In Chad, an American-Brand Hotel Offers Familiarity

Hilton N'Djamena in the capital city of Chad is located on the Chari River. (Photo by Susan McKee)Traveling off the beaten path — say, in Central Africa — can be somewhat daunting, but if the first night in a new destination is in a chain hotel, well, some things are assured.

When I flew into the capital city of Chad, I headed for the Hilton N’Djamena on the Cornish Road. It was everything I expected from a well-established American brand, including staff members who spoke English. This detail is important in a country that used to be a colonial possession of France and uses the Central African Franc as its currency ($1 USD equals slightly more than 553 CAF).

An outdoor pool with a swim-up bar beckons guests to take a swim at the Hilton N'Djamena. (Photo by Susan McKee)With 194 rooms, the hotel is an enormous gated property spread out along the shores of the Chari River, which snakes along the western edge of N’Djamena. Many of the rooms (including mine) have balconies looking toward the water. Some guest rooms are designated for smokers.

Not that I spent any time outside or on the balcony looking at the outdoor pool in the bright sunlight. When I was there — late winter — the daytime temps were well over 100°, so I stayed in the air conditioned comfort of my room making use of the free WiFi. (I was heading to Zakouma National Park for a safari the next day.)

The well-appointed bedroom at the Hilton N'Djamena included free WiFi and bottled water. (Photo by Susan McKee)The hotel also has a spa and fitness center, plus 24-hour room service, LCD TVs, coffee makers, free bottled water, and hair dryers in all the rooms. Note that in Chad most credit cards are not accepted. Anywhere. The hotel and the in-town restaurant where I had dinner one night both take only cash and Visa cards. I never found an ATM in the chaotic city, so I was grateful I’d remembered to bring a Visa card.

The Merkato is one of four restaurants in the Hilton N'Djamena. (Photo by Susan McKee)I had breakfast on site in the minimalist décor of the Merkato (left) but passed on trying the cocktails and tasting plates of La Distillerie Whiskey Bar in the lobby. There are two more restaurants — one très chic and the other, much more informal, out by the pool.

The spacious lobby has a video display on one wall showing the current time of day in four locations plus N’Djamena, the outside temperature and both arrivals and expected departures of international flights from the airport (spoiler alert: almost every flight is “delayed”). The rack rate for a double room is about $200; you can make a reservation on the hotel’s website or via one of the booking sites such as Travelocity or Expedia.

Instead of plants that would wilt in the intense heat outside the lobby, the Hilton N’Djamena opted for colorful mosaic flowers (pictured, below) at the front entrance.

A mosaicof flowers greets guests to the Hilton N'Djamena,Chad. (Photo by Susan McKee)

(Photos courtesy of the Hilton N’Djamena and by Susan McKee)

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