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“A fair and honest review”
Review of Badala Park

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Badala Park
Ranked #6 of 6 Hotels in Kotu
Reviewed 3 April 2010

This is the first time I've ever reviewed a hotel and I will try to be honest and fair throughout. I've read many reviews on Trip Advisor that were bad and have gone to the hotel in question and found it to be more than satisfactory. So with this in mind take the following as you will.

Remember you are in Gambia which is still regarded as a third worl country. If you are coming for a cheap , winter sun get away then I would think you didnt pay much more than a couple of hundred pounds for the trip and this is certainly the price range of this hotel.

Badala Park , Kotu is at the very bottom end of the 'Stars' ratings as far as hotels go. Very few of the rooms have air conditioning but you may be lucky to get a free standing fan that is essential in March to cool down the rooms at night. I stayed in J block which is at the very back of the Hotel (near to the Jungle , which is where some of the hotel workers live). Rooms are very very basic, broken room locks , light bulbs are broken , the showers only run a trickle , toilets do not flush and water is only available during the day. Towels are requested to be outside the room by 8.30 am which can cause a problem when you want a shower in the morning (this is not optional as the maid gets quite upset if you dont put them out). I believe this is so that she can get them washed however a few times i've seem her sorting out the towels in the hall way into piles. Not quite understanding why she was sorting the towels my wife mentioned that on a few opccasions we had been given fresh folded towels that were dirty...suggests that the maid may have been sorting out the really dirty towels and putting the not so dirty towels back into peoples rooms. I cant prove that but it sounds suspicious.
Positive points are the friendliness of the staff. Any problems we encountered with our room were swiftly dealt with.
The food by the pool bar was a good standard as was the Chinese and upstairs in Fatima's Chekeh Restaurant. The Spag Bolognaise from the pool bar was especially nice.

Places to try - If your on a budget try the Restaurant above the Garage. Yes I did say the Garage. Its outside the hotel at the end of the road on the left at the junction.
Other places are the Steak Restaurant by the juntion as well as TAM TAM which is situated directly next door to the Hotel.

NOTE: GAMBIAN TIME IS A LOT LONGER THAN YOU MIGHT EXPECT. FOOD ORDERS CAN TAKE UP TO 90 MINUTES TO BE PUT IN FRONT OF YOU SO PLEASE DONT EXPECT YOU MEAL TO TURN UP 20 MINUTES AFTER ORDERING.

Changing money at the Hotel:

A STRONG word of warning on this. The chap that changes money , will if he can , short change you. He has many tricks and has managed to keep money from several people I know who have stayed there.
For example: I have £140 @ 38Delasi per pound. He has a calculator so he types in 140 x 38 = 5320Delasi. So having done this he then started to count out the money. On one occasion I was distracted by a couple asking about the Charity I was out there working with and by the time I'd turned back the calculator said 5220. I thought at the time , 'I'm sure that was 5320" but chose not to make a fuss. When I got back to my room I used my calculator and 'Voila' it was indeed 5320 so he had changed the calculator when my back was turned. So he short changed me of 100 delasi (about £2.50) not a lot I hear you say...but its the principle. Other tricks are to count the money out in front of you at speed then take one of the hundreds back at the end quickly and into the down turned palm of his hand...several times I saw this and challenged him.
In a nutshell I would re - calculate what you should get on his calculator to get the real figure and then re-count the money yourself before leaving reception.

Also on your way back from Gambia , if you go through to the departure lounge in the airport and have a drink on the terrace. Get a copy of the menu , calculate exactly what you had and pay that. The waitress tried to over charge us but we caught her out. Just be aware. Not all Gambians are like this but some are always trying to make a fast buck.

So ... thats my review of the Hotel and some of the surrounding restaurants. Sadly the Badala Park was just a bit too basic for me but might suit some people on a budget. I can handle sparse rooms and old style showers etc.. but I can't handle rooms that have broken toilets and locks on doors that don't work. A room can be basic but should have all the elements in it upto a good standard and in full working order.

Enjoy Gambia its a wonderful country with lovely people with a wealth of culture.

  • Stayed: March 2010
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1  Thank DavoH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 3 April 2010

We had a great holiday here – the location is very good (not as hectic as Senegambia from what we saw ) – it’s only a couple of minutes’ walk from the beach and is off the main highway. The public areas are clean and nice to spend time in, but the downside was that rooms were really bad. The cleaner did come in daily and make the beds but it was hard to see what else he did – there was grime on the bathroom walls which had not been touched for months. Everything was shabby or broken and there were lots of missing light bulbs; even where they were present though it was hard to see anything in the rooms and we didn’t want to spend any time there (good job we’re usually out). There were no plugs in the basins and the tap leaked (no effort was made to rectify this even when we complained – really poor I thought in a dry country like Gambia, with water shortages!). We only had cold water for the first couple of days and there were times when there was no water at all (whether this was due to other people having showers at the same time or whether it is a problem with the plumbing in general I don’t know). My friend’s room had exposed wiring too…

The other annoying thing was that whenever we paid for anything in reception or the shop they never seemed to have change, and had to owe it to us until the next time we went in – whether this was a ploy to get more money out of us in the hope that we “forgot” I’m not sure but I felt like saying “You’re a HOTEL – go to the BANK and get some change once in a while!”

All in all though, I would recommend this hotel as it is cheap and the staff are very friendly.

We went on a couple of organised trips from there – one was to Makasutu (“Holy Forest”) which is a sort of nature reserve but with added things to do – we went in dugout canoes down the creek and then on an excellent guided walk, where the guides were very knowledgeable about all the plants and wildlife. Lunch was provided in their covered restaurant area, and the highlight of my day was nearly getting jumped on by a large baboon which snatched someone’s unattended plate! There are about 200 baboons living in the area, completely wild but opportunist where food is concerned! We also sampled palm wine (not unpleasant at all, though apparently it is when its 24 hours old or more) and had the chance to try climbing a palm tree. We were also lucky enough to have a chance to have our palms read by a very old man living in the forest (load of rubbish but a privilege to meet him and see where he lived).

The other trip was to Fathala nature reserve in Senegal, which I would not recommend – it was quite a rip-off, at £75 per person. It involved a 3-hour trip each way (including an hour on the ferry across the River Gambia, chugging really slowly in the unrelenting heat – no one spoke, like on the Tube in London – we were SO glad to get to the other side!), only spend just over an hour there. We had been looking forward to seeing some of the larger animals in their natural habitat, and although it was a natural environment (200 hectares of bush) it seemed like a “canned” experience – we saw almost all other animals in one place, almost as soon as we’d got there (giraffe, rhinos, giant elands, water and roan antelopes, warthogs and a buffalo). Perhaps this was something to do with the fact that the guides dumped a load of peanuts down for them when we got there…we also got too close to the animals in my opinion, thus habituating them to people. They also had hyenas in a cage, and a very sad looking crocodile in a man-made pool, with no weed or anything natural about it. I would not have gone if I had known all this beforehand – we had been led to believe these were truly wild animals in a completely natural state, rather than fed daily to make them tamer, or being kept in captivity.

Other trips we did on our own or with people we met were excellent, such as a trip to Abuko nature reserve (with guides we met at Makasuto, on their day off), though they too have captive hyenas and other animals, and do not enforce their own ban on feeding the wild animals there. Senegambia market was quite an experience too, with one of the staff from the hotel (we had gone to her house for a meal and she and her sister took us round the market afterwards).

All in all, I do recommend the hotel and the Kotu area, and I would just recommend that visitors are discerning about where they spend their money – keep wildlife wild!

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled with friends
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Thank Fi_McT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 April 2010

Travelled to gambia 4 times now and stayed at the badala 3 times. Never had any serious problems there. The rooms are comfatable the staff are friendly and very help full. The hotel has a nice pool area. The only downside is that the breakfast is not up to much, but you can go to tam tam and get a cooked breafast for a very good price. I would rather stay at the badala than any of the more expensive hotels. senegambia is only a 50 daladi taxi ride away where all the good nightlife and it is also walkable

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled solo
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Thank Gavinblundell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 April 2010

Badala is Gambia.OK so the rooms may be basic but if you want luxury hotels you are in the wrong country.The staff have that genuine gamian freindliness. Walking from your room to reception you are sure to have 3 conversations and shake hands as many times.
Every night there is african music and dancing on stage by the pool.There are also two resaurants by the pool side. There is a chinese restaurant and an african restaurant. The african restaurant is run by a lovely lady called Fatima.
If you have Gambian freinds they are allowed to join you by the pool.
We did not see any sign of bumsters possibly because there is a police checkpoint on the road to the hotel
Wea have found the perfect hotel in badala and will certainly go back there next year

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank al-and-norma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 March 2010

Stayed at this hotel in with my partner after booking a last minute week in the sun. This hotel is described as being for the budget conscious. However, it is well below the standard you expect from a brochured hotel. Our room had a broken shower, had no hot water, cracks all down the wall and the whole place looked as though it was falling down. The breakfast was diabolicle. Consisted of a bowl of hard boiled eggs, dry bread and some sweaty span on a plate. We moved rooms but made little difference. The hotel grounds are crawling with "bumsters" who do not leave you alone when you leave your room to go to breakfast or to the pool. The area is not the best, crawling with bumsters. There are much better hotels in Senegambia who do not let bumsters into the grounds and have a beach front location. Recommend the Kairaba Hotel.

  • Stayed: February 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Alibongo75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 March 2010

I just got back from Badala park Hotel a few days ago. Me and a friend stayed there for 9 days and we enjoyed it immensly. The room was basic which you expect for the price but was cleaned everyday with fresh towels and bed linen. The staff there are all very friendly and accomodating. You will be greeted with smiles and conversation everywhere you go in the hotel, it's very welcoming; if you become comfortable with some of the staff they are more than willing to show you the real Gambia, and are likley to invite you back to their compounds to meet their family and for a true Gambian meal, if you are offered this and feel comfortable with the person definatley do it, it's fantastic to see where the locals live . We were lucky enough to be invited to a wedding while there it was brilliant.
Also if you want to see some of the wildlife there such as the monkey's it's not necessary to pay, on the way to the monkey park we walked down the beach to the Senagambia hotel which we using as a cut through and we found about 30 monkeys which were apparently likley to have been from the park playing in the trees, we took some peanuts over and they all came down and we managed to get pictures with them on our shoulders and taking the nuts from us for free instead so definatley worth the try. At this hotel they also have a vulture feeding which is definatley worth the watch if you have a morning free.
If your planning on getting the taxi anywhere and your on a budget ask one of the hotel staff to help you and get the local bush taxi sometimes you may have to get a couple to get to where your going but it's only 5 dalasis per taxi as opposed to what could be 300 in a normal taxi.
The Thomas Cook rep at the hotel at the moment is great too very approachable and helpful any issues speak to her and she can help. Also it's best to only change a small amount of stirling before going as the exchange rate over there is so much better but don't change it in the hotel either the petrol station at the top of the road has a western union in it where we found the best rate at the time we were there of £1 to 40 dalasis.
Just a quick warning though Gambia is a very friendly country but sometimes a little too friendly as two young females on our own, when we went out of the hotel without any locals with us we were hounded by everyone wanting to be your friend, it sounds nice but after a while it gets very irritating and ignoring them doesn't work they just follow you so if your going far it's best to take someone with you to hold off the hoards, it's not the sort of holiday where you will be alone often. Just a little heads up but on the whole I would definatley recommend Gambia as my first time in Africa it was a brilliant place to go. And I would definatley recommend Badala Park Hotel as a comfortable hotel to stay with good pool facilities and a shortcut to the beach.

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled with friends
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2  Thank SUNholidaysWales
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 February 2010

this was our fourth visit to this hotel, it is basic but clean,
we checked in no problem, our room was B1, it was lovely big and quiet, our friend who works at the hotel picked this room for us,
we didnt eat there or stay by the pool, as we like the beach
staff are great and friendly, and will do anything for you,
we had the odd hour or so at the bar,
ousman, day manager great, and buno night manager fantastic
we did have the odd dip in pool, which was refreshing
cant comment on night entertainment as we went to the strip
breakfast quite adequate for our liking
always some eggs, boiled, fried, scrambled etc
wouldnt hesitate in going back

  • Stayed: February 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank sunny21_7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Badala Park

Address: Kotu Stream, Kotu, Gambia
Region: Gambia > Banjul Division > Kotu
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 6 Hotels in Kotu
Price Range: £23 - £52 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2 star — Badala Park 2*
Number of rooms: 202
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
With over 10 years of ownership and 30 years of management experience, the recently refurbished Badala Park Hotel is renowned throughout the Gambia, as well as Africa, Europe, USA and by travelers worldwide.Less than thirty minutes transfer time from the Gambian Yundum International Airport and you will always be greeted in our large cool reception and lounge area after your travels, on arrival at the friendly Badala Park Hotel with the friendliest staff in the Gambia. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Badala Park Kotu
Badala Park Hotel Kotu
Badala Park Gambia/Kotu

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