The Ghion Hotel Addis Ababa, tucked neatly into the business district of Ethiopia’s capital, a heartbeat from the airport, is a standard state-owned hotel and, for no reason other than that we are big fans of Ethiopia, something of a JbD favourite.
Massive, sprawling, the hotel boasts 191 different rooms – all with a view of the ex-palace’s spectacular gardens, which includes a geo-thermally heated Olympic sized swimming pool, a shady tennis court and a children’s playground complete with a fair-style merry-go-round. There are four restaurants and an equal number of bars. One of the restaurants specialises in local cuisine and plays occasional host to Ethiopian dance events, while the rest cater to more international palettes. The bars – the Imperial, Tukul, Unity and the Pool Side Bar – have, like the restaurants, an elegant, if slightly dated, feel about them: on walking down the red carpet towards the wood panelled bar, collecting a daiquiri and finding a seat by a window overlooking palatial palms, thoughts of Miami, Al Pacino and Cuba spring to mind. The Ghion has a very distinctively late 70s to early 80s décor about it, making it something of a niche attraction in the area.
Other shared areas and amenities at the Ghion include a laundry room, currency exchange office, several souvenir shops and leather product outlets, a business centre, a costume bazaar and some good bird watching areas.
Recently refurbished and very colourfully designed, the Ghion’s rooms are housed in 3 blocks: Bungalow, Unity and Riviera. Each room includes a double or twin bed, a seating area and en-suite bathroom. Most rooms have a balcony. Please be advised that amenities and service can be somewhat inconsistent, with returning guests reporting problems with hot water and the like. This said, Ghion is a cherished relic of a time gone by, a quirky, charming place, which – for those who are happy being surprised – makes for a very interesting and friendly stay.
Activities at the Ghion Hotel include tennis, swimming and trips into Addis.