Hotel check: Polana Serena



The 5-star ‘Grande Dame’ of Maputo, and national heritage site, was built in 1922 and is today managed and marketed by the Serena Hotel Group. In 2010 an extensive refurbishment was completed. Serena Hotels’ portfolio comprises 23 luxury hotels, resorts and safari lodges, including properties in Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali and Dar es Salaam.

What’s it Like?

There’s a feeling of stateliness from the time you arrive, with hotel staff at your beck and call. Interestingly, just the one lift servicing three floors, but it is steeped in history, having retained its original sliding gate and wrought iron cage, despite the refurbishment. The hotel furnishings are both colonial and stylish – a blend of old world elegance and new age luxury.  

Where is it?

In the heart of Maputo, approximately 20 minutes’ drive from Mavalane International Airport. Maputo City centre is about 10 minutes away, whilst the hotel is in close proximity to nearby international embassies, government buildings, shops, restaurants and cafés.


The Polana Serena has 142 rooms and suites, including a presidential suite. The rooms are tastefully furnished, with reference to Mozambique’s Indo-Portuguese heritage. A couple of nice touches I enjoyed – the clothes brush for suit-wearing guests, the king-size bed, and something a lot of modern day quality hotels appear to be going for – lights that come on when the cupboard doors open. I also liked the large safe, which was big enough for a laptop bag – essential for the business traveller – as well as the large flat-screen TV (with selected satellite channels), which swivelled and could be viewed from either the bed or work station. Also, at long last I found a hotel that understands that ultra-soft pillows do not necessarily mean a good night’s sleep! For me, the bathroom – specifically the shower – is where a lot of hotels fail. But, the Polana Serena does justice to the word ‘shower’, with excellent water pressure and two shower heads. Other features of the room – effective air-conditioning, 24-hour free Wi-Fi, IPTV and Video on Demand, iPod docking station, and the standard tea/coffee-making facilities.

Meeting & Business Facilities

The hotel has a fully-equipped business centre, complete with secretarial services. There are meeting rooms with capacity ranging from 14 to 50 people. For larger conferences or functions there is the ballroom, which can seat up to 350 people. The meeting rooms have state-of-the art audio visual equipment, whilst Wi-Fi is complimentary.          

Leisure Facilities

A large swimming pool takes centre stage in front of the hotel, whilst the Maisha fitness centre and spa consists of a fully-equipped gym, a dedicated 15m lap swimming pool, steam rooms, aerobics room and massage and treatment rooms.

Restaurants & Bars

The Delgoa Restaurant offers a French fine-dining experience, with a menu consisting of a combination of French cuisine and Mozambican ingredients. I can recommend the braised breast of duck, served on a bed of mashed potatoes and caramelised onion. The Veranda Restaurant offers all-day dining, in a relaxed environment, overlooking the pool. The menu could qualify as ‘international’, with emphasis on Afro-Mozambican options and seafood. Afternoon tea is also served here. Being a sushi lover, I thoroughly enjoyed the Aquarius Sushi Bar. The restaurant also serves seafood, with some of the biggest prawns I’ve ever seen. Well worth a visit for lunch, as it closes at 19h00. The Polana Bar is a well-known Maputo watering hole, but beware the prices – a local Mozambican beer will set you back about $7.


A great central base, if you’re on business in Maputo, with meeting options at the hotel. 5-star quality all round, although I would keep an eye on the bar prices.


Address: Avenida Julius Nyerere 1380, Maputo, +258 2149 1001,