Maarten has sent me the following updates & comments, based on edition 6, so page numbers related to that edition and many of his comments are already incorporated in the 7th edition.
Taitu burned down halfway through 2014 and got rebuild. The top floor rooms are much nicer than before. The other rooms though are of generally low quality, and even though cheap not good value for money. Better option in Piaza area is for sure Baro (take the rooms in the front, not in the main building) with a nice little sitting place and fair prices. The neigboring Ankober guest house, next to Baro, is quite overpriced with clean rooms at 600Birr, but with good working Wifi. Small bathrooms with only cold water, pretty noisy hallway all through the night. Across from Baro lies Wutma hotel (small rooms, good option if Baro is fully booked), fair place for breakfast as well.
Toronto guest house is not so good located and slightly overpriced. But, clean rooms, excellent service.
Addis guest house; excellent service, clean big rooms. Fairly priced. Great pick when you need a little more luxury and are tired of the shoestring options.
Best breakfast and cake (even though ‘cake’ sounds more tempting then can ever be held true wherever in Ethiopia) are available in Oslo cafe on Dej Joto, where you`ll find the best fetira I had in the country (thin cripsy pancakes served with honey or egg, or even both).
Beergarden Inn around Edna Mole in Bole area serves excellent though pricy homebrewn bears and fair food. Excellent place if you are eager to watch European soccer matches.
China bar actually better then the description in the guide suggested. Ate there several times, fair portions, very fresh food with loads of fresh vegetables.
Gati thai disappeared, after many telephone attempts I was told the closed the restaurant.
Castelli piazza is very popular, but to my taste highly overrated. Ate there several times, the food is overpriced. The pasta is good, very good indeed. All the meat and fish dishes were poorly cooked. Drinks are expensive. Lovely environment. Definitely not worth all the credit it is getting.
Kaldi`s coffee is a nice string of coffee places scattered around Addis. One is on Churchill road with the crossing with Zambia Road. Another is right next to La Parisiene on Ghana Street close to Edna Mall. Excellent coffee`s, Ice cream, good sandwiches.
Jewel of India restaurant has moved; it is now at a road parallel to Bole Road, first to the left from Bole road coming to Meskel Flower road. Excellent food, fair prices.
Tomoca gets a lot of credit, and it`s completely all correct. The place to go for the best coffee. Epic!
A lovely hideaway is the back garden of the Hilton hotel. Quiet, excellent food (at high prices though). Great place to get away from all the hectic life in Addis.
Dashen restaurant has ceased to exist.
Not in the guide, definitely should be high ranked for eating farengi food is Island Breeze restaurant. It is situated across from Arada Zone telecom between Arbeynoch and Cunningham (map p146).
To the left of the Edna Mall is the best supermarket I came across in the whole of Ethiopia. Wide selection of products. Another great supermarket, which also has a wide range of stationary, furniture, cooking utensils, is on Bole road, on the right when going to the airport, just over the river. This whole building has a good collection of shops for practical things.
Curio shopping is definitely good at Churchill avenue as mentioned in the guide, but very overpriced. If you have little time to do souvenir shopping, this is definitely the best pick because you will find the full range of available curio. At a fraction of the price you will find the same things at Mercato, and usually sellers are fair and open to negotiation.
In the stadium area there are plenty of youngsters trying to steal your stuff. This area is notorious for it, so be aware. Especially around Ambassador theatre, several reports of people ‘accidently’ bumping into tourists, after which their smart phones had disappeared.
The shops around the stadium sell excellent leatherware at good prices.
Bookworld on map p. 146 is situated more east, opposite Enrico pastry.
Hotel Atse Yohannis offers great value for money. Furthermore, it is close to the bus station, and close to the office of Ethio tours and travel, the best agency I came across.
Axumite restaurant is populated by horrible staff that is unwilling to service you at all. Furthermore, the food is horrible (tried 2 times, both times very disappointing). Do not go here.
Lovely market in Mekele, nice to see the herbs and of course the salt slabs coming in from Dalol/Danakil depression.
Circle of life Hotel
Quite a beat-down place. Private doubles 350Birr, more beat-down for 250Birr (also self-contained). The garden makes up for a lot though –you won`t find a more lush environment on ‘the strip’ of Hawassa- as does its lakeside location. Nice food at decent prices, of which most unfortunately is always out of stock. Recently changed management (3 times during the last year) but now serious improvements are being made (WIFI much better quality, rooms much cleaner and maintained), bad staff fired.
New telephone number 0462201318
Easily the most beautiful pick in Hawassa. Pricy, but not overpriced. Beautiful rooms, clean. Spa facilities, shopping and swimming pool, all also available for persons not sleeping over against fair rates (e.g. day at the poolside including showers, soap, towels, 100 Birr). Beautiful bird-viewing and more amenities in the making. Great food.
Very good pick. The name does not really offer what you expect, since the view is mostly on a gated piece of dirty land bordering the lake. But the hotel is excellent value (950Birr per 2p room with private luxurious bath room, excellent bed, DSTV). Very good restaurant, very friendly staff. A definite downside is the bad reservation system; you can call in advance, but it happened several times to me that the reservation was non-existent upon arrival. Also once the staff told me they only make reservations one day ahead for single room reservations, since the high rate of no-shows.
The Dolce Vita restaurant is highly overpraised. Around the corner, in the same street as the Lakeview, crossing the road heading to Lewi Resort, is the way much better Italian restaurant Venezia. Funny owner who likes to try his own liquor collection a bit too much, but he`s a very generous and serviceable chap, cooking himself. By far the best pasta`s (and more original than the vegetable or Bolognese you get served everywhere) and drinks. Always serving dishes outside of the meny.
On the same street as Dolce Vita is Tropical Burger. Great place, excellent prices, fast service.
Lakeside fresh fish is best at the restaurant that has a boat terrace extending into the lake. Here they also serve a very tasty fresh fish soup.
At the lakeside many youngsters rent out their motorcycles at fair prices (about 500Birr for a full day including fuel). Hawassa makes a good city from which you can make beautiful trips (e.g. Wondo Genet at 40min motorcycle ride, beautiful road with great sight seeing possibilities).
The lakeside has a bad reputation when it comes to youngsters trying to take your money and phone, mind your stuff.
The mall opposite to Time Cafe has a good Internet cafe with Wifi available. The bottom floor of the mall has a good supermarket. This is the same mall as where Sky Bus has its office to buy your bus tickets.
Even though the description in the guide is fair when it comes to the ambiance in Sashamane lacking, I would say the market in Sashamane is definitely worth a visit, albeit not a special detour. Best place to eat farengi food is for sure Haile hotel (double rooms, self-contained, at 595Birr including breakfast, which is a very fair price. Telephone number 0461101007 / 0930108484 / 0930108485). The banana art gallery is a nice place to find a unique type of art at fair prices. The hustling Rastafarians surrounding the place are quite a hassle though, so you should be prepared for this.
Blue Nile hotel; decent prices, clean place. In the middle of the red light district though, where in every bar surrounding it you`re being served by prostitutes.
Blue nile falls back and forth, public, choose the right time
Tickets for the Selam bus can be bought at the office at the roundabout close to Protection House. The buses leave in front of Ethio Star hotel.
Excellent place to eat is indeed Desset Lodge. Has the most spectacular views of the lake with fair amounts of pelicans surrounding the place.
A nice place to witness Ethiopian dancing and music is located next to Tana Snack (guide p 218 D3). Many Ethiopians visiting the place.
Butajira- Hosaina road
Beautiful to do, fresh tarmac roads that cover most of the track, so very safe. The mentioned sightseeing places in the guide are not all worth it though. The Lake Ara Shetan is fantasticly beautiful, though we had quite some trouble with locals not happy with visiting tourists (rocks, unwanted harassment).
Asano Dengai (p 443) is wholly unimpressive and not worth the visit and trouble to find it. It is indeed decapitated, its single, it`s about 80cm high. Quite unremarkable stele to us.
The Canal my House Café & Pension does no longer offer rooms. Edget is a popular pick for farengi`s and was offering rooms to visiting travelling companies when we were visiting here, so we mostly saw farengi`s in stead of any Ethiopians in the place. Yabsera Hotel was beat down, dirty, with no warm water and bad beds. We changed rooms, but the quality was the same. Definitely a place to not visit. Lemme international hotel is indeed mostly visited by aid workers and tour groups, unclear why exactly. The restaurant is quite poor and service there was quite bad during several visits.
At a vast 120Birr (per person) to enter the sightseeing place, the Ajaro Falls are relatively expensive to visit. That said, they are fantastically beautiful and definitely worth a detour. Very impressive, if you can stand the hassle of locals wanting to guide you, even though the road is signposted very clearly and guiding is definitely not needed.
Has recently undergone massive reconstruction, is now a fairly comfortable and more safe road than before; the pot-hole rate is very low currently.
Soma Lodge changed owners, and is now a bit run-down. But, it has the best views over the valley between the lakes, better even then at Swayne`s hotel. No restaurant still, but good breakfast and excellent, serviceable staff. The restaurant of Swayne`s is very good at fair prices and at walking distance.
Ethio tours and travel
You pay slightly more for the trip to Danakil (600USD, others about 550USD. Negotiable price though!) but everything but drinks is included. Excellent food, good drivers, good guides. Other agencies I heard about got bad reviews in terms of arrangements and food and accommodation quality. Furthermore we used them for a tailored trip from Mekele to Debark and into the Simien Mountains. The private vehicle trip to Debark set us back 250USD for 2 persons excluding overnight stay.
(Tel. 00251936010968 / 00251936011309 / 00251930071417)