Kombo Beach Hotel, Banjul
Reviews - Kombo Beach Hotel
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Historical Traveller Reviews of Kombo Beach Hotel
very goodfrom A TripAdvisor Member
We started taking our malaria tablets two days before departing (we were perscribed malarone) Please make sure that you do take the tablets - we saw a lot of notices in the Gambia aimed at tourists reminding them to take their medication and the illness seems to be on the increase.
We flew with Monarch - no problems - only an hour or so delay due to the French air traffic controllers strike. We arrived at Banul airport, the arrivals hall is quite chaotic but luckily our luggage was one of the first to come onto the (only) luggage carosal! A porter helped us with the case and transported them to the coach that we were directed to by The Gambia Experience rep. That is when the 'tipping' starts! They expect one pound per case or 50 dalasai. We were given a bottle of water and a fan. We then travelled to Kombo Beach to the sounds of Steve (the Kombo Beach on site rep) telling us a bit about the country and the do's and don'ts. It is all very informative. On arrival we were given a cold towel and our room pack. Cases are brought slightly later to the rooms by porters.
We walked to our room which was basic but clean, it was on the first floor and it was a standard room. We had a lovely view of the sea. It had air conditioning, a double bed, ensuite bathroom with bath and shower, a small seating area and balcony. There is no fridge in the standard rooms so we hired one for about 10 pounds for the week. The shower worked well and we always had hot water. We had a few power cuts, but these literally lasted for a couple of minutes and were usually late at night.
The pool area was lovely, and you could always get a sunbed, although if you want the same spot, it is best to put your towels on before you go to breakfast and get a mattress if you don't fancy laying on just a towel (they are just over a pound for two)
On the first morning we woke up to cloudy skies! We spoke to one lady who said that they had never seen a cloud in the two weeks they had been there! Luckily however it was due to an eclipse that had occurred and by lunchtime it was blue skies and no cloud for the remaining seven days. A word of advice, we went for a walk on the beach when it was cloudy and wore no suncream, we got burnt and this was the only day we did, so remember always wear sun cream! The rep's meeting was useful and informative.
As l said we went for a walk on the beach on our first day, we got mobbed by everyone! Fruit sellers, watch sellers, boys wanting to take us here, there and everywhere! (they are better known as bumsters) We had a read a few reviews on the area before we travelled so we knew what to expect. We were friendly and chatted to them and had no problems at all. You either can chat to the boys/girls, they like to find out about England and they like you to ask about their family or if you don't want to chat they do understand a firm 'no' and will leave you alone. Kombo Beach also employs 'security' around their beach area, so if you decide to sunbathe on the beach, the sellers do not come up to the sunbed area.
Meals and drinks were not as cheap as were lead to believe, although obviously alot cheaper than England. An average three course meal with a couple of drinks each came to about 10 pounds per person. The 'Julbrew' beer (Gambia's own) was 55 dalasai in the hotel - just over a pound, a bottle in the supermarket was about 40 pence. We ate out every evening apart from one, the hotel meal was nice but more expensive. I was glad that we went bed and breakfast rather than half board as we had a choice every night. We ate in Ali Baba's (a minute's walk from the hotel) the indian, Captains table. All were good meals. Other guests we spoke to went further afield, in taxi's to other places to restaurants and they had all good things to say. We decided to stay in the Kotu area.
Again, you will get mobbed as soon as you leave the hotel, but we quite enjoyed talklng to the boys. Although you will get the 'my sister needs baby milk and baby oil, can you give me the money for them' and other stories. All these boys are quite well dressed and probably make the most money in Gambia - from tourists! We got friendly with a couple and if you given them 50 dalasai they will look after you for the evening and no-one hassles you.
We spent an enjoyable evening in a local bar, with a drum band playing, the beer was cheap, the Gambian people were very friendly.
We went on an organised trip to a compound, (which is where the majority of Gambians live)it is a hut with sleeping/living quarters and lots of children! All of whom wanted sweets! We also went to visit a school, all of the children wanted money! We did give some pens/excercise books and a donation to the school, but afterwards thought that we would never know whether or not the children would benefit from it. We heard stories that the staff take all the stationary etc. On the same trip we had lunch on one of the destered southern beaches which was lovely.
We spent most of our time relaxing and sunbathing by the pool and had a most enjoyable time. We also had a couple of massages in the hotel.
When you are leaving, if you do have left over shampoo etc, either leave it for the room boy/girl or if you befriend one of the bumsters or whatever you call them, they also appreciate anything you have.
We had a great time in The Gambia, it was well organised, the weather was beautiful (in the thirties all week) the people are great, the staff in the hotel are lovely, and we would definitely go again. Although next time we would explore more of the country. We went to The Maldives in October and although the scenery etc was more beautiful, we actually had a more enjoyable time in The Gambia.
A fantastic place to stayfrom ChrisWorcs
As everyone else says, the breakfast could not be faulted. There was so much choice that you start the holiday trying to eat everything and gradually you end up knowing you just cannot eat anymore! There was so much fresh fruit, cereals and freshly baked bread, pastries, pancakes and eggs any which way you choose. The bacon can probably best be likened to pork scratchings but if you have good teeth it was very tasty!
We ate the first night in the hotel which although was very good, was overpriced so thereafter decided to try the local restaurants. They were all extremely good but beware of the Captains Table as this was just another hotel where the food was overpriced and the atmosphere less friendly. When you walk outside the Hotel gate you will be approached by many young lads trying to get you to go to 'such and such' restaurant. My advice would be to decide where you are going first and then just tell them. They will escort you there and be paid a very small commission by the restaurant owners for taking you. This is probably their only form of income.
Try Destinys (especially if it is windy) which is inside and Alibabas and Sailors Bar where the menus are extensive. For something very basic and cheap try Boss Lady where you can get excellent Gambian dishes for about £3. All food is cooked fresh.
Instead of paying over a pound a day for the beds on the beach outside the hotel try turning left and walking down the beach to John Raymonds bar. It is just over the creek and passed the Palm Beach Hotel and next to Kunta Kinte Restaurant. The sunbeds are free and the drinks half the price of the hotel. There you will be given such a warm welcome and you will never be pressed into buying lots of drink but will probably do so as it is so cheap and you also know that you are providing the locals with a living rather than lining the pockets of the tour companies.
Again, go outside the hotel. There you will find the local Tourist Guides (in fact they will find you) The trips with them are slighly cheaper than the tour companies but you actually get a lot more for your money. For one thing you will have your own personal guide who takes very good care of you and you will also be shown the 'real' Gambia and not just pay for a fancy boat ride that you can get anywhere. You will find that they will form a close relationship with you and be treated very kindly. Obviously if you get roped into the Welcome Meeting then you will probably be told all sorts of stories why you should book with them and not the locals - don't believe a word. We were also told that when you go to the Welcome meeting they take your tickets from you so that you can have your return seats booked so you don't get split - don't worry we did not and we still sat where we wanted and together. We went on the James Island (Roots) tour and the 4 x 4 tour - both were very good value for money as they are for a whole day.
You may find also that you will strike up a friendship with your guide. Ours (Moustapha) took us to his home to meet his Mum who cooked us a very tasty meal (as he described it - the best Benichin in The Gambia) The hospitality was very friendly and it gave us a real insight into the Gambian lifestyle.
Finally, do not take too much notice of any complaints generally about the hotel or The Gambia itself. You must remember you are in a 3rd World country and standards are not the same as in Europe. However any power cuts were for literally seconds, any problems rectified straight away and the bumsters and taxi drivers etc. although they will all try to sell you their services will take 'No' for an answer. You don't have to be rude - just firm. They will then go away and wish you a good day or evening etc. Remember that is the only way some people have of making a living.
Great breakfast!from A TripAdvisor Member
Kombo was Excellentfrom jonsjunk
We were expecting the bare minimum from a hotel in Gambia as this was our first visit to the country. The hotel facilities surprised and delighted us and our tour operators GAMBIA EXPERIENCE were also very good and made us feel personally welcome.
We had a suite plus a standard room which were quite basic but clean and functional. The suite has a double bed plus sofa pull out. The standard room had 3 single beds. There are 4 blocks of rooms in separate buildings but all are near the beach but block 300 and 400 are further from the lobby and pool areas.
The restaurants and bars were excellent with 3 different locations with a good selection of meals/snacks and drinks. We did not use the a la carte resturant as it appeared expensive. Breakfast was very good with hot and cold buffet plus delicious omelettes and pancakes cooked to order.
The pool met with our children and our approval and was well kept and about the right size. There were always sun beds available even though the hotel seemed to be quite full. The pool staff were so friendly and could not do enough.
What really made the hotel special was the activities that were going on during the day and evening, such as boules, darts, aerobics, skittles, table football. All these were organised by the 'animations team' with great enthusiasm. In the evening 2 or 3 different bands or dancers would be at the pool side providing entertainment. This was very good and we always managed to get a seat after coming back from local outside restaurants.
Just out of the hotels entrance there are about 6-8 choices of bars and restaurants with Gambian, Indian, burgers and snacks on offer. These are literally less that 5 minutes walk and there is also a craft market and taxi stand in this area. A walk along the beach also allows access to some other restaurants, and a night club Destiny’s (very quiet when we went).
The bumsters outside the hotel are a pain but they soon get the idea if you are firm and never show any interest. Just say you have been to Gambia before and have friends here.
We took several trips out into the villages and schools which we organised simply by talking to other guests and befriending a local waiter at a restaurant who took to day off to take us out. Just be friendly and streetwise in weighing the person up as 99% are perfectly genuine.
This part of Gambia really impressed us and definitely tops places like Tenerife and Espana ! It’s more select and cultural and well worth the extra few hours flight.
Much better value too than the Euro, even in the hotel bar and even more so outside.
So many of the people we spoke to were repeat guests to Gambia and the Kombo.
Book now before it gets too popular and prices go up. We may see you there next year ; -)
Brilliant Hotel and fab holidayfrom A TripAdvisor Member
excellent place to stayfrom tiggerteam
Booking with the Gambia Experience you get the better rooms as they own the hotel.
The beach is fantastic, especially when the tide is out you can just walk for miles, it's quite safe to do so.
Trips are good value for money. The 4x4 is a good day out, as is the lazy day cruise along the creeks.
We've already booked to go again next year and can't wait
Fantastic Placefrom HolExp
Kombo beach is a fantastic hotel, with some very friendly people. Most nights we ate out, but did spend a couple of nights in the hotel, the food is fantastic, and it's really worth trying the local dishes!
The hotel is clean, rooms are basic, but what do you need?? you dont spend hardly any time there as the weather is superb and the excursion are fab. We booked our excursions with Abraham, he's a brill guy and really knows his stuff, he is always in the hotel day and night, but i would def recommend him!!
Dont worry about the bumsters, they are only trying to make a living, have a laugh with them and relax, everyone is soooo friendly. I highly recommend The Gambia...
The Kombo Beach was excellent and was run like a swiss watch. It was spotlessly clean and the staff were very accommodating and friendly. The hotel laid on entertainment throughout the day and night which was great. The evening entertainment was the best we've seen of the many hotels we have visited over the years. There were three acts on each night such as bands, african dancers and the like. Some of these took your breath away they were that good.
We stayed in a standard room which was quite basic but it was cleaned every day and everything worked, apart from the odd power cut which lasted seconds and cool water once or twice (this is Africa after all!) We were in the block furthest away from the main building and the only noise we heard at night was the sound of the sea.
We were on a bed and breakfast basic. The breakfasts were very good with plenty of variety including cereals, fruit juice, fruit, pancakes, eggs of our choice, sausages, bacon, croissants, fresh bread etc. We tended to eat outside the hotel at night as there were several restaurants within a few minutes walk, however we did get pestered walking to them (a point we will cover in more detail later). Our favourite place to eat was Ali Baba's Harmattan which is run by an English couple. The food was excellent with a comprehensive wine list and live music each night. An average main meal would cost around £6, a beer £1. The Indian next door called the Taste of India was also very good, particularly the buffet night on a Tuesday. Just to mention that there are several restaurants available in the hotel and speaking to guests who had dined there they rated them very favourably.
BEACH AND POOL:
The beach was lovely and not too crowded. There were sunbeds available and most guests hired a mattress each day which cost around 30p. One note of caution the sea could get a large swell rolling in at times so use common sense. The pool could get quite busy with some beds claimed before breakfast! It was very clean and a nice place to be.
We went on one trip with a local Gambian called Abraham who was recommended to us by other guests in the hotel. This was one of the best parts of our stay. He took us on a trip never to be forgotten off the tourist trail around the real Gambia. You do not need to contact him. He will find you as he in and around the hotel most days and nights.
The first few days of our stay were a bit cloudy but after that it was blue all the way. It is a very strong sun so take care.
Now onto the only downside of going to the Gambia. These are people trying to make a living out of tourists anyway they can, and they are an absolute pain on the beach, but especially outside the hotel. You have to be strong with them and just say no. They do tend to leave you alone on the beach once you have a bit of colour. But do not let this put you off the Gambia as you do get used to it and most people are lovely.
TO SUM UP:
This is a great place to visit and a very good hotel. Most of the guests had stayed there on several occasions so this speaks for itself. Would we go back? DEFINITELY!
Good Holidayfrom A TripAdvisor Member
The room was not consistent with expectations of a four star hotel suite - we only had hot water on the odd occassion, the loo often wouldn't flush, the tv frequently defaultd to 2 channels and the electricity not working was a regular occurance! That said the rooms were big, bright and airy. The rooms were very clean and had fab ocean views.
If you play tennis you need to be aware that the courts are very basic. We had to use wire to pull the nets up. There is a young tennis coach there who is the Gambia number 2! Very nice and will hit balls with you for a few dalassi.
The food at the hotel was actually really good. If you're on a half board basis skip the buffet and go a la carte or brasserie. You only have to pay a few dalassi extra to do this, even at the posh ala carte restaurant. As a fussy veggie eater I was more than happy with the quality and range of foods and wine on offer.
The locals bumsters are very forceful to the point where you wonder if it's worth ever leaving the hotel. We found some of the hotel staff were very pushy in asking you to go and visit their compounds too.
At the end of the day you are in a 3rd world country and most of the local people you meet are desperately poor. The hotel is in a great location and food and drink are great. Pool area also very nice. Only advice would be if you can afford it pay for an upgrade of a suite as it would appear that there are often issues with the aircon!
An Absolute Gemfrom LondonTanya
Before I give my review on the hotel I must just say a few words about the Gambia Tourist Support (http://www.gambiatouristsupport.com/). This is a charity founded by Frances, a Brit who visited Gambia on holiday and who now lives out there part time. The aim of the charity is to raise funds and support various education initiatives in the Gambia. The GTS offers a free airport pickup for all of its members - this means that you get to avoid the 1 hour + round trip from the airport with the hundred or so other travellers from London and can be relaxing on the beach with a cocktail while everyone else is still en route. The GTS also organises excursions to all the local attractions that the tour operators visit - e.g. Abuka Lodge, James Island (Roots Tour). We organised all of our excursions through the GTS and had a fabulous time. You will inevitably end up travelling in a much smaller group (in our case, me and my friend) and get to experience the real Gambia (e.g. travelling on local ferries, taxis etc). I was only happy that the money we paid for the trip is helping to educate children in the Gambia rather than lining the pockets of the tour operators. Also, I cannot emphasize enough how kind Frances, Kaps, and Yanks (who all work for GTS) were while my friend and I visited. They cooked dinner for us, took us for drinks in Kololi, drove us back to airport and basically made sure we had a fantastic holiday. SO, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE SUPPORT THIS CHARITY!!! WELL WORTH THE £13 JOINING FEE.
Anyway.. back to the Kombo Beach.. I would urge all readers to ignore the previous negative comments made.. they are simply untrue (and no, I am not being paid by the hotel to say this!). Anyone visiting Gambia should obviously realise that this is a developing country and you should expect that you may not have hot water all the time and that the electricity is likely to go off at times (although the hotel's back up generators kick in within 30 seconds or so). I can only think that the travellers who gave the Kombo one star had an unfortunate, yet isolated experience. My friend and I found all the staff at the hotel extremely friendly and more than willing to do anything to ensure that our stay was pleasurable...
The hotel is located in Kotu, the second most popular tourist area in Gambia. If sitting around on the beach and basically being totally unadventorous by not venturing outside of the hotel is your idea of a perfect holiday (and I would urge travellers NOT to do this.. there is so much to see) then Kombo Beach is perfectly placed... for those of you who would prefer to be more centrally placed and able to visit a variety of shops, bars, and restaurants outside the hotel then the hotels in Kololi are probably better suited, although slightly more expensive.
The Kombo Beach has a 3.5* rating - I think that it probably deserves a 4* rating. The rooms are a little on the dated side but are reasonably sized with a small sofa area and huge balcony. The cleaning staff are fantastic - our rooms were spotless each day. The food at the hotel has its ups and downs. The fresh pancakes, copious tropical fruits and "eggs as you like them" station at breakfast is fantastic... the restaurants served decent, if a little overpriced food. Service in some of the restaurants also left a lot to be desired - no haste no speed seems to be the order of the day. The beach and facilities are great! The waiter service on the beach is very convenient. Entertainment at the Kombo Beach was a bit of a let-down... I had brougt a portable DVD player with me which was a life saver - but then this did encourage us to escape in the evenings and explore.
All in all, the Kombo Beach is a fantastic gem of a hotel - we paid £375 for a week (inlcuding flights and a superior room) which was an absolute bargain. I would recommend this hotel to anybody visitng the Gambia.
Top Local Tips for Banjul
Beware!! Don't let a porter get your cases, go to the coach your self ask driver which side for your hotel. Don't expect any hotel to be of the star quality quoted.
Can't get a sunbed on the beach? We found that towels were already placed on sunbeds early in the morning, no matter what time we arrived (really irritating). After a couple of days we realised that it you befriend a security guard, you can give them your beach towels at the end of the day and they will put them out ready on sunbeds for you early the next day! Not what we would normally do but, as they say, "When in Rome ..."!
Eating out Take a taxi to Senagambia, where you will have plenty of restuarants. Taxis approx £6 but that is return and taxis just park up and wait for you for the price of a Fanta Orange.
Other names for Kombo Beach Hotel
- kombo beach hotel
- kombo beach banjul
- hotel kombo beach
- Address: Kombo, St Mary Division, Fajara - Banjul - Gambia
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