Serena Hotels - A Taste of African Luxury
I've chatted with quite a few people who say Africa is their dream vacation.
If you're saving, and you want to go all out, I have one word for you, "Serena".
Serena Hotels are primarily a hotel chain focused in East Africa, with some additional hotels in the Asia. It's a great choice if you're headed to Africa on safari or business!
It's one of the few luxury hotel chains in the region that is actually Africa owned. As a matter of fact, almost half its shares are owned by Aga Khan and one of AK's goals is to pump money directly back into East African economies.
You'll see phenomenal local artifacts and artwork spread throughout the hotels. The staff's uniforms are made from traditional fabrics of the country that you're visiting, and you'll find local dishes, wines and beers to sample on the menu. Nothing about the experience says, "Western chain hotel".
The primary selling feature of the chain is their focus on service and hospitality. You will get no better service anywhere than at a Serena Hotel. I have heard that their staff training program is intense!
As a matter of fact, I recently stayed at the Radisson Blu in Nairobi, and an employee boasted to me that one of the reasons that hotel is so great (and it is!) is because many of their staff used to work at the Serena. That's not a particularly impressive claim to fame.
If you're a new Africa traveller and safety is your concern (as it should be), all Serena Hotels that I have visited are gated, and have at least two rounds of security screening before any guests or cars can enter the premises.
When you visit Serena Hotels, you'll find some of the nicest pools and spas in the region. The food is always top notch and boy, do they know how to do a buffet! In many of their locations, they are rated the top hotel in the city, or even the country.
The one drawback is that the hotels were really at their peak a few years ago, so some of the rooms are starting to look a little dated (I'm looking at you, Nairobi).
These hotels can easily run you a few hundred dollars per night. But remember, make your price match game strong, as I taught you in my hotels.com post!
The one thing that surprises many newbie Africa travellers is how expensive travel in Africa is, both in terms of hotel and airfare, so be prepared.
If you're really ready to splash some cash, the Serena also does safari packages. I would love to do this some day! I should probably start saving now...
To date, I've stayed at the following Serena Hotels:
Next on my list? I'm dying to stay at the Serena Zanzibar or the Serena Mombasa!
Planning a trip to Africa and want to discuss hotels? Hit me up! It's one of my favourite topics!