This iconic hotel on the Piazza opened in 1898 (Ethiopian calendar), and was the first hotel to be established in Ethiopia. The Empress Taitu, 1851-1918, wife of the revered Emperor Menelik II, wanted her namesake establishment to be a place where her guests could rest and dine in tranquillity. She chose the site because of the cool breeze and breath-taking views of the plains below: those plains are now the bustling city centre of Addis Ababa, the view of which is blocked by a cluster of travel companies, car hire, ticket offices and more.
This budget hotel has 30 en-suite rooms. The nicer rooms are in the main building, up an elegant staircase from the restaurant. The budget rooms are in a block adjacent to the main building. The spacious wood-panelled restaurant is the heart of the hotel. It has an a la carte menu of salads, pastas, pizzas and burgers, and serves an affordable and tasty vegan buffet lunch every day. Wifi, laundry, luggage storage and car parking are available.
While the hotel is now a faded shadow of its former self, rather in need of renovation, it retains some of the old charm. Locals and travellers mix at the famed bar, which has regular live jazz and piano. The location is unbeatable, in the centre of the funky Piazza area of Addis, full of coffee houses, quirky restaurants and souvenir shops, and local transport is easily accessible from here.