A slightly quirky hotel in Benin’s administrative capital

1032 Reviews

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Date of travel

January, 2024

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Hotel La Casa Cielo

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Our first three nights in the West African country Benin, were spent at Hotel La Casa Cielo in Cotonou. Although Benin’s official capital is Porto-Novo, 30km away, Cotonou is the de-facto administrative capital.

The hotel had 36 rooms and we were in 303 on the second floor. The large room had a hard king-size bed with four pillows, although two were so large and hard they were quickly relegated, however there were bedside shelves with lights and plug points, requiring adaptors. A simple freestanding wardrobe had a safe and one shelf and there was an empty fridge and long desk. Tea and coffee making facilities were provided, and the AC and Wi-Fi were both good. The main feature was a striking portrait of a woman adorned with jewellery around her neck.

The large bathroom, which was off the bedroom, had a steep step up and a sliding door with semi-frosted panel, which didn’t offer total privacy. The wet room area had hot powerful water, and although there was some space for toiletries around the basin edge, it would have benefitted from additional shelving bearing in mind the space. There was only one set of towels, and extras had to be requested.

The fourth floor had a rooftop bar and restaurant, and we enjoyed watching the sunset whilst sipping draught Castel beers and nibbling complimentary nuts. The indoor restaurant had dining tables in the centre, with sofas and low coffee tables around the outside. It was somewhat open to the elements and breeze, with clear plastic blinds that could presumably be pulled down in bad weather. The menu had a huge choice of starters and mains, comprised of mainly Indian dishes with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, along with pizza and a few Chinese noodle plates, but disappointingly no local cuisine. To avoid over-ordering on night one we chose papad (after showing the waiter a photo of a poppadom to confirm it was the same), chicken tikka masala, aloo gobi and a garlic naan. As expected, the food arrived together, but was deliciously spicy and we just about finished it all.

The second night we ordered a margarita pizza to share, and attempting to prolong the meal, a couple of samosas to start with. Nearly 50 minutes later, just as we had lost the will to eat, all the food arrived: there was no concept of separate courses and desserts were never offered. The samosas, served with mint sauce and tomato ketchup, were filled with spicy potato curry, but unfortunately the dough was thick and stodgy, and the tasty, simple pizza would have sufficed.

Unfortunately, our visit coincided with the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and a large screen in the restaurant projected all the games. This competed with three Saturday night musicians who played in front of the screen, despite the fact we were the only guests.

Breakfast was served in the 2nd floor restaurant and on our first morning, we found it empty apart from six staff behind the buffet who watched our every move. There was chopped and whole fruits, three juices, hardboiled eggs, yoghurt, cereal, cheese, chicken ham, salad, breads, and four hot dishes – what appeared to be a chicken stew, rice, a grain, and pasta. The coffee was a sachet of Nescafe espresso with hot water and milk. It was slightly busier the following day, when we realised that the staff like to carry the dishes you’ve chosen on a tray to your table. To us, this defeated the idea of a buffet, but presumably kept people employed. Instead of the large screen, there were two TVs both showing different competing channels.

The ground floor had a swimming pool with sunbeds on one side, which were in the shade for most of the day. However, there was a pleasant bar area although both pool and bar were noisy and busy at weekends with local families.

The hotel was located on the sea front, and although its website boasts ‘access to the beach’ it involves crossing the dusty track of road we arrived on, a wide strip of palm trees, a busy road with two bike lanes and a dual carriage way. Needless to say, we didn’t bother.

The hotel is a five-minute walk from the airport, and although we heard the occasional plane taking off or landing, fortunately it didn’t have the volume of Heathrow.

Helen Jackson

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