I stayed at the Arusha Hotel (aka New Arusha Hotel) the last week in March. I was there on business and there were colleagues and friends staying there as well.
I'm rating this above average but this is really more with regard to hotels in Africa - it would be average for U.S. or western travelers.
The location is superb. It's right on the circle in the middle of town, walking distance to the Conference Center (where your conference will likely be if you have one and where the War Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda was held - interesting exhibit there), the post office, the Masai market, two western supermarkets, forexes, etc. It's also got a taxi rank right there (be sure to negotiate!). From the outside it doesn't look like all that. The Kibo Palace looks much nicer. The entrance to the hotel is also quite nice. Outside there are stairs and (thoughtfully) a ramp for luggage in the drop-off area. And it's covered which is nice when it's raining! The minute you step off the hotel grounds the hawkers are all over you to buy things etc. They are annoying but will respond to "I'm not buying anything" and won't hassle you if you ignore them - they won't touch you or anything. There are doormen, a sleek-looking lobby that's also got room for lounging, whether waiting for a few friends or for having some drinks. The staff is excellent. They were informative, friendly, etc. with just one annoying exception (more below). One staff member, Miriam (works the 2-10 pm shift) really went above and beyond, compeletely. There is a business center in the basement but I didn't use it, and there is also on the main floor, a sundries shop and a gift shop. I didn't use either one, they are hotel-priced which is of course overpriced. There's no WC in the first floor, you have to go either up a flight to their conference room area, or down a flight to the basement (where the bar and casino - and business center - are). They will change money for you at the front desk.
I didn't use the casino either, but the bar was good. Good drinks. Order a Dawa (Swahili for medicine) - very yummy! The food was pretty good. The restaurant on the 1st floor serves complimentary breakfast - mostly western style, eggs, fruits, cheese, pastries, omlettes, cereal, bacon etc. and coffee, tea or Milo and juices. I wasn't impressed with it for the first couple of meals but then when I ordered off of the Indian menu - it was good! Very nice. (However, if you can, get over to Nick's Pub for at least one meal to enjoy the food and the local vibe.)
The rooms are nice enough... mine was a double - 2 double beds. Very large rooms. However, mine didn't have the little welcome pamphlet telling about the hotel and it didn't have bottled water in the room - this being Tanzania, I figured there just wasn't one of those "about the hotel" books at all, and since there was no bottled water, and since in most countries in west Africa piped water is safe, I just figured the water was fine. Two days later I learned that there is such a book and I should have gotten bottled water in the room - the book says they filter the water but don't recommend drinking it! However, I think the water was okay as I didn't get anything from it. They have turn-down service at night which is a nice touch although unnecessary. Some of my colleagues in an older wing didn't have air conditioning and couldn't get fans, but I had it and it worked fantastically. The electricity went off and on a lot but there were generators etc. so we were never without for more than a couple of minutes. There was an in-room safe which was great. The bathroom was standard (and clothesline in the shower!), although the tub was elevated and slippery so it took extra care to get into and out of the tub. No problems with hot and cold water in the tub or the sink. There is a "wake up call" setting on the phone that worked the first day and then didn't anymore, and when I called the front desk to get a wake up call, there was one day that they forgot - naturally it was the one day that we all were going on a mini-safari so we needed to be up at 5:30 or 6, and no one called any of us to wake us up! There are no clocks in the rooms at all. Blackberry communication was not an option - phones worked but not email.
The grounds were quite lush and beautiful to walk through, and the pool was nice - actually pretty cold - they said that the heater was broken - but it was nice to jump in after a long and hot day spent outside.
I had just one not-so-great experience and it wasn't even all that - just a cautionary note. We asked for the market - the Masai market or the central market, either one. We wanted to know how to get there. The desk staff sent the doorman to take us there even though we protested that we didn't need to be taken, we just wanted to go ourselves. I even had a map and showed them the direction I thought it was in. Well, they took us the opposite way and when I asked they told me this was the way. Then about half a mile later, they deposit us at this shop! It was clearly not the market and it was clear there was an arrangement between the hotel and this shop. It was annoying because we specifically asked for the market and knew the direction and they still insisted on taking us to this place. IMHO they should have known that we knew better - if they want to take tourists there who want to buy and not be hassled then that's fine but we wanted the market. Anyhow no harm done as we ended up at the market just fine - it was just kind of annoying is all.
Couple of things to note: on checking out they will charge you an additional, I think it's 5%, if you are paying by credit card. Also, when you want to dial room to room, you can't do this between 8 at night and 8 in the morning - you have to go through the operator. They say it's a security measure but it's just frustrating when the operator doesn't answer!
Overall, it's a perfectly fine place to stay, but not on the level of the Ritz or Four Seasons. What the hotel lacks in fine-tuning, it more than makes up for with the staff, the Dawas, the grounds and the Indian cuisine.
- Also Known As:
- The Hotel Arusha
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A historic 4-star hotel in the heart of Arusha boasting 86 elegant and sophisticated rooms. Facilities include restaurant, bar, lounge, gardens, gym, swimming pool, wireless internet throughout hotel, 24 hour room service, conferencing and business centre. ... more less
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