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“Can't wait to return”
Review of Ngala Lodge

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Ngala Lodge
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Fajara
Certificate of Excellence
Manchester, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
68 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“Can't wait to return”
Reviewed 19 February 2012

Our second visit to N'gala Lodge and during our meal on the first evening we are working out the date to return next year. With the number of returning guests it is advisable to book early, we booked over 10 months in advance and two other couples had already booked for these dates, not bad for a 'hotel' with only 18 suctes. First the bad points, Thomas Cook flights, it had improved on last year but was still found wanting, next Banjul airport it is only small and gets chaotic, use a porter to help you, it is worth the small charge. Now for the good points, Gambia Experience, excellent service both prior to holiday, any questions before hand they are easily contactable via the phone and always seem knowledgable and helpful, and the rep at the hotel equally as helpful. N'gala Lodge, a quiet hotel, no children and staff ALWAYS polite and helpful. There have been a few subtle changes, we requested the same room as last year, so noticed the room improvements. The new decking on the beach was a big improvement, allowing you to sunbath next to the sea, there were always empty sun loungers available near the pool, on the grass area or on the decking. The restaurant meals are fantastic, Lamin Kinteh received his MBE from Dame Fagan while we were in Gambia and the next evening they both attended N'gala Lodge for a meal, they could have gone anywhere but I suppored they wanted the best. Before you ask we were treated exactly the same by the staff as those honored guests. The hotel does have wifi but it is a weak Signal and this is the next item for improvement., the only other complaint would be the noise, on a couple of evenings, from the complex next door.

We arrived back in England this morning, Sunday, we hope to be able to book to return to N'Gala lodge both in November this year and February next year, on Monday only 24hrs after returning. N'Gala Lodge is a place you want to return to.

Can I end on three general points about Gambia,
Gambia is a great place to visit and, excepting its limited sea coast line, could easily replace other African countries as the place to visit, I wish I would have visited years ago.
Most Gambians are friendly helpful people, one day walking back to the hotel an elderly gentleman greeted us with 'N Nga Def' and we had a pleasant walk while he tried to teach me some Wolof and when our path separated bid us 'Ci Jemma', unfortunately there are also the small number of bumsters, as in most communities the minority tend to give the rest a bad name. Start by answering the Gambians politely and only when your replys are not getting through to them be blunt in getting the message over.
I would be interested in other visitors experiences in setting a bench mark on expenses and tippings. For example I visited the Abuko park, cheap to enter 35D, but then you get the guide, initially wanted 300D to guide you round. Tipping, the guide books advise 250D a week for the hotel maid service and 50D for evening drinks in a bar, seems a bit disproportionate when a maid keeps your room spotless for a week and a barmnd opens a 35D bottle of beer for you. Maybe Travisvisor should start a side website 'tipadvisor'

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
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1 Thank Reborn2006
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (163)
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English first
Courtenay, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
86 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 February 2012

Have just returned from my annual trek to Fajara,I have always been entertained by three couples in the past 3 years,so i felt it was my turn.I selected Ngala Lodge for Dinner on January 21,2012,Reservations for 7 people at 1830 hrs,From the beginning to end,it was a 5 star event and the cost was reasonable.I am surprised that more expats have never been to the Lodge.I will certainly go next year again if the family is still residing at MRC,cheers

  • Stayed January 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank comoxtravellwer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
West Sussex, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
169 reviews
70 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 164 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 February 2012

Not quite the full five but a very good hotel
Ngala is a well run beautifully maintained small rather quirky hotel. It is not up to international 5 star standards but in some ways that makes it better. It is much more individual and friendly. The owner cares and this is reflected in management and staff attitudes. The restaurant is first class and I will review that separately.
Our room( 18 ) was excellent, lovely views,afternoon sun on the massive balcony, a very comfortable bed and a large modern whirlpool also on the balcony. However the one major let down, the bathroom. This was barely 3 star. The toilet was integrated into the bathroom, which is fine, but the bathroom was separated from the rest of the room by a 3/4 door, leaving a 15 inch gap at the top. The loo was immediately inside, with occasionally disconcerting results ! In addition the sink looked like a small sloping cattle trough, which if you turned on the tap to more than a trickle sprayed water in all directions. It was a triumph of design over function. This was only a minor issue and would not stop me recommending this hotel heartily.
The only other grip about the hotel is the rather small pool which was cold and over chlorinated .
We took 4 trips out,3 with a wonderful local driver called Habib, who is driver, guide and escort (my top tip if you fancy seeing a bit of the Gambia is grab Habib and book him as soon as you can, because he wonderful ). We took one trip booked by the otherwise excellent Gambia Experience, this was the Roots river/village trip. 6 hours on a tatty old river boat to a dusty untypical village full of many people looking to try and get a tip. A long and expensive day for not very much, except a sore back side from the 6 hours on grubby plastic garden chairs.

Finally, when you go to the Gambia you will experience extreme poverty but you will also meet masses of friendly people who will smile, laugh and try to make sure you have a great time.

Room Tip: Upper floor Atlantic wing
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  • Stayed January 2012, travelled as a couple
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4 Thank wisborough1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dorset
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 February 2012

Just returned from a 2 centre stay in The Gambia (1st week Coco Ocean also reviewed). Had superb time at both Ngala and Coco completely different in their own way. I agree with every positive thing said in the last few reviews so will not repeat. Also we had the pleasure of meeting Peter Engels (owner) on our first day before he went back to Holland. Peter, what an excellent General Manager you have in Claudette and assistant GM, Babba. Restaurant staff tip top especially Ceini. Sun bed mattresses are really thick (no back ache here). Gardens a delight also the new sun deck.Nothing was too much trouble for your pool and garden staff. Will return one day. Nearly forgot to mention Jonathan (chef extraordinaire) went half board so ate in every evening glad we did food scrumptious and beautifully presented. Thankyou

  • Stayed January 2012, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank efs_david2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 February 2012

We have just returned from our second stay at the Ngala Lodge. Our previous stay was 2 years ago in November 2010. If you want peace and quiet in beautiful surroundings, this is the place.
The gardens are well kept and attractive with plenty of sun loungers, there is now a deck which extends over the beach also well supplied with umbrellas and sun loungers. The staff are always smiling to help with requests for food.drinks and towels. Our suite was very comfortable with a large seating area and our own terrace if we wished to sit outside.(All the 18 suites are different but have the the mentioned features) Room service is free if you don't want to use the excellent restaurant.

We will definately be coming back again.


.

Room Tip: As all suites are different it is a good idea to look on the web site.
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  • Stayed January 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank randsg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
uk
Level 4 Contributor
35 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 February 2012

We have just enjoyed 10 days of relaxation at Ngala Lodge. This small, quiet hotel is ideal for a winter break; just relax on the sun loungers and watch the birds. The food is good and half-board is ideal as the hotel is not close to other restaurants. There is plenty of choice too.
Our room was spacious and very clean, with a sea view from the balcony (room 4). The bed was very comfortable - I have a bad hip and find many beds too hard, this was not too soft, just perfect.

We also went birdwatching with Malik Suso which was excellent, he is a brilliant guide.

  • Stayed January 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank epicerie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bedale
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 February 2012

Wow, what an amazing find. My partner & I have just returned from the Gambia staying at the Ngala Lodge 7 nights, then transferring to Mandina Lodges for a few nights before returning to this wonderful hotel.

This has to be one of the most relaxing & friendliest places I have ever stayed. Our first 7 nights were spent in Suite 5, Dogo, It is a large open plan suite with an enormous bed, sitting area with french doors leading to a patio & garden. Separate bathroom with double sinks & large walk in shower. There is a mini fridge with snacks, water & beers, spirits & wines all at reasonable prices.

This hotel is not for people looking for everything on their doorstep. It is a small (only 18 rooms) hotel with 1 bar & restaurant, 1 pool & magnificent gardens leading down to a decking area on the beach. The sunbeds are plentiful & you won't find yourself getting up early to grab a bed, it's thankfully not that kind of place.

The food is to die for. Jonathan Groves, the resident chef is a friendly guy & very approachable. The menu is quite extensive with daily specials, mainly fish, which is really yummy! Room service is free of charge so you can have that extra half hour in bed & have breakfast in your room or have a quiet evening meal on your balcony or in the gardens. The staff are all very helpful & happy to see you, always wearing a smile :)

The hotel is within walking distance from a few restaurants & shops or you could get a taxi to Sennegambia aka the Strip for a wider choice of bars & restaurants. Bakau is the nearest town, approx 10-15 min walk along the main road. There is a supermarket here aswell as a food market & craft market & a few bars. We didn't spend long in Bakau as the bumsters can be a pain after a while & we just wanted to get back to the hotel.

Habib, works for the hotel & took us into the Strip for 500 Dalasi or £10 return. He is quite a figure & you won't get any hassle with him by your side! He'll even give you his personal mobile number if you need him to pick you up early. He also takes people out on private excursions for a very reasonable price. We went on the organised Catamaran Cruise for £55 per person & did not find this value for money at all. We thought you would be in the creeks but you actual cross the Gambian River, which is more like a sea & it's not very picturesque. I would recommend doing something with Habib instead or save your money.

We were lucky enough to visit whilst Peter, the owner, was there. He is a lovely guy & even gave us a lift into town one morning. He makes you feel really welcome. One thing we did notice was that on our return visit, Peter had left and standards had slipped slightly, not a massive problem, just little things like letting the fruit run out at breakfast & having to wait longer to be served etc. Also, the hottub was dirty & we asked for it to be cleaned, it didn't happen. That is thing only thing that let this hotel down really. We will be back.....

Room Tip: Room 3 is a large suite overlooking the ocean with a large balcony. Wouldn't bother upgrading...
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  • Stayed January 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank bedaledragon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Ngala Lodge

Property: Ngala Lodge
Address: 64 Atlantic Boulevard | P.O. Box 4091, Fajara, Gambia
Region: Gambia > Banjul Division > Fajara
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Fajara
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:4 star — Ngala Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 24
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Established in 1995, Ngala Lodge - an intimate, child free, boutique hotel of just 18 unique, magnificent suites, set in tropical gardens, overlooking the Atlantic is the perfect place for a romantic break. Recently voted the 4th most romantic hotel in Africa by TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards, with arguably the best restaurant in the Gambia, our guests find it hard to leave.Ngala Lodge - where romance isn't just for Valentines Day! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Ngala Hotel Fajara
Ngala Lodge Gambia/Fajara

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