As one of the few hotels in Abuja that has met the security requirements for the UN to allow staff to stay here, we didn't have many options. That said, and while I appreciate the external security, which was certainly visible, I would imagine that there must be better options that are on the UN "secure" list, and, the next time I have to go to Abuja, I will certainly make every effort to find a suitable alternative and avoid the Chelsea if at all possible! The room was functional, but very tired. For this level hotel range in Africa, it was clean(ish), but certainly not by international standards. It is the kind of place where you don't bother complaining about the cockroaches, because you know they are all over and they won't/can't do anything to deal with them anyway. The carpet/bedding are worn and stained. The WiFi was intermittent with a VERY slow connection when it was working...Skype to Europe worked for audio, albeit with bad delay, but I never did manage to Skype with video to the family during my whole week there. Breakfast had limited and unfamiliar choices - so my colleagues and I ended up with a bread roll each day. After hearing from other guests who said the restuarant was even worse for dinner, we didn't try it. The A/C was annoying - it could either be on or off, and never the right temperature. I also got several mosquito bites in my sleep.
But, now to the worst of all - they required a ridiculously large deposit upon check-in (as in a few hundred Euros/dollars per person). We each gave them this deposit in other currency (as they said they would have to charge the deposit on credit cards, then reimburse the cards if we didn't use the deposit, and we didn't have enough local currency). Before giving our deposits (one colleague in USD and 2 of us in Euros), we asked them several times to confirm that we would get the amount back minus what we may charge to the room over the next days, IN THE CURRENCY THAT WE GAVE THEM. We were assured that this would be the case!!!! The night before we were to check out we stopped at the front desk to remind them that we would be leaving the following morning and wanted our deposits back (none of us charged a single thing to our rooms). They informed us that they didn't have that much money in the hotel for security reasons and would try to get it back by the next day. We told them that it was our money and should not have been deposited elsewhere as we were assured that it was being held for us. A "manager" came and told us that we would get it back in local currency the next day. We argued, explaining the circustances and the promises, but he said that there was nothing he could do as it was their policy. He also said, "you should have given us Nigerian currency...that is all we can give back", etc.
We asked to speak with the hotel manager, who was conveniently out of the office for the next few days, etc. We asked for the owner/a regional boss/company affiliate, ANYONE and finally were given a fax number for a parent, headquarter office (or so we were told). We wrote them a letter and faxed them, to solve this issue and get us our deposits back in the original currency that we gave it in by the next morning.
Suffice it to say that this did NOT happen. Additionally, while not one single one of us charged one single thing to our rooms, a significant percentage of our deposits was "spent" on converting our original currency into Niara. In spite of the money that we were charged for converting the currency, we still received the currency back in Niara. While they offered to charge us to change it back into EUR/USD at a horrendous rate, we opted to do this on our own elsewhere...We were disgusted by the whole incident and learned from several other guests that they had run into similar (if not identical) experiences with the Chelsea Hotel and their dishonest business practices. Incidentally, before leaving town that evening, a colleague and I had a drink at the Sheraton in Abuja (directly accross the street from the craft village), and it looked clean and nice. If I'm ever in Abuja again, I will plan to pursue that option instead....
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Chelsea Hotel Central Area-Promoting the essence of exquisite style in the capital of Nigeria. Located 40 mins from the Airport in the Central Business District of Abuja. It offers a touch of African style to its already celebrated International appeal. Its facilities include - kitchenettes, suites, swimming pool, gym, 400-person conference hall, free wireless and many more.Chelsea Hotel Wuse 2 - New boutique hotel for business travelers located in the city center. It's facilities are limited but it compensates for this with its higher service standard and cheaper rates. ... more less
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