Having read certain reviews, I was a little worried after my family (myself a late teen, my brother early twenties and our parents) had booked to stay here a week in Easter. However, I was thoroughly surprised, and am happy to say this is a lovely, pretty, friendly hotel. So here's the hotel from a teen's perspective.
The rooms were actually very nice. If you're a clean-freak however, beware- the floors are quite dirty and we had to wear shoes all the time inside (not that big an issue). Despite this, our superior deluxe, being on the corner of a block, got a lot of light and was spacious and well furnished. The normal deluxe was also lovely. The bathrooms, although frankly not five star, were big with a separate shower and relatively clean. The balcony is the best bit- huge and attracts quite a bit of wildlife (from monkeys to peacocks, which visited daily- don't leave anything out there!).
The grounds themselves are beautiful. The hotel has put a lot of effort into keeping everything watered and luscious green. There are hammocks dotted around which are nice to relax in when you're busy (or in my case take a revision book to, for my summer modules!). The downside for me was the pool. It's clean and the little bridge is cute, but it is very open and not exceptionally attractive.
The beach, as other reviews mention, is suffering terribly from erosion. However, this has aided the hotel into creating a higher level bit, just for the hotel guests. Although the local people are friendly, especially being a girl, walking down the beach without being pestered is impossible. Even if you sit on a seat too near the edge, there is no escape. Don't get me wrong, the fact that the poor locals are having to essentially beg for money is largely down to the government and hotel owner's fault, but after a while it does wear you down. It's advisable to try not to get engaged and say 'no thank you', whenever approached. If you say you will look tomorrow, trust me, they will never forget and they will find you the following day.
The breakfast is had on a large hotel balcony and it really is a lovely setting, opposite a big bird feeding table. The pancakes are delicious and it's quite a good selection. Don't get your hopes up about the afternoon tea, it is rather basic. We never ate dinner in the hotel as there is no need. Don't be afraid to walk down the street a bit to the nearby restaurants. I've never been so surprised in my life- the value is astounding and I really don't think you could get food as good in most places in the UK! Scala Restaurant, The kora and Tao were all great, but Love 2 is a must. We went twice, ordering the pork both time- the atmosphere, food, setting and staff were all fantatstic. Must say, however, we went to jojos, and despite all the raving, it was terrible. The staff were horrible, the food took hours, then when we got it, it was the wrong order and our complaints were handled without much care. Don't feel it necessary to try this one.
Advice on what to do to see more of the Gambia- The roots trip really is a must. I would advise booking this particular one through your tour operator, as if you take one of the local tours, the boats are rarely legally authorised and the quality is apparently not as good. Do bring suncream- I burn like anything, and forgot, and boy I suffered for it.
We did take one trip with the 'local guides' and would suggest others do the same. It is far cheaper than through the big tour operators and gives more money to the locals, rather than the fat cats at home. They plan it round what you chose to do and you make your own itinerary- make sure you haggle the price though. We visited lamin lodge and travelled through some of the local villages in a 4x4- not for the faint of heart, as the cars have seen better days, but it was so much fun, as they're open topped and if you wish you can stand etc. Definitely see Lamin Lodge- they take you in a little boat round the mangroves. A fantastic experience.
Arrange a taxi from the hotel to Abuku reserve. The guides there are great and you see so much (crocodiles, birds, even deer). Prepare for a bit of a walk however- definitely better to go early morning.
Overall, our holiday in the Gambia was amazing and the Karaiba far surpassed our expectations. Just some final hints- go to the next-door Senegambian, to see the vulture feeding at 11:30- very entertaining. The nearby monkey park is a great little time-filler and the monkeys and their babies are adorable. Not a five star hotel, but certainly the place to stay for the gambia.
We spoke to a couple who stayed in a standard room and said they were really bad- it's a good id...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.