UPDATED July 7, 2022

BY Henry Gold

IN Founder's Thoughts


UPDATED July 7, 2022

BY Henry Gold

IN Founder's Thoughts


George Pagoulatos: An Appreciation


There must be millions of hotels all over the world but there is only one that I, and many others who have stayed there, will agree stands head and shoulders above even the best and most expensive establishments. This hotel, nondescript outside and inside, doesn’t give you any sense of being anything but an ordinary two/three star place. If you didn’t know anything more about it, you would most likely decide to look for another hotel in Khartoum. I first stayed there in 1984, in the 40C heat, and the room was cool, not because of air conditioning, but rather because of the antiquated water-cooling system on the wall. But décor and physical appearance don’t reveal the essence of the place.

When I decided 20 years ago to run a bicycle expedition from Cairo to Cape Town there were many, many ‘African experts’ who claimed that due to the challenges, particularly in getting permits to problematic areas of some of the countries, it was simply not possible. What these ‘experts’ didn’t know was that I had a few secret weapons up my sleeve.

George in 2014 Credit: Dr Sophie Hay

One of them was the aforementioned Acropole Hotel in the Sudan, owned and run by three Greek brothers and their families, the youngest of the brothers being George Pagoulatos. When you first met George, tall handsome and friendly, you had a sense that you were welcomed and that you would be taken care of. And he and the rest of the hotel’s establishment never disappointed.

Sudan in the 1980’s, and to a large extent even today, was a very challenging place, where even making an international call was an encounter that could take days of extensive  planning. In Acropole Hotel, however, you simply went to George or one of his brothers and told them when and where you wanted to make a call and it would happen. If you had a problem in Sudan, if you desired advice, if you just wanted a reassuring voice, you just needed to tell the hotel’s management and your difficulties would be solved.

Over the years the Acropole became the place to stay and/or socialize for thousands of visiting scientists, archeologists, aid workers, journalists, writers, spies, shady characters of all colours and creeds and many others like myself.

>>Related Post: Sudan. The Acropole Hotel, Khartoum

While planning the Tour d’Afrique in 2002, I wrote to George and asked him if he could help with getting the various permits and visas that would allow our group to cycle from Egypt through the Sudan and on into Ethiopia. In short order, an email came back, simply asking for the details of when it would take place and how many people there would be. Since that time we have run many editions of the Tour d’Afrique involving hundreds of cyclists. Most of them had no idea why things would run so smoothly in the Sudan. How sudden and unexpected problems were quickly solved because of the wonderful behind the scenes support of George, his brothers and their families.

So, it was with great sorrow that I recently read a short Twitter post that announced that George had passed away. Whether he realized it or not, he and his whole extended family had an impact on thousands of people and enriched their lives in a way that is hard to imagine a small, simple hotel could possibly achieve. In a difficult place, George Pagoulatos was an individual with the straightforward objective of making people comfortable, enabling them to do what they wanted to do and taking no credit for it. If there are people on the planet who encapsulate the best humanity has to offer, George is one of them. May he rest in peace.


6 Comments for "George Pagoulatos: An Appreciation"

Hi Henry, Always sad to loose a good friend. You gave him the credit he deserves and we were indeed unaware of this man in the background. RIP George ?

I am saddened to hear this news. So glad I was able to meet him and get to know him in the limited way I did.

I was fortunate to stay here when we had our rest days in Khartoum. It added to the richness of the experience of the TDA. It was special moments like this that broke through the challenges of the experience. I do not think I left the place on those days.

I recall that each night they would come around and offer ice cream to the guest…so many moments now passed.

A very touching and apt tribute. It makes me feel sorry I didn’t know about it when we passed through Khartoum on TDA 2019.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting George but will never forget the hotel and the owners. I am a swimmer and when asked where I could swim, the staff arranged for a beautiful pool, track to run on and driver to take me (us in the end)

Was in Khartoum in 1985/86 while working for Save The Children , had the pleasure of meeting “gorgeous George” as we called him several times, used to love the film nights up on the roof!!!! We also collected out telexes from there daily, no mobiles or Internet in those days !!! Great memories !!

I lived in Khartoum during 1985 to 1986 and I was staying at the Acropole Hotel at the time of the 1985 Sudanese coup d’état. George and his family looked after all of us residents with a friendly confident efficiency. He made us feel safe. All communications had been cut and borders closed. The Pagoulatos family members were among the kindest, most genuine people I have had the privilege to know and keep in touch with over the years,

When my son visited Sudan 20 years later, George was immediately on hand to help. He even telephoned me for chat and a catch-up! That’s the kind of man he was; he walked the extra mile for everyone and did it with a smile on his face that emanated from his heart.

I extend my sincere condolences to George’s family (who almost feel like an extension of my own). We exchanged photos of grandchildren as they arrived and kept in touch over the years.

May his soul rest in eternal peace and his memory be a blessing to all who knew him.

Leave a Comment for "George Pagoulatos: An Appreciation"

Your Email address will not published. Required fields are marked