Lodge lies in the path of an ancient Elephant migratory route between the Aberdare Ranges and Mt Kenya National Park.

Treetops is as much a part of nature as it has an ancient tree growing right through the hotel, with the lodge being built around it. 

It was first opened in 1932 by Eric Sherbrooke Walker, it was built into the tops of the trees of Aberdare National Park as a treehouse, offering the guests a close view of the local wildlife.

The idea was to provide a machan (hunting platform on a tree during shikar in India) experience in relative safety and comfort. From the original modest two-room tree house, it has grown into a 35-room hotel.

The original structure was burned down by The Kenya Land and Freedom Army (KLFA).