Having suffered the economic effects of Eritrea’s long war with Ethiopia, Dahlak Hotel is in need of a lick of paint and looking forward to a much-needed upgrade. This said, it’s a proper rough diamond. Built in a style reminiscent of Arabic, Turkish and Venetian architecture, it’s look-and-feel is very much in keeping with that of the Old Town, and comes with a bar, restaurant and lounge area. The views are lovely. Please note Wi-Fi is not available and that facilities – the pool included – are a tad rundown.
Food and service
Dahlak Hotel’s staff are friendly and helpful. While not everything on the menu is available, the food is Italian-Eritrean fusion, and locally-caught fish dishes are a must. The chef is very happy to adapt meals to suit different needs. Drinks are limited to local Eritrean lager, soft drinks, and water.
There are 200 rooms at Dahlak Hotel. Each comes with a double bed, balcony and en-suite bathroom. One side of the hotel shows a view of Halie Selassie’s palace, the other the Old Town. The location is ideal, but it’s important to note that this is a hardy stay: the rooms have fallen into disrepair, hot water’s a real issue, and feedback from guests is mixed. Since hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia have come to an end, we hope that this will generate much needed tourism for the hotel and many others like it.
The name Dahlak is derived from an Arabic word meaning ‘gates of hell’. It’s extremely hot here, so guests will be pleased to note, therefore, that it’s perfectly possible to swim in the sea off the hotel’s jetty. Other activities include cultural and historical trips into the old town, which looks not dissimilar to Zanzibar’s Stone Town. Further afield, one of the main draws to staying at the Dahlak Hotel is the ease with which guests can access the Archipelago, which is beautiful, almost completely untouched by tourism, and home to some of the least-spoilt coral reefs in the world.