We stayed at the “Goha Hotel”:http://gohahotel.com/ in Gondar for three nights to participate in the Ethiopian Epiphany celebrations, known as Timkat, on 19 January. The hotel is well situated on the town’s outskirts, high on a hill therefore affording excellent views of the city below.
Our room, 313, on the second floor (no lift) was reasonably large with a double bed but only one bedside lamp, slippers, bottle of water and glass. The hand basin was in the main bedroom with a small bathroom containing shower and loo. The shower was powerful and sensibly, towels were only changed on request. There was a dark wood desk and chair with good sockets nearby and a wall-mounted TV which didn’t show anything worth watching. There was plenty of hooks and hanging space in an open wardrobe but no safe, tea/coffee facilities. Hairdryers were available on request (fortunately I realised this before I wet my hair). There was no AC or fan and we kept curtains drawn during the day as the sun shone in – we overlooked the hotel’s washing line so there was no view anyway.
The large lobby had lots of low tables and chairs and a TV which showed either BBC World News or Premiership football (all Ethiopian men seem to support an English club).
There were two large dining rooms and also a tented area called Fasil’s traditional restaurant. which acted as a bar during our stay.
At the back of the hotel there was a large rectangular swimming pool and around half a dozen loungers and umbrellas, but we never saw it being used. There was a lovely terrace for drinks, snacks and breakfast, which because it was Timkat, was generally busy with lots of beautifully dressed locals in traditional white embroidered outfits.
There was a large children’s play area out front with a huge assortment of brightly coloured rides and an un-inflated bouncy castle.
For our first lunch we could chose from the set menu of two starters (potato salad or soup) and a range of five mains including a couple of vegetarian options involving pasta. The chicken parmesan came with rice and vegetables and I had Gondar style fish and chips – both were good. Unfortunately the rest of our meals (breakfast, lunches and dinners), were all buffet style because, once again, apart from another couple, the hotel was full or huge groups. We tried to pick our timing as one night the queue for the buffet was twenty strong. Evening meals always started with a soup followed by a choice of around 10 dishes ranging from pasta and sauce to traditional Ethiopian stews. Pudding was a simple cake but there was a gelato counter (at extra cost) with all the usual flavours.
Because we were up at 4.30am for the Timkat celebrations, the hotel had thoughtfully extended breakfast time so that when everyone returned at 9.30am, we were able to have something to eat.
On our second day, we arrived back at the hotel and asked for our key at reception – this is when the fun and games started. A man was dispatched with two huge bunches of keys to open our door but as the keys were unnumbered, he had to try them in turn. Eventually he gave up and sought help from the housekeeping girl. She too failed to find the right key and so they got the keys for every other room on our floor and went inside to see if our key had been left inside. There was only one room they couldn’t get into, the one next door. Eventually the manager came up and tried some keys – it was then a bit unclear what happened but someone emerged from next door, possibly because of all the commotion outside, housekeeping went in and there was our key, said to be in a drawer. If it was, the room must be different to ours as we don’t have a drawer!
This large hotel with over 80 rooms is obviously geared up for large tour groups and as we were travelling independently, at times we felt a little overwhelmed. However, I suspect that judging by the number of local people who came up for dinner or drinks, it is one of the better hotels in Gondar.