Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Animatedly Addicted to Bogobiri

Vaguely located inside the environs of Ikoyi, is one of Lagos exquisite hotels – Bogobiri House. With 5-star service, well-stocked menu and exotic African inspired décor Bogobiri offers the very best when it comes to hospitality. Here's my remarkable experience after spending few days with a Kenyan friend – a regular guest at the Bogobiri...This was featured in the 3rd edition - 'Lifestyle Page' of MANIA magazine.

It’s one of those cool evenings when it’s dark but the light’s still very bright and the air is so soft you could almost touch it; an excited audience of young minds gathered at the new Bogobiri house awaiting an evening of fun – The Literary Night. I sit with my Kenyan friend who happens to be a regular guest at the Bogobiri house, she visits whenever she comes to Lagos; “it often gets this way”, she tells me with so much enthusiasm, “when I’m in Lagos Bogobiri is the only place I visit; recently it has taken on a new character, quite a unique one too, she adds – chatelaine of one of the finest manor I’ve seen around here. It’s just psychotically gorgeous,” Jessica says of her preferred retreat. She goes on almost breathlessly. “Sometimes I get-really-excited-and-I-start-talking-too-fast-and-I-cannot-just-stop-talking-about-the-excitement-within….” It’s not surprising that Jessica daydreams constantly about her ‘other’ home when she is working at her Company’s Lagos office.
Nestled right in the heart of Ikoyi, Bogobiri House offers all the advantages of its prime location. Uber luxurious suites found in the newly renovated décor which are wildly romantic and the astonishing 10 guest rooms located in the main complex of the hotel, the design concept combines the practical requirements of the modern traveler; each room individually designed with Afrocentric creativity and charm. Bogobiri with a famed cuisine offered in its restaurant and bar, the popular Wine Bar close to the reception and more, has been awarded with rave reviews over the years.

First Impression is the Lobby…
At few feet, Bogobiri physically seems like a lost land, with monumental stones lying around all adding to her beauty. Of all stones and artifacts that named Bogobiri a particular one seems to come up different, perhaps it’s meant to leave visitors with the impression that they have chanced upon Alice in Wonderland just after she disappeared down the rabbit hole.

Now, after passing through a Gothic passage with a distinctly middle earth vibe, visitors are greeted by a mat inscribed WELCOME. The lobby epitomized the garden; relatively small, beautiful and busy with exclusive high-end decors of crafts and art works. The apparent luxury of the lobby at Bogobiri was evident. With gleaming floors structured around a lotus shaped ceiling design lit up by warm lights, the lobby has a stark elegance about it, done up tastefully with foliage, curios and more.
On the other hand, meeting Tola Olagbegi, Executive Director of the multimillion-naira Bogobiri turned to be an entirely wonderful experience on its own: she relishes a challenge, whether it’s taking on a seriously historic building or surviving the recession. (Bogobiri buoyed by other sects of the brand, has remained relatively healthy). Tola has maintained Bogobiri with lots of investments, grooming the same staff she employed since inception. Tola seems keen to bring the best to hospitality business, “I fell in love with Bogobiri since start, I imagined how I would make it a family home,” she says with resolve, Tola who also has an interior design company one which has played great impact on Bogobiri’s exquisite décor savours how she has accepted assistances from lots of professionals to make Bogobiri a place for everyone that loves serenity and appreciates true beauty.
“It’s really a beautiful place,” says Tola with smiles. “I like collaborating with people. It’s about putting together a team.”

Though we’ve spent most of the week surfing places all around Lagos, each time my friend Jessica returns to Bogobiri her amazement at the awe of the environment sends multiple questions into my head. I’ve lived in Lagos forever and never really had a good tour of the Bogobiri House, just the gloomy outside view that does not really raise any interest. I gazed at her with amazement till I noticed her blushed cheek that stays firmly together like that of a determined runway model ready to take on a classic hunting designer outfit. Dressed in a gleaming black leather brogues over skintight, ultradark navy jeans, a bit of chiffon blouse with little detail on it, and a bespoke antique lace waistcoat to protect her from the faint hotness evident on even the least sunny day in Lagos, Jessica looked ready to enjoy another stretch of her usual 2-day Lagos visit that according to her hold nothing but fun.

A Warm Reception:
The attendant with a delightful smile meets us to welcome us in exact correlation to our own level of anticipation, which appears to be accelerating by the second.
I was ushered around the building for a quick tour. The reception area is tastefully done and comfortable to be seated in while the check-in gets done. We returned just in time to be led up few stair cases. As I follow Jessica to her bedroom, I was amazed by how authentic the house appears. The executive suite feels like the kind of good old-fashioned spare bedroom that you come across only in the grandest houses. The walls are covered with faded brown wooden finish that has been hand-crafted with stains and watermarks to look as though it has always been there. Each step I lifted through the beautiful floors of Bogobiri House left me in awe as rivers of exhilaration flowed impatiently within my veins. Each step and long gaze carried a story of its own.

Come Let’s Lounge…
The lounge at Bogobiri House had plush couches and sofa seats offset by bright cushions, beautiful and colourful prints framing the soft-toned walls, standing lamps sitting pretty in their colourful hues, warm sunlight streaming into the room and lighting the cheerful colours on the rug, well crafted artifacts adorning every corner of the room plus pots of plants decorating the corners of the room, made us want to sink in and relax completely. We were offered the use of the small but rich library right there within the lounge. The lounge offered breakfast, afternoon tea, African delicacies as well continental/intercontinental dishes, canapé with cocktails and all day soft drinks along with the use of Wi-Fi.

Relaxation within a Suitable Suite…
As we were led to the bedroom we will sleep in for the night, it again dawned on me there’s absolutely someplace where that saying “home away from home” does apply, one of such is the Bogobiri House. The suite was divided into a master bedroom, a living room, a master bathroom and a half-bathroom accessed from the living room. You need to make sure to have enough interesting plans to share within the room or you will find yourself staring into the rather uninteresting buildings around the hotel.

The bedroom was comfortable and was just large enough not to be considered small. The wall designs are like that that has been hand-painted with stains and watermarks to look as though it has always been there. Tola came through and drops a hint on their choice of décor, “In most decorated homes, everything is too perfect. But here, everything is layered; it has a patina.” With a large comfortable bed with a soft white duvet, the muted colours of the bedroom exuded comfort. The living room (which seemed to be catching too much of my attention) followed the same décor and colour pattern as the bedroom. Fitted with a comfy couch and a portable fridge which was at arm stretch from a sofa stretch-seat facing a large TV, the living room was made to lounge in, simply exciting! With bright wall lights decorating the walls, the sheer curtains and plants doing their magic in adding a subtle elegance to the room, the living room at Bogobiri House offered all amenities like a large writing desk with stationery, a table lamp, a standby computer with 24hours internet service, a fridge filled with lots of snacks to munch on and access to a half-bathroom.

Tola has evolved her taste to a point where it can encompass modern American sportswear style and mass African traditional and be spot-on in both. “I like all genres. Normal African parlor setting or the very exquisite black and white décor,” she expresses. “And I’ve always loved old things; I like art a lot, all types of art everything around me says art in one way or other.”
While Tola took time out to attend to some administrative call I change hurriedly into a more comfy evening dress – after all this is a house in which one’s clothes can never be too grand. I looked on for a moment and noticed the beauty of the environment.

The master bathroom had a large sink, a shower stall and a bathtub with interesting wall design that could keep one in all day. With gleaming counter-tops and floors, the bathroom was done in basic creamy brown, dotted white tones offset by the russet venetian blinds and pretty lamp shades. At the far end of the bathroom, there was plenty of space allotted for luggage and clothes. Apparently just like other features, the room service at Bogobiri House is extremely efficient, on-time and always presented in a five-star fashion, housekeeping at Bogobiri also deems a special mention. Completely attentive and having mastered the art of providing service while remaining invisible, we were catered to without being disturbed in the least. The concierge knew his job as well and offered knowledgeable and worthy suggestions on things happening around the vicinity like the open mic night show which was fun.

Food, Wine and Merry…
I ended my amazing trip right in the middle of the restaurant where I saw Jessica laughing aloud amidst chatting with guests who seemed much indulged in their cups of tea. I noticed the waiter pouring tea from an ornately engraved silver teapot which looked transparent. Dressed in a sludge-brown African print tweed shirt he (the waiter) appeared quite calm. According to Jessica, the quality of any hotel or restaurant is defined majorly by the menu, the dining options and serving etiquettes rendered. She loves life at Bogobiri so much that she often prays for a reason to return despite her horrid detest for the Lagos traffic. There are a number of options to dine in at the Bogobiri House.

The Bogobiri restaurant offers all-day dining with an extensive buffet and a counter offering local and international cuisine, The African restaurant offering traditional African and local dishes and different varieties of dim-sums, the Wine Bar at the Bogobiri offers great selections and pre or post-dinner cocktails, The Lifestyle Bar offering light fairs and cocktails along the garden, the other part of the restaurant which serves international cuisine both indoor and in a secluded seating style and finally, the bar and restaurant fun time that offers social networking, literary gatherings with lots of snacks to munch, drinks, live music and bands. The options are many and choices are quite limitless at the Bogobiri House.

Pay to Get Touched…
It’s not really what you are thinking, what it means is that you can pay quite little amount to get a sensual body massage simply because a good body massage keeps you from the hospital. The ‘relaxation’ room at Bogobiri House is located few walks from any spot within the building – it’s in the central - not quite spacious though but offers limited sunlight. The hotel also houses the therapy place that offers a wide array of services, treatment and massages, a fitness center, a gym, a game-room and high-end art shops.

Overall Impression
Suddenly I looked at the clock and panicked. It’s already almost half past six. “This is the hard part of a house like this,” I thought aloud “we’ve been walking around, sitting, chatting and dining, and we literally never have time to think about anything else – like work!” We both laughed aloud. With that, I turned around to sight Tola already involved in what seemed like a quick lesson to her staff. She smiled as she walked towards me. I follow her up half a dozen staircases and finally into her office – a paneled boudoir painted in a chalky brown distemper. Her elegant bureau plat desk is prettily arranged with books, cards, cut-glass inkwells, a vase holding pens, and stacks of personalized note cards. An old mahogany shelf holds books while the walls are designed with beautiful art works. “This is where I get most of my work down, sometimes I come to relax and read and I feel so calm. Our library is large, being at Bogobiri is not just fun but educative …it’s deep here.” Depth may not be the first thing that comes to mind in light of Tola’s lifestyle, but her extravagance as a hostess doesn’t stop with her guests.

So far, our experience at the Bogobiri House has been absolutely bombastic. The hotel delivered all that a five-star hotel of its repute needs to. For those people looking for a luxury hotel in central as well pleasant area, the Bogobiri House is the place to be.

Bogobiri House
9, Maitama Sule Street off Awolowo Road, South-West Ikoyi, Lagos
Telephone: +234 1 270 7436
+234 1 270 7437

No comments: