West Africa Hotel Architecture

West Africa Hotel Architecture
Bohicon Benin West Africa
Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I have lived in Hotels now for nine to ten years, it give me and sensitivity to the design of Hotels that is acute. I appreciate the benefits and am annoyed by the problems. 95 percent of hotel problems are because the hotel does not do maintenance or repair broken of worn out parts of the hotel.

West Africa above average rooms or lodging for tourist, the tourist infrastructure is weak, however if there is a hotel or lodging the hotel was built to be a hotel. Many rooms on the planet are older building modified to be a hotel, guesthouse or hostel. Difficult to change the design of an old colonial home, whereby it has all the benefits of a hotel designed and built as a hotel.


- motorists’ hotel: a hotel intended to provide short-term lodging for traveling motorists, usually situated close to a highway and having rooms accessible from the parking area. - (2)

The Dako Hotel here in Bohicon, Benin is exactly this; the hotel was designed for motorist or travelers with a car, who wants a room. It looks almost like an American Hotel where you drive to the reception area, pick up the key, pay, drive, and park in front or you room. Whereby you can easily load and unload your baggage.

Security of West Africa I think dictates the opposite approach, they have a center all and everyone has to enter one entrance and carry the bags to their rooms. More the Five-Star approach with bellmen.

The Dako has a swimming pool; it actually was full of young beautiful black girls yesterday. I was astounded to actually see people at the pool, however today I expect again none. There is a youth group or sorts here; I am not sure what they are doing.

The Design of the Dako Bohicon Hotel is of a Motel.

I am traveling between motels and I do not have the motor. I have no car, everyday I travel in West Africa it become more apparent that I am missing my car. The hotels are designed for car, it is much the same as the USA, and you will never find a cheap hotel in the USA, unless you have a car to drive to the obscure, mom and pop motel on the fringes of cities.

Summing of Annoyances
I feel annoyed, it is summed up over time, there is the straw that breaks the camel back, and I finally realize why I am annoyed. If a person is on a two-week vacation, the small things never build up to the point of awareness. I on the other hand am living in West Africa now; I travel longer, move around, and notice the place.

The sum of all problems become to the forefront of my senses. The Hotels in Africa are five times better than any of the other under-developed normal 80 percent of the planet hotels. On the other hand, they are also, three to five times more expensive also, and if I paid the same in 80 percent of the planet, I would live the same. I like not paying the amount of money more than I like having better rooms. I can choose the perfect room in a cheap hotel, and live better for less.

I have collected as of today 1432 specific characteristics of a hotel, identifying benefits, services, or problems. I am slowly developing a sub-categorization system whereby I can explain or help a person to analyze some aspect of a hotel.

I think about Architectural design often, and sometimes wish I had become an Architect. I was extremely good at drafting in high school and the only reason I did not go into the study of Architecture is that I wanted to go to Indiana University and not Ball State. Indiana University is more a Business and Arts and Science school, while Ball State has an Architectural department, and is what I call a make-teachers school. Not that simple, we also have Purdue that is about farming and other related subjects.

I have studied homes, businesses, and all aspects of real estate for years, I was in the real estate business for 14 years, and could talk years on how to sell, buy, or develop land, build a home, what are the pros and cons of real estate.

Home Inspection Services
The trend in the USA, not the world is to hire an inspector that enters the home you wish to purchase. Creates a report explaining the condition of the property. This report will identify major problems with the structure, however if a good inspector, they will help to show the benefits of the property also. A home inspector would be a great person to evaluate a hotel; they would have a list of small problems in their head and could see them.

I am listing benefits and problems caused because the designs of the rooms are such that I do not benefit. This is different from saying obvious problems like there are bare electric wires. The room often has no bare wire, and there is no problem, however there are no electrical plugs, therefore no problems.

I believe all this five star concept is more of zero value. I see stars and I only think more money. If they list the stars the know they can charge more money because people trust them. I on the other hand know if the name is anything other than the word - Hotel - the price can be less. A country, city, state will tax a Hotel more than a Guesthouse; this does not stop a Guesthouse from being a much better place to sleep or for me to live than a Hotel.

The only true way to evaluate a hotel is to have an extensive checklist of benefits; problems and services, then go line item by line item down the list. Then come the problem of lack of regularity of rooms, a hotel more or less has all rooms looking the same, a bed and breakfast and all rooms are unique. The inspection becomes a room-by-room affair.

A good guide writer will say the rooms in this area are better, however very subjective. I am having a problem because I feel the guidebook writers for the Lonely Planet West Africa all had cars or some vehicle to drive, They did not just get out of group taxi, get on a Zim or Motorcycle and ride to all the Hotel, it would have taken days. In addition, most of them must have been fluent in French.

This is therefore a backpacker’s headache; we do not buy cars normally and do not drive. We carry a backpack so we can walk from place to place with are home on our backs. If we are directed to go to hotels, which are far away from anything, then we need a car, or for sure access to Motorcycle Taxis or car taxis.

West Africa Hotel Architecture


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It is very strange that West Africa has developed this somewhat expensive motel system and does not have the cheap backpacker infrastructure that most of the world has developed. You can understand that in the car-centric, sprawl-happy U.S., but it seems very odd in countries where most of the local population doesn't have an automobile. Probably part of the reason the region gets so many fewer tourists than East Africa.

Andy in Niger

For the average person and for a man a great place to travel. The girls love us.

The cost is higher than East Africa, but the culture can be more interesting. Arabic is difficult.

The hotel are all a new thing, like the USA... 200 years or less. While the civiliations of other places have had permanent structures longer.

This is s new thing, concrete.

Andy in Zinder Niger.

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