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“Magnificent!”

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Polana Serena Hotel
Ranked #1 of 22 Hotels in Maputo
Certificate of Excellence
Swellendam, South Africa
Level Contributor
49 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“Magnificent!”
Reviewed September 15, 2011

A group of 4 of us visited the Polana Hotel in March for a very close friend's 40th which coincided with my birthday too. We had a ball! We were upgraded as a birthday present and welcomed with a song from the staff and a delicious personalised birthday cake...

The renovation is beautiful and grand... peeked into the Ballroom and thought it was spectacular. My friends commented that they missed the huge palm trees that surrounded the pool area as they gave wonderful shade (pool umbrellas never cool properly in my opinion). Not having been to the Polana before, I couldn't comment. The pool area is lovely as it is now and we spent the majority of our time there sipping cocktails (excellent ones!)

The breakfasts were very good and extensive. We had dinner one night in the hotel which we thought was a bit pricey, but good. Staff could do with a little more training, in keeping with a five star property, but I understand that this is difficult when the majority don't speak English. Unfortunately, our friend's bar fridge didn't work for the entirety of our stay, even after numerous attempts to get it fixed. On that note, however, I highly commend the guest liaison gentleman (writing this review so belatedly, I have forgotten his name). He is an absolute credit to the hotel and should be hung onto!

Maputo seems to be on an upswing, we took a walk and passed lovely little gelato shops, eateries and boutiques as well as the mandatory sidewalk sellers. We felt perfectly safe, even walking at night. We also visited the Yacht Club for dinner and were very impressed. Fabulous food and service at very good prices. Just to note, that we were recommended to the Ice Bar, next door to 'Coconuts' - they only open at 23:00, sometimes 23:30 and dress is ubersmart! Don't bother unless you're wearing designer wear and killer heels.

All in all, a wonderful weekend away and we'll definitely return.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Alison_J_Walker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (133)
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roma
Level Contributor
25 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed August 25, 2011

I spent just one night and I was travelling for business with a big delegation. The room was nice, altough not exceptional. The grounds are stunning; we left early in the morning after breakfasting on the terrace - petted by attentive waiters who actually produced real Italian espresso coffee along fish freshly squeezed orange juice. It was around 7 am and we all started strolling around the garden waiting for our bus to the airport: it was incredibily peaceful and beautiful, the sea, the garden, the light, the silence, and the building itself (built, I have seen, in 1922) looks like a dream out of a colonial magnificence. I also had dinner at the hotel the night before and the prawns were outstanding.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank rosacento
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Zagreb, Croatia
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
Reviewed August 24, 2011

I've stayed at the Polana ten or more times over the past 10 years and probably will not stay again after the last visit a month ago. Points:

1. The main public areas of the hotel have been completely renovated. Whether the renovations are an improvement or not depends on your taste. However, it is fair to say they would have done better investing in the rooms. There is no smoking (Mozambique law) anywhere inside in the public areas.

2. Food. The hotel has changed its eating options, effectively eliminating one (the former main dining room) and replacing it with an outrageously expensive "fine dining" restaurant, which appears to be mostly empty. The former main dining room menu has been "moved" to a restaurant where the cafe used to be. Unfortunately, the menu hasn't changed (a word) since I first visited in 2001(!). A word of warning: if you decline the (expensive) buffet and order from the menu the minimum wait is at least 30 minutes...in one instance I walked out after waiting an hour and fifteen minutes (but note, I was still charged) to be served.

3. Service. At best surly, in most cases on the edge of rude. Management is clearly weak, and staff need supervision and organization. A couple of staff still had a friendly attitude, but almost all others more of a "what's your problem?" attitude rather than a "how can I help you?". Given the famously warm welcome of the Polana's doorman, everything else is downhill.

4. Rooms. I stayed in the new block (on the sea side of the pool). I had to change rooms after refusing the first one. Rooms are quite large, but desperately need renovation. Maid service good (smiles, even!).

5. Billing. Check with an eagle eye!

6. Health club. Absolutely superb. A brand new facility with all mod cons including a heated pool. Staff helpful and friendly. Use is included in the rate for hotel guests.

Overall the Polana has gone from a reason to visit Maputo to somewhere to avoid if you can: overpriced, indifferent service, mediocre food. One awaits the opening of the new Radisson......That said, still worth a coffee to see the colonial magnificence of the building and grounds.

Room Tip: Ask for a room in the main building.
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Dreampoint
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
24 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed August 19, 2011

The hotel is very nice; just make sure you ask for a room in the main building because the rooms that are located behind the pool haven’t been renovated (old TVs and furniture). The poll area is very nice as well as the gym and sauna. The breakfast is also fine. Many of the rooms that are facing the sea have excellent views.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Andrey_G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
19 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed July 10, 2011

The Polana has been around for a long time and has seen dramatic turns of politics and fortunes in Mozambique. It now stands proudly in Maputo looking out over the beautiful bay. If you are going to Maputo, there is no where else to stay that will give you such a dramatic and grand environment. You will enjoy clean, well appointed rooms, great service, good food, cold beer, and loads of amenities. My only regret was not staying long enough.

Room Tip: Ask for a bay view room in the main hotel building
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank thesilverspoon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cape Town Central, South Africa
Level Contributor
28 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed June 28, 2011

I last stayed at Polana 2 years ago, whilst hotel was under construction, so I was very keen to see what they had done. One word! Impressed. They really have maximized the location - spectacular views over the ocean. Rooms are spacious, stylish and all the mod cons. The lobby, pool and gardens are elegant, but welcoming. The spa is gorgeous, with a lot of Moroccan influence. As a business traveller who likes to stay fit, gym is superb and mens change rooms fitted out with steam room, sauna and jacuzzi.
I had the buffet breakfast which is well stocked, although not great. Little disappointed with huge baine marie of sloppy scrambled eggs and undercooked bacon. I also had buffet dinner which while not amazing, the food was tasty. Wish I had tried the signature French restaurant instead.
There was one sour note which occured at the bar. Throughout my stay could not fault service, but when a bar staff asks me for extra money even though I tipped generously on bill.....just tacky!

  • Stayed June 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank DragonflyAfrica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed June 6, 2011

We stayed in the Polana for 2 nights as part of our honeymoon. Pulling into the hotel was a stark constrast to the drive from the airport - it looked magnificent and just how we'd imagined from hearing about its grand past. We checked in and were led outside the hotel passed the swimming pool (which is extremely impressive) and down some steps to the Polana Mar. How disappointing. The Polana Mar is a recent add-on to the original building and completely separate from the main hotel. The rooms were dark and dingey and we may as well have been staying in a completely different hotel. We felt like the poor relation. We asked at reception whether there were any rooms available in the main hotel and the man we spoke to was very accommodating (almost as though he agreed that the Polana Mar rooms weren't up to much!). He very kindly arranged for us to be moved to the main hotel - at no extra cost - and the staff moved our bags while we were out at dinner. Our experience from then on was very good. We didn't have dinner in the hotel (as we wanted to go out and explore Maputo) but we ate breakfast on both mornings as the quality and range of food on offer was excellent. As this was our first stay in the Polana we couldn't comment on the renovation works particularly but I did think that once inside, the hotel could have been anywhere in the world. Not a criticism but it didn't really have a colonial feel. Overall an enjoyable stay but if you're going make sure you're not in the Polana Mar and that you stay in the main hotel.

Room Tip: Don't stay in the Polana Mar!
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  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Travalholic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Polana Serena Hotel

Property: Polana Serena Hotel
Address: Avenida Julius Nyerere 1380, Maputo 1100, Mozambique
Location: Mozambique > Maputo Province > Maputo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 22 Hotels in Maputo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Polana Serena Hotel 5*
Number of rooms: 142
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The “Grand Dame” of Africa, as the Polana Serena Hotel is widely known, is a must-see historical landmark when talking about the city of Maputo. The elegance and splendour of its façade are the living memory of bygone colonial times; its luxurious interiors whisper stories of the many generations who spent nights protected by the hotel’s majestic walls, kings and queens, ambassadors and presidents, princesses and common travellers; its gardens, perfect and romantic lookouts offer a breathtaking view over the Indian Ocean.Built in 1922 in the heart of Maputo, one of the most exclusive residential areas, the Polana Serena Hotel belongs to the elite of the most famous hotels in the world. The splendor of its colonial lines blend tradition and art, making your stay an unforgettable journey through the past, looking to the future. Faithfull to the Serena Group philosophy of integrating architecture with cultural heritage, the Polana Serena Hotel offers a mix of elegance, grandeur and ethnicity, in a space equipped with the most modern solutions, luxurious facilities and excellent service. ... more   less 
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