I was quite looking forward to my stay at the Hyatt Regency Addis Abeba – a newly property at Addis Abeba’s ‘city center’ – Meskel Square. The building is almost at the center of the city’s biggest intersection and a new Chinese built tram line. This should make an easy transport option – to an extent it does – but the traffic outside and the heavy diesel fumes from the intersection are a massive health hazard for anyone staying there.
Check-in was somewhat friendly but wordless. I was told my room would be ready in 30 minutes and the front desk agent would pick me up in the lobby bar. Fair enough – it was well before check-in time.
I walked through the lobby for a bit to take pictures but a stern concierge came running after me to interrogate where I was headed (with my luggage) and taking pictures. Ok, no pictures…
I sat down at the lobby bar and tried to order a ‘macchiato’ – this is by far Ethiopia’s favorite drink and you’d see hundreds served at the city’s coffee shop every hour. The staff would not hear any of it and (pretend) they did not understand – strange, painful back and forth ensued. No smiles or friendliness thrown in for good measures.
Oh well eventually an hour had passed since I arrived and I was indeed well-caffeinated but no front desk agent had come by yet. Had I been forgotten? Oh well once I walked by the agent again my room was ‘ready to go’!
The Hyatt Regency Addis Abeba is split into two buildings and while the lobby area and the area in between the buildings look stunning the building itself already looks old and drab. However, the pool area (the gym is housed there too) looks gorgeous as well.
My room was much smaller than expected and reeked of sewage smell. I was thinking I’d switch on the AC to make the smell go away and cool it down – but no that wasn’t something that worked. I called down and a staff member showed up. Mind you he did not fix the AC – he was just coming to ask if ‘they should fix the AC now’. Talk about being in a comedy!
I also tried to log out of the Internet (the connection using a voucher code was rather slow) and tried to log in with my room number instead. The front desk agents had no idea how to do that. So ‘a specialist’ was called to inspect my device. That is usually where I give up but indeed once he came by it was quickly fixed. However, the Internet was still slow at 4 Mbit. Not terrible but not what I’d expect from a Hyatt.
After my AC was ‘fixed’ it produced some cold air but mind you I set the thermostat to 16 degrees Celsius and after 2 hours of a full fan (and a small room), it was still at 22 degrees. I gave up.
I went down to the pool which I liked quite a bit – it is heated as well. However, the toxic diesel fumes and noise from the nearby road are quite noticeable despite being in the back of the building. I expected to order some food but was informed that the pool bar was closed at 3 PM. Huh?
Oh well, once the food arrived it was quite delicious and fairly priced. I also ventured to the gym after – it was surprisingly busy and had a lot of brand new work out equipment. The only issue again was the toxic air from the nearby roads.
In between the front desk manager called and apologized for the issues I had and was inviting me to cocktail hour at the Regency Club. Deal!
The club attendant was friendly but spoke no English. However, she offered to order food as the buffet servings were quite meager. I ended up with chicken shashlyk and a beef burger. Those were delicious! Eventually, the front desk manager came by and wanted to hear what could be done better – oh that was a long conversation.
Eventually, I was tired enough to go to sleep and enjoy my 22 degrees extra loud AC. I woke up with a huge headache in the morning and felt my room smelled like a strange mix of sewage and a truck stops(from the diesel fumes). I was miserable for the entire day until ‘the poison’ was out of my system.
In sum, the Hyatt Regency Addis Abeba is a beautiful property with excellent food. However, it is let down by the hapless and unorganized staff, a ridiculous state of maintenance (despite being brand new) and the unacceptable health conditions near the major road.
I do not say that often – but in this case, do NOT stay there if your health is important to you. Go there to eat (especially Western food and buy a gym membership) but do not stay there. Sorry Hyatt Regency Addis Abeba – I had big plans for you!
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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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