BACKGROUND: The hotel is laid out with a central pillar supporting three wings. A bank of four elevators doesn’t quite meet the demand of guests travelling between their rooms and reception, so the addition of two more elevators, once fully installed, will reduce the waiting time. Finding your room can be a bit of trial and error until you make note of the wing you’re in (A, B or C). I didn’t have anyone show me to my room upon arrival, which compounded my confusion, but I took solace in the fact that I wasn’t the only one wandering around slightly lost every time I got off the elevator (even after memorising the wing my room was in).
WHERE IS IT? You’ll find the hotel in the heart of the Nigeria’s capital city, about 45 minutes from the airport. The ground and first floor offer a variety of retail and service offerings, so there’s no need to head out for meals, forex or even pharmacological items, should you not wish to. When heading up to your room, take note that there are two first and second floor buttons on the elevator – the hotel rooms start on the third level, although the elevator buttons say this is the first floor. The first two levels are reserved as retail and meeting space.
ROOM FACILITIES: My room on the first floor was large and airy, looking out over the parking lot. All standard expectations were met – comfy bed, powerful aircon, flat-screen TV with DStv bouquet, kettle for tea and coffee, work desk and even a stocked minibar. The bathroom offered an in-bath shower with shower curtain, a bit old-fashioned, but perfectly serviceable. I struggled with the lighting and had to call maintenance to explain to me how to turn on the bedside light and have them replace the empty light socket of one of the reading lights. If you book into a suite or a room on the executive floor you will get access to the Executive Lounge, which offers wi-fi, refreshments and international daily newspapers.
RESTAURANTS & BARS: There are eight dining options onsite. Bukka Restaurant serves buffet-style breakfast, lunch and dinner. Given the size and occupancy of the hotel, this restaurant can get busy; the late-breakfast crowd on my first morning made for a noisy, busy meal and the restaurant was not very well serviced at this time. The food was tasty and I enjoyed a rather American meal of French toast, bacon and maple syrup. I also sampled the eggs, sausage, porridge, waffles, fresh fruit, muffins and yoghurt during my stay and everything was suitably tasty. There was a selection of Nigerian cuisine as well, but I wasn’t feeling terribly adventurous, so didn’t try of the dishes. I really liked the DIY coffee station for americanos, cappuccinos and lattes, and the fact that take away cups were supplied. The Oriental Restaurant serves Oriental and Mongolian fare from an à la carte menu. Zuma Restaurant offers an à la carte menu of Mediterranean favourites and light tasty dishes. The Piano Lounge serves snacky meals and there is live piano music in the evening. At the Pastry Shop you can get sandwiches, pies, cakes and sweets to take away or enjoy on site. Outside, the Fulani Pool Bar serves barbecue à la carte specialties for lunch or dinner.
BUSINESS & MEETING FACILITIES: Choose from 24 multi-purpose built meeting rooms for everything from small meetings to international conventions. There is also a 1,200-capacity Congress Centre and a garden area available for open-air receptions and banquets. Wi-fi connection is free on the ground floor around reception, and delegates will be connected free of charge, as are HHonors members. Tip: get your naira from the forex dealer on the first floor – the exchange rate is moderately better than that offered at the hotel’s front desk.
LEISURE FACILITIES: If you’re looking for some activity during your down time, the hotel offers a fitness room, a pool, tennis and squash courts, basketball and table tennis.
VERDICT: Conveniently located and well appointed, the Transcorp Hilton Abuja is a solid choice for internationally branded accommodation in the city.
Address: 1 Aguiyi Ironsi Street, Maitama, Abuja