Stories by Demola Ojo
Over the years, the Transcorp Hilton Abuja has a forged a reputation the leading business hotel in Africa. For five years in a row, the Abuja Hilton has emerged winner of Africa’s Leading Business Hotel, Nigeria’s Leading Hotel and Nigeria’s Leading Hotel Suite.
Sitting on 10 acres, it is one of the largest hotels in a city centre and the history of Abuja will be incomplete without it. Built in a remote location of the city in the 1980s, Transcorp Hilton Abuja pioneered a bustling community and catalyzed Abuja’s evolution into the thriving capital city it is today.
Centrally located in the capital’s commercial district, the hotel is one of the largest in sub-Saharan Africa and serves as a national landmark, having hosted countless heads of state and global events.
Known as a favourite haunt of top government officials and high-flying businessmen, the Hilton has been the venue of numerous high-ppowered meetings, formal and informal, local and international.
The Piano Lounge of the Hilton is reputed to have seen more multi-million dollar deals struck than many boardrooms in the nation’s capital. This is a tradition that has been ingrained over the years, regardless of where the pendulum of power in the country swings.
A city within a city, the Hilton has practically all the facilities that a hotel of its stature and reputation anywhere in the world boasts of, and some extras, thus ensuring its capacity to keep guests in-house for an extended period of time. There is hardly any need going anywhere when you stay at the Hilton.
The on-site facilities include 667 guest rooms, eight restaurant and bars, a shopping arcade and extensive recreational facilities.
The hotel also has several banks operating within its premises, telecom operators, airlines and luxury goods outlets who have all set up shop to take advantage of the presence of exclusive clientele that the hotel attracts.
The Hilton also boasts of its own medical clinic, transport division and gas station.
An interesting fact is that an average of 8,000 cars pass through the gates of this behemoth of a hotel daily.
Also on the grounds of the Abuja Hilton is a crafts village where one can get authentic Nigerian art and craft at very good prices. The crafts village has an interesting story behind it.
The Transcorp Hilton was constructed well before Abuja became Nigeria’s capital city. In essence, the city grew around the hotel. However, the indigenous Gwari people were displaced by this expansion so the hotel built a village for them (in traditional Gwari style) to keep their craft going, while also ensuring a steady market for their works.
Full House All Week Long
The norm with business hotels of repute in Nigeria is to have a full house on weekdays, while experiencing lower patronage during the weekends. The Transcorp Hilton is bucking this trend.
Due to its unique qualities and the efforts of an excellent marketing team, the 667-room hotel maintains its allure during the weekend, ensuring it is business as usual.
While the businessmen and politicians take a breather during the weekend to return at the beginning of the next week, Friday to Sunday is taken over by entertainers and pleasure seekers. The reason isn’t far-fetched. The Transcorp Hilton boasts some of the best entertainment facilities in the city.
Beneath the surface of seriousness characterized by sharp suits and statement traditional garb, is a world of fun, leisure and entertainment.
No place is this felt more, than at the massive hexagon-shaped swimming pool and its spacious poolside. The expansive poolside accommodates scores of people without it being choked up. Both in-house and walk-in guests mingle from as early as seven in the morning till nine at night.
The poolside has for decades drawn a motley crowd during the weekends; groups of friends, families, expatriates and many more who just want to enjoy the good food and convivial atmosphere at the indigenous and still stylishly-thatched Fulani Pool Bar.
The Transcorp Hilton Abuja is an international brand that is proud of its Nigerian heritage and the Fulani Bar attests to this. This can be seen not just in its design but also the menu.
From a distance, ‘Suya’ can be seen written boldly on the structure.
The bar delivers on its promise, with different versions of the famous Nigerian barbeque available to choose from; chicken, beef, lamb, fish and snails all with a choice of traditional spices.
Suya is not the only thing on the menu though. Pizzas, burgers and a variety of small chops and meals; ice-cream, mocktails, cocktails and other drinks.
Apart from the poolside, the Hilton is also home to one of Abuja’s glitziest night clubs, Play. Play attracts the cream of the city’s social circle as well as those passing through for one event or the other.
These events include weddings, concerts, comedy shows or – as was the case last weekend – a celebration commemorating 10 years of Delphino Entertainment.
Next to Play is Thames and Ray, a whiskey bar, as well as a casino for those feeling lucky.
The 24-hour service culture found in many Nigerian hotels is one often taken for granted; it isn’t the same everywhere.
The Abuja Hilton raises it a notch though. It isn’t just restricted to room service. For example, the gym is advertised as a 24-hour gym, while the Piano Lounge – Abuja’s first 24-hour lounge – has a pianist playing sonorous tunes in the evenings all week long.
This year’s Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend which is good news for guests of the Hilton. For the weekend of February 14 to 16, the Transcorp Hilton will be upping their weekend offerings for those who want to treat that special someone.
The hotel has a special price (at less than 50 per cent of rack rate) for in-room dining or buffet breakfast, which also includes welcome gourmet chocolates, bottle of wine and complimentary photograph for the couple.
For those who would want to enjoy date night, there’s 25 per cent off meals at the Bukka restaurant and the Oriental restaurant.