As one of Africa’s emerging tourist destinations, the perception of Ethiopia is that the accommodation is not up to the standard of the rest of the continent, whilst it is true that it doesn’t have the super-luxurious accommodation options that one would find in Tanzania, Botswana and South Africa, properties are always clean, comfortable and the staff always have a ready smile on their faces. However, there are a number of properties emerging which are genuinely high quality and are well worth considering if you are looking to add a splash of luxury to your time in Ethiopia. Here we review (in no particular order) Ethiopia’s top 5 accommodation options.
1. Sheraton, Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the start and end point for all itineraries in Ethiopia and what better place to unwind for a few days than the beautiful Sheraton Addis Ababa. Set in the heart of the city, with lovely panoramic views across the surrounding area, this is a large hotel, but the rooms, public areas and dining options are all nicely spread out meaning that you never feel overrun by fellow guests and there is always somewhere to retreat to and relax. The restaurant options are excellent and whilst we have a preference for the Indian and French restaurants, wherever you choose to dine you will be able to enjoy some of the finest food Ethiopia has to offer. The pool area is a wonderful spot to relax and on most evenings during the week there is live music played at the pool bar helping to create a relaxed atmosphere. The coffee shop in the lobby serves a variety of Ethiopian coffees which are all wonderful and guaranteed to get you going for a day in Addis. Add to this the fantastic spa and spacious comfortable rooms, you have the ideal spot to spend a few days acclimatising yourself to Ethiopia before starting your itinerary or relaxing at the end of a busy journey, exploring the delights of this wonderful country.
2. Gheralta Lodge
On the route from Mekele to Axum one drives through the small, nondescript town of Hawzien, maybe stop for a coffee and enjoy the beautiful views to the surrounding mountains or perhaps visit one of the famous rock hewn churches of the Tigray Region. Then as you leave the town there is a dusty sign for Gheralta Lodge, directing guests to a rocky ridge just outside the town. The road up there is almost non-existent, but after a few minutes of bumping along you arrive at the lodge and are greeted with a stunning view out over the valley to the mountains beyond. The individual rooms at Gheralta are all in traditional round “tukuls” with en-suite bathrooms and are very spacious and comfortable. Being Italian owned and managed, the food is one of the great features of a stay at Gheralta and the family style dining means you have an opportunity to meet and chat with your fellow guests and discuss your day’s adventures in this breathtaking part of Ethiopia. The sunsets here are a sight to behold and we would recommend grabbing a cold beer or a glass of wine and heading to one of the large flat top rocks that look out towards the sunset and enjoy the peace and tranquillity that the area offers. Gheralta is a real gem of a property and well worth dedicating a couple of night’s stay to so you can have some downtime on what are usually busy itineraries in Ethiopia.
3. Bale Mountain Lodge
The Bale Mountains National Park to the South-East of Addis Ababa are Ethiopia’s prime wildlife viewing destination and there is no better way to experience them than by spending a few days at the beautiful Bale Mountain Lodge. With just 8 rooms housed in their own individual tukuls, this small, traditional property has long been considered one of Ethiopia’s finest accommodation options and we wouldn’t hesitate to agree. The rooms all have their own wood burning stoves which are very welcome during the cold mountain nights, whilst the views out over the National Park are a wonderful sight to behold. Guests here can enjoy a range of guided activities, including walks through the forest canopy to see Bale Monkeys or out onto the plateau to see the rare Ethiopian Wolf. As one would expect from such a property, the food here is fantastic and meals are all served in the spacious dining room where a friendly atmosphere prevails. There is a sunken fire pit which is a wonderful spot to congregate around and share tales of a day’s wildlife viewing in the mountains.
4. Limalimo Lodge
On the edge of the stunning Simien Mountains National Park, the beautiful Limalimo is Ethiopia’s newest luxury lodge and offers something completely different to the other lodges in the area. The spacious individual chalets all command lovely views to the surrounding area, with the bare pine furnishings giving it a very modern feel, but with traditional Ethiopian hospitality. Owned and managed by two national guides, the property offers guests a chance to explore the beautiful Simien Mountains by day before returning to relax in the lovely lounge and dining area to enjoy a superb mix of International and traditional Ethiopian cuisine. A wonderful addition to the Simien Mountains and one that we are sure will prove to be very popular with visitors to the area.
5. Hotel Maribela
The Northern town of Lalibela, home to an extraordinary collection of rock hewn churches is on almost everyone’s itinerary when visiting Ethiopia and as such, offers probably the largest collection of places to stay outside of Addis Ababa. However, we have found that the lovely Hotel Maribela trumps all of the others, not just for its clifftop location, but for the lovely rooms, excellent food and friendly service that have all become hallmarks of stays here. The hotel is perched up on a clifftop with a sweeping view over the valley and surrounding mountains below, with the small terrace outside the bar and restaurant the ideal spot to sit and enjoy this with a drink as the sun sets. The restaurant offers a good mix of traditional Ethiopian and International cuisine complimented by a selection of surprisingly palatable Ethiopian wines. The rooms are large and comfortably furnished, with lovely balconies that look out over the cliff – another lovely spot to sit back and enjoy the view.
Naturally, this is just a snapshot of the accommodation that we offer in Ethiopia. However, all properties that we offer have been visited and vetted by us, and these are those that we feel are the best Ethiopia has to offer and would be worthy additions to any visit to the country.
Peter is our Africa travel consultant for tailor made holidays. Get in touch with him to plan your trip today.