The Margouilla's Advice on Nightstopping in Addis Ababa



What airfield can I expect?

Bole is the main airport in Ethiopia, up to international standards. Jet A-1 and Avgas are available H24. Smaller aircraft are normally parked on the cargo ramp near Ethiopian Airlines hangars.

Flight plan filing is done at the airport office, just under the new control tower. Taxes may be paid there in a wide variety of foreign currencies. The handling branch of Ethiopian Airlines is quite efficient and makes the ground procedures easier.

Hiring a taxi to Bole - the suburb where the airport is located, and where many hotels can be found - will cost about 50 BIR, while a taxi to the town center of Addis can go up to 120 BIR. Hourly rates stand at 100 BIR.


Where am I?

The city of Addis Ababa was founded in 1886 by Emperor Menelik II, and was named after a nearby hot springs where the empress enjoyed taking mineral baths. Menelik had found Mount Entoto a useful base for military operations in the south of his realm. However the immediate area did not encourage the founding of a town due to the lack of firewood and water, so settlement actually began in the valley south of the mountain. The town then grew by leaps and bounds. One of Emperor Menelik's contributions that is still visible today is the planting of numerous eucalyptus trees along the city streets.

On 5 May 1936, Italian troops occupied Addis Ababa during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, making it the capital of Italian East Africa from 1936 to 1941 as Emperor Haile Selassie fled to exile. The Italian occupation was brutal, facing fierce resistance from the population, and massive killings were perpetrated. After the Italians in Ethiopia were defeated by the British army in 1941, the emperor returned to Addis Ababa on 5 May 1941 and immediately began the work of re-establishing his capital. Emperor Haile Selassie helped form the Organization of African Unity in 1963, and invited the new organization to keep its headquarters in the city, today housing the African Union (AU).

Addis is today a metropolis of 2.7 millions. Coming from other countries in Africa, one can't help being impressed by the development of the city, which almost hides the dire poverty in which most Ethiopians live. The high elevation (7,500 feet) can be felt at every move, and gives Addis a mild climate all year long. Ethiopians are very nice and friendly people, so nightstopping in Addis is a pleasure.

Police: 991
Bethzatha Hospital (Bole) : +(251) 11 551 41 41
Pharmacy (Ghion): +(251) 11 551 86 06
Banks: plenty of banks, with ATMs on Bole road, at the Hilton and Sheraton


Where do I sleep?

Sheraton Addis (25mn from the airport)

PO Box 6002 - Addis Ababa, Taitu street
Tel: +(251) 11 517 17 17
Fax: +(251) 11 517 27 27

Hilltop hotel with a nice view on the city. The most luxurious palace in town, it offers two swimming pools, a spa and a business center. Airport shuttle service. Broadband internet available at a fee. Single rooms start at 270 USD including breakfast, and suites go up to 650 USD.

Hilton Addis Ababa (30mn from the airport)

Menelik II Avenue - Addis Ababa 1164
Tel: +(251) 11 517 00 00
Fax: +(251) 11 551 00 64

Large chain hotel with swimming pool, tennis court, spa and fitness center. Airport shuttle service. In-room wifi is available. Prices start at 163 USD.

Jupiter International Hotel Bole (5mn from the airport)

PO Box 110778 - Addis Ababa, Africa avenue
Tel: +(251) 11 661 69 69
Fax: +(251) 11 661 69 99

There are two Jupiter hotels in Addis, the one in Bole being the most convenient for short nightstops. Rooms are clean and comfy, and the bar downstairs is nice and friendly. Single rooms go for 90 USD and suites for 200 USD.

Desalegn Hotel n°3 (10mn from the airport)

Addis Ababa, near Bole road
Tel: +(251) 11 162 45 24
There are three Desalegn hotels in Addis, all located around Bole. Number 3 is the latest, it is located off Bole road at the end of a small dirt road. Despite its grim prison look, the rooms are clean and very large: they all include a living room, a small kitchen and a bedroom. No amenities. Prices are on the steep side, starting at 90 USD.


Where do I eat?

Bon Café (5mn from the airport)

Africa avenue, Bole, Addis Ababa

Supposedly a French restaurant, but not quite in fact. Many local dishes, of good quality. Diner is served in a kind of bamboo hut, while fast-food and live music are available atop the restaurant on an open-air terrace.

Champions Bar (10mn from the airport)

Bole, Addis Ababa

A cosy lounge with an oriental taste to it. A good place to have a burger and a cool St George. Cheap.

Rodeo Bar & Restaurant (15mn from the airport)

Bole road, Bole, Addis Ababa

A fun western-style restaurant and bar. Steakhouse-style dishes, sometimes locally adapted like the "coffee steak", served by Ethiopians dressed-up in cowboy attire. Good atmosphere.

Lucy Restaurant and Bar (25mn from the airport)

Located right next to the National Museum, this restaurant on a nicely decorated outdoor terrace offers a wide range of European & Ethiopian dishes. A perfect place for lunch.


What can I visit?

There are plenty of things to see in Addis. The absolute basic is a visit to the former palace of Emperor Haile Selassie. The building is now part of the Addis Ababa University campus, and has been transformed into a museum. The campus in itself, located on a forested hilltop, is nice and calm. The museum shows various historical artefacts and the Emperor's quarters nicely preserved.

A better known museum is the small Ethiopian National Museum, which features a reproduction of the skeleton of Lucy, unearthed in 1974 in the country. The prehistoric section is the most interesting, with good exhibits showing the many human and animal skeletons discovered in Ethiopia. The rest of the museum is a bit disorganised, ranging from medieval agricultural tools to modern paintings.

A good afternoon trip is the Ntoto Mountain, more than 3000-meter high, which gives an impregnable view on Addis. Taxis normally ask for about 400 BIR to go up there.

Finally, the place to buy souvenirs is the Mercato, the largest market in town. Goat skins, Christian Orthodox artefacts, and traditional Ethiopian clothes are very cheap there for those who bargain hard.


Where can I go out?

Note that adult clubs in Addis have red curtains hanging on the door.


Bole road, Bole, Addis Ababa

Very local bar, with Ethiopian bands playing excellent live reggae music. The place gets absolutely packed on weekends.


Concord avenue, Addis Ababa

A very popular underground red-light club. Great atmosphere.

Memo Club

Between Bole road and Mescal square, Addis Ababa

Another red-light club, located in a shanty area and a bit hard to find. Loud music and dancing until the end of the night.


Corner of Ras Desta Damtew & Taitu streets, Addis Ababa

Probably one of the largest clubs in Addis. A crowd of rich and educated locals. Very similar to clubs in Europe.

Harlem Jazz Club

Bole road, Bole, Addis Ababa

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