I live in Dib Bahir, the village at the foot of the escarpment north of Debark, and run a small school there called Empress Mentewab School. There is no Internet access in Dib Bahir, so each month I travel the 22 kilometres to Debark to connect to the Internet to update my website and deal with e-mails. I always stay at the Giant Lobelia Hotel.
Last Friday a tourist gave me the latest Bradt Guide to Ethiopia. In it the Giant Lobelia Hotel is given a very poor review.
I feel it is actually the best hotel in Debark. I always stay in Room 101 and there is no boiler there, but hot water comes down from a tank further up in the building. I’ve noticed that when foreign tourists stay at the hotel, the water is always piping hot. What I like about the hotel is that, unlike the other hotels in Debark, it is east-facing, so gets the morning sun, which makes the rooms on that side warm and bright (the west-facing rooms get the late afternoon sun). Also, the views of the mountains to the east are splendid. It is possible to follow the comings and goings of local folk on the road below my balcony and to take photographs unobserved. The beds in the Giant Lobelia Hotel are the most comfortable I have experienced in Ethiopia. The food is satisfactory (sometimes very good) and very reasonably priced. Soup at the Giant Lobelia Hotel costs 20 birr; at the Simien Park Hotel it costs 35 birr, yet the quality and quantity are no better. The staff at the Giant Lobelia Hotel are very friendly. There is a new manager, Mr Jejaw, who started working here a couple of months ago. The hotel is owned by a lady, Mrs Ambel, who has offspring in American and Italy, so is well aware of the standards foreign tourists expect (she also has another hotel in Bahir Dar). The lack of hot water referred to in the review may have been due to power cuts earlier in the day – there are frequent power cuts in Debark.
If you look at my blog you’ll see an entry for the Giant Lobelia Hotel with images.