Defining West African hotels

#1 Fan has been dutifully trying to plan our trip to Mali. As my French is still, “du merde”, I’m pretty useless in the process. That and I’ve stayed around enough places in Africa at this point to have pretty low expectations in accommodations, so I’m useless in choosing which hotel I should choose. This is why my stay with friends in their 6th floor apartment in the Plateau District of Abidjan last weekend was heaven, even with the power cuts.
So, in this search, #1 came across reviews on the Lonely Planet discussion board that should be taken as gospel. The reviews themselves were great, but it’s the breakdown of what to expect in a West African hotel that was complete genius:

*The Standard: the “lock” on the ill-fitting balsawood door is extremely sketchy. The mosquito nets used to be white, but the lower edges are now… unwhite. You take in pillow-smell as you listen to the people hanging out on the street outside your window at night. Mattresses are distinctly concave. There might be a plastic shelf above the sink, or it may have broken off. The soap will slide into the sink, no matter what. You may or may not get a towel, it’s like a fun towel-roulette. Plastic bathtub or just a drain on the floor – either way there’s not enough water pressure to warrant a shower curtain. Broken tile floor with lots of dirt embedded in the grout. Handheld shower sprayer, and under no circumstances is the wall mount it formerly rested in still intact. TV Cable and mount are visible in a poorly chosen corner, but the TV is long gone. Frequent mosquitoes, occasional lizards. Do they eat mosquitoes? One can hope.
**Below standard: comes with (someone else’s) hairs all over the smelly pillow and sheets. No hot water. Makes you wish you were camping. You still pay 20k FCFA. Be glad you brought the sleeping bag liner, and next time make friends for goodness sakes and stay in someone’s home.

Truer words have never been spoken.

One Reply to “Defining West African hotels”

  1. So true! I love the line about how the soap always *always* falls into the sink.

    However (and I know you already know this!), I’ve had far better luck asking local buddies who travel where *they* stay than relying on guidebooks, expats, and backpackers. Somehow, the backpackers always manage to find the grossest, most-expensive-for-the-sleeze hotels in town.

    Also, if you haven’t yet, try couch surfing. We’ve had great luck with it, both for meeting people and finding decent accommodations.

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