Where is Lagos and Victoria Island?
Lagos is the main state in Nigeria. It used to be the capital state of Nigeria but that was moved to Abuja (green rectangle in picture below) a couple of years ago. Nevertheless, Lagos remains a vibrant business community with a lot of expatriates living and working here.
Lagos and Victoria Island
Lagos state is huge. Nigeria has a population of almost 146 million and 19 million of them are situated in Lagos. Nigeria is also the world's 5th largest oil and gas producer. Port Harcourt (blue in map above) is where all the oil refineries are. But in the last two years, unhappy residents have resorted to kidnapping foreigners in an attempt to get the government to pump in more money to develop Port Harcourt. According to my colleagues, Port Harcourt lacks even the most basic amenities. Even though it's the main producing oil region of the country. So most business locate their headquarters (like Shell, Cameron, TOTAL,...) in Lagos where life is much safer for locals and expats alike.
The map above shows a clearer view of Lagos. Victoria Island is where most expatriates work. This is where most of the oil companies and business centres are.
Most people live in Ikoyi. The house, apartment and hotel prices are cheaper in Ikoyi than in Victoria Island. Everything in Victoria Island is expensive. So when negotiating for living allowances, negotiate high or else you'll be living miserably. For example (I'll convert everything to Malaysian Ringgit for comparison purposes), a half chicken meal with a drink at Nando's will cost you close to N2000 or RM50.
Victoria Island is a mixture of old and new buildings. Traffic is bad. There is one rule when driving in Nigeria - the bigger you are, the safer you are. It's first come, first serve. Cars edge their way through traffic. Driving in Lagos is definitely not for the weak-hearted. And you certainly need a car to travel in Lagos. Expats are not advised to use public transport, safety being the main concern. Normally, your office would provide a driver for you to use. Your driver is your first mode of protection. When stopped by police, always let your driver talk to the police. Never raise your voice or argue with the police. Your driver will also follow you around at your request but it's safe to walk around in Lagos without the need of a body guard or driver. My wife and I shop at Shoprite, Park n Shop or Silverbird without the need of our driver following us in. Of course, he waits outside with the car and takes us home when we're done. This is how life is in Nigeria.
I stayed at the Somerset Hotel at Osborne Estate, Ikoyi.
The good thing about this hotel is that it is in a secured compound. The hotel has a small gym, a swimming pool, a pool table and a small bar. The place is clean and so are the rooms. But the service is terribly slow. Be warned. When staying at the hotel, always order your food two hours earlier or else be prepared to be hungry. The staff are very friendly and supportive and they do their best to help you. At USD170 per night, this hotel could do better.
There are other hotels, more expensive, around like the Pretoria and the Eko Hotel and Suites. The Eko and the Pretoria goes for USD400 per night.
Would I stay again at Somerset Hotel? Not if I had any other better hotels to stay in, like the Protea or Eko where the service is much better. But if you prefer a quiet place, then Somerset is the place for you as there are only less than 20 rooms, the hotel is cosy and comforting.