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Review of Kombo Beach Hotel

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Kombo Beach Hotel
Ranked #1 of 6 Hotels in Kotu
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 5 February 2009

I read so many varying reviews about Gambia hotels before booking with The Gambia Experience that it was confusing and impossible to make a sensible judgement - so we decided to let fate take a hand and book "allocation on arrival" and was sent to the Kombo Beach. All in all we enjoyed an excellent beach/pool/sun break for a week. If you can ignore the well publicised negative aspects of the country - the poverty, rubbish, continual shmoozing for money and so on - it is possible to enjoy an excellent hotel-based holiday in The Gambia. Our room on the 2nd floor was basic, spacious, cool enough without a/c and was efficiently maintained each day. Bed very comfortable. Hot water at vital times of day, and a delightful view of beach gardens and sea. The pool area was excellent, the beach outside the hotel clean and maintained and although there is the continual and persistent attention from jewellery, fruit and restaurant sales people, it is essentially good natured and non- threatening - just annoying. We chose a half-board option, ate at the Kumbala restaurant and found the food quality and selection very satisfactory. Excellent music and dance groups each evening. We did no trips - which were expensive no doubt due the collapsing Pound - so cannot comment on the other 99.999999% of the country .................... but we loved the Kombo Beach.
Whole organisation with The Gambia Experience was seamless and smooth. Monarch flight excellent in most respects but they seem to be attempting a new world record for how many people can be shoehorned into a Boeing 757 - I have never experienced such little room in an aircraft.

  • Stayed: January 2009, travelled with family
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3  Thank Lymingtonians
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 29 January 2009

The Kombo is a great hotel, situated on the Atlantic coast - much better than the Corinithia Atlantic where we stayed last year.

We stayed in a superior room, which was just fine. Aircon worked well; rooms were quiet and clean.

The beach is policed by the tourist police so you get very little hassle (unlike other hotels in Gambia). The area outside the hotel has several restaurants and shops, including a supermarket, although to be honest the food was so good in the hotel (unusual for a package deal) that we ate in every night.

The staff were friendly and it was a great place to relax. Only thing to beware is that the parasols are not UV proof - sat under one with no sun-screen and after a day outside got quite sunburned.

We loved it so much, we booked it again next year two days after we got back.

Final tip - do not go on any organised tours to Georgetown. Sounds exotic but its just 13 hours of travelling each way in a hot minibus/on a boat to a basic village with nothing special to see. Waste of time and money.

  • Stayed: January 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank meanioni999
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 January 2009

Kombo Beach is a great hotel. Our room was one of the "superior" rated and was typical of what you would expect in a developing country - security of room was good and we paid for use of the safe which worked perfectly well (unlike the experience detailed on someone else's review). Cleanliness was good.

We were there on B&B basis so didn't eat in the hotel much. Breakfasts were good with food being replenished as soon as started to run out. Coffee could have been hotter!

Two restaurants to recommend are Boss Lady which is opposite the entrance to the hotel and The Sailor which takes about 10 minutes to walk to. You have to go along a dark road to get to The Sailor but there are "promotors" with a torch who will escort you there and then walk back with you when you are ready to go. We were escorted either by Rodney (don’t call me plonker) or Ali, both really nice young men who will chat away with interesting info about life in the Gambia. We gave them about 10D for their trouble for which they were grateful but there was no pressure to give them anything.

We went on two trips - one booked via the Cosmos rep and one with a local guide. The one with the local guide was far and away more enjoyable and better value for money. Go to the official tourist guide "office" (they wear beige uniforms) and ask for Charlie (real name Lamin). He took us to Banjul (went in the market with the locals), The Crocodile Pool, Lamin Lodge (including a one hour sail in a piroque, ie local boat in amongst the mangroves) and finished up visiting his family. Absolutely no hassle from Charlie or our driver throughout the day or at the end of the trip. Lots of interesting info.

When on the beach get a nice big plate of fruit from the fruit ladies followed by a glass of lovely pure fruit juice from the fruit pressers. When you come onto the beach turn left and you will see their green stalls lined up. We got our fruit from the lady with Stall No 1, Joku, and our drinks from either Babu or Moses. They are all as good as each other so it doesn't matter who you choose.

If you want a surfboard get it from Ousman (on the beach just past the fruit pressers). The boards are cheaper than the hotel and better quality.

It is a lovely holiday destination and whatever you choose to do I am sure you will have a good time but if you just take that step across the hotel threshold your holiday will be enriched by contact with the lovely, happy people who are The Gambia.

  • Stayed: January 2009, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank HolidayManiacsKent
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 January 2009

For a first trip to The Gambia the Kombo Beach was a great base to explore from and return to for good accomodation and friendly staff.

It's location was fantastic, right on the sandy beach (as the name says!) and an easy taxi ride down to the Senegambia strip for good food and fun nights out.

The hotel was just as you should expect - a range of restaurants and entertainments ranged round the central pool with the accomodation blocks alongside with the first one having views over this central area. This did mean that rooms overlooking the pool area could be a little noisy during the evening activities, but nothing so serious that would put me off a return visit.

The staff were friendly and helpful - the only issue we had was with the in-room safe and it was sorted out with a minimum of fuss as soon as we reported it. The staff were always willing to chat and offer advice and suggestions for places to vist.

The room was a standard hotel one with double bed and single sofa bed & was clean and well looked after. The air con was greaty appreciated as was the fridge to store our bottles of water.

My only niggle is with the availability of hot water - at times after a day trip out we had to have a luke warm or cold shower, though given the heat that wasn't too much of a hardship anyway!

Outside the hotel you can only get a green 'tourist taxi' which wil cost more than the yellow 'local taxi', but that's just the way they organise it. If you don't want to always pay for the service offered by these 'tourist taxis' (they will wait for 2hrs while you eat at your restaurant then bring you back) then simply get one away from the hotel on a one-way trip and find a local one for the return trip.

Some of the locals are obviously trying to earn a quick buck from tourists, but not in an aggressive manner and once you have worked out how it works you'll be fine. Learn the name of one fruit seller, one juice man & a taxi driver and anytime anyone else asks just say that 'whoever' is helping you. That way you'll be left alone a lot more!

Talk to the locals, they are lovely people and are genuinely interested in how we live compared to them. We have come back with the email addresses of a few of them that we feel we'll be in contact with for a long time as we made genuine friendships while there.

Lastly (as I can ramble when I get started about The Gambia) I'd say to avoid the trips organised by the tourist companies & just find a local to take you - there are plenty who'll offer you this service & it means you're free to be more flexible with where you go and what you see. We filled our days so well without planning any of them earlier than the night before when we would arrange to be picked up outside the hotel by one of our new friends!

Please feel free to contact me if you want to know any more, or if you want the name of a top juice man or number for a taxi driver! Seriously it's that kind of place where you can get real personal service & we will return and use these same people again!

  • Stayed: December 2008, travelled with friends
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4  Thank AndyHCroydon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 January 2009

we have just returned from our first visit to the Gambia and i dont think we could have chosen a better location. On arrival at the kombo i was slight;ly dissapointed with the quality of the room, it was a little tired. But my attitude changed after we had unpacked and we went down for drinks and dinner. The food in the main buffet resturaunt was very nice, with plenty of choice and it was nice as we had a very pleasent waiter and wine served. The pool area looked lovely and we looked forward to a day by it.
There are many great thing about this hotel, the freindly staff, the lovely food, the fresh fluffy towels provided for the sunbeds and mattresses every day, by the pool or beach all supplied with no charge. I am already looking forward to returning. We took two ays to go outside of the hotel as we were a little nervous, but we need not have worried it was charming. We learned to be polite to everybody that talked to us and all was fine. It made a pleasent break from the hotel. When we go next we will look for a guide to take us around seeing sights.
But for christmas sun you can not beat it, with an average of 90 degrees we have come back after only a week totally relaxed and tanned. Wonderful.

  • Stayed: December 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank blindin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 January 2009

This was our third trip to the Gambia and our second stay at Kombo Beach the first having been about 10 years ago. We were very disappointed with the hotel which, according to our travel agents, had been 'promoted' to 4 star this year. The hotel appeared tired and in need of a good scrub and redecoration. There was an ever growing pile of dust behind our bathroom door! The staff were in the main friendly and helpful, but those on breakfast duty perfected the 'don't look beyond the table you are serving' practice - trying to get tea or coffee or a top-up of either was an art that we did not perfect in the time we were there!! Breakfast was ok - but we could not understand why the person cooking eggs - omelettes, fried eggs, pancakes etc - was unable to cook for more than one person at a time - hence long queues. The 'orange juice' was diluted squash which was inexplicable considering the range of fruit and juice sellers along the beach.
The evening meals were ok - we were HB so ate in the hotel each evening. The Christmas Gala meal was excellent - well planned, with tables booked in advance so no scramble for the 'best' table and pre-ordered wine on the table.
The entertainment was great - apart from the European band brought in for Christmas and New Years Eve - why on earth did the hotel bring in a band from Belgium when the Gambia is bursting at the seams with local people who can offer cultural acts. It must have cost the hotel a fortune to bring in this band along with their hangers-on, accommodate and feed them for more than a week, thus sending money out of the country that is sorely needed within the Gambia. We can see a band like this anywhere - we went to the Gambia in order to see acts reflective of the Gambian culture.
We love the Gambia and will return again - though not to Kombo Beach.

  • Stayed: December 2007, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank jodunc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 January 2009

I had the most amazing trip to The Gambia and for the most part Kombo Beach Hotel delivered everything it offered.

Before even booking a trip to The Gambia be very honest with yourself about your expectations on holiday. As other people have said this is Africa and I can't stress it enough. EVERYONE talks to you, but not all of them are after your cash or a visa. For those less honest characters please do be compassionate and friendly and bare in mind that they are probably only trying to feed their family, or pay for some electricity. If you cannot cope with this kind of attention with good humour then please don't go.

I found that once we knew how to 'handle' the locals we made some great friends. Be firm but always with a smile and they will get the message. Gambians are genuinely lovely people.

The hotel itself was more than adequate for the £320 I paid for the whole trip! You get what you pay for, so if you want 5***** pay for 5*****. The hotel was clean and well looked after and the staff friendly and attentive. Two minor gripes are that there are no irons in rooms (but then who wants to iron on hols!) and the front block of rooms can be really noisy at night with entertainment, but I am sure you would be moved if you asked.

People do want tips, but won't say anything if you politely decline. Giving small gifts is a good idea though as someone has previously mentioned. Things we take for granted here are luxuries there.

On the beach I found the security excellent. They kept the Bumsters away and I got very little hassle. If you want to walk along the beach, walk in the water as the bumsters won't get their trainers wet. I frequently walked alone (a 28 yr old woman) along the beach with my ipod on and got minimal hassle as I was confident in rebuffing advances. I also walked safely outside of the hotel alone and knew that if i politely declined the offer to chat to someone they wouldn't be hugely offended.

Go and see Abraham and Labamba for your fruit juice...they can be found if you turn left as you walk onto the beach out of the hotel. They are really lovely and will treat you like royalty! We frequently went down to see them at about 6pm when all the toursits had gone. The beach comes alive at this time as it is full of locals fishing, playing the drums or playing footie.

If you go to The Gambia try for at least a day to get out and about. It is an AMAZING place and I for one plan to go back there next year for a few months as there is so much more to see and do. In my time, I went to the market at Banjul, went on the Banjul ferry (such an experience!!), to the nature reserve, 2 local schools and to a new friends compound. Seeing the way locals live is humbling and amazing. Take along a bag of rice as a gift and anything small and safe for children such as pencils, balloons, a football or old football shirts.

If you like to dance then The Gambia is also an amazing place. We spent our time at Chossaan in Senegambia. At 11pm a band plays every night and they are brilliant! Look our for the bass player that smokes through the entire set...he is super cool! The atmosphere is electric and all the locals love to dance. If a local pulls you up to dance, don't worry it doesn't mean anything, it just means they want to dance! Look out for 'Dr' and 'Proverb Man' 2 of the waiters I would now consider friends.

If you can handle the heat, hugely chatty people, poverty and new experiences then go to The Gambia!! I have so much more to tell so please do contact me if you want anymore info!

  • Stayed: December 2008, travelled with friends
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5  Thank Jemman80
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Kombo Beach Hotel

Address: PO Box 694, Kotu, Gambia
Region: Gambia > Banjul Division > Kotu
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 6 Hotels in Kotu
Price Range: £58 - £100 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Kombo Beach Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 258
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set on the beautiful wide sandy beach of Kotu is Kombo Beach Hotel, a popular and lively hotel with a desirable range of facilities, excellent cuisine, entertainment and true Gambian hospitality. Offering 5 different room types: standard, superior, premium, studio and suites, all with excellent amenities which makes this hotel also the perfect choice for the business traveler. During 2011 and 2012 the standard & premium rooms, studios and suites were refurbished. With a choice of facilities like pool with separate children's pool, gym, internet cafe, mini market, massage & beauty saloon, laundry service, daytime and evening entertainment, clinic, lush tropical gardens, beach front setting and friendly staff this is an ideal hotel for either a relaxing or an active holiday. On site there are 3 restaurants and 4 bars. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Hotel Kombo Beach
Kombo Beach Banjul
Kombo Beach Hotel Gambia/Kotu

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