Friendship International Hotel

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


BACKGROUND: Though still a new establishment, this independent, four-star hotel (according to Ethiopian standards) is ideal for business and leisure travellers. While I’d grade it as a ‘three-point-five-star’ establishment, according to South African standards, it’s perfectly adequate.

WHERE IS IT? The Friendship International Hotel is located on Africa Avenue in central Addis Ababa, less than two kilometres from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. The complimentary airport drop-off and pick-up service will ensure you’re there within minutes, and Edna Mall is at the end of the street.

ROOM FACILITIES: The hotel has 104 rooms across 11 floors ranging from the Standard Twin, Queen, King and Deluxe to the Royal Suite. Each room is decorated in warm earthly colours, has a work desk, seating area and extensive cupboard space with a built-in safe big enough to fit a large laptop. My 38m2 Deluxe room had a 42-inch, flat-screen TV with international satellite channels so I could watch the news in the evenings. My small balcony looked out onto the central business district. Leisure travellers will be pleased to know that there are seven family rooms, as well as rooms equipped for the physically challenged, while the 9th and 10th floor are solely reserved for smoking guests. Bottled water, tea and coffee facilities come standard and the mini-bar can be filled upon request. The granite-top bathrooms each have a jacuzzi bath and steam shower, plus a make-up mirror and toilet facilities that adhere to Islamic etiquette. Each room comes with plush, white bath robes and slippers, while laundry and dry-cleaning services are available for an additional charge.

RESTAURANTS & BARS: The diverse menu of local and international dishes caters to vegans and meat lovers. The complimentary buffet breakfast offers an assortment of pastries, breads and cakes, as well as fresh fruit, salads, cold meats and cheeses, including a variety of hot meals. You’ll find the regulars, such as eggs and sausages (though you’ll be hard pressed to find bacon in Ethiopia), sautéed vegetables and an omelette stand; alongside samoosas and vegetable stews. I tried Injera fir-fir, an Ethiopian breakfast dish made of shredded, sourdough flatbread (injera) wrapped around sautéed onions, berbere spice and butter. It may also be served with shiro (chickpea paste). Though no-one blinked when I ate like the locals, using my left hand, tables are set according to international standards. There’s also a café downstairs that serves single-origin Ethiopian coffee, as well as an adjoining bar. Should you prefer the comfort of your room, there’s 24-hour room service.

BUSINESS & MEETING FACILITIES: The hotel offers free, uncapped and reliable wi-fi for an unlimited number of electronic devices. I mentioned that I needed a strong internet connection and was accommodated near the router on my floor. While I comfortably worked at the desk, which has a universal power outlet strip located above it, there’s also a 24/7 business centre, which has three computers, a printer and scanner. The function area, which is ideal for welcome drinks and a buffet service, can seat 250, while the multi-purpose conference room can easily accommodate 450 individuals with classroom-style seating. The boardroom is equipped with audiovisual technology and can seat 32 around the executive table.

LEISURE FACILITIES: The relatively small gym on the ground floor has a selection of standard gym equipment adequate for cardio training as well as a weight lifting area, while the spa has a sauna. Both are open 24 hours a day. AV Club, in the basement next door (worry not, the soundproofing is good), is one of Addis’ most popular night clubs. It hosts the country’s top DJs, is open from Tuesday to Sunday and hotel guests enjoy free entrance.

VERDICT: Though the decor in the hotel’s communal areas may be slightly over the top, don’t let that colour your judgement as the hotel staff go to great lengths to make guests feel at home. They are the hotel’s greatest asset; no wonder it’s called the Friendship Hotel.

Iga Motylska

A: Africa Avenue, Addis Ababa
T: +251-11-667-0202