Itegue Taitu Hotel, Addis Ababa

I just saw The Grand Budapest Hotel this weekend, and I came away with such a swoony fever over that fabulous time-warp of a place (the weird, dying 1968 hotel, not the one in the 1930s) that I’m putting off the Rwanda posts I had planned so I can tell you about the fantastico Itegue Taitu Hotel, where I stayed in January.

As I’ve written before, I have a bit of a thing for what I call “vintage hotels” (also, on occasion, motels). I’m always looking for new ones, and the Itegue Taitu was especially delightful.

Apparently, there are some new wings. You don’t want those. You want the original building–built in 1898 (Ethiopian Calendar, which I think means early 1900s), as if I have to tell you.

After spinning through the original revolving door, Peter and I practically skipped and clapped all through the lobby and dining room and upstairs. The stairs creaked! The wall sconces glowed just right! The rooms were weirdly large and erratically furnished!

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(Vintage hotel rule: Ideally, there will be no TV. But if there is one, it must always look uncomfortable and out of place.)

So, some of the old wardrobes were a little chipped. And the bathtubs a bit worn. But how many things get chucked out, only for the crime showing a bit of age? What is our mania for new and untouched? You can’t really believe no one has slept in a hotel room before you. I’d rather see this somewhat worn honesty, rather than false sterility.

I could not convince Peter that the painting was hung sideways. I imagine many hotel paintings could be improved by rotating them 90 degrees.

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Guests receive the English-language paper, because its guests are so worldly, I suppose (even though the Addis English paper is perhaps not as fine as it once was). You are welcome to read in the central lounge.

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The place is filled with paintings, some old and some new. This is Queen Teitu herself, adding some elegance to what is otherwise a rather ungracious reception room around the corner of the building. (The real reception area has been turned into a gift shop.)


And this fabulous one was on the stairs. Please note the actual silver glitter and sequins.


But our hearts really fell right out when we came downstairs for dinner. The tables were full, the waiters were bustling about in ill-fitting uniforms, and the piano player was at it.

This, though it is so distinctly Ethiopian, could be the soundtrack of all vintage hotels.

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