Archive | May, 2013

Sheraton Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)

4 May

The Sheraton sits near the original founding spot of the city. Emperor Menelik’s wife decided she didn’t like it up on Mount Entoto, which he captured in 1896 and came down to the plains to build a palace at the hot springs. The grand colonial style hotel has sat here for the last 50 years, an impressive run, when you consider the disruptive and violent history the city has seen over those five decades.


Although its glamour has faded somewhat the Sheraton is still the best place to stay in the city, and is full of business people passing through on their way further into Africa or back out. The hotel is surrounded by landscaped gardens which are pretty pleasant to stroll around in the evening and they offer a great respite from the chaos of Addis’ busy streets.

When I visited the entire hotel’s AC was stuck on hot, making each room a sauna. This resulted in having to sleep with the door to the balcony open, and thankfully because of the quite heavy security it’s pretty safe to do so. Hopefully this has been fixed, although the maintenance men didn’t seem particularly interested in fixing it quickly.

There are a few different drinking and dining options within the hotel. It’s said to have the best Indian restaurant in town, it’s certainly the most expensive and with only a handful of tables, booking might be advised. No matter how cheap the rest of Addis is to people more used to living in the West, the Sheraton seems to have taken its overall pricing guide from the latter rather than its physical location, so make sure you have a credit card to hand. The downstairs bar, all dark woods and red leather, is fine for an after dinner drink and it’s private and quiet.

Breakfast can be taken on a shaded patio in the mornings on the ground floor, and there’s a decent spread if you’re into endless breads and pastries.

The Sheraton is also the place to get married in Addis, so don’t be surprised to see more than one wedding party on a weekend afternoon. The bride and groom form a procession through the lobby, which is videoed, and then they disappear to one of the banqueting rooms but it’s interesting to watch if you’re waiting around.



Ritz Carlton DC, Washington DC

4 May

Washington DC is in the midst of throwing off its slightly dull reputation, the green and open plan capital is organised, attractive and welcoming to tourists and the same can be said for the Ritz Carlton DC. Sat between Downtown and Georgetown in the mildly amusingly named Foggy Bottom, it’s a haven for both out of towners and local politicians who can often be seen in the Club Lounge talking shop over decent wine. The number of secret service in the room and outside the hotel in black SUVs are a dead give away. But anything that is good enough for American senators is alright with me.


The rooms aren’t huge but they’re comfortable and luxurious,   and all mod cons are present and correct. It’s the hospitality and service that really makes this hotel a winner. In fact this is where Rihanna and Beyonce stay when they’re in town – and again what’s good enough for them…

Staff here are exceptional. Friendly, welcoming, attentive (without being overbearing) and also extremely knowledgable, nothing seems too much trouble. Definitely check out West End Bistro bar on the ground floor. The head bartender Jason conjures up a new cocktail menu every season and the ingredients and delicate flavours are as complex as a fine dining meal. Seriously impressive stuff. I fell for his take on a Manhattan – a cherry flavoured strong hit that I was happy to sit and sip alone while reading a book.


While you’re in the bar, don’t miss the tempting plates of nibbles. The restaurant supports local farmers and butchers, who share a passion for delivering the best quality food, sustainably and organically – often using old fashioned and lengthy techniques. The results are absolutely delicious.