Testing hotels in Papua New Guinea is in a different league compared to most parts of the world. They are all of low standard and outrageously overpriced. It is an issue of low competition and huge demand.
The Bird of Paradise hotel is in Goroka, one of the major towns in the Highlands region and the capital of the Eastern Highlands Province, with a population of approximately 20,000 people.
The first problem was securing a booking, as the hotel was fully booked for the nights required. The booking was only confirmed due to a last minute cancellation. So does this mean what a great hotel it is? Sadly, no! Simply a case of supply and demand, as we then found that all other hotels were also full.
The Bird of Paradise is very close to the airstrip at Goroka, which is in the middle of the town; Goroka being built around the airport. A courteous driver meets each flight and the transfer in a modern, clean minibus is very quick and comfortable.
The reception area is fine and the staff were very courteous and friendly. Everything is done with minimum hassle.
Rooms are arranged on one of three levels built around gardens. If you are lucky, the best rooms overlook the gardens. Less good was the writer’s room that looked over the main street. Excellent for people-watching and hundreds of folks are to be seen all day long. As soon as darkness falls, the streets empty and look very sinister, with the odd drunkards yelling and some rather ominous-looking characters standing around.
The room itself has a basic television, comfortable bed, and tea and coffee facilities. There is no air-conditioning, but it is not needed as the climate is cool in Goroka, however, it does mean that the window has to be open and all of the fumes enter from the road below.
The worst part of the room was the desk. In order to reach it and to be comfortable, the writer had to pile four pillows on the chair and then only just reached the desk! Being over six feet tall, it is imagined that it would be nigh on impossible for those of lesser height. After five attempts via the reception, the writer finally managed to secure a table to use.
The wi-fi was connected in the room, but failed to connect to the Internet. Success was only achieved by using the wi-fi in the restaurant area.
The restaurant is open and well laid out, overlooking the gardens. We were not very impressed with the food. The buffet was basic and of a low standard. Better options were the pizzas and the steaks. There was not much else to choose from and everything was quantity over quality.
The only option for breakfast was a buffet, but it was possible to choose between continental or a full, cooked breakfast. It was passable, but unexciting, with the only exception that the coffee, served in a plunger, was good. Mind you, as Goroka is a coffee growing area, this was to be expected. On the plus side, the restaurant staff were friendly and helpful.
The bar on the ground floor is small but, with a few big chairs, it was perfectly adequate to have a drink in. It is also possible to have a drink on the deck that is part of the restaurant on the first floor.
A small shop sells newspapers and other souvenirs. Directly across the road is the main supermarket, which is the best place to buy water and other essentials. It is not advised to drink the water direct from the tap in Goroka.
The gardens are well kept and made a pleasant contrast to the urban mess that is Goroka. Amongst the gardens was a small swimming pool with chairs, but no sun beds. For the active, there is a small gym.
For transport, Budget car hire were based at the hotel and offered a good service.
One assumes that the main reason for staying at this hotel is for business, as Goroka offers little to the tourist, other than a small museum, a coffee factory tour, a small theatre and a bit of local pottery. The main attraction is the Goroka annual show held each September.
Are there alternatives? The main competitor is the Pacific Gardens Hotel, which is a few minutes drive from the town centre and is set in a woodland setting. The food is much better at the Pacific Gardens, but you would need a car to drive to from the Bird of Paradise Hotel.
Overall the Bird of Paradise will meet your needs and empty your pocket. If it was located elsewhere, we would have it as to be avoided, but in Goroka you need to stay somewhere safe and that did seem to be the case.Write a Review
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