Terrorism in Hotels and How to prevent attacks through Design.

Within the recent times, Kenya has had the unfortunate events of being attacked by terrorists.
These terrorists seem to specifically attack malls and public transport. Recently, a hotel along Mombasa beach was also attacked using grenades. In 2002, a hotel at the coast was also attacked by a suicide bomber.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA, terrorists have picked on hotels as good targets due to the fact that most hotel users tend to be the elite locals or Business men from the West. The Mumbai hotel attacks at the Taj Mahal hotel in 2008 gives a clear picture of this.

Designs that are enclosing, with very few large openings to the outside, can make it easy for attacks where terrorists hold the hotel siege for hours or days.


A design that enables all the rooms to directly communicate with the outside through large openings is best situated to discourage this type of attack.

In the Southern Sunshine hotel picture below, notice the staircase area and the corridor access to al rooms is open to the outside hence no room or cover for any terrorist to hide and take the building siege.

Such a design makes rescue operations very easy in case of terror attacks and fire. This ensures safety of the occupants.

Number of rooms.

Terrorists prefer to attack hotels which accommodate allot of people. Hotels with fewer rooms will therefore not be at risk of attacks. The Southern Sunshine hotel, along the Southern bypass, has 28 rooms hence not a good target for terrorism. The fewer number of rooms also enable the hotel staff to give the occupants a personal touch, thereby inhibiting chances of terror attacks further.

Recently, the USA issued warnings against possible terror attacks on two Sheraton hotels in Abuja, Nigeria, during the recent World Economic Forum meetings.


IN July 2010, Alshabab terrorists attacked a restaurant in Kampala, Uganda, killing 76 people as they were watching a soccer match.

Recently,in November 2013, Al shabaab militants rammed a car packed with explosives at a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, killing 5 people.


Designs whereby its impossible for someone to drive a vehicle close or into a building will go a long way of preventing such attacks. Barriers and bumps should be placed around the building such that only vehicles moving very slowly can access or be close to a building, with security guards well trained to look for possible booby traps.

Francis Gichuhi Kamau, Architect.

Francis Gichuhi (692 Posts)

Architect Francis Gichuhi . B.Arch. University of Nairobi. Registered Architect, Kenya. Member, Architectural Association of Kenya. Contacts. email info@a4architect.com. Telephone +254721410684


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