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African Hotel Reviews
Hotel Reviews and Recommendations for Africa
Here is a selection of hotel reviews from my many trips to Africa: Namibia, Botswana (Southern sub-Saharan African, north of South Africa), Egypt and Morocco (North Africa) - Safari vacations and cultural visits, travel recommendations and advice.
The beautiful Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan, Egypt in which Agatha Christie wrote "Death on the Nile", the more modern, but usefully located Le Meridien Pyramids, in Cairo, Egypt, small traditional Riad Altair in Marrakech, Morocco, the wonderful Okonjima Lodge & Bushcamp in Namibia, Heinitzburg Hotel, Windhoek and Hansa Hotel, Swakopmund, Namibia.
Please also see my full travel reviews and hotel recommendations for each of these African countries:
Map of Africa
Hotels in Egypt
Hotel Review: Old Cateract, Egypt
A tranquil setting for a murder on the Nile
This is a beautiful old hotel in which Agatha Christie wrote "Death on the Nile". As a consequence of the fame generated by the popularity of this book and the ideal location of this hotel at the end of many Nile cruises it has been kept in a style reminiscent of the era in which the book was written, with a charming bar with views of the Nile and a very traditional, excellent dining room. It should not be confused with the New Cataract Hotel next door, which shares the location, but not the charm, style and history of the original.
The room was a reasonable size, with plenty of room around the bed, nicely decorated, but the best feature was the view of the Nile and the terrace below the window.
The architecture is beautiful and well maintained, particularly the 1902 restaurant which is very impressive. The hotel bar has the best views of the Nile, the boats moored outside the hotel and the botanical gardens opposite. It is a wonderful place to have a drink as the sun goes down in the evening while enjoying the view. There is a large outdoor swimming pool.
Food and Drink
The 1902 restaurant is an excellent place to eat with a good range of international and local cuisine in a wonderful setting; a huge room well decorated room with very high ceilings.
The hotel is in a perfect location for tourists and is a favourite place to stay for many people from the Nile river-cruises. Access to Aswan is relatively easy for trips to Aswan, but I expect most people would stay in the hotel and enjoy the ambience.
For an article about another "Agatha Christie Hotel Please see this article: Burgh Island, Devon, England The inspiration for the Poirot mystery "Evil Under the Sun"
Hotel Review: Le Meridien Pyramids, Cairo, Egypt - Great location, near the Pyramids
This hotel is in a wonderful location for visiting the Pyramids. Some rooms even have a view and the Pyramids can be seen from just outside the hotel. The rooms are reasonably comfortable, but the hotel has very little character, nor anything else to recommend it apart from its excellent location.
The view from the room that I stayed in was not of the Pyramids, but I would imaging the view from the more expensive rooms would be excellent.
Overall this is quite a boring uninspiring hotel, although not actually bad in any way, it just lacks character and seems to rely entirely on its location. The restaurant was mediocre and the bar quite expensive and uninspiring.
The city is some distance away and would probably take about 20 minutes to get to, but then that isn't the reason for coming here. The Pyramids are visible from outside the hotel and from some rooms and are less than a mile away. Some of the other hotels in the area would probably provide some nightlife, but the Pyramids hotel itself is not very exciting.
Hotel Reviews: Morocco
Riad Altair, Marrakech, Morocco
Hotel Riad Altair is a very pleasant old Riyad four star guesthouse with attractive courtyard with alcoves enclosing Arabic style sofas and chairs and an enormous banana tree rising up through the centre of the three storey building. The roof terraces has excellent views of the Medina and a mosque, and comfortable chairs. It is hidden down a narrow street away from the hustle and bustle of the narrow main roads of the Medina.
The room was quite narrow, and there is no view, but nicely decorated with a reasonably good bed. The first-floor room had a door opening onto the landing above the central courtyard, with it's huge banana tree and open roof above. The bathroom was big and very moroccan in style. The air-conditioning made quite a lot of noise, but was virtually useless and when we complained the staff seemed to think this was acceptable. It really was quite hot and humid, especially when raining and a huge sheet of plastic was put over the opening in the courtyard roof. The view from the roof is very good.
This is a very traditional building, with a lovely feel and great looking furniture. The roof terrace is comfortable with great views. The staff were very friendly, but were unwilling to do anything about the faulty air-conditioning nor capable to arrange a taxi on time ready for our flight home (it was very late, but fortunately so was the plane).
Breakfast was served in the courtyard, which is beautiful and feels very traditional, although a little humid at times. The breakfast was bread, jam, yoghurt and tea or coffee.
Place Jemaa-el-Fna, the main square, was walking distance from our riyad and in fact from everywhere else in the Medina. Getting a taxi is relatively easy from near the main square, but not from outside the hotel.
Place Jemaa-el-Fna is where most tourist head for shopping in the Souks. These markets are hard work if you don't like having to barter hard for everything although I imagine there are bargains to be found, if you have the stamina. For many people shopping for souvenirs in the souks is one of the main highlights of a trip to Marrakech. Alternatively go to Ensemble Artisanal for some less hassled shopping and possibly better quality. Expensive hotels also have good boutiques with similar merchandise.
There was little nightlife while I was there, especially as it was during Ramadan, but there are bars and restaurants in the Medina, near the hotel and more modern establishments outside in the new town.
The riad is located down a narrow passage away from the main streets.
Hotels in Namibia, Southern Africa
Okonjima Lodge & Bushcamp - One of the Best Lodges in Africa
Okonjima Bush Camp, which is run by the Africat charity who help rescue leopards and cheetahs, is possible one of the best places I have ever stayed. The accommodation is in the form of traditional huts, but with luxurious beds and bathrooms inside. The half-mile walk through long grass to the lodge, from the huts, with a torch is a little traumatic. Leopards wander around the grounds freely, although never eating the guests. The usual format of game drives and communal dinners with sun downers while game viewing is used here, but with a wonderful selection of wildlife and an emphasis on big cats. The hides for watching the leopards made viewing and photography from close-up exceptional.
What a fantastic place to stay. In your own traditional hut, with wonderful, comfortable bed and chairs, covered with traditional materials. The huts are spread out and it feals like a real adventure wandering around the grounds.
Wonderful traditional architecture, made of natural materials. The staff are very friendly and knowledgeable. The restaurant is limited because there are very few guests at any one time, and everyone eats together. The bar however is very good and there is a swimming pool nearby.
Food and beverage variety is limited, but that isn't really why you would come to a place like this. The Ambiance is great though, knowing that you are probably being watched by a large cat.
There is of course no transportation apart from the car you came in, but the four-wheel drive cars needed for the safari game drives are excellent and provided, with guides as part of the package.
Hansa Hotel, Swakopmund, Namibia
Best Hotel in Swakopmund
I stayed at the Hansa Hotel overnight after a tough 6 hour drive through the desert from Sossusvlei, so it seemed like a bit of an oasis. It is the best hotel in a not very inspiring town. The town was completely closed apart for one bar. The hotel however was fine and its restaurant was really quite good serving local delicacies such as Kudu steak, and German style buffet breakfast. The bar was very good too, with an open fire and reproduction furniture in keeping with the surroundings (the hotel was built in 1905)
The food wasn't particularly varied, but it was at least very well prepared and made of local produce. There was also a reasonable selection of wines.
There wasn't much to do in the city, in terms of nightlife or shopping. This really is a place to stop for the night to break the journey when driving through the desert.
Photos, Postcards and Souvenirs from Africa
Heinitzburg Hotel, Windhoek, Namibia
A Castle overlooking Windhoek
Heinitzburg Hotel, Windhoek is a great place to stay at the beginning or end of a safari trip in Namibia (or Botswana which is easily accessible by small plane from here too) This splendid old castle which has been extended and converted into a luxury hotel, with a fine wine cellar, good food and a terrace with views over Windhoek.
We stayed for just one night and the bedroom was very pleasant and comfortable.
There was just one restaurant with excellent food and wine cellar. The variety of food was a bit limited, but this was made up for by the high quality.
The location is away from the city centre and it has views over the city from the terrace. Our car was delivered to the hotel ready for our adventure into the wilderness.