This small pension is a convenient short walk from the centre, squeezed into a cul-de-sac off Trift Street, between Sam Nujoma Drive and Peter Müller. Its rooms have tiled floors, Mnet and German TV channels, phones, mini-bar/fridges, ceiling fans, and radios, as well as en-suite toilets and either baths or showers.
Behind the building is a deep swimming pool, around which tables for dinner (on request) are set. Like many of Windhoek’s smaller pensions, many of Steiner’s guests are German – and so its atmosphere often seems to follow suit.
Rates: single N$185, double N$270, quadruples N$440, including breakfast.
Hotel-Pension Kleines Heim (19 rooms) 10 Volans St, Windhoek West, PO Box 22605
Kleines Heim is just off Sam Nujoma Drive, about five minutes’ drive from the centre of town. To reach it, take Sam Nujoma Drive west, then right on to Bach Street, left on to Mercury Street, and left again on to Volans Street. Parking is off the street and within the pension’s grounds.
Run by very friendly hosts – Kim and André Vosloo – Kleines Heim has a beautiful setting. Its rooms lead on to lawns, which surround a swimming pool under impressive palm trees. All are very comfortable and spacious, with direct-dial phones, TVs, en-suite shower/toilets (no baths), and have under-floor heating for winter (a big bonus, when many small pensions can be cold), and ceiling fans for summer.Dinner can be provided on request, though most visitors eat out.
Rates: single N$250, double N$430, including breakfast.
Hotel-Pension Moni (12 rooms) 7 Rieks van der Walt St, PO Box 2805, Windhoek
About 2km from the centre, Pension Moni is easiest to reach from the Ausspannplatz roundabout (recently renamed the August Neto Gardens), at the south end of Independence Avenue. From there take Jan Jonker, and first left on to Lazarett, first right on to Feld, and then first left into Rieks van der Walt Street.
Everything in this small friendly pension is immaculately kept – from the gardens to the accommodation. Rooms have the range of facilities that are rapidly becoming the norm in the more modern pensions in Windhoek and Swakopmund, including direct-dial phones, radio/alarms, fans, TV with Mnet, and en-suite toilets and showers or baths. Dinner is not automatically available, but can be prepared on request. The atmosphere here is less German than in many of Windhoek’s smaller pensions.
Rates: single N$180, double N$260, quadruple N$480, including breakfast. Children aged 3–11 sharing with adults pay half-price.
Situated on the northeast side of town, off Independence Avenue, this friendly, pink-painted pension stands on the side of a hill, making it an airy spot when it's hot. The centre of town is 10–15 minutes’ walk away, though Uhland has plenty of secure parking if you have a car.
The carpeted rooms are well appointed with Mnet TV, shower/toilet, clock/radio, direct-dial phone and mini-bar/fridge. Outside there is a patio with a pool. Some rooms have a couch which turns into two beds, and even small kitchens, all for the same price, so ask what’s available when you book or check in.
Rates: N$190 single, N$250 double, N$310 for 3/4 people, including breakfast.
Hotel-Pension Eros (10 rooms) 21 Omuramba Rd, Eros Park, PO Box 9607, Windhoek
On Omuramba Street, just south of Eros Street, this new pension has several modern blocks of rooms adjacent to its padlocked parking area. Rooms are modern with en-suite shower/toilet, phone, TV, and mini-bar/fridge. While the author found the pension’s management curt and unhelpful when visited, it is gaining a good reputation in Windhoek as being run by friendly and helpful staff.
Rates: single N$160, double N$220, including breakfast.
Hotel-Pension Christoph (10 rooms) 33 Heinitzburg St, PO Box 6116, Windhoek
Run by Natasha (the daughter of Christoph), a lively, helpful and well-informed hostess, this superior pension is on the southeast corner of Robert Mugabe and Heinitzburg Streets, 10–15 minutes’ walk from the centre.
At the heart of Christoph is a pool, surrounded by lawns to laze on (with loungers) and overlooked by the rooms. Nearby is a bar for sundowners, complete with sizeable woodcarvings and space to park off-road. Christoph’s well-equipped rooms have tiled floors, ceiling fans, shower/toilet, tea/coffee makers, Mnet and satellite TV, mini-bar/fridges, safe-boxes, phones, and small digital clocks to wake you from your slumber.
Rates: single N$190, double N$250, triple N$360, including good breakfast.
Villa Verdi (13 rooms & 2 flats) 4 Verdi St, PO Box 6784, Windhoek
André and Coralee Louw run Villa Verdi, which is on Verdi Street, off John Meinert Street. In many ways this place set the standards for small hotels in Windhoek in 1994. The stylish use of ethnic decor and African art broke the mould of the standard, traditional German pensions, and made this instantly into Windhoek's artiest and, in many ways, best small pension. Since then other excellent pensions have sprung up, and André and Coralee have progressed to other projects including the design and furnishing of Kulala Desert Lodge, near Sesriem.
All Villa Verdi’s rooms have a different theme, mostly following Namibia’s different tribes. All are non-smoking. Each has double or twin beds, bath or shower, TV with Mnet, direct-dial phones, mini-bar/fridge, and electric blankets for the winter. Snacks are available all day, by the small splash-pool, and dinner is cooked in the evening if you request it in advance. As Villa Verdi is often booked up, advance reservations are essential.
Rates: single N$280, double N$450, family room N$550 (for two people plus a small child), including breakfast.
Hotel-Pension Alexander(11 rooms) 10 Beethoven St, PO Box 1911
Between Schubert and Mozart Streets, on Beethoven Street, Pension Alexander is 15 minutes’ walk from the centre, and is owned and run by Alexander.
It aims for simple, affordable accommodation, and Alexander’s rooms all have cool tiled floors, direct-dial telephones, TV with Mnet, and a bath or shower. There's a small but pleasant pool outside and the rooms are quite spread out with safe off-street parking available.
Rates: single N$130, double N$190, family N$250 (4 people), including breakfast.
Hotel-Pension Etambi (11 rooms) 6 Gous St, Pioneers Park, PO Box 30547
As Etambi is 10 minutes’ drive from the city centre, you really need your own vehicle to stay here. To get there, take Marconi Street westwards, before turning on to Jordan Street, following the signs for Pioneers Park. The road sweeps around to the right, and after about 1km you take the third left on to Hintrager Street. After a further kilometre, take first right on to Fritsche Street, and the left after the shopping centre on to Gous Street. Etambi is on the right.
Run by Peter and Elke Young, Etambi caters a lot for independent business people – so has phones and TVs in the rooms, and serves dinner on request (N$28 buffet). It’s a friendly and efficient little pension. The rooms are large and comfortable with modern furnishings. Each has a kettle, mini-bar/fridge, and a room safe. There is an outside braai for guests to use, and a small plunge-pool.
Rates: single N$175, double N$250, quadruple N$425, including breakfast.
Even smaller than the above, several local homes offering ‘bed and breakfast’ have opened recently:
Riverside 7 Veronica St, Ludwigsdorf, PO Box 3257, Windhoek. (Mark for the attention of Haacke.)
Camelthorn Guesthouse PO Box 30064, Windhoek
Little Angel Guesthouse 106 Jan Jonker, Klein Windhoek
The Guesthouse 163 Uhland St, Windhoek
Just outside town
Hotel Kapps Farm (5 rooms) PO Box 5470, Windhoek
Though conveniently situated, 20km east of the city on the road to Gobabis, this is a very basic hotel which, if it is still operating at all, is best avoided.
Forty-five minutes’ drive (38km) west of Windhoek, Eagle’s Rock is 3km along the D1958, after its junction with the C28. See Chapter 14 for more details.
Auas Game Lodge (16 rooms) PO Box, 80887, Windhoek
Auas is a German-run lodge. It is about 44km drive southeast of Windhoek into the Kalahari. To reach it, take the B1 or the C23 roads heading south, then turn on to the gravel D1463. The lodge is 22km from the B1, or 16km from the C23.
Auas stands on a game farm, whose residents include black wildebeest (from South Africa) and crocodiles in a separate enclosure. Despite this, Auas is a better overnight stop than final destination. Families may find it especially welcoming, as it has baby-chairs, cots and reductions for infants and children.
Finkenstein Guest Farm (5 rooms) PO Box 167, Windhoek
Conveniently situated on the main road between Windhoek and the airport (about halfway between), Finkenstein is a genuine, old-style guest farm run by Annegret and Helmut Finke. It has just five guestrooms, which have en-suite facilities and traditional furnishings. Activities are fairly relaxed and informal but go along on a few farm drives and you’ll certainly spot some game. As long as you realise that the farm doesn’t exist just for you, then you can expect a sincere welcome and a fascinating experience.
Rates: N$300 single, N$250 per person sharing, including all meals.
Airport Lodge (6 bungalows) PO Box 5913, Windhoek
Run by Brian and Hermine Black, the Airport Lodge is signposted halfway between the airport and the city, about 600m from B6 main road, down the MR53 turning. Each of the lodge’s six ethnic-decor thatched bungalows has three single beds, a mini-kitchen, satellite TV, a direct-dial telephone, and a cooling ceiling fan. There’s a swimming pool and a few short walks around the lodge – making this a convenient stop before and after flights. Airport transfers are possible.
Rates: N$215 single, N$145 per person sharing, including breakfast. Dürstenbrook Guest Farm(6 rooms, 2 tents and camping) PO Box 870, Windhoek
To reach Dürstenbrook turn west off the B1, about 30km north of Windhoek, on to the D1499, and then follow the clear signs for another 18km. Dürstenbrook’s main claim to fame is its leopards, which are kept in a large enclosure, and can be viewed from a vehicle, or on foot. It also has a much larger area of land for drives and walks to view less dangerous game, including hartebeest, giraffe, eland, oryx, kudu and smaller buck. Horse riding and even a 4x4 trail are additional attractions.
Dürstenbrook’s main building is large old colonial farmhouse dating from 1910. Its walls are adorned with hunting trophies, a practice it encourages with limited trophy hunting. It was one of Namibia’s first guest farms, and its owners speak English, German, French and Afrikaans.
Rates: N$300 single, N$260 per person sharing, including dinner, breakfast, and leopard viewing.
Elisenheim Guest Farm (9 rooms) PO Box 3016, Windhoek
Just 15km north of the centre of Windhoek, Elisenheim is signposted off the main B1 as it leaves Windhoek. It offers German hospitality and a place to relax. The comfortable rooms all have en-suite showers and toilets, and outside there is a swimming pool
Rates: N$230 single, N$150 per person sharing, including breakfast.
Sundown Lodge (11 rooms) PO Box 5378, Windhoek
Opened in the mid-90s, and run by Bob and Silke Sinclair, Sundown Lodge is a purpose-built stopover, providing a basic night’s rest near Windhoek. It is well-signposted just off the main B1, about a 25km drive north of Windhoek, on the D1474. (Though this has been omitted from some maps, it’s easy to find.)
Expect your room to have its own telephone, fridge, kettle and tea/coffee facilities, en-suite toilet and shower, and a small patio for sitting outside. Braai facilities are available, and there’s a swimming pool with adjacent bar.
Rates: N$165 single, N$115 per person sharing, including breakfast.
Eningu Clayhouse Lodge (see Chapter 14 for details)
For a stylish lodge within an hour of the airport – this should be top of your list.
Hostels and camping
For several years, Windhoek had no dedicated campsite, so the opening of Arebusch, just south of town, is good news, albeit only of benefit to those with vehicles.
Meanwhile, in the suburbs, a handful of backpackers’ hostels are thriving, mostly on the north and west sides of the centre. The Cardboard Box is still the favourite choice of many, but Chameleon, Puccini and BackPacker are all increasingly successful. Being new and keen, they often demonstrate a willingness to help visitors (with free lifts from the city, and the like) which makes them well worth trying.
Globetrotters Backpackers’ Lodge(42 beds) 2 Independence Av, PO Box 6780
Behind the lively (and not entirely reputable) Royal Hotel, on the Ausspannplatz roundabout (recently renamed August Neto Gardens) at the south end of Independence Avenue, lies a guarded courtyard for car parking, surrounded by dorms and basic rooms. The bar can get very lively at night, and so the reception is protected by an iron grille. It’s a favourite with overland trucks, rather than independent backpackers.
Rates: N$30 for dorm beds (no linen supplied), N$150 for double rooms.
On Wagner Street, just west of Beethoven Street, Chameleon is about 15 minutes’ walk from the centre (some steeply uphill). It is a clean, pleasant and professionally run backpackers’ lodge offering residents free tea/coffee and bed linen in dorms for six people, or in twin rooms sharing bathrooms. Also use of equipped kitchen, pool, and Mnet TV lounge. Chameleon also run scheduled camping safaris, and are happy to arrange car hire.
Rates: N$30 for dorm beds, N$90 for twin rooms (sharing or single). Cardboard Box (43 beds) 15 Johann Albrecht St, PO Box 6406
On the corner of Johann Albrecht and John Meinert Streets, a short uphill walk from town, this large backpackers’ lodge has established itself as the capital’s favourite for independent travellers – despite its size and noisy dorms. As you would expect, it acts as agent for several cheap car-hire companies, and has a pool, pool table, crockery/cutlery in the kitchen and Mnet TV.
Rates: N$25 for beds in large dorm, N$30 for small dorm, N$80 for double room, camping N$18 per person.
Travellers’ Lodge (22 beds) Corner of Andes and Johnson Streets
About 1km north of town, just off Independence Avenue, first right after Nelson Mandela Drive, this seems to be the least friendly of the backpackers’ lodges. Facilities are much the same as the others – with shared bathroom/toilets, crockery/cutlery supplied and a communal kitchen. The outside door is normally locked, which doesn’t add warmth to the welcome, and there is limited off-street parking.
Rates: N$25 for dorm bed, N$30 including linen. N$80 for a double room.
Puccini International Hostel(17 beds) 4 Puccini St
Between Sam Nujoma and Hosea Kutako Drives, just beyond the railway, Puccini Street is less than ten minutes’ walk from town. A relatively new backpackers’ lodge, this has a pool, sauna, secure parking, and a well-equipped kitchen. A free pick-up service within the city is useful when first arriving, as the junction of Sam Nujoma and Hosea Kutako can sometimes be busy with youths hanging around.
Puccini has two dorms, one with seven beds, the other with five, as well as double rooms. The rates include bed linen and a light breakfast, though more substantial fare can be provided at extra cost. The owners are helpful in booking trips or hire cars if you need them.
Rates: N$30 for a bed in the large dorm, N$35 in the smaller dorm bed, N$80 for a double room.
BackPacker (22 beds) 5 Greig St, Windhoek
Between Bach and Beethoven streets, BackPacker in Greig Street is about ten minutes’ walk from the centre. It is a relatively new lodge, run by Hermann and Erica Viljoen, where visitors can use the pool and sauna.
Hermann offers a free pick-up service within the city, and also runs one- and two-night trips to Sossusvlei (N$450/N$800) which depart on Saturday, and two-night trips to Etosha (N$750) departing on Tuesdays.
Rates: N$25 for dorm bed, N$80 for a double room, N$15 for camping.
ArebuschTravel Lodge (20 chalets and 8 double rooms) Olympia, PO Box 80160
Less than 10km south of the centre, between the Safari Hotel and Windhoek Country Club, this is Windhoek's only dedicated, spacious campsite and it is safe, clean and very impressive.
The chalets have small, well-equipped kitchens, TVs, direct-dial phones, linen, en-suite shower/toilet, air-conditioning and an outside braai. The rooms are more basic, having just beds, a cupboard and a washbasin. They share toilets and showers with the campers. Both types of rooms are clean, comfortable, and serviced daily. Arebusch’s security is tight – electric fence and guard on the gate – so it is proving a safe place to stay.
There's also a spotless restaurant on the site, a small shop in reception, a laundry, a bar and a pool. The only snag is, you need a car to get here, and it’s so good that it’s almost certain to become more costly soon.
Rates: N$160 for double room (sharing facilities), N$255 for a 2-bed chalet, N$295 for a 4-bed chalet. Camping is N$30 per person.
WHERE TO EAT
Windhoek has lots of cafés and restaurants, though you’ll often have more success searching for European cuisine than African specialities.
For coffee or snacks in town, the two cafés in the Trip Arcade (parallel to the Post Street Mall), the Schneider and the Central, are ideal, and great places to watch the world go by. Buy a local paper from the street sellers to find out what's going on. A little further down, Le Bistro on the corner of Independence Avenue and the Post Street Mall is a very trendy, popular place for the local crowd to grab a coffee and a bite, or have an early-evening drink.
The Cauldron, under the Kalahari Sands Hotel, is convenient for light lunches of burgers or omelettes, and serves a memorable banana split for N$8. On the ground floor of the western end of Post Street Mall, down the escalators near the MODEL supermarket, is the decidedly eastern Tim Sum, which offers a cheap and excellent range of Taiwanese vegetarian foods – N$15 for a large noodle dish. It serves until 19.00.
Adjacent to Tim Sum is a traditional German coffee-shop. Above is the steak-house, Mike's Kitchen, which opens during the day and evening.
Like any capital, Windhoek has dozens of restaurants to choose from – you should have no problem finding something good to eat. Although up to five years ago most served fairly similar fare, often with a German bias, now there is a lot more variety. There are Italian, Greek, Portuguese and Chinese specialities, to name just a few. Many reach a very high standard, and none is expensive in European or American terms.
Eating at the very best, and without restricting your choices, you would have to try very hard to make a meal cost more than N$160 per person. Here’s a personal selection of favourites:
Hotel Fürstenhof Romberg St, PO Box 316, Windhoek
West of the centre, Windhoek's grandest restaurant has quite a formal atmosphere. For men, a jacket and tie isn't out of place. The food is classic French/German style, varying from seafood through to game and a daily vegetarian dish. The wine list is grouped by grape variety, and varies from N$30 upwards. Most bottles are around N$60. The choice is competent, but neither inspired nor outstanding value. The Fürstenhof seems to be resting on its laurels.
Costs: N$20–30 for a starter, N$40–60 for main, and N$20–30 for sweet
Gathemann 175 Independence Av
This must have the best position of the capital's restaurants, on a first-floor balcony, opposite the park, with commanding views over Independence Avenue. The traditional German cuisine (with a bias towards game) is excellent. The wine list is extensive, and therefore good in parts.
Costs: starters N$10–25, light meals during day N$15–30, main courses N$40–60. Sam's 90 Sam Nujoma Drive
About 2.5km from the centre, Sam's is on the left of Gobabis Rd, about 100m past the junction with Klein Windhoek. Its atmosphere is relaxed, and it’s very convenient for Casablanca’s club, right in front of it. There is sometimes a band in the courtyard on Sundays, and Sam’s usually attracts a young, trendy clientele.
Costs: N$15–25 for a starter, N$30–50 for main, and N$10–20 for sweet.
Grand Canyon Spur 251 Independence Av
Situated above street level on Independence Avenue, opposite the Bank of Windhoek, the Spurs offers American burgers, steaks, and a host of side orders together with Windhoek's best serve-yourself salad bar. The atmosphere is lively, similar to a Hard Rock Café, and it’s open 7 days a week from early until late.
Costs: starters N$10–20, light meals during day N$15–30, main courses N$40–60.
Marco Polo Café Kaiserkrone, off Post Street Mall
In the small Kaiserkrone Centre, on the left of the Post Street Mall as you walk from Independence Avenue, Marco Polo serves impressive pizza and pasta dishes in the evening (sometimes accompanied by live music) after masquerading as a lively café during the day.
Costs: N$10–25 for a starter, N$30–45 for main, and N$10–20 for sweet.
Yang Tse Sam Nujoma Drive and Nelson Mandela Drive; tel: 061 234779
A large, efficient restaurant, preparing probably the best Chinese food in town. Its first-floor windows overlook the junction of Sam Nujoma and Nelson Mandela, and it’s equally well suited to a business lunch or a relaxing dinner.
Costs: expect around N$80–120 for a complete meal with a few drinks. Escumadeira Reservations via the Thüringer Hof
By the side of the beer garden behind the Thüringer Hof Hotel, this new restaurant serves excellent Portuguese cuisine at reasonable prices. The Calde Verde (clear spinach/sausage/potato soup) is excellent, and the piri piri chicken good. For informal bites, you can eat in the beer garden – from where true carnivores can order from the Thüringer Hof ’s standard steak-and-chips menu.
Costs: starters are around N$15–20, mains around N$20–40, sweets N$10–15.
Homestead Restaurant 53 Feld St
Very near Ausspannplatz (now called the August Neto Gardens) off Lossen Street into Feld Street, this is a spacious, airy restaurant whose tables are spread over its veranda (during the summer) and several rooms. Inside are large pot-plants, a superb feature aquarium and good selection of ‘choose-yourself, from the rack’ estate wines from South Africa – ranging from under N$40 upwards. Many are good value.
The Homestead’s excellent food is continental cooking in large portions, with inventive vegetarian options. This is currently one of Windhoek’s best restaurants.
Costs: starters N$12–20, huge salads for N$19, vegetarian mains around N$30, steaks N$40, sweets N$18.