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“Staff make you feel at home” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Nairobi Serena Hotel

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Nairobi Serena Hotel
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Kenyatta Avenue/Processional Way | P.O. Box 46302, Nairobi GPO, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #3 of 92 hotels in Nairobi
Oslo, Norway
Senior Contributor
46 reviews 46 reviews
31 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Staff make you feel at home”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2013

I stayed at Serena in May. Close to 40 years since my last visit. I enjoyed it as much this time as then. Serena is still charming.

My room was modern and kept clean.

Restaurants offer good value. Breakfast is excellent.

Staff in reception and in the restaurant provide excellent service.

Internett worked fine in the room and in the reception.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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449 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (79)
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Zurich, Switzerland
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2013

Eventhough this Hotel is located in a park in the middle of the city it feels a bit like being in a safari lodge. Decor is african-style but somewhat oldfashioned... Service is good, staff were very helpful, attentive and willing to help with everything. I was very happy about that... My room was reasonably spacious, bathroom rather small. Nice bar and a very pleasant seating area in the garden by the pool. It looked like parts of the hotel were undergoing renovation during my stay.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 21, 2013

The Serena feels like a safari lodge that somehow ended up in a park in the middle of the city. If you're interested in being in "Africa", and being reminded of that constantly, this is your hotel. It is not, however, a modern luxury hotel full of glass and sleek modern design - for that look elsewhere.

That said, the service is very good - attentive, always present, and willing to help with everything. The rooms themselves are reasonably spacious, though the bathrooms are very cramped.

Food is the high point - a very good breakfast buffet, a lovely upstairs restaurant, and a very pleasant seating area by the pool. The gym is exceptional for my US-influenced experience - a real weights facility and wood-floored studio, right next to the aforementioned pool.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled on business
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Washington DC, District of Columbia
Top Contributor
68 reviews 68 reviews
39 hotel reviews
Reviews in 40 cities Reviews in 40 cities
61 helpful votes 61 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2013

As much as I love the Serena Kampala, this property does not compare. The decor is on the tacky and unoriginal side (framed common kente from Ghana, Kuba cloth from Congo, etc.) and sort of screams " you are in Africa!" but does not inspire or stimulate. The furniture is mostly dark wood veneer and very outdated in esthetic. More disappointingly is the lack of customer-focus from the staff. For example, the concierge was unable to suggest any restaurant options except for Carnivore and the receptionist just pushed their seafood buffet. Service at the restaurant the one evening I ate there was rather indifferent bordering on rude. Breakfast buffet is fine and coffee excellent. Gym was a bit out of the way but very functional. I also had a room next to elevator and I heard the motor most of the night. I will not return to this property.next time in Nairobi as there are better options with higher standards of service and design.

Room Tip: Do not stay in room ending with 15 as this is close to one of the elevators and you heard the motor...
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled on business
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Top Contributor
137 reviews 137 reviews
35 hotel reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 18, 2013

I think this hotel probably is at a pointtht it need an uplift. The grounds and food were very nice and the bar area is comfortable. The room was just ok, no wow to it and the bathroom was the smallest I have been in for some time. It's clean and functional but I didn't get a sense of luxury to it.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled on business
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lagos
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 13, 2013

I wrote this piece about my experience in Nairobi Serena Hotel. It was published in Punch Newspapers, Nigeria (see See http://www.punchng.com/i-punch/what-makes-a-brand-social2/). It summarizes my experience and thoughts about the hotel. Here is the article in full below.

What Can Go Wrong May Go Wrong

''We are glad that we were able to meet your expectations during your recent stay with us. We however note that your wake up call and missed airport transfer did not meet your expectations, this is being addressed and we hope we can be of help during your next visit'.
- an excerpt from an email sent to me in December 2011 by Daniel Kangu, General Manager, Nairobi Serena Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya.

Here is an account of the series of events that triggered this email.

In December 2011 I planned to attend Convergence Africa, a conference for entrepreneurs, investors and policy-makers in Africa. Nairobi, Kenya was the host city. I went to popular travel review web portal, TripAdvisor.com to decide which hotel to stay. Nairobi Serena Hotel had an 87.9% approval rating from travelers. This 5 star hotel looked grand, imperial, and seemed service friendly…just the kind of place I needed. I made an online booking for a room and airport transfer service on the hotel’s aesthetic, easy to use website. I immediately received an email stating, 'Dear Dr Anderson, transfer has been confirmed. Our driver will have a Nairobi Serena Paging Board bearing your names at the international arrival exit'. I couldn’t wait to get to Nairobi.

We arrived Jomo Kenyatta Airport about 2am one cold morning in December 2011. I waited for over 35 minutes for the driver at the designated point. I eventually left for the hotel in one of the airport taxis. This was service failure number one. I thought to myself, 'what can go wrong may go wrong'.

I got to the hotel about 4am tired and disappointed. The front desk officer apologised for the mix up and I decided to let things be. My immediate challenge was to catch some sleep before the conference opened at 8am. I requested to be woken up at 6am.

The room was grander than I had imagined but at that point it was the least of my considerations. I was soon fast asleep. I woke up abruptly at 7am - obviously the front desk officers had failed to wake me up. This was service failure number two – a real nightmare. It was another vivid reminder that 'what can go wrong may go wrong'.

There was no time to waste. I hurriedly had my bath, jumped into my clothes and raced downstairs. I didn't fly thousands of miles to miss this headline event.
Since I was leaving the hotel immediately, I would have to miss the complimentary buffet breakfast I was entitled to. This was service failure number three! Indeed what can go wrong had gone wrong!

I approached the front desk with steely determination. Co-incidentally I teach brand leadership in marketing, sales and customer experience management in some postgraduate schools. ‘Nairobi Serena Hotel was not going to get off lightly. They had promised but 3 times out of 3 instances they had under delivered’.

It’s Never Too Late to Start Afresh

A senior officer on duty rushed towards me apologizing effusively. I was offered a complementary return drop to and from the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), the venue of the conference. On the bus, I was given a hot cup of rich Kenyan tea and that day's newspaper. The driver was apologetic, empathetic and genuinely helpful. I soon warmed up to him.

The conference went very well.

I got back that night to find an envelope on my bed. It was a letter of apology from the hotel addressed to me. The letter chronicled the 3 instances they had let me down. I was offered a complimentary airport drop off and a complimentary buffet lunch or dinner. The letter came across as honest, heartfelt and most importantly it had executive support. The hotel’s Deputy General Manager signed the letter. What more could I have asked for? In an environment where organisations are long on talk about service delivery but short on execution, this was personalised service recovery in action. I was now an advocate for life.

For the rest of my stay it seemed to me that I got a little more attention from the hotel staff than the average guest. There were no more 'incidents' and I experienced the joys of staying in a 5 star hotel. At the end of my trip, I was sad to leave. Nairobi Serena Hotel had become a home away from home.

Lessons from Nairobi Serena Hotel

Here are some unforgettable lessons:
· Even the best brands sometimes get it wrong. Since what can go wrong may go wrong, don't wish off bad service. Rather plan for service recovery. Find one reason to make it happen for the customer and don’t give another excuse why it can’t and won’t happen.
· Leaders lead service recovery from the front - with credibility, sincerity of purpose and commitment.
· Nairobi Serena Hotel created a system whereby service recovery was everyone’s business. People were not afraid to report their service failures to their superiors. Employees were also empowered to win back the customer. After the incidents, employees were told to be extra nice to me and they were! Letting your people fail forward is a great approach to service recovery!



Closing Thoughts

I continue to share this experience in my classes and in avenues like this. Many times we neglect the customers we already have for the ones we desire. It is not too late to win back your disgruntled and passive customers. Don’t let them take their frustrations with your brand to social media. As a social brand, Nairobi Serena sure has a thing or two to teach us. Service recovery starts with making a plan for 'what can go wrong ' and following through with such a plan when things go wrong.

Follow this advice and thank me later.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dar es Salam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 12, 2013

Really enjoyed my stay, the hotel is old but very well kept. The rooms are very comfortable and well maintained. Beutiful green gardens surround the property. A good variety to choose from for breakfast too. The staff are very professional and courteous.

Room Tip: Choose a garden view room
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Nairobi Serena Hotel

Address: Kenyatta Avenue/Processional Way | P.O. Box 46302, Nairobi GPO, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Nairobi
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 92 hotels in Nairobi
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Nairobi Serena Hotel 5*
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