The discount hotel chain ibis does not usually inspire me to stay more than one night at one of its airport properties, but the Douala hotel landscape does not offer too much choice; besides the (oldish) Akwa Palace and the tired Pullman, the ibis Douala does well and rates are usually around $80 to $100.
The outside of the building stands out in size but its hideous pink color is also very noticeable. However, it is a downtown landmark and everyone knows where it is. The airport taxi charged CFA 6,000, but that was likely at the higher end as the airport is really close.
The hotel staff were friendly and spoke fluent English and French. My reservation was looked up quickly and check-in was done a minute later. Bravo!
There is a secure ATM in the lobby and a convenience store that sells SIM cards and credit for all major mobile operators. The front desk helped us with lots of useful information but kept adding a disclaimer of how ‘dangerous’ the city is. It seemed most guests heeded that warning while in the hotel and hung around the ‘safe zone’ inside and just a city block outside. At times it felt like a frontier lodge…
The room was small but everything worked just perfectly. The shower had lots of hot water and perfect pressure. The beds were the right mix of hard and soft and the AC was strong and quiet.
The safety box made it easy to hide valuables and it was easy to connect to the internet, although it clocked in at a shameful 200kBit – that is 50x times slower than it should be (or what I’d had a few days prior at the Holiday Inn Accra).
The hotel has a beautiful, modern bar and restaurant area that saw a lot of hotel guests during the late afternoons and evenings. It was great to see a hotel have most guests come together for a drink at night. The ‘frontier character’ of Douala surely helped with that.
The pool area was small, but looked gorgeous with its modern benches and chairs.
Security at the hotel was a mix of ‘laissez-faire’ and an overwhelming display of firepower. The lobby is partially secured with bulletproof glass and a blast/bullet shield. At times, almost a dozen security personnel, some of them armed with automatic weapons, patrolled the area, but no metal detectors were employed at the hotel.
The hotel includes breakfast in the room rate. It’s certainly above brand standard and delivers a decent morning fix, though none of the items were uber-delicious. Also, the restaurant staff weren’t attentive enough and did anything but care about the food.
Overall, very surprisingly, this ibis pulls much above the usual brand standard. It’s a great place to ‘hide out’ in Douala and delivers a quality product that ‘just works’ in a city where almost nothing works.
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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