There’s a reason Uganda is known as ‘The Pearl of Africa’. It’s got enough natural beauty and diverse ecosystems to keep a traveler busy for years, and it’s got enough local style and flare from the likes of local fashion icon Oscar Kampala to up-and-coming pop star Matthew K to keep inspiring its booming young adult population.
To the untrained eye, the capital city of Kampala might appear like an ordinary, commercial capital city. The city combines skyscraper views with those of Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, which the city is situated alongside. There’s also the Uganda Museum, which showcases the country’s rich, tribal history that continues on today.
The city’s Makarere Hill neighborhood is home to the University of Makarere’s campus, which is home not only to Uganda’s up-and-coming scholars and leaders, but also those from all over Africa’s central and eastern regions. This is part of what makes Kampala such a fun, friendly, and affordable destination for all.
There are plenty of hostels for the city’s young adult demographic. However, for those looking to see the swankier side of Uganda, read below to discover some of the capital and surrounding area’s top luxury stays to escape to for a night… or longer.
Top Kampala Stay
Kampala Serena Hotel
In particular, the Kampala Serena Hotel brings to mind some of the finest luxury resorts in the world, like the famous MGM resort conglomerate. From North America to Asia, MGM Resorts International is behind some of the finest stays the world has to offer, like the Bellagio in Las Vegas, USA and MGM Cotai in Macau, China. While MGM’s resorts include casinos and their online sector, BETMGM, offers $1,000 deposit match through Oddschecker for newcomers, there are a myriad of attractions to be found for those uninterested in ceramic chips, such as high-class art galleries, breath-taking museums, and, of course, world-class spa experiences.
However, locations in Las Vegas and Macau lack one important thing: access to Uganda’s natural beauty. Kampala Serena Hotel provides access to sites like the Kasubi Tombs or the Ssezibwa Falls. Though residents of Kampala Serena may not want to leave the grounds—after all, it’s home to 17 acres of breathtaking water gardens and enough five-star amenities to boggle the mind. Seriously, there are waterfalls, spas, free-form swimming pools, a champagne bar, a health club, fitness center, and spas and saunas from the Swedish and Turkish.
Pearl of Africa Hotel
This hotel is truly iconic, known throughout the capital of Kampala and beyond because of this luxury stay’s unforgettable appearance. Located on one of Kampala’s original Seven Hills, this stay not only provides a view for those in Kampala, but also offers a fully panoramic perspective of the city from any of its rooms, as well.
Pearl of Africa Hotel, like Speke Resort, isn’t just for a luxury one-night stay. In fact, it offers hospitality to local businesspeople and international visitors alike, utilizing its massive grounds for conference events, banquet facilities, a state-of-the-art wellness center, swimming, tennis, and plenty of classy lounges.
As aforementioned, Kampala is one of central and east Africa’s largest, booming metropolitan centers. This hotel’s swank and prestige make it similar to the likes of The Peninsula, located in Bangkok, Thailand, as well as La Réserve Hotel & Spa in Paris, which also provide guests with modern, with flat-screen TVs and minibars, as well as upgraded suites that offer soaking tubs and rainfall showers. However, only The Peninsula of Thailand boasts a view that’s on par with this Kampala stay.
Speke Resort Munyonyo
Speke Resort is a truly polished experience. Located right on Lake Victoria and surrounded by beautiful and well-maintained tropical gardens, this experience will have guests feeling truly at-home in no time. In particular, the resort manages to present an up-and-coming style that combines traditional African textiles with contemporary design, offering a truly unique taste of Kampala.
It should come as no wonder that Speke Resort offers a full suite of services often found at a luxury hotel, from 24-hour room service to state-of-the-art spas to gorgeous views. There’s even a presidential suite that’s worth writing home about. However, this stay is also home to some of Uganda’s most beautiful event spaces, which showcases the contemporary African textile design mentioned above. Event spaces are commonly rented for celebrations like weddings, birthdays, and anniversary parties, which makes Speke Resort a place for locals and foreign travelers alike.
A Wander Outside Kampala
Wild Waters Lodge
Located a few hours drive outside of Kampala, this luxury lodge is a great stop off after leaving the capital. And, unlike the rest of the resorts on this list, the Wild Waters Lodge won’t be home to any other guests given it’s a private island.
The lodge itself is traditional, with thatched, canvas walls and classic, hand-made Ugandan décor. However, the free-standing baths and elevated wooden walkways that connect the rooms add a dash of modernity. The Wild Waters Lodge is an important part of the list given its location not only on the Nile River, but also surroundings. This island-stay features its own soundtrack to nature, with the Nile River providing natural river sounds while the thick, jungle brush provides not only scenic views and plenty of birdsong.
The Wild Waters Lodge brings to mind a recent list built by Business Insider, which includes the world’s best resorts as rated by travelers. While Uganda didn’t make the list, this lodge isn’t the only local wonder that compares to Kenya’s safari and wilderness lodges, which fill the Business Insider list with stays in Meru National Park and Masai Mura National Reserve (though starting prices aren’t even listed for these exclusive Kenyan stays).
Apoka Safari Lodge
Though this lodge requires quite a bit of travel from the capital of Kampala to the northern edge of the country to Kidepo Valley National Park, it’s well worth the long trip. This area of Uganda showcases a different side to the country—a drier, more Savannah-like side.
Surrounding this luxury lodge, guests will find the traditional shrublands associated with many parts of Africa, like the Kigelia trees and acacia bushels. Local bush tours are offered to nearby areas, where the likes of elephants, zebras, giraffes, and lions can be seen and heard. However, it may be difficult to get off the Apoka Safari Lodge grounds to begin with. After all, the lodge is open-air and features private terraces, stone baths, a handicraft shop, and even a deluxe swimming pool.