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“great location...not as chilled as the Gambia”

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Hotel Le Royal Lodge
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Palmarin
Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
35 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 94 helpful votes
“great location...not as chilled as the Gambia”
Reviewed 24 February 2010

really loved the hotel..fabulous enormous rooms and gorgeous grounds.
Opted for a garden room as we enjoy gardens and birds etc... if I went again I would go for a garden room again.
We were late getting to Dakar because of the snow at Brussells (from manchester via brussells...really good flights and lots of legroom...and 46 kilos plus 20 kilos handluggage EACH! great for taking stuff for our next destination, the Gambia.
Arrivals smooth as silk, transfer problem free. the transfer was as others have said...long and the last bit on a very bumpy road. The driver Yammeh was a very interesting man and took lots of short cuts across the coastal land/salt flats/sand/flood plain area for the last hour or so leg of the journey...as this was at 10 - midnight sort of time it took on a very other-wordly quality and was hypnotically surreal!
Arrived just after midnight...taken to the room (all luxurious stand alone 'huts'); a tray of dinner was there, and although we felt a bit bush-narnered, we perked up and got a second wind with the delicious salads, bread, fruit...and a bottle of wine from the mini bar (which was very expensive!! sprite was £6 a tin in the mini bar...but at after midnight in a fab place on the first night of a holiday you aren't going to turn down a drink are you!).
Fantastic rooms and the greatest bed I've even slept in re quality of mattress, and huge.
One other UK couple there...half a week overlap with our week. Everyone was quite reserved, including most of the staff...who seemed to be working from a script. We speak french...so no real communication issues, except a couple of silly mistakes on our part which left us looking a bit like idiots and the staff thinking we were lunatics with a strange sense of humour (try translating Groucho Marx humour into French for a Senegalese breakfast waitress over oeufs-a la coque).
Fabulous beach, lovely gardens, great for admiring birds, some really nice staff...some a little 'stiff' (but the manager (a really nice guy) was often on site and didn't look like he suffered staff doing their own thing - which is a bit of a shame...but they obviously have their policy).
Great food ...fab fish and daily specials...snacks for lunch a bit expensive...or eat lunch in the restaurant (which we didn't do, but I think it was the same menu as the evening...and it would have been better value to do this, with hindsight).
Missing - beach service for drinks and snacks and lunch...considering the price/hotel quality I think this would have been a good addition to the offer (room service was charged at an additional 10,000 CFA...can't remember exactly what this is but around £10 - £15 ?? on top of the meal cost).
The MOST MEMORABLE BIT: the local guys we met and chatted to...lovely and genourous and a pleasure to meet. My partner helped the fishermen a couple of days (because he is a busy-body and because he is a nice man and because he enjoys talking to people wherever he goes) and we realised that the fishing 'crew' is actually quite small and that other people just come and help...artists, craft market sellers, people with no jobs, and occasionally tourists.
I bought some things and the craft market guys were very generous...you might think I've been conned but I haven't - they really were lovely people and gave us extra cadeaux and were just fantastic!!!
Jean-Pierre has a shop selling fab bags made out of rice sacks...which would not look out of ;lace in Liberty! And Louis has carved wood and jewellery. I've posted some pictures.
Other guestes mostly adults; two boys were there and seemed very french as in polite and well behaved. just the day before we left a couple and their daughter (8 years at a guess) arrived and she looked a bit of a little madam as only girls of that age can look.
The rep was a nice guy, but very keen to talk about himself, and his fantastic/dramatic/tragic life so far: he told us lots about himself, quite a lot about the excursions and not very much at all about the hotel and the tips that might have been useful to know, like pay the night before you leave, and what time the transfer was going to be!!!...ah well..if we DID go back I doubt that he would still be there.
When we arrived we thought it was fab and that we would go back for longer / when we left we thought we'd never go back / and now we think we might go back...as it was very very very relaxing and a great chill-out. We went from there by car transfer to The Gambia...left at 8am and arrived at the Nala Lodge in the Gambia at about 3pm (ferry crossing included)...back home to our favourite hotel.

  • Stayed February 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
10 Thank FriendOfPooh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
  • Location
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Andover, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
21 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 December 2009

Just returned from a week at The Royal Lodge and only have good / great things to say about the place. The transfer from Dakar takes three and half to four hours with the last hour on a dirt road - the transfer from the airport was in a Ford Transit which is not a particularly good off-road vehicle! whereas our return journey was in a 4 x 4 which soften the jolts and bumps big-time.
The standard of accommodation can not be faulted but would certainly recommend you pay that bit extra for a sea view rondavel. The standard of French influenced cuisine is excellent and the service is attentive without being intrusive.
The design of the pool area is both innovative and impressive and yes the photos on the website are a real reflection of the hotel.
In the week were there we did not see anybody swim in the sea as the shoreline is caked in seaweed.
In order to get the best out of this holiday you need to be willing to attempt to communicate en francais - it doesn't matter how bad your French is but showing willing goes a long way.
If you are looking for a relaxing five star break at a reasonable price Royal Lodge is an option well worth considering.

  • Stayed November 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank pipples1960
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brussels, Belgium
Level Contributor
102 reviews
70 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 111 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 February 2009

Royal Lodge is an unique place for a totally relaxing winter break.
It is 3 to 4 hours from Dakar by car (including one hour on dust roads).
Bungalows - I strongly advise to opt for a seaview - are large, finely and soberly decorated; they offer all comfort, including airco, separate sitting room, ample space to put your clothes, safe, king size jacuzzi bath, satellite TV.
Premises are perfectly well kept with a very fine tropical garden; the place is incredibly quiet; all you hear are the birds (many) and the sea.
The food is of good quality; reasonable choice for breakfast, fine menu for lunch / dinner, with lot of fresh seafood; also, for meat lovers, the zebu fillet. Service is not 100 percent efficient at all times but very kind. The wine list is perfectible, but there are a few good things.
Let us not forget we are in Africa and in the middle of nowhere; keeping such high standards is remarkable.
The large swimming pool is perfect.
Good to know : excursions and transfer arranged by the hotel are to be paid cash to the supplier; hence, think of taking some euros with you (transfer two ways was 280 EUR; 1/2 day in the mangroves is around 70 EUR).

  • Stayed February 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Paulklib
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Paris, France
Level Contributor
85 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 January 2009

The royal lodge is a peaceful heaven for travellers that want to stay awasy from the crowd. It is next to the natural reserve of siné saloum and allows you to explore the real sénégal. The suites are hudge and make you feel at home. the bathroom is just a dream !. the staff is very nice and would do anything to be nice although in the restaurant some staff appears to lack experience, but this is compensated by smiles.

I would recomend this hotel fand if you can combine it with a shorter stay in collines de nissiam which is very close and provides a different but very special experience.

  • Liked — the suuroundings and calm
  • Disliked — breakfast !
  • Stayed January 2009, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank BrusselsCrew
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Leeds, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 November 2008

Gorgeous, tranquil, luxurious (without being pretentious) and so relaxing! Such a beautiful location. The villas are huge - we had one of the sea view ones but I think they're all about the same size. Bedroom, with adjoining lounge area, big bathroom with tiled, stand-up shower area, massive jacuzzi looking out over the beach (probably best to keep the blinds down though when you're in it!). The beds were huge with a massive mosquito net - the only place we've stayed where we've not had to worry about my husband's feet poking through the end of the net and getting bitten! There's also a terrace which looks out over the sea and gets the sun in the afternoon. The beach is practically deserted. Each sea view villa has its own sunbeds and (thatched) umbrella. We spent most of our days there, with a visit to the pool in the afternoon to cool off. The sea is fine but there's quite a lot of seaweed to get through before you reach the nice bit, so we opted for the pool each time. Most people did but that didn't mean the pool area was crowded. Always lots of choices for sunbeds. Beautiful view of the beach and babao tree from your sunbed. You can even enjoy a cocktail in the pool bar.

For us, the best bit was meeting the group of locals who'd set up their stalls at the far end of the beach, behind the row of trees. Unlike Gambia, they really didn't bother people at all. In fact, it seemed like they weren't allowed to walk on the actual beach or come up to any of the sunbeds. If you walk along the wet sand by the sea, you would often bump into one of them and the most they'd do is shake your hand, introduce themselves, ask you how long you were staying and if it's your first time in Senegal. No pressure to see their 'shops' (shacks/rugs with carvings on!). These guys were so lovely - Olagie (or Alex as he tells the English people because it's easier to remember!) speaks the best English among them all as he spent most of his childhood in the Gambia. The rest - Adaman, David, the rastaman - speak mostly French but like to learn some English. We spent a lot of time with these guys - they invited us to lunch several times (rice/fish in a big bowl which we all squatted round and ate with our hands) which was so kind of them especially given it was their only meal of the day - but they were adamant that we stay and got offended if we didn't eat with them. We would strongly suggest spending time with these guys to see the real Senegal. They took us out for the day to an island built of oyster shells (Fadouit) which involved a trip in a banged up peugeot, a 1.5 hr ride in a pirogue across the sea, a walk around the village (strongly suggest wearing long sleeves and trousers as it felt a little intrusive walking around and it helped that we were wearing modest clothing), a short trip through the mangroves in a smaller pirogue, a trip to the fish market, a fab lunch made with the fish on coals and the whole squatting finger buffet again! And finally some very sweet tea at Ibrahim's home (very humbling). It was fantastic - a very long day but the best way to see the real Senegal. It cost probably as much as going through the hotel (about 25 Euros each) but we knew the money was going straight into the pockets of the locals rather than the hotel creaming off a significant amount.

The only things we felt it was important to let people know, as it would have been good to know...

1. The transfer - be prepared for a long journey if you're coming from Dakar airport. It's about 2-3 hrs to Saly where you drop everyone else off for the other hotels and then another 2hr journey in a jeep on very bumpy roads in the middle of nowhere. When you arrive at night, it is knackering but also a little scary if you're not aware this is normal (visions of being on the news - english couple slain!). We met some people who'd travelled from Banjul in Gambia and hadn't been warned about that journey - about 8 hours in a jeep with no air con and no stops unless they badgered the driver who often spoke no english.
2. The language - first place we've been to where the locals don't speak English at all really and our french was better than their english (which is incredible given how bad our french is!). Would definitely recommend taking a french dictionary with you and at least one of you needs to speak some french otherwise it's very tricky. There were a few couples we met who didn't speak any french and there's nothing worse than hearing an english couple speaking loudly and slowing in English "two gin and tonics"! They seemed to get by though.
3. The cost - this is obviously at the top end in terms of holidays but we were hoping the cost of food/drink would be more reflective of the local area. No such luck. About the same as in England. Cocktails about £4-5, bottles of beer about £2 each and bottles of wine from about £15. The biggest complaint was the bottled water. Given they recommend you don't drink the local water, you would hope they'd keep the cost down but these were about £2 for a large bottle and you only got one free bottle in your room on the first day. Even in England, hotels often give you one every day. So not overly impressed about that. But we just drank more cocktails to forget about it!
4. The French! - not the most friendly bunch and quite sniffy.

None of these are huge issues though - the best holiday we've had. Clean, luxurious place. Excellent and very friendly staff. Quiet and serene location with lots of lizards, pelicans, flamingoes and hornbills to see. Not somewhere to bring kids really as no entertainment or activities which suited us down to the ground!

  • Liked — Location, staff, the locals, the rooms, the silence!
  • Disliked — Cost of water and limited choice of food (forgot to say that above - same lunch/dinner menu everyday with one starter/main/dessert special per day)
  • Stayed November 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank MissyLeeds
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 November 2008

Le Royal Lodge is not like the real world. You are pampered from arrival by a superb team. Even the gardeners greet you in a freindly fashion.

I learnt from Phillipe, the owner, that he employs 76 people but you would never know it. The room was cleaned then later made up for the night without us ever being aware of it..Alfa runs his bar effortlessly and the service and freindliness of his team was as good as we've experienced anywhere. Don't expect a top quality internet service. The connection is fragile and almost unusable for complicated Emails. The manager told me this was being addressed. You can use your mobile anytime though.

The rooms themselves are great. Lots of space and comfort and bathrooms you would want in your own house. They don't intrude on each other giving you a feeling of privacy.

We were there for 2 weeks. We saw a couple of clouds and lots of sunshine. The pool is the centre of the hotel and whoever designed it is a genius. On many days there were only half a dozen people present, all busy sleeping, reading or keeping themselves to themselves. A quick swim every hour or so cooled us down and let us feel that we were active. On one occasion the hotel had an invasion of people who had won some sort of competition. They, about 60 of them, took over for about 4 hours. We just moved down to the beach and found plenty of peace.

My wife and I jog. Most mornings at sunrise or evenings as the sun slipped into the Atlantic we would jog miles up and down the beach (if the tide was out) or on the gravel road passing the hotel. This meant we met a lot of the local population as they went to school or walked from village to village. They were, without exception, friendly and polite. The only people who asked for freebies were the very young kids and they would laugh when turned down!

In the hotel you can manage with English but a bit of French will help. Outside the hotel nobody spoke English. If you learn how to say hello in Woloof you will win smiles and respect.

For the whole 2 weeks we chose the dish of the day. Usually straight from the sea and cooked with a definite french flair. The couple of times I chose meat (I think it was lamb) I regretted it! We enjoyed stuffing ourselves at breakfast time and skipping lunch.

The bar is not cheap. We spend pounds on bottled water and had cocktails and wine most nights. The local beer is the perfect companion when watching the sun dive into the sea behind the big boabab on the beach. Prices are similar to a quality restaurant in the UK.

The only formal trip we had was a horse-drawn cart ride through the salt marshes. It was only then that we realised how remote and primitive this part of Africa really is. Extraodinary flat countryside broken up by pines and boabab trees with no hint of habitation. The only time we felt the 'awkward tourist' was on the return to the hotel as we went through the middle of the nearest village - I felt out of place and an intruder.

This holiday is close to being the best we've had, and we've been to a lot of places. However, we do not look for entertainment - there was none, we relax, read and play scrabble with our cocktails. Can't think of a better place to do it.

  • Liked — style and comfort
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed November 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank Alaska506
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
england
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 April 2008

feb 22
We spent 5 perfect nights at the Royal Lodge.
We chose the `hut` with its own swimming pool.
This worked well as there were quite a few children using the other pool. We also swam in the sea. The accommodation was spacious with seating area TV well stocked fridge ,tea/coffee and a large jaccuzi bath, seperate toilet. All extremely well maintained.

We enjoyed all our meals in the restaurant. As we like fish it was good to be able to chose the `catch of the day`. The wines were reasonable with prices 12-18 pounds. You could have just a salad or a sandwich for lunch.Room service was also available.
The owner was present most days and always greeted people at their tables on an evening.

Most of the guests were French. Some of the waiters enjoyed being able to practice their English. We quite enjoyed reviving our basic French conversation skills over a cocktail de la jour.

We wandered the beach, watching them bringing in the fishing nets. We visted a nearby hotel. We befriended one of the local lads DAVID who sold object d`art on the beach. He was extremely pleasant and informative. Not at all like the bumsters we had experienced in the Gambia. The hotel arranged a trip for us into the mangrove swamps. Bewarned it gets very hot and theres no where to get shade.

The journey to and from the Gambia was an experience. As we were accompanied the whole way and travelled in a 4 wheel drive we didnt have any probs. However as I preferred Senegal to the Gambia I would chose to fly directly to DaKar on a future visit

  • Liked — Cleanliness and setting
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed February 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank justquality
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Le Royal Lodge

Property: Hotel Le Royal Lodge
Address: Palmarin Bp 927 | Mbour, Palmarin, Senegal
Region: Senegal > Fatick Region > Palmarin
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Palmarin
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:5 star — Hotel Le Royal Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 28
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Hotel Le Royal Palmarin
Hotel Le Royal Lodge Senegal/Palmarin

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