Sheraton Kampala, Uganda Review
Torsten has asked me to post this on behalf of him.
You can book theSheraton Kampala here.
The Sheraton brand is well-established in Africa. Sheraton here stands for ultimate luxury - more like what we associate with a Park Hyatt than a Sheraton in the US.
The Kampala, Uganda Sheraton is located on a hill, close to downtown and a 40-minute walk from Kololo. Downtown gets dangerous at night, so the location does not have a lot of walking options once the lights are out.
The Sheraton Kampala always has rates around $300. I chose Cash & Points and paid 6,000 points and $75.
I arrived on a Saturday evening and the whole place was mad with party-goers for several functions inside the hotel. There is a live music venue and the ballroom was teeming with people.
It took 20 minutes just to get to the security area. Security is done twice - once at the lobby (where you need to leave your vehicle) and then before entering the lobby. Security is strict and like most airports, so forget about popping out of the hotel for a coffee! You are either in or out!
Check-in was very friendly and with perfect English. I was upgraded to a Club level room, with access to the Club Lounge, which would also give me free breakfast.
The hotel has an outside restaurant area which was swarming with people at 8pm on a Saturday - it seemed to be mostly locals and just a few hotel guests. The local artistes and the multiple barbecues almost gave it a Hawaiian feel. I ordered Chicken tikka and really liked it. It was a big portion and good quality.
The room itself was old but in great condition. The bathroom had been redone and the shower pressure was amazing. The internet was OK at about 1.5Mbit - it was stable at least.
The bed was excellent with great linen and the air conditioning worked like a charm (ACs are a rare thing in Kampala, despite the hot afternoons).
The Club Lounge had many high-quality items for breakfast, including cheese, pastries and fruit. The choice wasn't huge but everything I tried was of great standard.
The huge outdoor gardens were blocked off during the time of my stay, so there wasn't much to enjoy. The swimming pool looks like it is in for a renovation as right now it looks just like in the 70s, when it was probably built.
The staff were mostly indifferent or bossy when asked anything. This isn't really typical of the local culture and it definitely wasn't customer service.
I was trying to leave the grounds through the secondary entrance only to have the security guard tell at me and give me a speech about rules. Remember that I was exiting the 'secure area', not entering it! If you remember those dark days of Newark in 2007 and the extra aggressive TSA agents - this is the treatment you get from the security at the Sheraton. Holy smokes!
Adding to this drama is the taxi situation at the Sheraton. In Kampala, taxis are few and far between and the prices are high. However, the prices at the Sheraton are twice that. To put it into perspective - a 20-minute ride costs as much as a driver's monthly salary!
Now excessive taxi prices aren't such a new thing with hotels, but regular taxis are not allowed inside the hotel and the hotel refuses to call a regular cab for you (those are expensive as well!) The outside area does not have taxis either and it's not a good idea to walk around that area after sundown.
Given the refusal to offer me useful transportation and the prison-like behavior of the guards, my mood soured quickly.
Before checkout I spoke to the GM, who dismissed my comments and mentioned that security is outsourced.
While waiting for one of the 'most luxurious cars in the world', I expected staff to be helpful but instead they refused to believe I had already checked out, implying that I was trying to escape my hotel bill.
In summary, I can't remember clashing so much with a hotel staff ever. Ugandans are kind people but these hotel staff made me mad.
The Sheraton isn't a bad hotel, but it's not worth the price given the issues and the just OK location.
You can book theSheraton Kampala here.
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