Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital, is the country’s cutest city. Divided into six broad districts and administered by an appointee of the president, Abuja is a constant attraction for local and international business travellers and the government is doing all it can to position it as a MICE (Meetings Incentives Conferences and Exhibitions) destination.
International visitors are impressed by its superb network of roads and highways, complemented by gorgeous, modern architecture. The city boasts one of the cheapest transportation regimes nationwide, made possible by a surplus of local taxis; in addition, there are government-regulated taxi schemes that ensure that moving around the “centre of unity” is as affordable as can be.
The hospitality sector is somewhat saturated with hundreds of three-star category hotels across the districts, offering standard amenities at comparably cheaper tariffs; most come with conferencing facilities, which can seat anything between 100 and 300 persons, depending on the function type. Only a handful rank in the five-star club, where most business travellers (and the diplomatic community) to the city flock. More often than not, room occupancy for the smaller hotels is on the low side, so discounted weekend rates are well known bargains. Here is a selection of superior properties that will treat you to the pampering you deserve.
Transcorp Hilton Abuja
If you fly into Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe International on a day the city is free of its occasional tiresome traffic, you can be in the warm embrace of the majestic Transcorp Hilton Abuja in under an hour. You’ll appreciate its piano lounge for starters as well as, if you want, the poolside barbecue. Inside the Bukka Restaurant (open 6:30 a.m.—10:30 p.m.), guests can try out local Nigerian delicacies, while light refreshments can be had at the Fulani Pool Bar.
The hotel offers not just meeting rooms (24 in all, and with a capacity of hundreds of participants), but also family-themed services—babysitting services and a raft of child- friendly activities. Adults can play anything from tennis to basketball, while golf buffs can reach the nearby IBB International Golf and Country Club in a matter of minutes. And there is a tour desk in case you’d like to see attractions the city.
Sheraton Abuja Hotel
With 20000 square meters of space to spare, the Sheraton Abuja is big on meetings and can cater to an array of function types. Its 540 rooms are in seven different categories—from classic to presidential suites — complemented by a fitness centre that promises the guest the “four fundamentals of optimal performance: Mindset, Nutrition, Movement and Recovery.”
Guests can choose from any of the five restaurants and bars to savour the richness of the menu offerings—from buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner, to Italian cuisine at the Luigi Restaurant. The lobby bar is open 24 hours. And if you’re up for a bit of gaming fun, then check the Jacaranda Casino, open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (midnight to 3 a.m.). If you would love to get some local souvenirs after your stay, the Arts and Craft Village is a stone’s throw away.
One of the many indigenously owned hotels in Abuja, Rockview Hotels has properties in at least five cities in Nigeria, including two in Abuja (the Classic and the Royale). With a combined 300-plus rooms, it aims to serve both local and international guests, and it boasts a sumptuous array of facilities for lodgers’ convenience and pleasure—sauna, ultra-modern gym, pastry shop, electronic room-safe, and an inhouse live band.
Protea Hotel Abuja
This South African hospitality brand has steadily built its presence by building dozens of hotels from scratch in major Nigerian cities. It has properties situated in the elite Maitama, Apo and Asokoro districts; all of which combine cuteness and class. The Maitama property is a 28-room structure with a boutique-ish feel; Asokoro is a traditional hotel with 75 rooms; and Apo has 46 self-catering apartment-style suites. You will find in the Abuja Proteas nearly all the business and leisure facilities offered by the bigger, renowned brands, including conference rooms, swimming pools, and wi-fi.
Gombe Jewel Hotel
This is an example of a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model that has worked in the Nigerian hospitality and tourism industry. Built by one of Nigeria’s state governments, it is managed by a private firm under a lease agreement. With 57 rooms, a gymnasium and swimming pool, it is within easy reach of the Central Business District (CBD).