Haile Gebrselassie, the famous Ethiopian long distance runner, has now turned his attention to running hotels. On our tour of Ethiopia we stayed in one of them and had lunch in the other two.
The first was a large concrete hotel which didn’t look appealing from the front drive but had a great location on the shores of Lake Hawassa. Our room, 1108, had a lake view and large balcony with plenty of room for the two chairs and table. It was a large room with high ceilings, mushroom coloured furniture, two identical striped armchairs ideal for reading and interesting art on the walls. There was also desk and chair and good plug points. The bed wasn’t the biggest although the author of our Bradt guide remarked it was the most comfortable bed they’d ever slept in. The room was well equipped with hairdryer, safe, TV robes, mini bar and had practical terracotta tiles on the floor. Wi-Fi was free but there was poor signal availability and there was no air con, just a ceiling fan. The bathroom was a good size with a walk in shower.
Unfortunately, although it was a large hotel, there was no information in the room about the facilities and check in was limited to simply handing out a room key.
Arriving at 3.30pm, it felt really warm and after opening our suitcases, we headed down to the lakeside. Unfortunately we couldn’t walk very far along the shore and the sunset wine bar we spotted was closed (and never opened during our one night stay). However, we found another lovely outdoor bar that was open and we sat under the shade of a huge tree with a chilled Walia beer.
The ground floor dining room was open for breakfast from 6am and dinner from 7pm. There was a separate large bar on the lower ground floor which opened out onto a lawn. Unfortunately, it was a family friendly place, and at one point small children were running round all over the place as there was so much space. The prices of drinks were half those in Addis Ababa and we were offered a complimentary large bowl of French fries: a good result all round.
The main restaurant was relatively quiet at 8.30pm and we purposefully avoided a table away from couple of large family groups. We ordered lasagne which was large and brick like, but surprisingly tasty and tuna salad. Unfortunately a couple with a small baby arrived and sat right next to us and as the baby started grizzling, we took our remaining wine back to the room.
For breakfast there was the usual fruit, cold meats and cakes and an egg chef.
We also had a lunch stop at the hotel on Lake Ziway where we sat on a lovely verandah and enjoyed fish kebabs and stir fried fish with vegetable fresh from the lake.
The third hotel was in Shashemene where we once again, we had the lasagne but this time with an avocado salad with heaps of avocado strips stacked bonfire style on the outside of a huge mound of lettuce, tomato and cucumber.
Whilst I’m not sure Haile deserves a gold medal for his running of hotels, we were always pleased when we were told we’d be lunching at one of his hotels as the loos were always excellent – something that couldn’t be said about all the places we stopped at!