On three occasions this week I spent several hours in Hotel Ivoire, Abidjan’s major hotel that’s been closed for the past few years for refurbishment and has been partially open for business since November. I must say that it’s been missed. In 2007, when I arrived here, the hotel was a regular part of any week for the conferences and seminars held there. It really puts the grandeur into Abidjan, a city in which other hotels, even the most luxurious chains, feel small, pokey and unambitious. Given those same business hotels are now close to full, it’s about time Hotel Ivoire reopened.
The hotel is a strong statement about how Ivory Coast once was, and what perhaps it can one day be again. In 1970, The Economist magazine no less described it as the most beautiful hotel in the world. Of course, perceptions of architectural beauty evolve as any fashion does, but the hotel complex retains a sense of class and modernism, and the restoration has been well done, even as we await the opening of the main block. The 300m pool is full again, and though there are no plans to reopen the ice rank, the whole complex is set to return to its former glory and more so, with the completion of the shopping centre. There’s little else (even the presidential palace) that makes you feel quite as small as Hotel Ivoire. I’ll never regret having spent my wedding night there, even if at the time it was a shadow of its former self. If Hotel Ivoire returns to the centre of Abidjan-life, it’s safe to say that the city will be once again back on its feet, and ready to sweep visitors off theirs.