Hotel Review: InterContinental Hotel vs. Siyonat Hotel (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL ADDIS ABABA

If you’ve decided to stay at the InterContinental Hotel in Addis Ababa you have chosen a prime location. Only seven minutes from the airport it is central enough to get around easily and enjoy the market in Addis’ downtown area, and even better it’s close to the Ethnological and National museum as well as St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the famous Entoto Hills where many long distance Olympians train. In fact, Addis Ababa is the third highest elevated capital in the world and with long distance training at high altitudes it makes perfect sense as to why Ethiopia dominates long distance running at the Olympics.

There is not a lot of choice when it comes to luxury hotels in Addis Ababa, however, you will be comfortable knowing there is a Hilton, Radisson and Sheraton Hotel. When doing some research I also found that there was also the Addis Regency and the InterContinental. However, at first glance something didn’t seem right about the InterContinental; I wasn’t seeing the branding I expected with the chain we are familiar with at home. And I was right, it’s not part of the InterContinental Hotel Group and is thus no Priority Club Rewards can be collected. It is still rated a 5* in Addis.

The hotel is very nice and the service is fantastic – the staff answered any issue I had and there were a few. First, let me say that the food was good, the morning buffet had adequate choice and too many baked delights to choose from. There are extensive room service options and again the food is pretty good. Note, the mini bar is a small fridge with soft drinks which aren’t exactly cold (this becomes a common theme in Ethiopia) and there isn’t any alcohol. The room also comes with several free bottles of bottled water.

There is a lovely pool, steam room and gym on the top floor, a 24-hour business centre, shop and foreign exchange. The hotel also offers a complimentary airport shuttle, saving you about $10 USD each way on a taxi. The airport shuttle departs the hotel for the airport on the hour, however, with no one going the day I was departing I was able to go at an off scheduled time.

The owner is now building a new hotel next door trying to attain the InterContinental brand designation.

CONS: Reality is that to first world standards the hotel is a 3*. It’s tired and I wore my flip flops to avoid the carpet. The balcony wouldn’t lock so I had to get maintenance to come up. The mattresses were hard as wood and there were several 1cm long cockroaches scurrying around the room.

PROS: The location is great and the service is top-notch.

There is free WiFI in the lobby and free Internet ethernet connection in the rooms. BUT, and this is very important, many countries outside of North America and Europe are not set up for Macs. Considering I work about 8 hours a night the IT department went above and beyond and got me a wireless router from a meeting room. I was very thankful.

Great food and complimentary airport shuttle.

FINAL ANSWER: I have yet to visit the other 5*s I mentioned above in Addis. If they are the same price or close to what the InterCon is then I’d go elsewhere. If this hotel is the most reasonably priced 5* then go here unless the tired, somewhat unclean look plus bugs really bothers you. It didn’t me.

 HOTEL SIYONAT ADDIS ABABA

My second time in Addis Ababa I stayed at the Hotel Siyonat and everything was fantastic. It’s location, impeccable/quick service, nicely appointed clean rooms with free WIFI and complimentary airport shuttle was a clear choice. And then the great food/room service and complimentary breakfast made it even better. It is classified as a 4* and for about 25% cheaper than the InterContinental. It is the definite choice for Addis Ababa in this price range.

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