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.
- 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