TRIED & TESTED/Hotel
Serena Hotels operates a group of hotels, resorts and lodges throughout Africa and Southern Asia, but significantly, it has a presence in some of the continent’s most prominent business travel destinations – Nairobi, Kigali, Maputo, Dar es Salaam and Kampala. The Nairobi Serena is the group’s flagship property and is arguably the city’s most established hotel, celebrating 40 years this year.
Where is it?
The hotel is located in central Nairobi, overlooking Central Park and five minutes’ walk from the CBD. Its location has always been one of its strengths, but it is, apparently, feeling the pressure of a group of newer hotels opening up in the suburb of Westlands, as both local and international businesses look to move their operations out of the city centre. With a much-improved road now in place, the drive to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is about 20 minutes, out of rush hour traffic, which must be avoided. A hotel transfer cost me $35.
The hotel has 183 rooms, made up of standard and superior rooms, and a host of suites: garden, bateleur, executive, business and state. I was accommodated in a superior room, which featured a king-size bed, double-glazed windows, flat-screen TV (with selected satellite channels – news, movies, sport etc), large safe, air-conditioning, mini-bar, tea/coffee station, cupboard, work desk with comfortable reclining chair, and an outside patio with table, chairs and lounger. The size of the room, along with the bathroom, was perhaps on the small side, by modern standards, although more than adequate. With regards the bathroom, I’m usually not a fan of a shower in the bath, particularly in a 5-star hotel, but this one had such a good shower head and water pressure that I quickly forgot that. All the suites do have a separate shower and bath, and the living areas are obviously bigger. 24-hour room service is another offering, and I liked the newspaper slipped under my door.
Restaurants & Bars
There are three dining options, in the form of the Mandhari restaurant (a la carte fine dining with ‘international’ cuisine), Café Maghreb (all day), and the Aksum Lobby Bar, which is also the scene of social drinks, as is the inviting Pool Bar. Another option is the Bambara Residents Lounge. I had breakfast at Café Maghreb, where I opted for the scrambled eggs and salmon combo, which was great, along with a decaf coffee, and the Kenyans know how to make good coffee! For lunch, I tried the Lobby Bar and its chicken skewers, which came with chips and a salsa sauce. Done to perfection with red and green peppers in between the chicken.
Business & Meeting Facilities
The hotel has six rooms, ranging from the boardroom through to the Ballroom and Conference Centre. Here, it can accommodate in the region of 200 to 250 delegates, depending on seating style. All the usual conferencing ‘mod-cons’ are on offer, as is a business centre and secretarial facilities. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel, and I was impressed by its speed and functionality.
A decent-sized heated swimming pool offers the option of a few laps in the morning or evening, whilst there’s a well-equipped gym which also offers exercise classes. Adjacent to that is the Maisha Health Club & Spa, which has treatment rooms, as well as saunas and steam rooms. All of it looked rather inviting, and I was sorry I didn’t have the time to sample the facilities.
A classic African business hotel, and whilst the historical décor, layout and feel may suggest something out of touch with modern times, that couldn’t be further from the truth, as the service is excellent, the rooms comfortable, the Wi-Fi speedy, the location central and the food tasty.
Address: Kenyatta Avenue/Processional Way
Tel: +254 202 725111