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“Don't expect 5 start plus”

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Polana Serena Hotel
Ranked #1 of 22 Hotels in Maputo
Certificate of Excellence
Centurion, South Africa
Level Contributor
51 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Don't expect 5 start plus”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 20, 2011

The Polana is a beautiful hotel located very centrally in Maputo. It is however still in a country where the surrounding area is under developed and poverty is rife. As such, the standards in the hotel are excellent for the context in which it sits and the staff do their best to provide good service. It does however not compare to 5 star service in more developed parts of the world and small touches are missing. I would definitely stay here again, just with some managed expectations not to expect too much.

Room Tip: Ask for a sea facing room & be specific if you want a non-smoking room.
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank RochelleM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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529 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (129)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Thai first
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  • Any
English first
Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 12, 2011

My stay at the Polana was Amazing. The staff are so friendly, they made me feel like i was the only guest in the enitre hotel. The rooms are beautiful, the food is just delicious. Business or pleasure, the Polana is amazing. I have no complaints.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Nwabisa M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
67 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 10, 2011

The Polana hotel , is one of those hotels in africa where you feel like you floating in the colonial past . It shows what richness there was under the colonial power of Portugal.
But as time has gone on so has the attempts to renovate. With not much success.
I first stayed in the hotel 22 years ago and was totally 5 star as far as i am concerned with the "so called" renovation it has dropped to 3 star. Service is good as everyone tries hard to please , but managers have real issues . However the views from the terrace during breakfast are great .

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank CraigSLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Swellendam, South Africa
Level Contributor
46 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles 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.
roma
Level Contributor
25 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles 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 68 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles 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
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
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
4 of 5 bubbles 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.
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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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