We visited 14th March for a week. We were dubious due to the varied reviews but there is nothing to worry about! This place is just lovely.
We travelled with Thomas Cook on a b&b basis. We usually go all inclusive but were advised that b&b would suffice as the price difference was so vast- and we were advised correctly- as a fussy eater and being vegetarian I found that I had more than enough choice with low priced full sizes meals. We never went hungry! Our room service bill for a week was £110 at most including soft drinks- not bad for a weeks worth of lunches which included steak. Restaurant wise we really enjoyed the Taj Mahal which served authentic Indian food and would highly recommend this to anybody. We also dined at the smiling coast, surf and turf and ocean clipper/red croc. Good food in abundance.
The flight wasn't brilliant- cramped and an old plane but the six hour journey was worth what I only describe as a lovely and peaceful holiday. The return flight was better as the plane was newer and there were empty seats.
On to the hotel. We booked what they call a deluxe room. I am a bit high maintenance and like high spec rooms with modern everything, and I was expecting to hate the allocated room after looking at the reviews on trip advisor. For Africa this room was just fine and ultimately we only really used the room to sleep and shower as the beach and weather is what we chose The Gambia for. We stayed in room 223 by the pool and a 2 minute walk to the beach. We could see the beach from the balcony. The room was a bit dark and had a few issues light bulbs not working, in the bigger scheme of things this was just a minor issue. The sun would fall onto the balcony for an hour or so, but to be honest who wants to sunbathe on their balcony when the beach or pool is either side of your room. Yes the bathroom is a bit tired and could look a little nicer, but again we only needed to shower and use the toilet, who wants to spend more time than they need to in a bathroom( this coming from a girl who can take all day to get ready)! Overall the room itself would be a three star, but I understand why this is a four star based on the country. To put this into prospective we looked at other hotels when we collected others on our transfer to the airport and I sighed with relief as some of the others really were two and three star looking.
The staff were friendly and kind, nothing was too much for them and they were attentive on all requests. The grounds are tidy and clean, the ground staff work all day so we are met with pleasant views. The restaurant staff were again very helpful; the selection for a veggie wasn't vast but I didn't go hungry. If I asked for anything you would always deliver. As b&b's breakfast standards go I would say that they are doing just fine.
Outside the hotel we used one of the "official" guides called Solomon; I can only describe him as one of the lost helpful people I have ever met. He was polite and attentive, he took us where we wanted to go without trying to sell us trips we didn't want to go on. I would recommend him time and one again. Please use him, he could have taken a lot of money from is but he was more concerned with making sure we had a happy trip. The bumsters are a nuisance so only use the purple shirt guys, all of them were pleasant and had a story or two to make you laugh with. They also help keep these bumsters away.
Overall the trip was booked for relaxation and a great tan and I have come back with both ticked off. Value for money- the hidden costs such as transfers and in flight meals could be better value. The Gambian and hotel experience outweighed the flight and over charging which I believe Thomas Cook do and with the best of smiles. I would defiantly go back to the hotel and as other reviews have mentioned there are upgrade works taking place. It can only get better than it is, and it is already at a fairly high standard given that you are in a developing country. I would take the negative comments with a pinch of salt and if you do have queries the hotel staff from reception to the restaurant staff are more than happy to help. In hindsight I would have contacted the hotel direct before flying if I needed to. I am not sure why anyone would book to visit The Gambia and not enjoy their experience, short flight, great weather, nice people and friendly helpful staff all offsets a slightly ageing room.
If you are looking for a modern hotel then this is not the hotel for you and I'm not sure if you would find a better hotel to stay in.
I hope this review helps settle any unease and you book away with a smile on your face knowing you are about to have an experience of a lifetime. Thanks for reading.
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- Also Known As:
- Ocean Bay Hotel Bakau
- Ocean Bay Hotel And Resort
- Ocean Bay Resort
- Ocean Bay Bakau
- Ocean Bay Hotel Gambia
- Ocean Bay Hotel & Resort Gambia, Africa