The Survival Guide to Kabul©

Published internationally in July 2003 as Kabul: The Bradt Mini Guide.

First published in Kabul in September 2002 as a pamphlet.



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Print guide 2002


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Last updated July 2004



+93 (0) 70 27 6021



Enjoy food and drink in The Lounge, The Restaurant and The Café. Sat TV and internet access. Centrally located.


Financial Times: “To stay in the thick of things, Mustafa Hotel is near the shopping areas of Chicken Street and Flower Street. It also has an online cafe.”


Newsweek: “… the hot hotels (the Mustafa…”



Most international organisations working in Kabul have their own guesthouses for their employees. Others are put up in the numerous guesthouses in town. These are all private houses converted into Bed and Breakfasts of varying standards and services. If you’re arriving for the first time without any accommodation arranged you’re probably better off heading straight to the Mustafa Hotel. The taxi driver at the airport will know where it is, there’s a good vibe there, lots of journalists and other foreigners and Wais, the owner, is a real Mr Fix It and can get a translator, driver and car set up for you. It’s also right in the centre of town and just a short walk from Chicken and Flower streets where you can buy all your souvenirs and supplies (including bottled water).



Photos: Intercontinental HotelMustafa Hotel


July 2004

Hotels Update article from AFGHAN SCENE MAGAZINE.


November 29 2003

Pictures: Bomb damage at the Intercontinental Hotel.


November 22 2003

VOA: Bomb Blast Causes Minor Damage.

AP: Rocket explodes outside major Kabul hotel.


Intercontinental Hotel (200 rooms, standard, executive and suites) On the outskirts of the city heading into West Kabul; sat phone: +873 761 469690 or local tel: 020 2201320.

Probably the best known Hotel in Kabul, this is the place for all the international conferences, and a temporary home to many journalists, diplomats and Afghan government ministers (many of them chose to live here when they returned to Kabul after the fall of the Taliban). One drawback is that it’s on the outskirts of town heading into the destroyed part of West Kabul so you’ll have to face a lot of long Kabul traffic jams if you base yourself here. It was opened in September 1969 and built by a British company. Returning Afghans from the 1970s remember coming up here for burgers and chips as a special treat as children. The hotel is being restored to its former glory. In the newly refurbished Bamyian room there’s a delicious buffet brunch served up on Fridays, 11.30-15.00 at US$10. Telephone 020 2201321 for reservations. There’s also a swimming pool, tennis court and ping-pong, sauna, barber and other shops and an Ariana Airlines office. There’s a new fitness centre at the Intercontinental Hotel. Monthly membership is US$80, members receive an ID card and the centre is open from 06.00-21.00 daily. The Men's Section has a barbell bicep bench, combination weight bench, stair stepper, combination lat press and the ladies section has an exercise bike, tread mill and two exercise mats. There are separate shower and changing facilities. Currently the swimming pool is only open to men. The hotel is ideal for conferences and has hosted numerous events since the fall of the Taliban. The ballroom seats 400 for dinner, or 600 for a conference. Check your email at the AWCC Internet Café in the basement with its high-speed connection, printing and scanning facilities. Open 07:00–21:00 daily for US$5 an hour and US$3 for half an hour. It will cost you US$1 to print an A4 page.

Rates: The fifth floor is totally completed and construction on the fourth floor has begun. The rates for these two floors are $130.00 per night plus 5% government tax. The second and third floor rates are $80.00 per night plus 5% gov. Tax. The first floor rates are $95.00 per night plus 5% gov. Tax.

Photo story.

April 12 2003 Kabul InterContinental in $10m rebuild, Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine. (Reprinted on The Hospitality Site.)

June 26 2002 Khaleej Times Dubai firm takes stake in Kabul Hotel.



Mustafa Hotel (50 rooms) In the centre of town close to Chicken Street and Flower Street where you buy your souvenirs and supplies; tel: 070 27 6021; email:, website:

For first-time visitors to Kabul the Mustafa is the place to head for. The hotel is popular with journalists. Kebab night is on Thursdays on the roof terrace. The refurbished restaurant serves good pizzas and there’s a pool table, darts, DVD room and basketball court. The Mustafa Hotel Café serves good fruit juices and sandwiches and the Internet Café allows you to connect your own laptop as well as surf on the ten desktops. The Lounge upstairs on the first floor serves draught beers and is open every night from 6pm. Star Satellite TV is also available. The hotel manager is Wais Faizi who featured in the July 2002 Newsweek article The Exiles Return. Wais also features in Christina Lamb’s The Sewing Circles of Herat: ‘We quickly nicknamed Wais “the Fonz of Kabul” for his New Jersey accent and fast-talking “tell me whaddya want, Wais can geddit” manner. A short but powerful-shouldered man of 31 with a jutting chin and passion for Al Pacino movies, he was a former body-building champion and knew everyone in town.’ Check out The Survival Guide to Kabul promo on the staircase as you enter the Mustafa Hotel and on the outside walls and the painted Al Pacino movie posters around the hotel.

Rates: US$35–45 a night.


On the manager Wais Faizi:

February 15 2002 Newsday A Reality Check in Afghan Homeland

January 31 2002 RFE/RL Afghanistan: Vox Pop Says Taliban Gone But Not Forgotten On Streets Of Kabul

A trip back home for Afghan-Americans is defined by rubble--and the chance to rebuild



Hotel Kabul (73 rooms) Pashtunistan Square next to the Ariana Airlines office.

This 50-year-old, large Soviet-style hotel has been under renovation since late 2002 when the Aga Khan bought the property. Before then this once cosmopolitan, jet-set hangout was in a terrible state. Years of neglect gave it a shabby external air, but following the Aga Khan's visit to Kabul in mid-November 2002, the word is that the place is about to undergo a dramatic and much-needed transformation, perhaps resulting in a hotel similar to the Aga Khan’s luxury Serena Hotel in Islamabad.

Rates: The US$40--80 a night charged at the old Hotel Kabul will no doubt increase.


May 10 2003 Renovation plans for the Hotel Kabul: Project information and Environmental review.

November 20 2002 Aga Khan Development Network Initiates US$25 Million Kabul Hotel Project.

December 1 2002 LA Times: Developers Plan Luxury Hotel in Kabul.



Kabul International (14 rooms) Just before the Marco Polo Restaurant and Chicken and Flower Streets: tel: 020 2201124; email:

Billed as ‘your own cosy place to stay’. The hotel has some well-appointed rooms with TVs, fridges, AC and intercom system. Kabul International is also a restaurant with Indian chefs. There are two toilets and showers per floor.

Rates: US$50–80 a night including breakfast.



Park Residence (55 rooms) On Shahre Naw Park next to the old Czechoslovakian Embassy; tel: 070 28 0576.

All the rooms have en-suite showers, fridge and TV. There’s a parking area and a large garden, which in the summer of 2002 the manager said was ideal for ‘live music’. The manager is Naqib.

Rates: US$3075 a night.



Hotel Spinzar (36 rooms) Next to the Ministry of Information and Culture, Asma-yee Wat; tel: 070 27 4983.
This is a large five-floor hotel in the centre of town. The1970s’ concrete building has seen better days. There is still a flavour of a more cosmopolitan past with a main hall and a terrace. However, the building is now dated and tatty and rooms are rudimentary and bland. Windows were blown out during the bomb explosion on September 5 2002 (which killed 30 people) outside the hotel by the Ministry of Information and Culture. The restaurant serves only Afghan food but, when large parties don’t overwhelm it, it can be good.
Rates: Nationals pay US$5 for a single room and US$6 for a double room. Expatriates are charged US$20 and US$35 respectively.



Insaf Hotel (43 rooms) In the Shahre Naw part of the city.

This hotel is currently being refurbished but promises VIP rooms, an internet café and coffee bar. It is also home to the very popular Popo’Lano Italian restaurant.

Rates: US$3550 a night.


كابل، افغانستان

The Survival Guide to Kabul©