KQ Simba & Pride Lounges

KQ Simba & Pride Lounges

Oasis of the African charm.


In 2014, Kenya Airways awarded Planning Interiors Limited the task of designing their two new lounges located at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi. The motivation behind the creation of these lounges was Kenya Airways‘  intention to grow its international reputation by achieving world class standards. In their words, “to offer a standard of service that seeks to enhance guest experience”.  The idea of Nairobi as a hub airport was to be extended into the design, as the Simba and Pride Lounges  represent a meeting point and melting pot of different cultures.

The Simba and Pride Lounges are located at Terminal 4 of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi. The project took 8 months to complete, with the design stage taking 2 months and the construction taking 6 months. The lounges which are part of the facilities of the new terminal at JKIA are complete and in use.

The Design

The idea behind the design was to capture the modern spirit of Africa and offer guests refreshing spaces to relax, conduct business, eat and enjoy all the usual amenities of a world class lounge.

The architectural concept was developed as a contemporary reinterpretation of the beautiful elements of Pan-African culture and African landscapes.

The Simba Lounge is 360m2 and is aimed at business class, corporate and high-value clients. It has an exclusive, classy, quiet and comfortable ambiance. The design for this lounge celebrates the richness and beauty of unique elements of Pan-African culture and heritage in a contemporary setting using a palette of carefully selected local artworks, materials and textiles.

The lounge represents a world class experience carefully planned with amenities such as an exclusive smoking zone, an enclosed VIP seating area and baby changing units.

The Simba lounge zoning

Drawing inspiration from village elders sitting in a circle and sharing a traditional beverage, the focal feature is a central circular banquette seating where guests from different backgrounds can meet and converse.

The Simba lounge layout plan

The Kenya Airways‘ Pride Lounge is the larger of the two at 991m2 and caters for frequent travellers as well as partner airline guests. It aimed to be equally functional and comfortable with 12 different zones within the space.

The Pride lounge zoning.

The inspiration for this lounge is the enticing and alluring African landscapes such as rainforests, coast, savannah and desert.

The Pride lounge layout plan.

The feel of the interiors is a clever interplay of textures and colours of the African landscapes, patterns of the textiles and details of the architecture within the different landscapes.

The story of the Kenya Airways‘ Pride Lounge begins at the main entrance where the visitor experiences the layering and weaving within the rainforest with a large graphic wall covering of the Kakamega Forest as well as artifacts from Congo and Uganda.

A section of the well detailed interior.

Moving further into the lounge, the coastal theme for the dining area is based on the volumes and voids of the coastal reef, while capturing architectural detail inspirations from African coastal areas such as Morocco and Zanzibar..

A section of the dining area.

The Kenya Airways‘ napping lounge is inspired by the surging forms of the desert dunes. It is a quiet and minimalistic space that creates a relaxing and private sanctuary that ensures guests are re-energised before their next flight. The combined capacity of both lounges is 350 people.

The napping lounge.


The main challenge in the entire project was dealing with so many different themed spaces, each of their own unique and detailed design, which made it seem like several different projects rather than one. The subsequent coordination of various parties was hugely challenging and time consuming, especially with up to 20 different suppliers being used across both lounges.

Materials used were to keep in touch with the African feel of the Simba and Pride Lounges. Some items were imported, like the furniture from South Africa. The washrooms are fitted-out with Spanish tiles to achieve a particularly exclusive finish.  Mahogany floor boards were used to create a natural feel, and also allowed for several different textures to be achieved in the different spaces.

Example of the hand picked furniture.

The artwork and sculptures used in both lounges were all made by Kenyan artists, with some pieces being specially commissioned just for this project.

Artworks on display in the lounges.

The Kenya Airways‘ smoking lounge presented a unique challenge to this project, as fabrics and carpets had to be avoided due to their smoke-absorbing properties. To keep the contemporary African style of the rest of the lounge, a mixture of laminates, tiles and timber was used. This is where one of the most eye-catching pieces of furniture is located, a custom-made slatted bench with a rich, natural colour and a wave design that mimics the dunes in the Egyptian desert.  This piece was made with the help of local design house, Ramara. The room was then accessorized with desert images, including a graphic wall covering showing the striking landscapes of the semi-arid Magadi area in Kenya.


Kenya Airways Lounges were awarded the Best Public Service Interior for Kenya by the International Property Awards.

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