(CNN) There’s the Paris Ritz, the New York Astoria, London’s Savoy — and then there’s Hargeisa’s Oriental.
Admittedlh, this $15-a-night hotel, without an air-con unit in sight, on the Horn of Africa, in the heart of Somaliland’s rambunctious capital, might not be in the same luxury league as its big city rivals.
However, stuck resolutely in a past far removed from the sterile, colourless places that many modern hotels now aspire to be, the Oriental is arguably what travelling is all about. There are no pretentious airs or premier-class pampering here.
Yet it’s a top attraction in Somaliland, a self-governing nation, which declared independence in 1991, since when it has been separate from the rest of Somalia, although unrecognized internationally.
The daily 4:30 a.m. call to prayer from the giant four-storeyed Ali Mataan mosque right next door may well cut a good night’s sleep shorter than guests might wish but a few extra yawns are more than made up for by the old-world charm that the Oriental effortlessly oozes.