Today, our ‘My Favourite Hotel’ review is from Entebbe in Uganda.
We are currently running this reader-written feature to provide some positivity and inspiration to Head for Points. You can find all of the ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reviews so far by clicking here. This was scheduled to be the last one in the series, but a good response from readers means that we have commissioned another batch. There will be a short gap whilst we start to edit them but we hope to have them running from the end of this week.
Today’s hotel is the Protea Hotel Entebbe, Uganda, a part of the world which is probably less familiar to you than many of the locations we’ve covered so far. It is reader Adam’s favourite hotel and here is his review:
I stayed at the Protea Hotel Entebbe, Uganda for three nights in June 2019 as part of a safari to the country with family. I actually stayed twice – one night at the beginning of our Uganda safari and two nights at the end of our trip. Both stays were consistently excellent.
Protea is a South African chain owned by Marriott with hotels throughout southern Africa and some other select African destinations. They are categorized by Marriott as being part of the “Select” range, which also includes Courtyard and Four Points.
We originally chose the Protea as it was a great Marriott Bonvoy redemption. Upgraded rooms (with balcony and sea view) are available for between 10,000 and 15,000 points, depending on date, which using Rob’s 0.5p valuation would normally get you a room worth £50 to £75. In this case, we got a room selling for US$283! At the time of our stay, the deal was even better as the hotel was only a Category 1 redemption – just 7,500 Marriott Bonvoy points.
Getting to the Protea Entebbe hotel
The Protea Entebbe is just a 5-minute drive from Entebbe International Airport, the primary port of entry into Uganda. The hotel offers complimentary any time airport transfers which we had pre-arranged for our flight coming in from Nairobi.
Unfortunately our flight was delayed by about an hour, but it was a great start to our stay seeing the hotel’s shuttle and driver still waiting outside the terminal. Arriving at the hotel, we were greeted by smiles all-round, welcome drinks and cool towels.
Though we were only Marriott Gold members, we were upgraded to spacious suites with generous sized balconies and large bathroms for both stays.
The suites were well furnished in cream and purple and offered excellent views over Lake Victoria.
Small welcome baskets with local produce (multi-coloured taro chips, peanuts, mango juice) were waiting for us in the room when we arrived. Every evening at turndown, hand baked cookies wrapped in blue ribbon appeared, another welcome touch.
The hotel grounds were immaculately kept with a sandy beach-like area, expansive pool and coconut palms dotted around the property.
Though the Protea is very close to the airport and within a major city, the hotel was very serene – we could easily have been at a quiet resort, miles from any city or airport. I should also mention that at the time of our stay, the hotel was going through refurbishments, but this did not negatively impact our stay.
Food and drinks
Food at the restaurant and room service was good with plenty of local options, including Nile perch straight from Lake Victoria and the Ugandan classic matoke, a plantain and peanut based dish. We also very much appreciated that on one occasion when we were ordering from the room service menu and the phone line unexpectedly dropped, a member of staff immediately came to our room to apologize and take the room service order. I thought this was great service from one of Marriott’s “lower” brands.
In fact, I would go as far as to say that service at the Protea overall was as good as any Ritz Carlton, St Regis or Waldorf Astoria I have stayed at. Staff were always polite and helpful – an outstanding team. Everyone, ranging from the receptionists, bellboys, waiters to security staff (being in East Africa the security is quite tight) were consistently happy to help and were always in a jovial mood, giving the whole property a great ambience.
What to do while at the Protea Entebbe
Of course, what makes the Protea stand out is more than just the property itself, but also the range of sites to visit in Entebbe. Close to the city, the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary cares for orphaned chimps, boat trips to Mabamba swamp offer the opportunity to see the highly sought-after shoebill (pictured below). Entebbe Botanic Gardens and the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre are only a short drive from the property.
Tours to these attractions can be arranged. When we wanted to visit the Botanic Gardens (a marvellous spot for wildlife viewing) by ourselves, the concierge called a reliable driver to take us there and bring us back at a pre-agreed price.
As a destination Uganda certainly has much to offer, ranging from a classic safari in Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks to seeing gorillas in Bwindi National Park and chimpanzees in Kibale National Park. However, the gateway city of Entebbe can be considered a destination in its own right, particularly with the Protea being a standout property there.
Overall, I would happily label the Protea Entebbe one of the best Marriott properties – from any brand – that I have stayed at. Together with sister Protea properties – Protea Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport, Protea Kruger Gate (for Kruger National Park) and Protea Livingstone (at the Zambian side of Victoria Falls) – this is really an excellent hotel and a great Marriott Bonvoy redemption.
If you want to find out more, the hotel’s website is here.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (October 2021)
There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card usually comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.
You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
Until 2nd November 2021, The Platinum Card comes with a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Amex points. This converts into 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
You can also earn American Express Membership Rewards points with American Express Gold (30,000 bonus points – special offer to 9th November 2021), the American Express Rewards Credit Card (5,000 bonus points) and – for small business owners – American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus points) and Business Platinum (40,000 bonus points).
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)