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“Great hotel, good area, wonderful time”
Review of Bakotu Hotel

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Bakotu Hotel
Ranked #2 of 6 Hotels in Kotu
Certificate of Excellence
Brighton
Level Contributor
42 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“Great hotel, good area, wonderful time”
Reviewed March 9, 2012

We just spent two weeks at the Bakotu Hotel and had a wonderful time. The hotel is relatively small compared to some of the giants down at Senegambia and all the nicer for it. The gardens are shady and attract birds, reptiles, frogs, monkeys and insects (though between us we only got 3 mosquito bites and one of those was on the plane home) and back onto the golf course which is also a good place to see birds in the mornings. There's a gate at the back of the gardens where you can reach a little walk through the mangroves and get down onto the creek bed and walk to Kotu Bridge (where you'll find the bird guides) or onto the golf course.The pool area is nice and the sunbeds now have pads to put on them so are perfectly comfortable. It's cooler on the beach though where there is more of a breeze. The rooms are nicely funished with decent bathrooms (better than I've had in Europe before) and kept very clean. We rented a fan which was nice on the occasions the room got a little stuffy and helps discourage mosquitoes. Airconditioning is available in only some of the rooms but we didn't need it in the slightest (daytime temperatures high thirties) as the evenings and mornings are pleasantly cool. All the hotel staff are very good, friendly and helpful.

The beach at Kotu is probably the nicest and cleanest in the area as it has been restored well with sand. We walked along the coast to Senegambia and the beach up there is on two levels where part of it has been banked up.The sea is fine for swimming and body boarding as there are quite a few waves.

The food at the hotel bar (Baobab) and Captain's Table is very good and not really expensive unless you're planning on drinking a lot of wine. Boss Lady's does good Gambian food at good prices too. Domino's beach bar is great and again does good African food as well as snacks. We also heard good things about the Paradise Beach bar along towards Fajara but never went.

BREAKFAST. It's fine. Calm down everybody! The tea/coffee is sometimes good and sometimes not depending on when it's been made, but the bread rolls are fresh, there's variety of fruit/cheese/ham/eggs etc to choose from and the omlettes are good. The service at breakfast is sometimes a little erratic though this is mainly due to the Basil Fawlty of Breakfast; a guy who would work himself up into a frantic panic each morning to the exasperation of the other staff :) It was never annoying though. You're on holiday, do you have a meeting to get to? Relax.

You can walk to Fajara along a path you'll find in the golf course or up some steps from the beach just past the craft market. We had a nice evening at Fransisco's bar there. We also went to Senegambia a few times in the evenings. Incidentally you'll get a better money exchange rate there. Don't change your money in the UK before you go (or perhaps just a little) but do change some once you arrive in the airport so you can tip people. Having a tipping wallet of small notes is a good idea. People away from the airport don't really want sterling in coins as they can't change it easily.

Senegambia is a lot more touristy than Kotu and especially Fajara. I get the impression some people barely leave the massive hotels there. I would recommend the food at Jojo's and Green Mamba and the mezze at Al Basha is tasty and good value.
If you are birdwatching it's worth going to the gardens of the large hotels in Senegambia, we had some good spots there. It's quite easy to get nice views of a lot of birds as they aren't very shy of people for the most part. Also you can see vulture feeding in the Senegambia Beach Hotel which is worth a look.

Abuko park is a great morning trip and we also saw a lot of birds at Brufut though this is probably a trip for keener birders. George the bird guide who is allowed in the hotel is a nice man but he gets a lot of business from people reading this site and in the hotel. Why not head down to the bridge and meet someone else just as experienced if he's busy? We used Dowda Barry (there are two Dowda Barrys and both are knowledgable) after meeting him at the creek. We also met another nice guide named Cantona. In total we saw 129 species and I am not a particularly experienced bird watcher. The walk around the creek, rice fields, sewage works etc is definitely worth doing. This costs around £10 while a half day trip costs around £30 per head. If you want to go birding at Lamin Lodge it would be better to go on a seperate early morning trip there as later in the day you wont see as much.

We did a trip to Senegal and also a day where we ticked off a lot the "must do" places: Crocodile Pool (and the museum!), Monkeys in Bandia Nature reserve, Paradise Beach, Lamin Lodge and Tanje fish market. We went with "DJ Ratty". He, like George, is allowed into the hotel to sell his services. He is pretty good, cheaper than the tour operators and Arch tours, and I think because he is experienced and does quite well out of his arrangement with the hotel he is good at what he does. You can try and negotiate your own price with him ;) We also met his friend "DJ Mo" who hangs out at Domino's and is hilarious. It's nice to go with a small number of people to these places and the trips were really fun. As someone mentioned before local people will take you to the local Lamin Lodge rather than the German owned restaurant. Worth mentioning you'll be encouraged to donate to the local school here too. If you just want to go to somewhere local like the crocodile pool or to Senegambia it is probably better to just get a taxi.

The green tourist taxis will try to agree a return journey but you can get a single if you argue enough. If you stick with one driver they may give you a discount rate or you can haggle each time. You can get much cheaper yellow taxis if you walk out of the resort (yellow cars are not allowed in to tout for business but they can go into resort areas etc to drop you off despite what green taxi drivers will try and tell you). The yellow taxis are in worse repair, probably wont have seat belts and one we got was driven by a man drunk on palm wine at lunch time. Just saying.

You do get a bit of hassle once you leave the hotel especially on arrival; everyone knows which days people arrive on. It is never threatening and generally good natured though can be a bit tiresome on occasion.I did notice that some "unaccompanied" girls were getting really quite fed up with the constant attention and I think I would have been too had I not been with my partner. You'll probably see some sex tourism. A bit depressing/creepy and Fanta seems to be involved in these relationships somehow. Perhaps a sponsorship deal?
Once you have a taxi driver/fruit lady/guide etc just drop their name and problem solved. All sunbeds are free where ever you go along the beach in the hope you'll buy drinks etc. We often sat at Domino's as you wont get hassled from passers by and they had all the juice/fruit/beer/bodyboards we could want!

We had no trouble with illness at all. The fruit on the beach and the fresh juice there is perfectly fine in case you're worried. I don't think we ate anything bad at all, the Gambian food and seafood is obviously better than the international stuff.

All in all it's a fantastic location in a great country with lots to do in between relaxing on the beach etc. As soon as you leave the resort you'll see a lot of real Africa and meet a lot of people. Enjoy.

Room Tip: Rooms at the back of the hotel are quieter and more secluded. They are close to the golf course (goo...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank ciderlemur
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Bristol
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed March 9, 2012

We travelled here for two weeks in February as a group of four girls; and we loved the Bakotu Hotel. It's clean, there's no cheesy 'hotel entertainment' and most of the staff can't do enough for you. As other people say, breakfast is very basic, but also very amusing once you're prepared to wait for your food a little while...literally comedy...if you want baked beans (we had cravings!) head to the shop over the road buy a tin and ask them to heat them for you, no extra charge and they were happy to do so as they had none in house (ever!). As people have said we found that some of the girls serving at the bar or breakfast could be a bit dismissive....but then maybe being younger and on a budget we weren't tipping as much as everyone else so.....! We had lunch here a couple of times which was relatively cheap but tasty.

The hotel is basic, no TV, no air con as standard but it's clean, the beds are comfy and the rooms are cleaned daily by lovely ladies - and we definitely didn't travel to Africa to watch TV so no big deal for us. The decor is nice, African-Ikea :) Reception were always so helpful and Lamin the gardener or 'nightman' was so sweet, dropping off fruit to us and checking in to make sure we were okay each evening. Keep an eye out for the monitor lizard, giant tortoise and the monkeys in the beautiful gardens.

As people say, walking to the beach through the craft market and walking on the beach in general can be like running the gauntlet; especially when you first arrive....people WILL remember your face after a few days though (a mixed blessing). I have to say as a group of English girls in our mid/late twenties it could be a bit intimidating and then slightly irritating (!) rebuffing the attention constantly, however, whatever you think, you ARE considered very wealthy compared to most Gambians. Everyone is trying to make a living and in tourist areas they're just cashing in, just remember that whilst it can be tiring; you're reaping the benefit of winter sun and delicious food/culture at a fraction of the price.

Deal with unwanted attention rather than trying to avoid it, be firm and don't accept there what you wouldn't accept at home. People will not just go away if you ignore them and do an awkward English 'stare at the feet', equally there is no need to be rude. Everyone is out to make money (in some way) and they'd much rather not waste their time on someone who's not going to buy, so being honest/blunt/firm goes along way to moving them on swiftly if you're not interested.

Ladies of all ages: go with your eyes wide open! There are a lot of incredibly charming men out there who are looking to woo you, whilst I would hate to say that they all have an ulterior motive (money/marriage/passport) a lot of them do, that's not to say they are bad people, but be aware and use your common sense; we were given a pretty strong heads up on this before we left so were prepared and managed to find a few guys who were helpful in getting us cheaper taxis/prices at the markets despite constantly rebuffing them :) a word of warning: be vague about your plans, people have a tendency to 'turn up' coincidentally where you happen to be....

Honestly, the 'senegambia strip'....horrible! Just not for us, pretty much like any other strip in any resort, anywhere in the world; we tried a bar, clubbing and a restaurant but we really didn't enjoy any part of it; sleazy, and the prostitution side of things really evident everywhere there which just made us really uncomfortable to be honest. Food wise, I'd recommend Sailors (Butterfish with Shrimp, Lime and Garlic sauce) our favourite still, Barracuda, good live music and reaaaaally cheap tasty Gambian food. I loved the local food: Domoda, Yassa, Benechin and all the fish. Dominoes is fun on a Sunday, good live reggae. Best night out was definitely on Sunday to Sizzla's, big open air club with really heavy reggae - loved it. If you can, eat in a compound or with somebody local - two of the best meals I had.

Do take malaria tablets and nets, they're not as prevalent as we expected (in February) but we did get a few bites, we took Malarone, which was okaaaay but do be warned it can give you a funny tummy which was a bit of a pain, other than that no ill effects. Sleep under nets, there is mesh on windows but it's definitely better to be safe. Take currency out there, the rate is so much better and in the Kotu area there's a least two exchanges which gave (while we were there) 47 GMD to the £. Barter! Don't be afraid to walk away, 9 times out of 10 you'll get the deal whether it's souvenirs or taxis. Don't take cigarettes or booze out there, it's much cheaper to buy there. Five pouches 50g of baccy for £12...

If you want to see some of the real Gambia, get out of the Kotu/Kololi area; head to a village for a day or two (Kartong, Brikama, Basori), you'll see normal life rather than tourist life! People will be more genuinely welcoming and you'll get a good feel for the culture and sense of community. Go to a school, best thing we did, we went with Sandy at Goal for Gambia who was absolutely great. Lamin Lodge, do not pay more than 700GMD for a boat - not each, also note, when we were there the restaurant was closed (owner not paid taxes??), crocodile pool...meh! Not really my thing and a bit sad to be honest. Monkeys, funny, but do watch your fingers...

We'll definitely be going back to the Gambia, but perhaps we'll try and stay out of the tourist area next time; a fantastic holiday, beautiful country with amazing culture, people and food! We loved it :)

Room Tip: We were poolside and had no complaints on anything!
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
5 Thank Sarah T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North Yorkshire
Level Contributor
15 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed March 8, 2012

Great room ('K' block), clean and quiet. Excellent pool area which got a bit busy sometimes.

Hotel staff were friendly and nothing was too much for them. The girls doing breakfast and running the bar were superb; cheeky and fun. Chambermaid was most accommodating, altering her schedule to allow us to get some siesta time in the afternoon. Reception staff were friendly and willing to help. Night security always came around to make sure everything was OK, the gentleman that managed the animals (monkeys, monitor lizards, tortoises etc) was friendly and helpful.

Breakfast is a very simple affair with limited choice but sufficient, lunches are quite nice, simple but delicious : I'd recommend butterfish and chips. Had a truly excellent meal at the hotel's 'Captain's Table' restaurant - probably did the best meal we had in the Gambia - food, service, atmosphere all perfect - try the giant prawns!

Perfect location for those wanting a simple holiday. Bureau d' change next door, an adequate mini-market, the welcoming 'Tiger Tiger' bar and the excellent 'Boss Lady' restaurant all within a minute's walk. Walk through the craft market past VJ's curry house and Ali Baba's Pizzas and you're on the beach in 2 minutes. There are taxi ranks and official guides by the hotel for those who wish to use them.

We were approached on our first evening by a young man called Lamin S Manjang who turned out to be a great tour guide - his 'office' is the Tiger Tiger bar. You couldn't find a more decent guy to take you around - we did the full day South Gambia Trip and would recommend him and his guys to anyone.

Looking forward to next year's visit.

Room Tip: Go for a room away from the pool area. The further away you are, the less people walk past your room...
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank Pete B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
UK
Level Contributor
6 reviews
Reviewed March 7, 2012

We have just returned from a week at Bakotu Hotel and we definitely plan to be back! Ok, it is not 5* luxury. But it does not come with a 5* price tag either! The rooms whilst basic were always clean with plenty of storage space and our 4 poster bed was very comfortable. There was always a good supply of Hot water. More than I can say for a lot of European hotels I have stayed in! At the end of the day, we did not come to The Gambia to spend it in our room.
The Gardens are lovely, attracting a range of bird life as well as the monkeys! There is even a path down to the creek and out onto the golf course.
The pool and bar area is great – no music, no entertainment programme. If you are looking for that, stay at the Koto Beach across the road, which would be my idea of hell. Saying that, they have a good sports bar where we watched the postponed France V Ireland game.
The included breakfast is basic – 2 bread rolls, jam and your choice from 3 options. They changed each day, but the main ones were, cheese, ham, poached egg, boiled egg, Gambian pancakes and fruit. However food in Gambia is so cheap in comparison to the UK, if you did want to order extra dishes off the a la cart breakfast menu, it will not cost you more than a few pounds.
There a plenty of restaurants and bars close by, and you are bound to find one that you like. Wherever we ate the price was always reasonable and the food always good. We probably used Dominos the most frequently for lunch.
Yes you get hassle when you leave the hotel, but there are not many ‘bumsters’. Most are people trying to make a living for their families. Handy tip – get some ones name, then tell everyone else you are dealing with them. ‘Limbo is sorting me out’ or ‘I use number 23’ would normally get rid of most. Another handy tip – they don’t like getting their trainers wet – so walking along the beach just in the edge of the sea is not only keeps your feet cool, but also keeps your walk haste free!
The staff at the hotel are really friendly and really make the hotel. There is only 1 key for your room, so if you want housekeeping to make your room up, you have to hand it in at reception. If you need to get back into your room whilst the key is with housekeeping, it is always easy to track your key down – everyone is always more than happy to help.
George is the resident bird watching guide, and normally sets up ‘office’ 5-6pm ish in the bar area. Whether you engage his services or not, he is great to chat to in the evening. He is incredibly knowledgeable and professional. If you do want to go out on a guided walk, you could not be in a safer pair of hands.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank MissMambo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Truro, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed March 5, 2012

Having read the brochure and formed a picture of what to expect, we have to say that this was just an average hotel in our opinion. We were in B1 right next to the cleaners base and there was a lot of noise from them. We didn't feel we had any outlook, but on wandering around the site, a lot of the other rooms were in better positions. Our room cleaner was very friendly and efficient, however only one of the waiting staff appeared cheerful and friendly especially in the mornings. The reception staff were fine. The breakfasts were well below standard waiting half and hour of more for and egg!! and being given the left over jams etc from other tables. The menu was very limited. A loo roll was offered to several people as serviettes. Breakfast time actually became a joke, so at least we started the day with a smile!!
Having said that it was an ideal location for birdwatching, and well recommend the boys at the bridge as guides. We had Ebou Barry, and couldn't fault him on his knowledge and friendliness. He even took us to meet his family one evening and attend his cousin's baby's naming day. A lovely experience!
Boss Lady restaurant severed very good gambian food, and we had a good meal in the Captain's Table with good service. Popped over the road to Kombo Beach hotel in the evenings to avail ourselves of their 2 for 1 cocktails. Good value.
The walk along the beach is a good experience with lots of approaches from the local traders. We found that if you walked in the sea, they usually did not bother you so much. Yes, the fruit ladies were very possessive of you once they had your custom and we heard many arguments between them, but that was nothing to do with the hotel.
In all an average hotel, but a lovely holiday.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Vivien K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cookham Dean, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
90 reviews
47 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
Reviewed March 3, 2012

If you remember this is probably equivalent to a 2 star hotel in England you will be pleasantly surprised. Clean rooms, inviting pool, lush gardens backing onto a haven for birds. Downside is breakfast and the odd lack of cold water for showers. The nearlby beach is lovely but with the usual hawkers and 'bumsters' which can be easily rebuffed with a sense of humour. Nearby hotels have good food but expect to spend a long time waiting for it to arrive. All in all a good hotel and one we would return to for the birdwatching alone.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank MittensMaidenhead
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
bradford, england
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed March 3, 2012

We spent a lovely week in february at the Bakotu with our two children aged 14 and 12. We found the hotel delightful. All of the staff were very attentive and friendly and the much-discussed (on these pages) breakfasts were fine. We had a rooms in K block overlooking the swamp and it was great for sitting out watching the birds and monkeys. We had two great meals in Captains table which served outstanding fish, especially the barracuda and lady-fish. Boss lady was also good for typical gambian meals and we had a fantastic evening in Dominos on the beach when it was their live music night. The hotel pool looked OK but we never used it because the beach was so much better and also sadly there was a lot of early morning sunlounger reserving going on. The beach is just across the road and once you relax into the routine of fruit ladies (#20 was our favourite), fruit juice men, musicians, bar staff, muffin men, peanut ladies it was great. The sand was soft, the sea warm with waves that were fun but not dangerous and you could walk up and down the beach for miles in both directions.
Kotu is famous for bird watching and with no previous interest or experience we really enjoyed this aspect of our trip. as suggested we wondered up to the shelter where members of the gambian birdwatchers are to be found. Modou Saidy (mlaminsaidy@yahoo.com) was the guide that we used. We started with a 2 hour walk in the local area and within 10 minutes had identified 3 seperate Kingfisher species. Modou was extremely skilled and very patient with his inexperienced and noisy charges who had only one pair of binoculars between them. because we had enjoyed ourselves so much we then got modou to arrange trips to Abuko reserve (where he added a free boat trip from Lamin lodge) and to Bruffut woods where we were thrilled to see an enormous eagle owl high in the trees. On our final afternoon Modou invited us to visit his one room lodging and then took us to his neighbours house where he served us with the traditional green tea which is a popular Gambian ritual and where we had a lot of fun while our children entertained the much younger local kids. We are definitely considering a return to the Gambia and if we do we will probably ask Modou to arrange a trip up the river to georgetown rather than doing this through a large tour company. If you do nothing else I would certainly advise you to take the introductory guided birdwatching walk from the bridge and we certainly recommend Modou as an excellent guide who was great company.
We had to cross the craft market each day to reach the beach but one positive was that one of the salesmen arranged to give our son some drum lessons which were really good fun (for a fee of course which had to be bartered and involved me buying my son a drum). Finally would also recommend the beach bar at Kotu point further up the coat where the in house band (led by lamin) put on a tremendous show for us.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank Jadarooney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Bakotu Hotel

Property: Bakotu Hotel
Address: Kotu, Gambia
Location: Gambia > Banjul Division > Kotu
Amenities:
Beach Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 6 Hotels in Kotu
Hotel Class:3 star — Bakotu Hotel 3*
Number of rooms: 80
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Renowned and well established, Bakotu is a small, friendly hotel ideally located in Kotu between the beach and the golf course. Facilities include a small swimming pool, sun and shade terraces, reception, laundry, shop, restaurants and bars. Individually decorated rooms, with comfy beds and either terrace or balcony are grouped around mature gardens. The monkeys, squirrels and birds are great attractions. Ideal for those looking for something a little different with good value for money. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Bakotu Hotel Kotu
Bakotu Hotel Gambia/Kotu

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