Salambo discovering Ethiopia
To celebrate Genna, or the Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas on 7th January, we went to a new boutique hotel, the first one of its kind, which just opened in Adama (Nazret), only an hour from Addis with the new express way. La Residence, as it is named, was an unexpected surprise in a country where we have become accustomed to rather average facilities at inflated prices. With its beautiful rooms and unique atmosphere, this new hotel is for the first time changing the scene in Ethiopia and providing a level of comfort unseen before.
Adama is hardly known as a tourist spot today, even if it used to be the winter destination for wealthy residents of Addis who wanted to escape the cold and gloom of the rainy season from June to September without going too far. Adama, located about 1000 metres lower towards the East and being close to the hot thermal spring of Sodere, was the place of choice then. Today, it is better known for being a major road stop on the way to Dire Dawa or even Djibouti rather than a holiday destination. However, the appeal of the Residence is strong enough to make us want to rediscover this forgotten region of Ethiopia.
Adama is not the only place where a new modern hotel has come off the ground. Building hotels has become a thriving business in Ethiopia, strongly encouraged by the government who welcome investors (particularly foreign) in the sector. The country, which until very recently has been practically ignored by the global tourism industry, has pledged to become one of the top tourist destinations in Africa by 2020 from its current 17th position on the continent. After all, Ethiopia alone has more UNESCO World Heritage sites (9 in total) than any other country in Africa and can boast a millenary culture that has been preserved until now. To reach such an ambitious goal, massive investments are needed in the hotel infrastructure, which has been badly neglected for too long.
In Addis alone, some ten new hotels have opened in the last couple of years, while others are opening at a regular pace in regional cities such as Bahar Dar, Dire Dawa, Arba Minch, Kombolcha, Butajira, not to mention Lalibela, the most famous tourist site in Ethiopia. However, none of them has the personal touch of La Residence, where everything has been carefully chosen from the furniture, bed linen and kilim rugs to the bathroom tiles, giving each bedroom its own unique touch. The owner, Amakeletch Teferi, has spent the last three years travelling to Indonesia, India and the Middle East to personnally choose and collect pieces for her hotel, and it shows. For the first time in Ethiopia, I actually wanted to spend time in the room and even the bathroom, so cosy it was (we had the luxury of having a bath as well as a shower in our bedroom). No leaking shower, no second rate bedsheets, no acrylic blanket, everything was thought out for the guests’ best comfort, down to the individual kettle with a well-chosen selection of teas. The common parts are just as pleasant with a lounge area and an internal courtyard reminiscent of an Arabic mansion, as well as a large roof terrace which transported me to the Mediterranean. The mix of different styles works very well there. In addition, a swimming pool, a yoga room and a hammam are about to open, as well as conference facilities for larger groups, providing a new attractive space for professional workshops or yoga retreats.
For more information: www.laresidence-hotel.com