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Serekunda
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Reviewed March 9, 2014

WE have been going to the Gambia regularly 20 years and have stayed in many hotels in the upper range but usually have included the Kairaba for all or part of the holiday. Star ratings in the Gambia need to taken in context with the country. Many of the boutique or lodge hotels have a lot to offer, but taken in the round The Kairaba consistently offers the most both in terms of location (the best) and spaciousness. Some are more glitzy liked by certain types but none have the class of the Kairaba. It is spacious, has the largest gardens of any of the hotels and the greatest privacy. Also it is on the edge of the Kololi village which has grown up round it. The village offers restaurants and night life not available elsewhere. It is one of the early hotels in the area so is not as "modern" as its competitors but made up for by lovely gardens with all the main rooms dotted round it.
There have been a few changes in ownership over 20 years but the current owners have owned it for some years. The general manager who is French has been there for some years too. It is extremely well run and better trained staff than can found in most of it competitors.
Dont leave your doors open into the gardens during the day there is a lot of theft (monkeys) especially sugar and any foodstuffs, usually in the late afternoon.

Although this is a comment on hotels it is worth mentioning the travel agents who are virtually tourism for the Gambia. “the Gambia Experience” a family run business who have developed a relionship with the country over a 25 year period and have put a lot back into the country by support in education and health. Dont be mislead that the mass travel companies appear to be a bit cheaper. They are not it is just that they take the cheapest rooms. I have heard complaints of people trying to upgrade and annoyed at finding having to pay more, agreeing to do so and finding those rooms are fully booked. It really is a case of getting what you pay for.

Room tip: Low numbered blocks for quiteness, high ones for ambience
Date of stay: February 2014
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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2  Thank DorsetElton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 6, 2014

We went with The Gambia Experience for one week and upgraded to a Superior Deluxe - a lovely room - however a Deluxe room would have also been fine. The hotel could be described as 'tired' but the staff more than made up for that and any issues or problems were quickly and willingly resolved. Well positioned near loads of restaurants, taxis and excursion organisers. The food was fine, grounds were very well maintained and the wildlife great to see. Sadly, the beach in front of this hotel and the Senegambia next door is badly eroded and unless serious action is taken it won't last another season. It has such a happy and relaxed atmosphere - a perfect holiday venue.

Room tip: If you want to be nearer the sea - ask for a first floor room in block 1 or 12 - but be warned that the sea is very noisy.
Date of stay: February 2014
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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Thank GlosGirl2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 5, 2014

I loved this hotel, the staff are so lovely, so happy and they do all they can to make you happy. The grounds are fantastic. Full of amazing birds, monitor lizards, monkeys, beautiful flowers and trees.We only had B and B, breakfast was good, bacon sausages, smoked salmon, eggs, fruit juices, cereals etc etc. Anything you can think off. Position is great, right next to all bars and restaurants. The hotel has a few restaurants and bars, usually with entertainment, we choose to eat and drink outside the hotel, not that it's not good but it's much cheaper, it's twice the price in the hotel. My room was kept spotless, cleaned every day, clean towels etc
Lovely free cup of tea and cakes every afternoon, enjoyed that, great pool and pool area. Plenty of space and sun beds. Pool boys will make sure you are comfortable and happy.As other reviews have said the hotel is not what we would expect of 5* but this is Africa, this hotel is certainly one of the best in Gambia if not The best. I will certainly recommend this hotel, enjoyed my stay.

Room tip: I chose a superior room, lovely large room. we had a fridge to keep drinks cold, lovely balcony overlooking the garden and the sea, tea and coffee supplied and refilled everyday, unusual abroad.
Date of stay: February 2014
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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1  Thank chris k
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 2, 2014

Went with the Gambia Experience, so had a de-luxe room. They are all in two-storey blocks. We had a 1st floor with balcony. If you have a ground floor, you get to sit outside on the grass on sun-loungers. The grounds are full of green monkeys, peacocks and peahens, which are very noisy at time, and some very pretty and exotic birds. Oh, and cats - tame and fed by the gardeners.
The staff are polite and attentive, and always ask how you are, how's the holiday etc. Complimentary afternoon tea and cakes is a lovely idea. Grounds are well-kept.
Now the negatives:
The in-bath mat had lost its stick, and we both came croppers getting in and out of what seemed to be a very steep-sided bath, with large bruises to show for it. The bathroom was also a bit in need of a mould clean and update.
The spa is independently -run, and every day, at least 3 times a day, these groups of orange-clad "predators" would walk round, interrupting you, and asking whether you wanted a foot massage, back massage, manicure etc. It became something of an annoyance.
The ladies toilet at the beach is grotty and has a broken seat - how difficult would it be to fix that?!
Breakfast - a good selection. Towards the last half hour, if things run out, they are not replaced. the staff also get very fractious towards the end of service.
The Bon Appetit and Half Board packages allow you to eat your evening meal at the Malimbe restaurant, outside by the pool. When it's windy, this can be quite a cold experience. They have a stir-fry section, which is ok, but a bit greasy. Then there are usually three casserole-type dishes with assorted veg an rice, and a roast of some sort being kept warm under a hot light. It's not the best food, but it's ok, and the entertainment can be interesting, but I don't think I ever want to hear or see another set of bongos. I think there are so many places to eat within walking distance that you don't need to be worried about booking one of these packages. We did manage to eat at the Shikra, and the Casa, by paying a little extra on top of our Bon appetite package, but it is not a regular thing, and we had to see Karim, the Food and Beverages Manager, to get his ok for it. When we tried to go back to Casa a further time, the waiter was quite frosty and said we could not use our voucher there.
Tipping. That's what all the attention from the staff is about. There is a black market operating on the sun-loungers. You will never ever get a free one, or one where you want unless you tip your cushion and pool-towel guy. It took me 3 days to work this out. I couldn't understand why all the loungers had towels or books on them, even as early as 7.30am, when it wasn't even light properly! Then, I realised that the books came from a selection they had in their hut, and the cushions and towels were put on loungers for their preferred guests, who then slipped them some money. I think it's outrageous, and it made me very resentful - there is even a huge notice, telling guests that loungers may not be "reserved" and are strictly on a first-come, first-served basis! Well, that is utter tosh. Also - the guys from the bar come round to take your drinks order and bring it over to you - they need tipping too, or they'll never visit you. A "Guide to Tipping" should be put into the hotel handbook.
Trips - very similar, making something out of nothing, and taking you in very uncomfortable ex-army truck on un-metalled roads, with tree branches whipping your face and eyes. Then, there's the blatant sales pitches and unlisted visit to a craft workshops, hospital, and an hour by a pool in Makasutu which was a total waste of time, and sulky girls doing a very reluctant dance while we ate a disgusting lunch, and then asked us for more money for drinks and tips.

Date of stay: February 2014
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Margaret052
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 2, 2014

Having been encouraged to go to The Gambia and stay in this hotel we were not disappointed.
If you want to have a relaxing holiday this is the place to be. The lawns and paths, pool and surroundings are immaculately clean. We could not fault the service, food and welcome. The only reason we can give it only a 4 star rating is the somewhat' tired' appearance of the room. We advise booking a garden room. We ate several meals in the hotel restaurants which were really well cooked and inexpensive. There are many good places to eat within walking distance of the hotel. Our 10 day holiday was over all too soon but we would return.

Room tip: Book a garden suite 1010 block.
Date of stay: February 2014
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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3  Thank finchy04
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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