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“Wonderful location and facilities, let down by dining room”
Review of Isalo Rock Lodge

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Isalo Rock Lodge
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Isalo
Certificate of Excellence
London
Level 6 Contributor
139 reviews
69 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 123 helpful votes
“Wonderful location and facilities, let down by dining room”
Reviewed December 27, 2013

This hotel is in stunning surroundings and it's designed to make the most of them. Every room has a great view onto the sandstone massif. The spacious rooms have huge floor-to-ceiling windows and every time we came into the room the view took our breath away. We had a huge bed which was very comfortable. The bathroom was lovely with an enormous Bath With A View - very romantic. The room was 5 star and faultless.
The Spa treatments are great; really recommended. Between us we had a brilliant facial, massage and reflexology (which was actually just a foot massage but a very nice one).
There's a lovely pool and I never saw more than 3 people around it. They've also carved out some steps up to the top of a nearby small hill from which you can get a wonderful panorama at sunset. There's wifi in the reception/bar area. It's not super-speedy but more than I was expecting in the middle of nowhere.
Obviously you're here for the National Park and ideally want a minimum of 3 nights which will give you 2 whole days of walking.
The staff were all helpful, friendly and without attitude. When we asked if we could borrow some sellotape to mend a pair of sunglasses they took them away and returned them glued and fully mended.
They really need to make the main building non-smoking - it's horrid; like central Europe in the 1970s.
What was the real let down was the dining experience. Firstly the piped muzak is ghastly, too loud and intrusive. Every morning at breakfast they played the Out Of Africa soundtrack - super-naff. Then at dinner it was Celine Dion Sings Showtunes - hard to keep one's food down!
The service at breakfast was very slow. A buffet would work far better, especially as many people are eating at 6.30am to get out walking and therefore can't really hang around. You get a basket of fatty pastries, one piece of toast and a teensy fruit salad sitting in orange squash concentrate.
Lunch is fine but there's no choice. It would be great to have a simple bar menu of sandwiches, burgers, salads etc.
For dinner there are 2 options for each course. Portions are quite small. It is hopeless for vegetarians. Even though I'd given them weeks of notice that one of us was a vegetarian we were offered a tiny green salad, a bowl of pasta with olive oil (no veg) or a combo of the side dishes that went with the main courses. I don't mind a 2 star hotel having no idea that vegetarians have taste buds and like protein (not a bean or lentil in the building apparently) and a nutritionally balanced meal but this place sets itself up to be something better. They really need to address this and that is why I've given them and Average rating.

Room Tip: Ask for a room in the 'front row' ie that doesn't have any buildings between the room an...
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  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
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2 Thank KLondonK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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324 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
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Kings Langley, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviewed December 22, 2013

Staff and Manager extremely welcoming.Well designed. Excellent menus, choice and presentation. Staff very attentive without being overbearing. Nothing too much trouble.
Mentioned swimming pool needed sprucing up, dealt with immediately and kept up during our stay.

Room Tip: Ask for one of those with an outlook down to hill toward the natural swimming pool
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Brian H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
Reviewed December 14, 2013

An outstanding hotel, just remembering brings a smile. One of the loveliest places I have stayed in a lifetime of travel. A rare combination of style/taste and practical comfort. Usually either/or. I wish we could have stayed much longer and would love to come again. The specialness really stood out in comparison with the basic nature of our other accomodation on the tour. Don't miss it, Hilary.

Room Tip: Ask for a room in the row nearest reception ( low numbers) for an unbroken view and you can pretend...
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Hilary W
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Simi Valley, California
1 review
Reviewed December 13, 2013

We stayed 2 nights at Isalo Rock Lodge on our trek through Madagascar. Wonderful service. Staff always avaiable and willing to help with any need. Rooms very modern, clean and comfortable. Wonderful views from every room, bar and restaurant.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
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Thank alan s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Monica, United States
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed December 11, 2013

I came to Isalo National Park on business and stayed at this hotel for a whopping 26 nights in a row. So I think I've got a pretty full perspective of what's great about this hotel (and there are many things) and what could use a little work.
FIrst of all, as other reviewers have mentioned, the design is top-notch. The place totally fits into its setting. Blocks of rooms are fanned out to maximize views out the back porch of every room, with huge expansive views to the east and stunning sunrises. Because the rooms only have two small windows facing the searing western sun, plus have attractive poured concrete floors, the rooms stay relatively cool even on the hottest days. The shower and bathroom are striking.
The staff is phenomenal. Incredibly friendly and service-oriented. Everyone smiles and says "Bonjour" no matter if they're a gardener or the concierge. I ate breakfast and dinner there 26 nights in a row, and not only did they never repeat a meal, they only served one mediocre meal the entire time. The chef--trained in French cooking--is a magician. His soups were universally spectacular. Maybe the best I've ever had. At lunch one time, he wasn't expecting any customers when I arrived. In ten minutes he whipped up some grilled tuna in a pepper sauce that I crave to this day. Someone is probably going to try and hire him away soon. The wait staff is tireless and friendly.
The pool is nice (but unheated), and the waterfalls and natural pool at the rear of the property are gorgeous. The views of the rock formations are memorable.
I really, really liked this place. The reason I give it four stars instead of five are the following flaws (that could be fixed):
The mattress was horrible. It was cheap, thin, and you could feel each spring. Other members of my party had the same experience, so I don't think it's an isolated problem. I'm sure the designer of the rooms would be outraged to find that in spite of a really cool design for the beds and headboards, the guest experience is ruined by someone choosing to cut corners and put cheap mattresses in the gorgeous rooms.
The electricity going on and off is a bit of a bear, though it's understandable given the location and remoteness. My only gripe with that is that there are signs saying when the electricity will not be on, and no one consistently follows those hours of keeping it on and off.
The WiFi is a drag. It's like 1997 dial-up speed--when it works. Most people who come here are probably touring, and slow WiFi isn't that big of a deal. But if you're working, it's actually an obstacle. There are other hotels in the area with fast WiFi. Isalo Rock Lodge should invest more in upgrading WiFi.
The workout room had a good rowing machine and stationary bike, but everything else was kind of a joke. There was an off-brand ThighMaster and broken hand weights. Plus, I don't think anyone cleaned it much--it was full of ants and dead moths.
Also, even though the electricity isn't 24/7, they really should put in some ceiling fans in both the rooms and common areas. The hotel is so well-designed to keep out the worst heat of the day that ceiling fans are sometimes all the place would need to keep guests comfortable instead of sweating.
If you are traveling in Madagascar, I'd definitely stay here. I'll be back someday for sure.

Room Tip: The F and C blocks seemed to have the best views
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled on business
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
2 Thank David S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Level 5 Contributor
54 reviews
48 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed December 7, 2013

It seems every room has a great view at this property! The rooms are modern, clean and comfortable. The staff is friendly and the food is great. I think out of the 10 nights there I had one meal I was not pleased with! Not bad. The massage was good too.

Room Tip: All rooms have a great view!
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank ChrisChris79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maun, Botswana
Level 6 Contributor
70 reviews
54 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
Reviewed December 3, 2013

What a nice place, especially after all these basic huts and places in Kirindy, Tsingy and Ranomafana! We stayed three nights at Isalo Rock Lodge, and I loved it. For once, the photos on the hotel’s website resemble reality. We stayed in rooms F02 and F03. The rooms are clustered in long stretched building wings, with lots of distance to the next block. The layout and design fit perfectly into this environment. It’s very modern with concrete floors, walls and even parts of furniture mixed with wood. The rooms are super spacious, all with a large patio with lounge chairs.
The rooms are in excellent condition, with in-room safe, A/C, water kettle, complimentary tea & coffee, minibar and all regular bath amenities including bathrobe. The huge Jacuzzi-style bathtub with open views outside is very inviting, but I had a bad conscience as it requires a lot of water to fill and water is a valuable resource.
The large bed is very comfy, and the mossie net is large as well and fitted like a curtain around it.
The food was tasty all along, and the staff reminded really of a trained service team. Only, the breakfast was a little disappointing. For that price and the size of the hotel I would expect a buffet during main season. But don’t get me wrong, breakfast was still good compared to all the other places.
WIFI is complimentary, but signal is weak and works only in the reception / lounge area. Due to connection issues, it was also not possible to pay with credit card. The only issue to be aware of is that power is only available 6 pm to 11 pm, so you need a torch (which they provide next to the bed) early morning or in the night.
There is a nice pool and even a natural pool a little further away. They also have a “sunset rock” overlooking the hotel. You can climb up there, one the first level you can find some lounge chairs and tables (possibly to book for a romantic dinner or small function), and on level 2 there are some seats from where you can overlook the area and enjoy the sunset. We also tried this for sunrise, but unfortunately, the sun goes up behind the canyon so you miss the magic moment.
The hotel is the perfect base for excursions into Isalo Park. And it’s great to return to such a nice hotel after an exhausting day of hiking in the canyon.
Laundry service also worked well, all items dropped in the morning where delivered in the evening. Prices for laundry and extras were higher than the average place, but again, this was the most luxurious place we stayed at during our 3-week tour. Definitely to recommend and worth the extra dollar.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank ProHospitalityCons
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Isalo Rock Lodge

Property: Isalo Rock Lodge
Address: Route Nationale 7 Lot II ZIE B.P. 04 | Sandstone Mountains, Isalo, Madagascar
Phone Number:
Location: Madagascar > Toliara Province > Isalo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Isalo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Isalo Rock Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 60
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