BACKGROUND: The hotel bills itself as ‘The City Hotel by the Game Park’, with one side of the property overlooking the Nairobi National Park. The Ole-Sereni is owned by six independent directors and opened in October 2009. This month sees ground broken on a new hotel adjacent to the existing property, with a bigger focus on conferencing.
WHERE IS IT? In a city where the traffic is notorious, hotel location is key, and the Ole-Sereni has this box ticked, situated just off the Mombasa Road that connects the city with the airport. It’s roughly a five to 10-minute drive to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Conservatively, the trip to the CBD is about 20 minutes, but can be longer. Leave more than enough time for meetings.
ROOM FACILITIES: I would describe my room as decent-sized, with pretty much all the basics in place. The only thing I didn’t like was the shower, which, despite enjoying decent water pressure, had a small nozzle for a head, unlike the rain shower heads that have just about become the norm in quality hotels. I’m also not a fan of a shower in the bath. Aside from that, some basic business-travel focused facilities. The work desk was more an extension of the shelf that ran from the luggage stand and below the TV – useful for things like wallets, phones, keys etc. The desk was completed by a couple of plug points and a desk lamp. Thereafter, the room featured a flatscreen TV with news, sports and movie channels, a king-size bed, full-length mirror in the passageway, a rather large safe capable of storing a decent-sized laptop, a food/drinks counter with tea and coffee, mini-bar snacks and a shelf with spirits, and an armchair in the corner, adjacent to a window with a view of the national park. The complimentary and efficient Wi-Fi service made for seamless in-room work time.
RESTAURANTS & BARS: Not many hotels offer you the option of having a cold beer overlooking a national park. But the Ole-Sereni does, and that’s exactly what I did after checking in around 18h00 and dumping my bags. The view from my room forced me out and down onto the terrace, where said beer was consumed, followed by the Jack Daniels beef fillet – aged Kenyan beef brushed with a Jack Daniels glaze and served with sweet potato and red onion hash, along with a smoked aubergine and mustard sauce. The Big Five restaurant is simple – “a mix of live cooking stations offering dishes themed on five cuisines” – Far East, Fusion, Spice Route, Italian and Grills. As a result, there’s everything from crispy chilli chicken to seared Indian Ocean tuna and teriyaki chicken, spaghetti with meatball and tomato ragu, and braised lamb, along with a selection of pizzas, desserts and an ice-cream bar. There’s also a vegetarian menu. As it was a whistle-stop stay, I didn’t get to experience breakfast, but on checking in I was offered an early breakfast at 05h00, as opposed to the usual start time of 06h00. The hotel’s other dining options are the Waterhole Snack Bar and Eagle’s The Steak House.
BUSINESS & MEETING FACILITIES: The Pride Hall Conference Center is the hotel’s main facility, with the capacity to host 500 people. It can also be divided into different combinations of five individual rooms. Ole-Sereni also has three additional meeting rooms with a capacity of 40-60, plus one large fully-equipped boardroom. There’s also a business center with standard facilities, including high-speed internet access and secretarial services.
LEISURE FACILITIES: The hotel pool is another facility with a view of the park, and if you have the time, you can lounge poolside and enjoy the view. There’s a health club just below, offering a gym, steam room, sauna, aerobics, a salon and changing rooms. The hotel also has a travel desk that handles airport transfers, as well as tours and activities.
VERDICT: Convenient location, comfortable room, efficient Wi-Fi and good food. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll see animals at the nearby waterhole, from either your room, the bar, restaurant or swimming pool.
Address: Mombasa Road, Nairobi
T: +254 20 390 1000