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“Views are amazing, the food is terrible”

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Mara Serena Safari Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Hampshire, UK
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Views are amazing, the food is terrible”
Reviewed 11 May 2008

First, may I say that the views at Serena are truly amazing but I do believe that's not the only thing we should be paying for.

The food needs to improve drastically if I were to come again. My wife did not feel so well the next day and I too suffered heartburn after each meal. May I add that we are both very resilient travelers and have never before felt ill after eating food in Kenya.

The prices are extremely high and as such I would expect high quality in all areas of my stay - not just the view that Serena is fortunate enough to enjoy.

I would also be more interested to know what conservation and community work that this Serena is involved in. From what I could tell and from my questions, this Serena does not give anything back to the local communities nor does it have any conservation projects. This is pretty surprising seeing as it is profiting from the conservation efforts of others.

That said, I found all of the staff to be extremely friendly and helpful.

  • Liked — The View
  • Disliked — The Food
  • Stayed April 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank visitingfromUK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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904 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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reading
Level Contributor
101 reviews
78 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 112 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 March 2008

this was one of 5 serenas we stayed at during our recent tour of kenya. let me first say that the views from the hotel are absolutely magnificent and if i stopped here this hotel would get 5 stars. the first night we arrived the hotel was very empty due to the recent election violence. the food on the buffet was covered in flies as was the dining room. the next day two of us had food poisoning. luckily we are in the medical profession so came equiped with antibiotics, but it took a good 6 days for full recovery. we did note that food inspectors showed up two days later and sanitation improved but the damage was done. the food in general was very poor at this hotel as compared to the other serenas. the water in the shower was very foul smelling and i understand we are in africa, but i am comparing it to the other serenas. we also were given the only room with a tree blocking the view when we arrived. as the hotel was nearly empty we found this very strange. i do use a wheelchair and possibly they thought they were helping us by giving us a close room, but the hotel in general was very inaccessible and my husband bumped me up all the steps so a room two steps closer to a flight of steps was a mute point. we moved our room across the walk to a room with a beautiful view. also in general we found the staff to be more genuinely friendly at the other serenas. as previously stated this hotel can pose problems for those with mobility issues, obviously nothing is impossible but come with a strong helper.

  • Liked — the view
  • Disliked — the food
  • Stayed March 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank luvtotravelalot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dartford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
40 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 March 2008

We stayed at the Mara Serena when peace had returned to Kenya but the tourists had not. Things were very quiet around the lodge which, in it's own way, was quite nice for us, not so much for the staff.

The rooms are very comfortable with a nice little sitting area with sliding doors to what could loosley be described as a balcony, a shame as it would have been lovely to have a little more outside area to sit on. The bathroom was good but the shower was lacking in space and the water splashed out from under the shower curtain, leaving the bathroom floor awash. The water from the taps and in the toilet cistern is pumped up from the Mara River. It is treated but still retains a cloudy appearance. Where I would normally use the water from the tap to brush my teeth, on this occasion I used the bottled water provided!

I did expect more of the food given the chain's reputation. I found the choice was quite limited. Whether this was because there were few people, I don't know. Breakfast was quite monotonous and never varied, there was always pasta at lunch and dinner that would be cooked in whatever sauce you wanted. There was a strong emphasis on Indian food. However, the toast at breakfast, which they prepared for you individually, was quite delicious.

I was a litrtle upset that there is not a central tip box. There were a number of waiters in the restaurant that attended our table at meals, one might bring the drinks, another the food, another to clear away. And there were a host of other staff who did things for you. It was very difficult to know what to do for the best. In the end we gave a tip to the waiter who served us the most, and to the room attendant each day (that was easy!).

The general areas were fairly basic, I'm not quite sure how sufficient the seating areas would be if the lodge was full. But to be able to sit on the terrace or around the pool with the views across the Mara is something else.

I've been to a number of lodges, each are unique with their good points, but I'd choose this lodge again for the views, if nothing else.

  • Liked — The totally amazing views from the public areas and the rooms.
  • Disliked — Not having a balcony(as such)/terrace in the room. The food was a lttle uninspiring.
  • Stayed March 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Mwingereza
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
UK
Level Contributor
42 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 February 2008

Mara Serena save the best for last – this was really one of the most amazing Hotels seated on the top of a small hill overlooking one of the most amazing views I have ever seen.
Sitting at the Pool after our 6 o’clock drive still a little bit fresh with our binoculars sipping café and watching the river flow by. From left there was an endless march from animal over to the river 15 Giraffes, then another group of Topis, the hippos came out to lie in the sandbanks we have counted over 30!!!!!!! Watching a Mama Cheetah hunting for her 4 coups!!!!!!!!
I can’t say how wonderful the Masai Mara is with its wildlife, we were fascinated by a group of lioness trying to catch a Topi which I guess we weren’t very helpful in our cars but can you believe it we didn’t see the big Lion coming out right next to us, my heart was making a jump not only did he stay right next to us his friend another lion came too how wonderful!?!?!?!

The food was really nice, the evening sitting out in the warm evening night with many star shining and a warm fire it was magic.

The rooms were in a world of themselves, so cool 60’ style with amazing views, again a superb bathroom and lovely sitting area.
There was only one small thing which was worse for my partner then for me (he doesn’t like snakes) there was some banging and talking outside our front door at about 9.30pm which was quite unfortunate as we tried to fall asleep (don’t laugh but after 6am morning Safaris you are knackered)
Only the next day we have heard that near our bungalow was a black mamba which they had to kill, I
all really nice.
Here the Pros and Cons:
Pros
- Amazing Hotel it’s worth every penny
- Pool area with the most amazing view we have experienced in Kenya
- Rooms absolutely great, as was the staff and food
Cons:
- Forget it there isn’t anything

  • Stayed July 2007
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank krazykrizy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Monteagle, Tennessee
Level Contributor
49 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 February 2008

21 Oct 2007 I arrived at the Mara Serena with a Elderhostel group. We had driven 6 hours and was dusty and tired. We were met in Kenyan style with drink and a warm, wet face cloth and a wonderful view of the reserve. We gather our keys and were taken to our rooms to rest. Dinner that night was superb and each meal after was of high quality and a large selection of fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. Our room was neat, clean and we always had all the necessities that we needed. Someone came in every night and lowered our mossie net. This lodge had to be my favorite of my 15 day trip to East Africa. I had no compliants whatsoever with this lodge. I would recommend it to anyone. I am so sorry that Kenya is experiencing troubles, but I hope that they resolve their crisis so that tourists may come back to their wonderful country.

Helpful?
2 Thank Christee52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
58 reviews
49 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 99 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 February 2008

Due to the recent troubles in Kenya, there were very few guests at the lodge. The staff said that they were only 15-30% full, during what would otherwise have been a peak season. This is very unfortunate for them. For us it meant we had the lodge and the surrounding wildlife practically to ourselves. On safaris, it seemed as if ours were the only vans in that side of the park, so unlike the crush of vans when a cheetah or pride of lions is sighted, we could observe them at our leisure.

The trip from Nairobi to the gate of the national park took about 4 hours, with another two hours from the gate to the lodge. Along the way, we stopped numerous times to photograph herds of elephants, lions and lionesses, and other wildlife. So we arrived rather late in the afternoon. We were greeted with a very welcome cool, wet towel to wash off the dust from our faces and arms, and a glass of juice. Then, rather than insist on having us fill in the registration forms immediately, the staff very kindly let us have lunch first, and let us go through the check-in formalities at our leisure.

Service at the hotel was always courteous, though not always quite up to scratch. Some requests were misunderstood - but we ascribed this to the fact that all lodges have had to lay off quite a lot of staff, due to the huge drop in visiting tourists. The remaining staff were a little stretched, or sometimes very new.

The best part about this lodge is the view. From the swimming pool and every room, you get a 180 degree vista of grassland dotted with acacia trees, with the Mara river, populated by hundreds of hippos, glinting through bushes. With good binoculars, you can pick out various animals from the comfort of your room or while lounging by the pool.

The rooms are very comfortable, but the showers are a little cramped. The buffet meals were okay, though the pasta station got tiring as it was offered every lunch and dinner, and the pasta was invariably overcooked. The chefs are quite willing to prepare dishes that are requested by the guests - take advantage of this if nothing on the buffet appeals to you.

The lodge also has some massage and spa options, which were quite good. Overall the service and food was about a 3-star quality, but the views were stupendous.

  • Liked — Location, views
  • Disliked — Food could've been better
  • Stayed February 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank faura
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London UK
Level Contributor
12 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 February 2008

Comfortable rooms, very good service, nice food, good location (but see below), great views. We had to cut our trip short by 1 night due to the awful Kenya roads doubling our anticipated journey time so needing a beak on the journey back - no quibbles from the hotel who could have insisted on us paying the cancelled night but didn't - nice touch.

A fact about the Masai Mara (you won’t get this in the guide book) is it’s predominantly earth called’ black cotton’ that turns into a glutinous mass when it rains. And it rained hard the 1st day we were there. So the 4-wheel drive capability of my vehicle was put to the test, we were slipping and sliding all over the place, we had to splash through 1metre deep lakes that the roads had turned into in places, and had to get pulled out of the mud twice by other vehicles and a tractor. It all added to the fun, but at the time it’s a bit scary to be stuck in mud the middle of nowhere – the Masia Mara is a big park. Not something to do at dusk. And the location of the hotel means you really have to go over the black cotton to get anywhere. A downside to its central location, but only if it rains very hard.

  • Liked — Clean spacious and airy
  • Disliked — Quite a long walk outdoor walk to the rooms - unpleasant if it rains
  • Stayed November 2007, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Steve30
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Mara Serena Safari Lodge

Property: Mara Serena Safari Lodge
Address: C14, Keekorok, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Masai Mara National Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #21 of 137 Speciality Lodging in Masai Mara National Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:4 star — Mara Serena Safari Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 74
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Mara Serena Safari Lodge, set on a saddle of a hill, overlooks the 1,800 square km of rolling plains at an altitude of 1625 meters at the Masai Mara Triangle, one of the world's richest wildlife sanctuaries. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mara Serena Safari Hotel Maasai Mara National Reserve
Mara Serena Safari Lodge Kenya/Masai Mara National Reserve

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