Just arrived home after a week long stay at the Santa Monica hotel, Calangute.. i have to admit, there are many reviews & mixed opinions on this gin-joint & i have to say, they're all pretty accurate. It is brilliant, it is basic, it is lousy & the staff well we'll come to that later.
This is Goa.
The place itself is located fairly well, you're not far from downtown Calangute nor are you 10 mins from the beach. There is also a money exhange close by as there is a friendly 24 hour bar/cafe, that has no toilet but that's not a problem because after several bevi's -- the owner will give you a ride on his motorbike to another bar that does have a toilet.
My GF described it on the first day as a 'hell hole', by the second day it improved to a 'sh1.t hole' & by the third day she was too relaxed to complain about anything else & decided we were alright in room 101.
Yeh, the shower was hanging off the wall, there was a bucket of stagnant water but the staff got right onto it & fixed it. In the end, the shower was better than the shower at a virgin health club. The dogs do yelp, bark & howl at the moon but i dont believe anyone going to Calangute is not going to booze & so, you will drink yourself to sleep. I never heard the dogs after the first night.
The staff are of mixed motives. They all do well compared to your average Indian. Some are subtle & genuine, there are 1 or 3 who just want the bigger tip. You decide, that is part of the fun.
The whole time, as basic as SM hotel is, you're very safe & free from thieves or chancers.
Never ate in the hotel, that is because Calangute and its neighbouring villages have more restaurants than Soho London. Seriously, the food options & standards are a massive contrast compared to the standard of hotel accomodation.
I never once got an "iffy stomache", but be wise, if there are nothing but goans in the place [cos they can drink the water], best to choose something that you know is pan fried, like the noodle dishes or sizzlers which are SUPERB & for about 80pence, who cares?
Everywhere you go, there are 3 beers -- Kingfisher, Budweiser & Tuborg. Yuck, yuck & yuck. If you're in a tin-can shack that is set off the main drag, that looks like something out of an indie-gangsta-thriller set in lawless Cambodia, then you can buy 'Kings' which is about 40 pence a bottle & is very good. The aforementioned beers are flavourless to my palette. Spirits are abundent. You could literally booze all day & night for about £6.
It's big, it spans many villages & is [depending where you decided to flop] quite the location. There are distasteful areas of the beach & there are areas where the Goans take care of it. The sea itself is unpredictable & dangerous, I waded in it but never swam & i've swam in the Pacific. In remote quiet areas be wary of seasnakes as you wont get long enough to let anyone know you've been bitten & the locals as do the establishment, crack on it's a rarity. Nothing in the 3rd world is documented nor recorded.
Goa is a unique place, some of the seasoned travellers likened it to Bangkok without the sleaze. I personally think we arrived too late, the enigma is mostly over as the main resorts go. It is beginning to reek of Brits on the p1ss & their all day English breakfasts, you could dissapear & forget that aspect quite easily which is one of the redeeming features. .Goa has jungle, desert, beach & mountains. You can trek in the wilderness searching for panthers or you can count the polyester tracksuits worn by the teams of Russian tourists -- it is down to you how you play Goa & that is the adventure!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.