And that is when planning your holiday comes in.
Most people we know prefer going to a place they would have the least problem to get to, that fits within or close to their budget, which gives them a feeling of comfort or even the spirit of adventure, discovery and eventually accomplishment. When the vacation is over, you analyse whether you received good value for the money spent - and that's when you decide that you'd like to go back to where you went, or on the negative side, never go back again. Then there are those adventurous types who had a good time discovering the destination and would like to adventurously discover another.
The Gambia offers a wide range of accommodation places for all budgets and styles. For all the first-comers, choosing the right accommodation place can be difficult. Even though The Gambia is a tiny country, the options are so many that one can spend some time exploring.
We understand how it feels; therefore, we've created a list of top 8 things to consider when booking an accommodation place. Hopefully, it will help you when you're picking the place next time you travel.
The exact location
There are a few things to consider about location. Some places have very brief descriptions of the location, so you need to spend some extra time checking it. The capital city of Banjul is not the usual choice of the visitors, especially holidaymakers. Banjul is the smallest capital in Africa, and it is more like a business centre and a place with government buildings. Most visitors coming for holidays choose areas around Senegambia up to Kartong. Backpackers and explorers, however, prefer more remote villages all the way to Basse. When you decide whether you want to stay on the beach, close to concentrated tourist areas, in nature, remote village or maybe by the river, you need to check the exact location. If you don't want to spend a lot of money on transportation, check what is around the accommodation place.
The Internet connection
If the internet is extremely important for you, you must research it. In general, the internet might not be as fast as you may be used to, especially in remote places. Once you discover if the place provides WiFi, do extra research about where is it available and if there are any additional charges. Some places will charge extra for high-speed internet. A few also allow access to a limited number of devices. And some have it only available in the reception. If you're concerned about the Wi-Fi, read the reviews before booking the place because guests will not hesitate to write about bad Wi-Fi.
Apart from self-catering apartments, most places offer at least an option for breakfast. Hotels also have an option for full-board or half-board, and there are a few offering all-inclusive as well. Some smaller boutique hotels, lodges and guesthouses have inside restaurants offering a la carte menus and buffet lunch/dinner options. If you choose a place that doesn't provide dining options, there are many good restaurants around tourist concentrated areas offering a wide range of cuisines. Apart from local restaurants offering traditional Gambian delicious dishes, you can find restaurants offering Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mediterranean, Mexican, Italian, Creol, Greek, Lebanese and other international dishes. If you are a vegetarian or a meat lover, there is a restaurant for every taste and budget in The Gambia. You can also have takeaway or delivery by simply ordering the food by calling the restaurant or ordering online through the 1bena application.
Accommodation facilities and amenities
If you travel for business, work or holidays and you need certain facilities and amenities; it is always good to contact the accommodation place in advance to know what to expect.
Don't be shy to ask about breakfast, toiletries, facilities and services. Do this, and you'll get fewer surprises.
If you travel with children, make sure that the place matches your needs and wishes.
Some booking sites allow you to filter hotels by their star ratings, prices, popularity and facilities, making it easier for users to compare hotels. If there are some specific needs that you have, you will still have to double-check with the place - to be sure.
This is very important for most people. If you're travelling with kids, always check the places' family-friendly policies. There are also many special deals for families to enjoy green season rates. If you see any, don't let them slip away!
If you are travelling for business, always check if the place suits your needs.
If the room sizes and comfort are important, always prioritise that and don't compromise on them, as it will make a difference to your travel experience.
The Gambia offers all types of accommodation options, and if you need support on that, send an e-mail to email@example.com
Early Check-In/Late Check-Out
Some people completely overlook this before booking accommodation. It's important to understand this so you don't inconvenience yourself. If you plan on arriving well before the check-in time, you might have to wait a while for your room to be ready. You may have to pay if you overstay if the check-out time is too early. If your flight is arriving a few hours earlier than the check-in time or departing in the evening, we check the policy of accommodation place and book there where is more convenient for you. Some places allow early check-in and late check-out without extra charges.
Talk to the staff/managers of the place in advance as most of the time, they're understanding and are accommodating about this request depending on room availability. If not, you can ask for the options regarding the luggage.
Some travellers have special accommodation needs. For example, if you're travelling with a pet, you will need to get a pet-friendly hotel. Or, if you're someone with a physical disability, you will need a place that provides the facilities required. Safety is always key when travelling, so look out for facilities you require when checking out a hotel.
The good thing is, you can always find a place that offers such facilities, even for company events and conferences.
Reviews on trusted review sites
If you are one of those travellers who read customer reviews before booking your accommodation, you need to consider a few things.
- read reviews on more than one platform
- read them on trusted review sites
- follow the pattern - people are usually praising the same things and complaining about the same things
- good for the latest updates – you will know if a part of the hotel is under renovation or something isn't temporarily working
- reviews can be helpful, albeit not always accurate
- don't forget that there will always be a few disappointed travellers who leave angry reviews just because they're being difficult and fussy
- know that people sometimes expect 4-star service in 1-star place
We believe a good way of getting recommendations are also special Facebook pages and groups. One of the most famous Facebook groups in The Gambia is Gambia Tourism Forum. Check it out.
We invite you to check out some of our partners' accommodation places.
If you need support to book an accommodation kindly send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org