This is part 11 of my series exploring my March 2017 trip to South Africa and Namibia, which started here.
Windhoek has a pretty solid range of hotel options, including two Proteas. The Hilton Windhoek, though, had very good reviews, and seemed pretty well-located. I had originally booked it for 30,000 Hilton Honors points, because, well how many decent Hilton properties can you get for a non-outrageous amount of points. I checked back a month or so later, and due to the ridiculous nontransparent pricing system for Hilton properties, it had dropped down to 20,000 points, so I rebooked it.
The hotel stands out quite a bit in the city, as a very tall modern structure. There was a weird little ante-lobby when I arrived, complete with what appeared to be tour desks, followed by a more typical lobby with lots of seating and a bar. The center of the hotel is an atrium that goes all the way up, leading to a very open feel.
Check-in was friendly, and I was told I had been upgraded to a Diplomatic Suite. The stay was actually my last stay in a year as a Hilton Diamond, and, spoiler alert, it was my second suite upgrade in 11 stays as a Diamond. (One of the least useful top-tier elite statuses; the other was the Doubletree Little Rock). Along with my key packet, I was given a voucher for the casino next door, which I didn’t use.
The room was massive, which wasn’t particularly useful for a stay of about 12 hours. It was basically two rooms connected to one another, with one set up as a bedroom, and one as a living room. Because of the architectural design, it was a little weird in that there were two identical hallways with closets and safes typical of your standard entry hallway. The living room also had the same outlets that were on the other side of the wall above the desk, kind of floating in the ether at an odd height in the living room. There was a minibar in the dresser in the living room, and a hot water kettle and coffee/tea set up in the bedroom. There were also two bathrooms, a smaller one in the living room, and a huge one in the bedroom. The large one had almost an identical layout as the African Pride 15 on Orange (though smaller), with a soaking tub, a double sink, and a separate water closet and shower stall.
The living room had a ton of seating, with what was a sort of dining nook with a small table and chairs and a small couch, and then a larger couch with two arm chairs and a large glass coffee table. The living room seating actually was showing a bit of wear with some stains, but otherwise it was fine. When I arrived, there was also a welcome amenity waiting, a tray with nuts, biltong, and sausage, along with a hand-written welcome note and a letter laying out the facilities and elite benefits.
There wasn’t really a great view, because one of the architectural elements of the hotel is a metal cage outside the windows. But you could peek through and see some of the major sights of the city.
After dropping off my stuff, I went for a short walk around the city. It was already 6:15pm so I didn’t get a chance to go inside anywhere. The CBD was pretty dead at that hour, though it was still daylight. It definitely had a 1960s, less colonial feel than Cape Town. There were some malls and shops and a supermarket (all closed) right by the hotel. I did a brief loop and was able to hit many of Windhoek’s main sights- starting with Zoo Park (not actually a Zoo).
From there, it was a short walk uphill to Robert Mugabe Avenue, which has three of Windhoek’s most notable attractions in a row.
First up was Christuskirche (or Christ Church), an early 20th century German-designed church built after a war between Germans and Africans ended. It’s right near Parliament, which I couldn’t see.
Christuskirche stands in great contrast to the Independence Memorial Museum, across the street, which looks like a building out of some sci-fi movie. (I learned, it’s built in the “North Korean style.”) The museum itself is apparently only 5 stories, so I have no idea why the building, built in 2014, is so massive, unless it was some vanity project.
Finally, there is Alte Feste, a late 19th century German fort that didn’t seem like much from the outside.
I returned to the Hilton and decided to hit the gym. It was in a structure on the roof, next to the pool and skybar. It was a little annoying that you have to go outside to get to the gym, but it wasn’t raining. The gym itself had pretty decent equipment- 5 new cardio machines, some handweights, and one resistance machine, although it was super warm inside because the A/C had been turned off. Also, an employee was sitting in the gym talking loudly on his cell phone when I arrived, and he stayed and continued to chat while I worked out for about 10 minutes.
I had had some restaurant recommendations but it was already late and I had an early wakeup for safari, so I figured I’d see what the lounge offerings were for its evening reception. They actually turned out more than sufficient for dinner. The lounge itself is two stories, with some varied seating, and a large bar/food area in the center. The Lounge Attendant was excellent, proactively bringing me drinks and offering me food before he packed it up for the evening.
In terms of hot dishes, there was a beef stew and a chicken stew, rice, and mixed vegetables. There were a few different salads, biltong and nuts, and some nice pastries, along with a full bar and refrigerators with soft drinks. I sat and read and watched the sunset for a bit after eating. The lounge wasn’t crowded at all, but three other parties came in and out while I was there – including an African guy who was basically shouting on his phone.
I peeked back out at the pool/skybar area to try and take a picture at night. I’m not sure if they were prostitutes or just rude, but as I did, two women were making comments to me and saying “Oooh take a picture of me, too.”
I watched a little TV (South African channels) and went to bed. I was up before the sun at 6am, and got to breakfast in the restaurant shortly after it opened at around 6:30. (Breakfast in the lounge didn’t start until 7.) Unlike many Hilton breakfast buffets, it was fully operational at opening, and had a huge spread. About a dozen standard/European-American hot dishes, fresh squeezed juices, and an omelet station, in addition to the full range of cereals, breads, pastries, salads, etc. Waiters walked around with juice and coffee. It was pretty tasty. By the time I was leaving close to 7, it was pretty busy, but I imagine that there’s a lot of folks with early morning departures for safaris and other excursions, plus you have to leave for the airport pretty early for any morning flights out of WDH.
In all, the Hilton Windhoek is a great property (and a steal for 20,000 points). I feel like my impressions of Windhoek as a city are pretty useless given how little time I had, but, thanks Air Namibia for that.
Next up: Safari – which is what is making blogging take so long, as I’m spending hours editing pics.