Hotel Spotlight: Peace Hotel Mogadishu September 24, 2015
For those of you who are ever considering visiting Mogadishu, Somalia, this one’s for you. First of all, I hesitated listing the Peace Hotel Mogadishu simply because it’s not technically a “luxury” resort and it’s most definitely not a place where travelers are going to go for a vacation. Nevertheless, I think it deserves a shout out for those who are interested in visiting Mogadishu, as I believe it’s one of the safest options if you’re heading there. Note, that they have had one recent explosion back in 2017, but if you’re going to travel to Mogadishu, it is one of those places where you need to expect the best but plan for the worst. By the way, I did vlog my experience, which you can find here.
One thing I will say, is that the Peace Hotel does take security very seriously. They will refuse that you take your own transport (however you would find that) from the airport to the hotel, and they insist on doing so themselves. Trust me when I say, trust them. Two of the hotel staff picked me up in an armored vehicle and I was escorted 3 minutes drive to the hotel, which is adjacent to the airport. There was a pickup truck filled with men with machine guns in back of the car and in front of the car, to ensure extra security. I asked them if they were giving me the royal treatment, or if this is the procedure they adhere to for all of their guests, and they said that they have to abide by these specific security measures for all their guests, which is why they are indeed one of the safest hotels in Mogadishu. Upon entering the compound, we had to go through 3 separate gates to ensure ultimate security. I was surprised that we went through 1 gate less than in Kabul, since Mogadishu is a bit more dangerous in my opinion. Nevertheless, once we arrived, the kind staff gave me a tour which included taking note of the “safe room, where you go in case you hear an explosion”. Hey, you’re in Mogadishu, better to have a safe room than to not! The room itself was bare, with a hole in the bathroom ceiling and men working on restoring the roof of the compound which I could step out onto from my window. The windows had bars on them, but I still felt strange knowing that the men working on the roofs could look into my room (I remained dressed the entire time). The construction was loud and the bed, probably the most hard and uncomfortable one I’d ever slept in. But listen, you’re safe. You can’t expect luxury and comfort in a place like Mogadishu during times of war.
The dinner buffet was really nice, with fresh food and chefs that cared! Boiled vegetables, fish, meats, rice… it was easy to eat until your heart was content. It’s safe to say that there was no alcohol, as Somalia is an Islamic country, but they did have tea and camel milk. Now, I’d had my fair share of camel milk in my life, and I must say this was the most, interesting, kind I’ve had. I generally like the taste of camel milk, but this one tasted like it had been brewing with the ashes of cigarettes. I couldn’t drink too much of it. But I was grateful for the generous offering and I must say that I loved that I could buy shawls and dresses from a local lady that was selling them from within the compound. I think I paid $20 bucks for the blue ensemble… apparently I didn’t bring enough to cover up… even in Kabul and Iran I didn’t have to cover up as a woman as much as I did in Mogadishu. Upon wondering the streets, I found it to be of course, intimidating, but the people to be very nice. “Sister! Sister!”, they would call out (both men and women), which ironically, made me feel more connected to the culture. Guards were with me the entire time (they won’t let you venture outside the compound otherwise – or maybe as a woman they don’t), and they allowed me to say hi to locals, but they knew what to look out for and a few times, they made me hurry back to the armored vehicle because they were radioed about something sketchy going on in the town over with the involvement of Al-Shabaab.
By the way, Somalialand is safe and a relatively peaceful place, there’s a stark difference between Somalia and Somalialand.
Um, P.S., there is a Snapchat Geotag in Mogadishu… who would’ve thought!?
The overall rating that I gave the Peace Hotel was a 5/10.
What I loved: Like I said earlier, this is of course not a luxury hotel, but is one of the safer options if you’re headed to Mogadishu. This hotel deserves to be rated based on my own experience visiting in 2016 as a woman traveling alone, and I will be honest when I say that I did have a positive experience. Sure, I was on my toes most of the time, but I found the staff to be very kind and helpful, security to be top notch, food to be delicious and “excursions” to be memorable… in a positive way.
What Set It Back: The one thing I would advise is to create a bit of a more private setting for the rooms. Heavier drapery and a couple more pillows would do the trick. Otherwise, I can’t complain, I was just grateful for a safe and memorable experience. Sustainability unfortunately isn’t as much of an option as safety is, and I’m quite frankly not even sure how to develop sustainability measures for a hotel that exists within a war zone. Comment below if you know of any that you’d suggest.
Overall: Yes, one of the only safe options in Mogadishu for a brief stay.
What makes a sustainable or regenerative hotel? A reverse osmosis water system, farm to table produce, supporting local dairy and meat farmers, engaging with local non-profit or community organization endeavors to address an issue within the country or community, energy efficient lighting, low pressure water systems, recycling, employing locals and offering fair and equal pay, replanting what was lost during the construction, use of biofuel (for boats), engaging guests in local cultural experiences and making them aware of environmental and cultural needs, LEED Certification, educating staff on importance of sustainability (turning off lights, observing for wasteful practices, etc.), reducing bathroom amenities waste (using bamboo toothbrushes instead, locally made/organic soap, shampoo and conditioner that help the environment), the list goes on.
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