Just returning from a trip to Ethiopia, Claire A Davies shares her views about Addis Ababa’s top five luxury hotels
February 14, 2020
New investment and infrastructure has led to an influx of luxury hotels in Ethiopia. Many well-known top-end brands are now established in the capital.
Spas, pools and cocktail bars are now easy to find for visitors who want to feel at home after sightseeing and the bustle of the city.
While prices may be high, some research and booking ahead may find you a double room at The Hilton from around $160 USD per night.
Purists might argue that these hotels are not ‘the real Ethiopia’. While this might have been true in the past, the country’s growing middle and upper class are very much present themselves at this end of the market.
Here are five of the best:
The longstanding jewel in the crown, The Sheraton was created by Ethiopian businessman Mohammed al-Amoudi as a way of promoting the country’s image, saying he was ‘investing with his heart.’
With 293 rooms, the hotel also features a number of private villas and has hosted celebrities such as Rhianna and Tony Blair in its time.
Fountains in the marble foyer soothe the most weary head after the full-on personality of the city streets. The three-sided façade consists of balconied rooms facing a graceful central waterway where Ethiopian newlyweds pose for photographers.
Beyond this, the grounds extend to rose gardens, pavilions and a swimming pool with a shallow end for children. Waters are heated (some swimming pools in Ethiopia are cold).
If staying here is too much to contemplate, go for the Sunday buffet at Summerfield’s restaurant and watch wispy model types. Service from the Ethiopian staff is up there with the best of anywhere in the world in the five star category.
Key feature: an Ethiopian high tea in the fountain court
An architectural icon and second in place to The Sheraton, this twelve storey building was designed with a series of double notches that echo the windows of rock churches in Lalibela.
A panel of artwork by Ethio-Armenian artist Alexander Boghossian greets visitors as you enter the lobby. Beyond this, the reception area contains a coffee shop and cocktail bar – a popular meeting point for residents, politicians and business people.
The foyer design also features the famous Ethiopian cross.
Facilities include tennis and basketball courts, shopping arcade and children’s playground. The poolside restaurant holds a very popular barbeque for Sunday lunch.
Key feature: the cross-shaped spring water pool
The Hyatt Regency
Situated just by Meskel Square, this recently-opened branch of the international chain makes a statement with its gleaming white façade.
Set around a central courtyard, the building contains several restaurants, coffee shop, business centre, gym and a spa. At the time of writing, work was being completed on a central water feature.
The lobby is one of the most modern in the city and another popular meeting area thanks to the coffee shop and exceptional pastries.
Key feature: the upper level contains an infinity pool.
Ethiopian Airlines first venture into the hotel business is the latest arrival at the top end of the scene.
Situated 5 minutes from Bole International Airport, the hotel’s 373 rooms claim to be soundproofed against passing planes. Rooms contain rain showers as well as the usual bathroom facilities expected at this end of the range.
Guests can make use of the rooftop bar, gym, swimming pool and a choice of 4 different restaurants. Taem Cultural Restaurant includes Ethiopian music and dancing.
Key feature: Taichi Chinese Restaurant claims to be the biggest Chinese restaurant in East Africa
Another international chain hotel, The Marriot is actually an apart hotel.
Dining options include Pepper and Spice Restaurant or eating around the swimming pool. There is also a gym and spa.
Rooms include work spaces and fully equipped modern kitchens.
The Marriot has a somewhat more functional feel than say, the grand entrances of The Hilton or The Sheraton and can feel a little claustrophobic after a while. Nevertheless, an excellent choice for those with young children who need the kitchen facilities.
Can’t afford any of these?
All hotels accept visitors for bars and dining. Most will sell day passes for the pools (although not cheap). A day pass for The Hilton Pool was 600 birr per person as of January 2020.
Claire A Davies