I stayed here for eight nights for a conference that I helped organize and run so my experience is a bit more specific than most people. If you are considering organizing an event here, you may want to wait until they resolve their service issues.
That being said, the rooms are lovely, well appointed and very clean (at least at first). After a few days I did notice a decline in the level of cleanliness in the bathroom. I was sharing a room and by the middle of my stay I noticed a lot of hair on the floor. I ran into housekeeping outside the room one day and asked if they could please make sure to mop the bathroom floor to get rid of the hair but this was never done. By day 8, the bathroom floor was pretty disgusting.
The view is lovely and expansive (once you get past the construction still taking place).
Mosquitoes are plentiful and will be buzzing around your head at dinner (windows and doors are left open which is nice except for the mosquitoes). The mosquito net inside the room is very large but not practical. We woke up more than once at night to kill mosquitoes that had gotten in the net (kind of defeats the purpose). No other bugs in the rooms.
Food is good to very good, very varied and fresh, the buffet changes daily. If you order from the menu, service is very slow. Took 45 minutes to get a sandwich and this is quite typical. We eventually gave up ordering from the menu and got the buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The buffet desserts looked very good but were not as good as the rest of the food.
The location is way out of town. It's an expensive ride into town and they overcharge you for it. We were staying in town for the first part of our stay and paid $30 to get from the airport to downtown Kampala. The Serena, which is halfway to the airport, asks for $50 to drive you to town. Make sure to negotiate this before getting in the cab. Also, it's a 20 minute ride to town when there is no traffic but this is almost never the case and it can take an hour or more with traffic. There is nothing do to around the hotel. If you are looking for rest and relaxation (or are working all day) this is fine but if you want to do anything else, you'll have to take a cab to town (and deal with traffic).
We experienced problems with service which made running the conference much more difficult than it should have been. Most of the staff is lovely but they don't know how to handle problems when they arise. Our conference was quite large and even though we provided the hotel with a list of guests with dates of arrival, the person in charge of the reservations kept entering them wrongly in the reservation system. It took several meetings in the course of the day to work with the hotel to get all the guest inputted properly in the system. It does not look good when one of your guest checks-in and is not in the reservation system!
We provided instructions for how we needed the meeting rooms set-up but this was not communicated properly to the people setting up, so again, lots of time wasted repeating instructions and managing staff.
One of our guests had a defective phone. That person needed the phone to make business calls and asked reception several times for a new phone which was never provided.
Power goes out several times a day. They have a back-up generator but the projector turns off in the conference room every time the power goes off. So you then have to go run around to ask someone to turn it back on (they wouldn't show us how to do this ourselves which would have been easier).
The list goes. Some of these things were details which would not have mattered had I been on vacation but in this situation it all added up and created much more work for the organizer than is needed.
Wifi was spotty and didn't work past 7:00pm on most days. You have to go up to the lobby area to get good connection.
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- Also Known As:
- Lake Victoria Serena Hotel Kampala