Still making the transition from a socialist economy, Ethiopia now has a growing number of privately-operated hotels and guest houses. Compared with the old state-operated enterprises (such as the old Ghion Hotel, which has some of the best gardens in the city, by the way) these new establishments are very entrepreneurial, which has both positive and negative aspects.
The Wassamar is a good example of this, being a new building wedged into a tiny space along a very busy road (Bole Rd, also known as Africa Ave.) and built over a supermarket (really just a largish grocery store); the entrance is so close to another hotel (KZ Hotel) that you need to look twice before entering to make sure where you are. Since there isn't room for a lobby on the ground floor, it is two floors up, and designed around an attractive atrium. A lot is packed into a small space: several computers with free Internet form the "business center" on one edge of the lobby, whose other edges are the entrance to a well-equipped fitness center, a bar, the entrance to the restaurant, the reception desk, and the elevators (lifts).
Most of the floors have (free) WiFi, but I found the connection unreliable, and used my own cable to connect to the provided Ethernet outlet. When the power goes off (frequently) a generator takes over, but the routers need to reset and interruptions are common.
I was initially given a single room which was tiny, had a door which did not close completely, and was located over a very noisy street. I was then offered a suite, which was quite a bit larger and the additional price seemed a reasonable deal (more on that later). The furnishings are well below international standard: somewhat clunky furniture with chipped corners or veneer comping apart, a badly located water heater in the bathroom whose power cable hangs just over the toilet, plumbing fittings which are a knock-off of name brands but poorly-fitting; and a high step just inside the bathroom entrance which seems a safety hazard. (Possibly there because the bathtub is too deep to fit into the floor otherwise? Not sure...); very dim lighting and a very noisy exhaust fan. The bed was reasonably comfortable and an oldish TV is in each room (living area as well as bedroom).
The cleaning staff are friendly and thorough,and laundry service is fast and inexpensive, quite unusual for hotel service. The minibar in the room has a basic selection (bottled water, soft drinks, local beer) and prices again were very reasonable. There is no A/C, but since Addis is seldom very hot this is not a big problem. There is no swimming pool, and indeed no outdoor area apart from a terrace adjoining the restaurant, which is right above the noisy road.
Prices in the restaurant are also inexpensive, though quality and presentation are iffy. Only a couple of Ethiopian dishes are on the menu (spicy portions of meat - "tibs" - in spicy berbera sauce, served with injera); after overcooked pasta and a soggy main dish salad, I stuck to the local dishes. At breakfast (included in the price) there is a counter in the dining area with a cook preparing eggs and waffles, but unfortunately no exhaust fan. Selection of breads and rolls was poor, but sliced fruit was excellent (especially papaya). Other breakfast items on offer I found completely unappetizing (rice with corn, boiled eggs fried in a crust, sausages of dubious color). A couple of blocks away is a Kaldi coffee shop (with a knock-off of the green Starbucks logo) which serves vastly better coffee and even freshly-made pancakes, which were far more appealing.
At the time I made the reservation I was told I was being offered a special corporate discount rate of $95 ($160 for a suite). At check-out I learned that this is in fact the "rack rate" and there is no such corporate discount. The credit card reader was out of service, and this caused another issue with the desk staff having to manually process a payment sheet (backed by a photocopy of my passport). The free shuttle to the airport is a useful service, but the 20-seat bus seemed a waste for a single passenger.
As the local market matures one can expect a shakeout and some realignment of pricing; a Novotel is under construction along the same road, which could offer stiff competition at the middle of the international market, while the new Radisson is said to be giving the Sheraton a real challenge at the upper end; the old Hilton has been allowed to deteriorate, though a renovation is promised "any day now." The state-owned Ghion has unique grounds but lags under bureaucratic management and quirky furnishings similar to the Wassamar. The Wassamar seems to be thriving due to over-priced alternatives, but I doubt that it can continue to be competitive as better-furnished and maintained hotels appear in a similar price range.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.