I ran around Mali a bit and saw what were all the big sites with the exception of Timbuktu, which, if you can believe it, was just too far away to make it there in the two weeks that I had. But whatever the case, I managed to see a number of hotels over the course of my stay and felt like sharing my general experiences like I did way back when for hotels in Hawaii.
It should be noted that there exists a great deal of confusion in AC vs. fan rooms. This is the first place that I’ve stayed where most every room has both and the extra (sometimes double) you pay for AC is not for a better room, but just to get the remote to turn on the AC. So basically, if you can forego the AC, you’ll save oodles of money. My stay would have been much different had this been realized earlier on.
It’s probably the least impressive place with the most potential. Overall, the place is decent. The rooms are okay and the garden is pleasant. There is a pool, but it has the look of never being swam in nor cleaned all that often. I didn’t dip a toe in it during my whole stay despite the heat. The rooms aren’t cleaned terribly well. We came back to find that during our stay they weren’t cleaned at all as we “hadn’t left the key and some guests don’t like people to go in to their room.” Lame never sounded so strong because if you don’t want your room touched while staying there, you need to tell the staff that, otherwise, they clean it. This was just an easy way out of doing work.
It appears to be a mother and daughter team that run it. The mom is decently okay, but the daughter is exceptionally trashy, smoking all the time, including inside the hotel next to the rooms. They both yell at the local hotel staff in this patronizing French manner that makes my incredibly angry anywhere in Africa, but especially in a business situation as it shows that the owners are simply too ignorant and lazy to train the staff properly.
They claim to have wifi when in reality, they don’t. Oh sure, the wifi signal reaches one table in the garden and absolutely no room, but you will have trouble connecting due to the fact that no one with Orange knows how to manage their router boxes. Don’t depend on it working.
Oh, the restaurant is decently priced as far as hotel restaurants go and the food is overall good, despite the chef being an incredibly grumpy guy. Drinks are naturally very overpriced, which is ridiculous given that there is a shop just outside the hotel selling them for half price or less.
No website as apparently it’s still 1992 for them.
It’s the top pick by Lonely Planet for a stay in Bamako, but it’s pretty obvious that the owners kissed the ass of the writer who made that call. It’s not better than any other hotel in the area. In some degrees, it’s worse and the rooms aren’t terribly amazing. Some are downright skuzzy. Also, because of the LP recommendation, it’s full of backpackers and partiers. If that’s your scene, then you’re in luck. If it’s not, you will be miserable.
Again, no website due to just having bought Aerosmith’s Get a Grip on cassette
Comme Chez Soi
Hand’s down the best place to stay in Bamako currently. It’s only been open a few months, but from what I’ve heard, everyone who has stayed there loves it. It enjoys very high ratings on TripAdvisor which will probably grow even more with time.
The design is subtle yet classy. The rooms are comfortable. The wifi works very well and covers the whole place. The pool is fantastic and even too cold at times (trust me, 26C feels cool after two weeks in the heat.) The drinks are amazingly well-priced from their bar. Their local staff knows what they’re doing and are very friendly, plus one of them makes stellar cappuccinos that even I enjoyed though being a big time tea drinker. The breakfast is great and included in the price. Really, I could go on and on about what a lovely oasis in the middle of Quartier Hippodrome that former nomads, Gael and Sonja have created, but you’ll just have to trust me that it’s great. Of course in posting this, I’m sure I will be out of luck in any future stays as it will be booked solid for months at a time.
It’s a funky place, but it’s a nice place. While not in the absolute center of town, it’s a great location that you can easily get to via RickCycle. Each room has personality and is pleasingly designed by local artists. There is also a museum there as well showcasing local art which is quite cool.
After staying in Bamako, waking up to have breakfast looking out over the Niger River across the way from a very nice old mosque each morning is very nice as are evening walks along the river. Oh yeah, the breakfast isn’t included in the price, but it’s quite reasonable and highly recommended as they make their own jams as well as serve local honey with your choice of tea of coffee. You can also choose to have dinner if you tell them early enough in the day as they only prepare one option per night.
The wifi wasn’t accessible while we were there due to construction, but they did have a long cable to use which worked out alright, although given that it’s the same Orange system, if they have multiple people using it, it will probably run in to the same problems as elsewhere.
The owner gets criticized as being a bit rude, but I found him to be fine. He’s a bit of the eccentric artist type, but he was hospitable and friendly while we were there, plus he speaks French, Spanish, and English. Oh yeah, there’s a very cute doggie running around the place named, Llop. It means “wolf” in Catalan and has to be the most ironic dog name in the history of dog names.
It’s a decent place in the center of town near the main river dock. It didn’t blow me away, but it seems that all the expats who are there for “voluntourism” apparently live at the place, especially Americans. I suppose it’s the proper amount of cheap with a decent level of comfort. That and it has a large bar, so of course folks are going to be in to that.
You would think a voluntourist would have hooked them up with a website, but no…
This hotel has been done a disservice by its website. It looks a great deal nicer than the photos let on. The restaurant is especially welcoming. While being overpriced, it is good and the setting is classy with its Colonial architecture. The rooms of the hotel are nice as well and being that it’s right in the center, it’s convenient to everything, although that might be too central for some people looking for a quieter time in Ségou.
Nice, simple rooms and overall an enjoyable place. The layout is classy with a lot of open space and the bar/restaurant is pleasant. There is also a back terrace that opens up on to the Niger, which is really splendid to grab a drink at even if you aren’t staying there. There is an old village next door to the hotel which is easy to visit on foot, but they have obviously gotten so many tourists, that the villagers are quite aggressive to visitors in trying to get gifts. Only catch with this hotel is that being 8km outside of Ségou, you definitely need a car to get there and most of the guests are package guests.
This is one of those rare places where the AC and fan rooms actually are different rooms, but still, the level of comfort is exactly the same. It’s an okay place with mud-like walls that match the Grand Mosque, although if you can go with just the fan, it will cost you less than half. As it is, with the AC, it is rather overpriced and we didn’t even touch the restaurant as it was far too much compared to some of the other options nearby. It’s generally decent and fine for one night, but nothing to write home about; just to blog about.
The web in the interior of Djenné is a limited thing apparently.
Hotel Ya Pas De Problem
A decent budget-ish option. The rooms are alright, but nothing special and in reality, it’s probably overpriced for what it is, but so it goes when you enter the Dogon area. The rooftop restaurant is pretty cool though with a nice view over the town. If I were to return to the area, I would probably stay here instead of where I did, or I’d just skip Mopti altogether and stay in Sevare. A younger mix to the crowd. If you don’t want party hotel, but still want to be around people in their 20s-30s, it’s a good choice, especially for the possibility of coordinating rides and guides to Dogon.
Not liking the web thing although they have a lovely email.
la Maison Rouge
My most conflicted stay. Basically, it’s an impressive, beautiful hotel that comes up short in a number of things that a hotel needs to do. You can read my TripAdvisor review which I still stand by despite the owner contacting me to debate some items that I stated which he claims I am wrong on. But again, it just tells a lot about the service really falling short of where it should be and the place screaming for a hotel manager instead of the owner taking on that role. The local staff caused a good number of problems as well though.
I should add that the restaurant was really quite good as it should be for the price, although it would be nice to see some more fusion options with local dishes in the menu. Of course, I doubt that the clientele are really looking for that in the package excursions. We were the youngest and probably weirdest couple to stay there as we didn’t have a driver and walked in to town.
It’s basic, but a pretty solid option. The rooms are clean and met my needs fine. Restaurant was a bit overpriced and we went to a place run by a Cameroonian down the street which was probably just as good. A pool would be nice, but not to be. The wifi seems to work pretty well overall, although again, there is that damnable problem with Orange. Again, there is the AC/fan option and if at all possible, try to skip the AC as it makes the place a pretty decent price.