If there is a spot in the city that I love to pop in once in a while, it’s the Nairobi Serena. Nestled well in the reach of the CBD, the Serena is unusually serene and calm away from the hustle and bustle, once you step into the front doors, which by the way, have changed.
The hotel is undergoing a bit of a revamp, and an additional wing is under construction. You’d think that there’d be a mad din from the hammering and movement, but it was barely noticeable. I think some constructors in Nairobi need to take tips from these guys. The garden outside is still as lovely, with enough space to be utilized in different ways. Did you know that they are currently the award holders for the coveted World Travel Award – Africa’s Leading Green Hotel 2016? Now you do.
Walking in though – the warm reception that embodies Serena is still the same, and the staff are very attentive. I was here for – what else – food. Brunch to be precise. And on a slightly cold day, a hot meal was precisely what I needed. In tow with me was Liz, I prefer not to eat alone – and that way, you get to taste a lot of food!
An array of salad delights you – fresh vegetables and cold cuts, and not too heavy to fill you before the main meal. There’s also a selection of freshly baked bread to entice you if you choose to have soup – I recommend the chicken broth… perfectly light but tasty, and a slice of the multi-grain bread, wholesome and filling. I chose a couscous salad, along with slightly roasted cashewnuts and some yummy cold-cut seafood rolls whose name I can’t remember – I’ll fill you in later.
Serena’s Sunday Brunch is designed to be a family affair, keeping in mind that most families spend Sundays together and mealtimes are often a great way to bond and engage. Ever so attentive to detail, Chef John took me through the menu, explaining why the meals are chosen. Essentially, you have a more than a 3 course meal while at brunch, from starters, main and desserts. The meals are chosen to ensure that kids too have a great selection, with easy to eat and healthy options. I was already hungry by the time he finished, and I quickly headed off to the food selection.
When it came to the main meal, I was spoiled for choice. From sauteed potatoes, fluffy white rice, chicken, fish and beef curries, spinach, healthier choices like sweet potatoes and arrowroot, the hot dishes buffet table was groaning under the weight of amazing food. The carvery had a nicely grilled salmon chunk that I made a beeline for. I can’t seem to have enough of sea food, and prefer it to other meats.
Near the end of the hot dishes area was the active cooking station, which I recommend you visit for a quick stir-fry meal, and is a big hit with the kids. Sometimes the station hosts a crepe-cooking station and you can enjoy those with a savory dish.
We thoroughly enjoyed the hot meals, washed down with a tropical juice like no other. You know, if you’ve had a few to drink the night before and are suffering slightly, this cocktail juice and the broth is the best recommendation. Try it, and let me know.
Did you think I’d forget the dessert station? Nope. It’s always the best for last, and I had way too many choices to make to satisfy my sweet tooth, so I had a bit of everything. The fruit array was stunning, but the sweets totally took over. Needless to say, I need to take a break after that.
Retiring to the cosy Aksum bar, I slowly let my lunch sink in over a cup of masala tea, as I caught the Kenya vs Scotland game in the Hong Kong 7s. The bar has several screens to let guests catch different matches through the day, though I’m sure I was too loud as I shouted when we lost at the buzzer. You know, you must have some decorum when at Serena…. Just kidding. They welcome all types, including loud, passionate fans.
It was a lovely afternoon, and we could not find anything to fault the team at Serena. The hospitality was top notch, the food was amazing, and the ambience was perfect. And if you’re feeling peckish on other days, I suggest you try out their Kenyan night on Thursdays, and Seafood night on Fridays.
If you get a chance to, also try out their award-winning spa, Maisha – but probably before the meal; or the gym, to work out the excess calories.
Overall, Nairobi Serena is a great day out, family inclusive, regardless of whether you’re there for a meal, or staying there.
How to get there:
- Situated in the CBD periphery, the Serena Hotel is located on Kenyatta Avenue. You can take a cab for as little as Kes. 200/- from the CBD.
- The Sunday Brunch is Kes. 3,500/- per person, and half price for kids.
- The Moroccan-styled Café Maghreb is a perfect place to be, with an array of sumptuous world-class dishes on the terrace, by the pool, or inside. Check out their pattiserie, and speciality coffee area.
- The Mandhari restaurant offers intimate dining experiences and is perfect for business or leisurely dining experiences.
- The Aksum Bar is a great eclectic space in Ethiopian décor, with an matchless experience.
- The Pool Terrace and bar is perfect especially on hot Nairobi nights. Try their Italian ice cream!