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“Can't wait to go back!”
Review of Bakotu Hotel

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Bakotu Hotel
Ranked #2 of 6 Hotels in Kotu
Certificate of Excellence
Manchester
Level Contributor
57 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“Can't wait to go back!”
Reviewed 6 August 2012 via mobile

My wife and I stayed here for our honeymoon in January. Before we went people were saying things like "don't go anywhere on your own"... What aload of rubbish! Gambia is amazing and beautiful. In all honestly, you will be approached in the street constantly by everyone but take it on the chin, they mean no harm and will go well out of their way to help you or be your guide for the day. Not like in Tunisia for example where I find the locals very intimidating. Gambians are the most friendly and happy people I have ever met, especially for such a poor nation. we met a well known local guide whilst on our stay, his name was Bax and you can usually find him on the strip infront of the hotel. He was our guide for the whole week and he made our trip very special. He tooks us walking through the villages to the crocodile pool one day, a boat trip through the mangroves and to the monkey park another day. He pride himself on his good reputation and was very trustworthy. I would have no issue leaving my wallet with him lol. I highly recommend him and if you see him tell him Matthew and Laura said hi. There aren't words to describe how much we loved our visit to Gambia, if you want an eye opening, relaxed and truly inspiring holiday, then this is the place to go. The hotel was beautiful and not over crowded like the others across the road. The food was lovely and fruit ladies on the beach offer the nicest fruit I have ever tasted. I honestly haven't a bad word to say. Loved it, loved it, loved it! Can't wait to go back again and again!

  • Stayed January 2012
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Helpful?
13 Thank HappySingingBoy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Leicester
Level Contributor
55 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 August 2012

If you want guaranteed sun in March – tick. If you like birdwatching – tick. If you don’t mind constant friendly bartering when you leave your hotel – tick. If you want a quiet, comfortable, secluded hotel in Kotu – major tick. The Bakotu is laid out in beautiful gardens where the wildlife come to you: colourful village weavers, a resident monitor lizard, monkeys, and very loud frogs (only when it gets dark!). The staff are friendly and helpful, the food and drink is fine. Ask for a room away from the pool if you want more quiet, but the whole place is a haven of peace. Be prepared for lots of friendly haggling on the road outside, in the marketplace opposite and on the beach. The bird guides at Kotu creek just down the road are friendly and knowledgeable. We hooked up with a guy called Fowday Bojang who definitely knows his birds. On one two hour walk around the creek one evening we spotted almost sixty species of bird – amazing! We hired Fowday again for a day out with him and his jeep seeing more of Gambia including Serrakunda market – astounding but we needed Fowday to guide us through it! Thoroughly recommended hotel and guide.

Room Tip: There is more activity around the pool and bar so if you want a quieter room (most are in single sto...
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  • Stayed March 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
10 Thank SimonALeicester
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sleaford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 June 2012

Went to the Bakotu in March 2012 and was a little nervous. I'd read the reviews but both myself and my friend that I was travelling have got used to our creature comforts over the last few years and tend to only book 4* upwards. I was also more than a little nervous as I'd suggested it and really didn't want to let us down.
I've never been to Gambia before and the talk of the bumsters was a little concerning as I like to get out and about to see the country where I'm staying but can find it a little intimidating when you get harangued, especially as we were a party of two females.
However...we arrived and did the standard "oh god, I hope this isn't our hotel" as we pulled up at various places. When we arrived at the Bakotu it looked pretty on first impressions, the staff immediately took our bags from us (yes they did expect a tip but that is hardly unique to The Gambia) and check in was really straight forward. My only grumble is there are limited security boxes and it took a couple of days for us to get one.
The first night we were a little green and unsure where things were and so a little reluctant to explore but we made it down the road to the Kombo and after a few cocktails (we make it happy hour all the time for you), a bit of reaggae, the world seemed much rosier.
The room once we got back there, was basic but comfortable. We hadn't requested air con and just about got away with it whilst we were there with the windows open but I think any later in the season and air con would have been a wise investment. I've noted in someone's review they mentioned fleas. I've had cats all my life, I know fleas and I can say 100% that I never saw a flea the whole time I was there, not even on the cats. What I did notice, were tiny little ants in the bedroom, but quickly realised they were actually coming from the flowers that the maids decorate your beds with. If you just throw them out, the ants disappear and they were minute, and certainly didn't bite. I got plenty of mosquito bites however so make sure you pack some DEET and take malaria tablets.
We opted for the road more travelled and booked our trips through Thomas Cook, all of which were real good fun, fantastic local guides and a real eye opener. We did the bar crawl (ok, a bit touristy but got to see the nightlife and taken from bar to bar on air conditioned coach), the safari to Senegal (don't expect Kenya, but a really fun day nonetheless), the Lazy Day river cruise and the South Gambian experience all of which I'd recommend.
The whole time we were out there we didn't have a bad meal. We ate at Boss Lady, Ali Baba's across in the market, JD's, Mandelas on the Senegambia strip, the Kombo and VJays. Would recommend any of these places and other guests we spoke to had been to various other nice restaurants that we would have sought out if we'd stayed for more than a week.
Breakfast was a bonkers affair but we generally weren't in a hurry and I personally found it entertaining and the bread and cheese was sufficient for me (I actually missed my morning cheese sandwich when I came home).
Found the staff really friendly and helpful, each night the garderners would set up their reaggae music outside our room which provided a soundtrack to get ready to.
Our room was on the edge facing on to a "jungle" type area beyond which was mangrove and a stretch of water. The weather was just too hot for my fair skin in the afternoons, so when we weren't on a trip out somewhere, we'd pull the comfy chairs outside of our room in to the shade, have a drink, read a book and wait as the wildlife came to us. It was stunning. Every day we'd see all sorts of beautiful birds, the monkeys always provided enterainment (don't leave your room door open, they will go in), the monitor lizards and the various cats that kept guard outside our room (to the disapprovement of my allergic friend). I've never been anywhere like it and found it so relaxing.
We didn't really brave the beach so when we did brave the sun, we went down to the pool and I have to say, we never once struggled to find sun loungers (just one note of caution, everything in Gambia comes with a slightly orange dusty glow, so avoid bringing your best white towels, expensive bikinis and white linen trousers - they are best kept for another country). The pool was small but there was only over two people maximum in there and I tended to hurl myself in to cool down and then get straight back out so the fact that it was so cold was a relief from the 40 degree sun.
Having alluded already, there were just two of us, both female and I have to say, I never once felt intimidated or unsafe. On the whole people just tried to chat to us and if you were friendly but firm they left well alone, they just tended to want to talk to you about taking you out on trips. Had a good conversation one night with Lamin (there are lots in Gambia) about us having booked through the travel agents and his perspective on that in terms of the "horror stories" the travel agents tell you to put you off. He wasn't hard sell, he didn't give us a hard time, it was just nice to chat to a local who had his own views on the benefits of tourism to the local area if you stay in places owned by Europeans and spend your money on trips put on by big holiday companies. We did want to take a walk to the bridge one day to have a look out as had heard it's a good bird spotting place and just wanted a bit of a wander, but ended up giving up as the bird guys were pretty hard sell despite me explaining I had no money on me. If I'd have been interested in birds then I may have been inclined to pay one of them or to ask George to take us but not being much af a twitcher I just wandered back to the hotel, sat outside our room and the birds came to us.
All in all we had a fantastic holiday. I wouldn't hesitate to go back to the Gambia and back to the Bakotu and would really recommend it to others. I've done 5*, I've done big European style anonymous hotels and that's great, but the Bakotu has something completely different. It is simple and it is charming.
On a slightly more practical note, if you haven't been to the Gambia before, be prepared for a rather extensive list of vaccinations and drugs that you are recommended to have prior to your holiday. If I'd have had everything that was recommended then I'd have paid as much on that as I did a week's holiday (that is not an exaggeration), so make sure you factor this in to your budget.
Hope to go again. Hope this review helps someone to make up their mind as I spent several evenings procrastinating over holiday destinations and hotels prior to making my booking,

Room Tip: Argh, it was ingrained on my brain what room I was in as the gardener said our room number every tim...
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  • Stayed March 2012, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
24 Thank Laura_K1984
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dartford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 June 2012

The last review is completely out of kilter with almost every review and is obviously written by a troll or an alternative hotel. And to the person who said that security was bad I have to disagree. Stayed here last Nov 2011 and they were very good about not letting in anyone who shouldn't have been there. Grounds staff were wandering about at night and I never once didn't feel safe. Brilliant chilled out place that was soooo helpful when I became ill, I cannot recommedn this place enough unless you want luxory in which case then prob not for you. Please excuse typos. I am educated but my lap to p is broken!

  • Stayed November 2011, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
10 Thank Pepperx
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 May 2012

Where do i start, the only good thing about this hotel is the staff, and thats when the witch of an owner does not decide to sac them!!! she pays them rubbish wages treats them like slaves, think she needs to understand that slave labour stopped many years ago..... she will easily dock there wage at the drop of the hat!! she puts prices up to match the 5 star hotel kombo beach across the road, however the hotel is dirty, flea infested, never had so many bites on my feet and legs and thats just from the rooms!!!

i just want as many people as possible not to stay there, there is better hotels or appartments in the area which are better value for money....

i feel the owner just wants to maximise her profits and line her own pocket rather than operating an up to date hotel with happy staff!!!

Room Tip: pick another hotel
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
8 Thank emmajt2006
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Worthing, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 May 2012

Great hotel set in bungalos amongst the trees with birds, monkeys, bats and monitor lizards, best place for nature watching you could find, with nature walks all around, a golf course behind the hotel is a prime area for birding, best I have found, with the Kotu stream just yards away. The hotel has its own top birder in George who will book you trips out and show you the local area,
Comfortable, if not basic, with a good swimming pool.

Room Tip: The rooms at the back are better for the bird watcher as nearer the wild life. We had C6, a good roo...
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  • Stayed December 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank AlienDawn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Milton Keynes, UK
Level Contributor
82 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 May 2012

If you get a cheap deal on this hotel, and are looking for a low key resort, with a flavour of Africa, try the Bakotu. Yes, the rooms are simple and a bit tired, but they are spacious and the lush tropical grounds full of exotic birds and monkeys more than make up for it. Who needs room service when the morning chorus is that good? There's a small pool area which can get a bit crowded but the beach is only a 2 minute walk away. There are several eating places a stones throw away - enough to keep up the interest on a week long holiday certainly and the prices will certainly keep reminding you that you're out of the eurozone! The breakfast is just fine for what you are paying for this hotel ( assuming you shopped around), you may want to bring your own kettle if quality coffee is an essential part of your holiday! Birding wise this is paradise, and it's very easily arranged once you arrive. Just walk down to the river bridge and you will be inundated with Gambian bird guides. Usually they can be persuaded to take you for a free sample walk and you can see if they are to your liking, and have good English. A two hour guided walk for 2 shouldn't cost more than a fiver. Or it's easy to arrange a more distant trip for another day if required, as some have access to vehicles. Alternatively you can use George at the hotel, who has comparatively good english. He's not as cheap as the guys on the bridge, but you get what you pay for. Don't be afraid to haggle, this is Africa after all, you should be paying at least half of what the tour operators charge for more touristy trips, if you use a more local guy. But don't expect the same quality of transport! Do go out and about, it will be worth it. I'd also recommend lunch from the fruit ladies on the beach just watching them prepare the fruit is an experience!

Room Tip: If you like birds, ask for one at the back, facing towards the river ( though don't expect river...
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  • Stayed March 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank SJR22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Bakotu Hotel

Property: Bakotu Hotel
Address: Kotu, Gambia
Region: Gambia > Banjul Division > Kotu
Amenities:
Beach Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 6 Hotels in Kotu
Hotel Class:3 star — Bakotu Hotel 3*
Number of rooms: 80
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Renowned and well established, Bakotu is a small, friendly hotel ideally located in Kotu between the beach and the golf course. Facilities include a small swimming pool, sun and shade terraces, reception, laundry, shop, restaurants and bars. Individually decorated rooms, with comfy beds and either terrace or balcony are grouped around mature gardens. The monkeys, squirrels and birds are great attractions. Ideal for those looking for something a little different with good value for money. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Bakotu Hotel Kotu
Bakotu Hotel Gambia/Kotu

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