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All reviews hippo breakfast game drives rooms are small the river hippo pool rock hyrax hill top hill overlooking small hill the reserve sitting area reception area champagne breakfast mosquito netting lunch and dinner gift shop migration season
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Reviewed June 24, 2012

There are many things that disappointed me about this Lodge, but nothing quite as much as the deafening sound of drilling that greeted us on arrival at our supposed oasis in the Mara. We had an absolutely awful start to the weekend when we had to practically beg the manager to stop the drilling for the two days our group was there - to his credit, he eventually relented, but it took almost an hour. I understand from the staff with whom I spoke that the drilling, hammering and sawing, is constant, day-in-day-out. There is nothing about this building work on the website so I recommend calling ahead to find out if the works have finished.

That aside, the lodge is in a beautiful setting, but so dated it is like being in your own time machine. I've stayed in other lodges in Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania and this was the poorest by a long shot. The main communal areas are dark and dingy, with brown sofas with orange cushions, ugly yellow walls... we were told that nothing has been done to the lodge since the 80s and my word it shows! That said, apparently the renovations will enhance the current experience and enable the lodge to make the most of the sumptuous location it is in - perched on a small hill, overlooking the Mara.

I was initially taken aback by the rooms - built in a cute hut-like Mara style that reminded me of little honeypots - again the most garish decoration inside (more orange, brown and yellow). Twin (but comfy) beds only in all four rooms of my party, so be warned if you're on a romantic trip...!

The views from the bedrooms (and the pool) are unequivocally beautiful - the Mara rolls out in front of the double windows and animals graze close to the rooms. The sky, as everywhere in Africa, feels overwhelming and the light that comes flooding into the room is wonderfully calming (especially once the drilling stops). But I stress, although the rooms have a lovely feel to them we are still somewhere in the 1970s, along with Del Boy, in terms of decor...

The food was good both days we were there, but nothing exceptional.

In terms of the game drives themselves, I must say these were very, very good (and are the reason this is an 'average' rating rather than a 'poor' rating). We saw all of the Big Five except the ever-elusive leopard, and we were almost "Lioned-Out" by the end, if you can believe such a thing. The drivers are very knowledgable and cheerful and speak good English.

I had possibly the best massage I've ever had in my life (and I love a good massage!) at the Mara Serena; deep tissue massage given by Josephine, the most charming and happy-go-lucky hotel staff member I've met in a very long time. Josephine usually works in the Serena in Nairobi and I shall most certainly be going there next time I'm in Nairobi for one of Josephine's excellent massages. In fact I raved about it so much that all other 3 people in my group went to see for themselves - and they all raved about it too. All credit to Josephine!

All in all, we did all enjoy our stay at the Mara Serena - in the end. However in its current state it really cannot compete with the very many other lodges available which are of a 4 or 5 star hotel standard, yet still with a local theme and feel. It certainly should not charge what it does in its current state. I do hope that once the renovation is complete, the lodge will enhance the stunning views and the Mara experience.

  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled with friends
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3  Thank KarenLN75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed June 22, 2012

Welcome to Flintstone villas!! Brilliant little stone age villas. We loved this place with spectacular views. Again spotless though out and beds to die for. we sat out by the fire pit after our evening meal which was very romantic. The rooms are decorated in flamboyant colours with sliding doors and panoramic views. A great place to stay especialy in July when the migration is in full swing for front row seats. Food was super staff very attentive and there was a birthday while we where here and all the staff came out with a cake and sang and partied like only the Kenyans know how.

Room Tip: Opt for a room looking directly out over the savanna at the bottom of the complex.
  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank poisondwarf1966
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed June 22, 2012

The view is brilliant ( from all rooms)! Animals could come just to your window. Amassing!!! Sometimes it was like watching Wild world on discovery. However you pay for that paradise with an average service. The food is ok, children friendly. Dont expect much, than you will be happy. The staff is everywhere and very noisy, too noisy: talking with each other loudly, laughing which is great, but we wanted to enjoy more the view and service...Sometimes we felt like we were disturbing them with our presence. However all were friendly.
For nicer food and service and more privacy you might want to look for sarova camp, but they could not offer that fantastic view... My daughter liked serena very much though.

  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled with family
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2  Thank Peter K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed June 21, 2012

We flew in by small plane from Nairobi and as it was the end of the rainy season the Lodge was quite quiet on the first day but getting busier when we left on the 3rd morning. However when you walk out onto the terrace above the pool when you arrive the views are spectacular. Before we even went out on Safari in the late afternoon we had spotted Giraffes, Hippos, baboons,elephants, hyenas,loads of antelopes of various types, wart hogs,buffalo and the madcap ostriches! The game drives were excellent and we saw many more animals than we had thought we would with lots of baby elephants around. The service and food at the Lodge was first rate and our room (60) was on the left hand side so we got a good view of the plains and river from our window. One little tip if you think you might have misplaced an item of clothing check in the folded up bed cover which is under the shelf. My wife had a new nightdress which mysteriously disappeared so we called reception and someone came right away and asked several silly questions like are you sure you had it!! my wife had worn it the previous night!! they then called the person who had "done" the room and we went through everything again but when they could see my wife was not going to let it rest they suddenly took the bed cover out and opened it up and lo and behold neatly folded in the middle was the missing item. Apologies were proffered and "accepted". This did not detract from the excellence of our stay but it was a bit annoying..

Room Tip: the left hand side 57+ appeared to have the best views
  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank WELLANDITE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed June 11, 2012

We flew into the gravel airfield from Mombasa and were greeted by smiling helpful guides. The Mara Serena Lodge is set up on a hill overlooking the Mara river, so its a great base to go on Safari. Its best to ask for your room to be on the left side of the property so you also overlook the river. Within moments of getting to the lodge we were on the superb patio gazing down on herds of zebra and giraffe. The first time you see the animals it makes you feel like a child again. Then when you go out in the open top jeeps with your guide on safari the euphoria of being 20 feet away from lions is immense. We were privileged to see 14 lionesses who just lay in a circle around us, snoozing away in the heat. We saw 2 male lions walk shoulder to shoulder across the plains and then claw a tree by standing on there hind legs. We saw a cheetah who had just made a kill. We saw giraffes, elephants, zebra, wilder beast, crocs, hippos and rhino. To see all the wild animals close up is without doubt one of the best experiences of our lives. The lodge offers a very good level of food and the service you receive is very very good. Its amazing how going out on safari at 6am in the morning gives you such a hearty appetite for breakfast and then again for dinner. All soft drinks and tea/coffee are
included in the price. There is a small pool and loungers to get a bit of shut eye before you next adventure. It can get very cold at night and also first thing in the morning so take some gloves and a hat. When we went out first thing we had a fleece and layers on but then by 8am your in shorts. It also gets pitch dark very quickly so a torch might also come in handy to walk back to your room at night. Whatever you do pay extra for the breakfast with the hippos. To arrive in the middle of the bush and then walk into a clearing were a mobile kitchen and tables have been set up after being greeted by a masai warrior offering you champagne was a bit surreal. The hot food and choices were excellent and to see the hippos making faces and snorting at you while you have your bacon and eggs was great. We cannot praise the lodge and all its staff highly enough. The best guide we had was SAMMY, tip him well. This is something special that everyone should do if they get the chance. As i said before a real privilege seeing all the wild animals.

Room Tip: Make sure you tip well. They don't earn much and the staff really do appreciate the tips as it helps them do things for there families like buy school equipment or every day things that we all take for granted.
  • Stayed: July 2011, travelled with friends
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5  Thank Barry and Nicol... G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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