Arusha Serena Hotel: Our full report
The Arusha Serena Hotel is located on the outskirts of Arusha in a scenic spot – a 150-acre former coffee ...... plantation – overlooking Lake Duluti. It was first constructed in 1988 by two Indian brothers, with the name Hotel Mountain Village, before being taken over in 2000 and largely rebuilt by the Serena hotel chain. Today it is a smart hotel with a colonial vibe.
The main building at the Arusha Serena Hotel has been designed to resemble an old colonial manor house, slightly reminiscent of the world famous Giraffe Manor in Nairobi. However, on closer inspection it is revealed as largely constructed from concrete breeze blocks. The effect is nevertheless fairly impressive and flanked by a number of palm trees it feels like quite an imposing structure. Inside, beyond the large reception area, are the lounge, bar, curio shop and dining area. The colonial theme continues here with wooden beams, dark leather sofas, richly patterned fabrics and stone fireplaces.
To the front of the main house is a pretty terrace which overlooks Lake Duluti, furnished with quirky, giraffe-shaped chairs. A flagstone path leads down to the gardens. When we visited in 2019, we were told there were plans to build a swimming poo in the near future.
The Arusha Serena has 42 rooms, 32 of which have a view of at least some of the lake. These are arranged in little semi-circular clusters, each with six adjoined rooms. With banana-stem thatch roofs they loosely resemble traditional Maasai huts. These are all identical in design, with either double or twin beds enclosed within a retractable mosquito net.
The rooms are simply styled but very comfortable with red ceramic floor tiles, a writing desk, satellite TV and a built-in cupboard with plenty of storage and an electronic safe. The outer wall of the room is curved and has a pair of glass doors opening onto a grass area at the back. Each room has an en-suite bathroom with a shower, single basin and complimentary toiletries.
Most people will only spend one night here before or after a northern Tanzania safari, however there are plenty of activities on offer if you choose to stay a little longer. The hotel is only a short walk from Lake Duluti, which is a relatively small yet surprisingly deep crater lake, estimated to be as much as 700 metres deep at its deepest. The lake is surrounded by tropical forest and a local guide can take you on a nature walk where you can learn about the native plants whilst keeping an eye out for monkeys in the trees.
You can also go canoeing on the lake which is a rally relaxing way to spend a couple of hours, exploring the lake shore where monitor lizards and water birds can regularly be seen. Unfortunately, you are strongly advised not to swim, because of bilharzia near the shore and currents further out.
Other activities include a visit to the Polish graveyard, Swahili lessons, cookery workshops at the hotel and trips into Arusha where you can explore the local markets. As well as in-room spa treatments the hotel is planning to create a purpose-built spa in the near future, although when we visited in 2019 there was no completion date.
With 42 rooms, spacious grounds and gentle activities the Arusha Serena is a comfortable hotel which is ideally located for an overnight stay before or after a northern Tanzanian safari.
- Arusha, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- Stay one or two nights at the start or end of a northern Tanzania safari.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board
- Food quality
- All meals are served in the dining room, which is part of the main house. Breakfast and lunch are normally served as a buffet, while dinner is either à la carte or buffet depending on the occupancy. The food we had in 2019 was very tasty with dishes using fresh produce from the kitchen garden.
Breakfast includes a range of cereals, bread, pastries and fresh fruit and yoghurt. A hot breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausages and tomatoes can then be cooked to order.
When we stayed in 2019 lunch started with either vegetable or chicken soup, followed by a buffet including a selection of cold salads, hot dishes such as curry, rice, pasta and fish, and also barbecued meat. We had a selection of fruits and cakes for dessert.
Dinner consists of three courses, which may start with soup or a salad. This is typically followed by a meat dish such as chicken or beef accompanied by a selection of vegetables. You would normally round off the meal with some form of cake or fruit tart.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- There are phones in the rooms and room service can be requested.
- Drinks included
- All drinks are at extra cost, this is typically around $5 for a beer or a glass of wine.
- Attitude towards children
- The Arusha Serena Hotel accepts children of all ages.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- There are no special activities or services however children are likely to enjoy the local activities such as canoeing or forest walks.
- Cots and highchairs are available although these are best requested in advance.
- Generally recommended for children
- We feel that the Arusha Serena Hotel is good for children, although there are no family specific rooms.
- The hotel plans to build a swimming pool and children should be supervised when using the pool.
- Power supply notes
- There is a backup generator
- There is complimentary WiFi throughout the hotel, both in the main area and also in the rooms.
- TV & radio
- There are DStvs’ in the rooms.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- There are flush toilets and hot running water.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- Staff are first aid trained and there is a doctor on call. There is a hospital in Arusha which is a 15-30 minute drive away.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- There is 24-hour security at the gate and around the edge of the property.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers throughout the hotel.
- Disabled access
- In Place
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is available at extra cost, roughly from $2–5 per item.
- There are electronic safes in the rooms. A small amount of currency can sometimes be exchanged at the front desk, although this cannot be relied upon.
- Accepted payment on location
- The Serena Arusha Hotel accepts cash payments in most major currencies, including US dollars, GB pounds and Euros. Major credit and debit cards are accepted including Visa and MasterCard. There is no surcharge for credit card payments.
Other lodges in Arusha
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Rivertrees Country Inn
Set within lush grounds, the peaceful and relaxing Rivertrees lies between Arusha and Kilimanjaro Airport: ideal at the beginning or end of a safari.
Arusha Coffee Lodge
Arusha Coffee Lodge is a neat, comfortable lodge, right on the highway, close to Arusha Airport. It is a convenient stop for a night.
Onsea House is a small, family-run guesthouse on the outskirts of Arusha. The rooms are quite simple, but service and food here are good.
Machweo is a nine-room lodge on the outskirts of Arusha. The rooms are large and stylish, and the service and food here are very good.
Katambuga House is a smart hotel on the western side of Arusha, an hour’s drive from Kilimanjaro Airport and 10 minutes from Arusha Airport.
Airport Planet Lodge
Airport Planet Lodge is a new hotel located close to Kilimanjaro Airport, making it ideal for a short stay before or after your international flight.
Kia Lodge is a simple, country-club-style lodge situated close to the buildings and runway of Kilimanjaro International Airport.
Hatari Lodge is designed around a bright, fun 1960s retro theme and is a relatively high-quality base to explore Arusha National Park.
Mount Meru Game Lodge
Mount Meru Game Lodge, near Arusha, is a good spot to stay en route to northern Tanzania's most famous safari areas.
Legendary Lodge is boutique luxury lodge, perfect for an indulgent overnight stay at the start or end of your safari.
Twiga is a Tudor-style lodge with welcoming owners, country-style gardens and a viewing platform looking onto Arusha National Park.
Siringit Kilimanjaro Golf Safari Retreat is a six-bedroom villa offering a luxury stay in complete privacy on a championship golf course.