I’m not usually one to gush over hotels. I can count on fingers the number of places which have impressed me enough to ever mention them again. However, Acropole Hotel in Khartoum set the bar.
Myself and a good friend Laura, are driving a 1958 Morris Minor through Egypt and Sudan. The car is 60 years old and has withstood the late 50’s and 60’s, all the way to 2018. However, it was not the only old catalyst for the trip.
The Acropole is the oldest existing hotel in Khartoum which has been in constant operation. It was founded in 1952, when Panagiotis Pagoulatos fled the Greek Island of Kefalonia during WWII, to join the Greek community in Sudan.
Steeped in history and encrusted with character, the brothers who own and run the hotel gave us a heroes welcoming. It feels more like stepping into a family home, free from the superficial and sterile environment typically found within most hotels.
For me, Acropole Hotel came at the end of my trip and was a welcomed relief after weeks of dusty rooms with no towel or modern conveniences. Staff were friendly, helpful, rooms clean, and good advice was never far away. Most importantly, I didn’t feel like just another tourist filling a room. On Friday they offer a free half day tour for hotel guests which is well worth checking out, plus breakfast, treated water and balconies surround the hotel for a birds eye view.
History of Acropole Hotel
When the governor had the ‘Great Britain Bar’ closed due to noise, Panagiotis and his Wife Flora, took over a liquor business, opened a wine store, a confectionery shop, and finally Acropole Hotel. Here they had three sons who eventually took over the business after Panagiotis passed away.
Due to the Acropole being housed within a rented building, the business was spared from nationalisation after the 1969 coup d’état. Although the economic crises worsened, business continued until dictator Gaafar Nimeiry introduced the ‘September Laws’ under Sharia law, resulting in all alcoholic beverages dumped into the Blue Nile. Up until this point, Acropole was the distributor for Amstel Beer so the business naturally suffered financially. Sudan remains a ‘dry’ country to this day.
During the1984/85 famines in Darfur and Ethiopia, the Acropole became a base for non-governmental organisations, since it was the only hotel with reliable telephone and fax lines. They helped with transporting food to the camps for ‘Save the Children’ and ‘Oxfam,’ so much so that inside the main office, hangs a framed letter from Band Aid founder Bob Geldof.
On 15 May 1988, the Acropole suffered a terrorist attack by the Abu Nidal group, who bombed the restaurant, killing a British couple and their two children, another Briton, plus two Sudanese workers and leaving many injured. Nevertheless, the Pagoulatos brothers managed to restore the hotel; it remains the most popular hotel for travellers, journalists, archaeologists, and NGO workers.
So it would appear that although Charlie the Morris Minor has turned 60, compared with the history of Acropole Hotel, he is still the new kid on the block.
The reason we stayed here was because ww were doing a charity drive to raise money for Cancer Research. When they learnt this they were quick to give a donation, despite tourism being down.
George and his wife – two faces that greet you on arrival.
I cant recommend this hotel enough. It was a bit of luxury at the end of the trip and worth every cent.
Here is a video of our time in Sudan.
If you want to read any other Africa blogs, check these out:
A guide to travelling Sudan
Everything you need to know about travelling in Cameroon
How to spot gorillas in Lobeke National Park
The ultimate guide to travelling in Ethiopia
The Danakil Depression – one of the hottest, driest and lowest places on earth
Tanzania – Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater
Botswana and the Okavango Delta