After having spent over a year staying in budget hotels in Africa, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice this hotel was. I stayed in the Annex down the street from the main hotel. My room was clean and comfortable, and everything was in good shape. I did have a problem with the toilet, but they called a plumber and had the problem fixed within a couple of hours. The staff were always very pleasant and helpful. The food at the restaurant is really good, albeit expensive. The garden is quiet and relaxing (although there's a problem with this; see below), and the swimming pool is nice as well (although there are no chairs to sit in next to the pool, which is kind of silly). Nice as the hotel was, I think the price (I paid 26,500 CFA francs a night, which is almost sixty US dollars) was a little high -- it's very nice, but not sixty dollars nice.
There are problems about this place, though.
First of all: the hotel has an on-site travel agency, which charges pretty high prices, and the hotel will put a lot of pressure on you to book tours through them. I arrived in Bamako after a twenty-one-hour bus ride from Ouaga, and the hotel clerk INSISTED on calling a tour guide to come and talk to me while I was trying to eat my dinner, even though I told him I'd just spent 21 hours on a bus, was completely exhausted, and wanted nothing more than to eat some food and then go to bed. He was so worried that I might slip through his fingers, so to speak, that he insisted I talk to HIS tour guide RIGHT THEN AND THERE, so they could get to work on me immediately, even though I'd promised I would talk to his tour guide in the morning. I thought this was really sleazy, not to mention pushy as hell, and it smacked of near-desperation. Not very attractive.
Second: They only have one person on duty in the evenings, so that one person has to handle the front desk and the restaurant, all by him/herself. They do their best, and I'm not blaming them, but of course the service is very bad, as there's only one person trying to do the work of three people. When you're charging sixty dollars a night per room, you can afford to hire a waiter for your restaurant! The food is fantastic, but you have to wait forever for it, and you have to go inside to order it. Sorry, but I think this is silly.
Third: in addition to the on-site tour agency which the hotel will constantly hound you to avail yourself of, the hotel ALSO not only allows, but actively encourages, the presence of various touts and hustlers on the premises. Thus, you will not get much chance to enjoy any peace and quiet in the attractive garden, as you will be constantly approached by people who want to sell you things, take you on city tours or taxi trips, show you their "artwork," etc. Thus, you not only have to deal with this constant hustling outside on the street, but you have to deal with it at your hotel as well. I think this is ridiculous, and I think the hotel is making a big mistake by encouraging this behavior.
Overall, I think this hotel's heart is in the right place. The people are nice, and the rooms certainly are very nice and comfortable. But the high-pressure tour-booking pitches, the inadequate staffing levels, and the presence of third-party touts and hustlers on the grounds... these are all real problems which detract from the guest's experience, and Hotel Tamana would be well-advised to think about addressing these things in the future. If this were some ten-dollar-a-night flophouse, I'd expect these kind of problems, but I did not expect them at such a nice hotel.
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