This is actually two hotels in one complex, and they seem to do a lot of convention and meeting business (I wasn't there for that, although there was something going on when I was there.) The Ngor is this very Soviet-looking 10-story tower (although there are just 5 floors, there is a floor between each residential floor so the 4th floor is the 8th story of the building), and the Diarama is a 3-story motel type of building. I was in the former.
I'm really very laid back and have pretty low standards, having lived in the third world and in west Africa for a long time, and working there as I do. So I'm not going to freak out about bugs in the room or rate a "four star" hotel in Accra the way I would the Willard Intercontinental in DC. However, I was very disappointed in this hotel, especially since I got the chance to see others in Dakar.
First of all, this hotel is not IN Dakar. It says it is, but when we needed to get into downtown every morning for meetings, and come home at the end of the day, it took us over an hour and sometimes two hours, each time, each way. This became not only annoying, but excruciating by the end of the week. Also, there is nothing walkable in the neighborhood, so there is little for convenience stores (nothing in hotel although they are all over the streets once closer to Dakar) or eating stands on the side of the road or cafes or restaurants. It's all residential. Taxi from there to the Hotel Sokhamon (by the US Embassy and the traffic circle, Hotel Sokhamon is fantastic and has a great restaurant by the way!), was 5000 CFA after much arguing. There is a restaurant on-site and it was okay, I would suggest the pizza. I ordered the yassa poulet once and it not only took two hours while everyone else's food came (which again, it being Africa I am not shocked), but when mine came it was completely raw and I had to send it back. Twice.
Back to the hotel. The views are nice, by the way. We had electricity almost the whole time. However, the only place with air conditioning in the lobby level was in the really smoky bar. There was Wifi access, but intermittent and you had to be in this one corner of the lobby to access it, very weak signal, so people were fighting over the chairs and sofa there. When we arrived, my colleague's AC didn't work at all and she spent the first half day sweltering in her room before they moved her. As for me, I didn't have any cold water in my room. The hot was too hot to shower with. When I contacted them about this they said they would look into it and it became this terrible comic charade because I'd leave every morning and they would say they would fix it, and then come back and they would say it had been fixed then I would go up to the room and check, and come back down and tell them it wasn't, and then they would tell me "tomorrow". And I would have to walk to the other end of the hallway to shower in a colleague's room. Every night. And yes, I do speak French and spoke French to them exclusively. The one time I did finally shock them into action was when I began to yell at them and tell them to just give me a bucket, and I will fill it from the sink and use cold bucket water just like a person in the village, then they began to hustle. However, it didn't help the situation until literally the last evening. Which then had other issues (see below).
I also learned about 2 days into it, that I was supposed to have a fridge in the room, so I told them I wanted a fridge. They bantered with me and told me there was one, so I had to bring them up and show them there was none. Then the next day I got one but it didn't work, so the day after that it finally came. This by itself I wouldn't have an issue with, as I was living fine drinking warm water, but in light of the rest... Oh by the way - the water - there was no bottled water. I and some others used the tap water and were fine. But just so travelers know....
Back to the shower situation. This really bonded me with the front office staff and they all hugged me when I checked out. Finally, on the last day it was fixed. We had a 2:00 am flight out, and so we were going to go up at 10, shower, finish packing, and go. Well... at about 6 or 7, the electricity went out completely. They kept telling us it would come back on within the hour but I didn't think so and it became obvious it wouldn't come back on that night. So we climbed all 8 flights of stairs (which was excruciating, these are tall ceilings and long flights!) in the hot and sticky... and dark. I opened my door and wondow to get the cross-breeze although it was admitteldy not smart in a dark hotel with strangers etc., but I was desperate! I also went in the loo and took as best a shower as I could - remember the cold was blessedly, finally working - and as I was showering I noticed that it was getting weaker... yup, the pump ran on electricity so when the tank was empty that was it. None of my colleagues got to shower. One of them had a minimaglite so at least we could make sure we weren't leaving anything behind...
To add insult to injury... we got charged an extra day!!! When we were checking out I noticed this and they argued that since we got there at 7 in the morning and their checkin time was at 2, that we had to pay for the preceeding night. I argued with them over and over - they should have told us, they should have said the rooms weren't ready - you know, what normally happens in a hotel. (This has never happened to me before.) The date of entry was clear, but they decided to charge us for the day/night before anyhow. Frankly they could do whatever they wanted to because we didn't even see the charges on our credit card statements until a month later.
Any good things? Yes, there were. Wifi was unexpected and nice when it worked. The pizza was pretty good and the breakfast was free, the coffee was pretty good and the fruit was too. The pool was not bad, we got to hang out and swim in it once. Nice views. Nice staff, although my non-French speaking traveler companions didn't feel quite as much love as I did (the staff's English wasn't so good). The bar was nice, and if you got there early or were a smoker, it was a good place to hang out awhile. The rooms were really, really big with nice spaces. They had TVs but I didn't use mine so I don't know what there were for channels.
Dakar is one of my favorite cities. However, if you are wanting to visit the city, I would suggest elsewhere.
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