During #BlogGambia I was lucky enough to stay at Ngala Lodge, a lovely boutique hotel, perched on the rust-coloured cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve stayed here a few times now and it is one of my all-time-favourite hotels; the suites are very spacious and comfortable, the staff are superb, the grounds lovely, the food excellent and the other guests I have met here are always interesting and sociable.

Hotel Review Sites: Ngala Lodge view

The view from the Ngala Lodge gardens

But what makes the perfect hotel? Not the easiest of questions to answer as each one of us looks for different things in a hotel and for me it also depends on where I am visiting and why.

City breaks

If I’m in a city such as Rome or Paris, as long as the hotel reaches a minimum standard of cleanliness, comfort and value for money, the location is probably the most important thing to me as, as I’ll be intending to be out and about exploring as much as possible and in the evening it is great to have some good restaurants close at hand, especially if I am travelling alone.

 
Rome Hotel Review Sites

When I visited Rome last September my hotel was conveniently near the Spanish Steps and some wonderful restaurants as well as a metro station

Relaxing escapes

When I visit a beach resort and intend to have some down time relaxing than I find it isn’t just the hotel itself or its staff that make a hotel for me it is also the other guests. I really enjoy chatting to people who I find interesting and have a similar outlook to me. While I’ll happily spend an occasional morning on the beach, I’m not there to top up my tan, I want to get to know the local culture and people, but I also enjoy getting to know other guests and hearing about their adventures.

 
Hotel Review sites

Another lovely, although more basic, hotel in The Gambia, Sunset Beach – what a setting!

 

Last year when I had my first experience of staying in an all-inclusive hotel it was the other guests that let the hotel down for me. They would completely ignore me if I said good morning as I passed them in the hotel grounds or even if I held a door open for someone, well, I might as well have been invisible.

Business trips

More recently, for me at least, another priority has raised its head… free and reliable Wi-Fi. A symptom of my addiction to travel blogging and the associated social media malarkey! For anyone who regularly works online this is an obvious must and I do begrudge paying for it when you have already paid for the hotel. Everyone on the recent #BlogGambia trip found the lack of reliable internet restricting but that is not uncommon in developing countries.

My Ngala Lodge 'office' throughout #BlogGambia hotel review sites

My Ngala Lodge ‘office’ throughout #BlogGambia

Hotel reviews

One thing I always do when I’m looking for a hotel in a new destination, is to check out <hotel review sites to see whether other travellers recommend, or equally important, have any severe objections to, any of the hotels I’m considering. While some of these sites are certainly open to abuse, if this is kept in mind, I find them an extremely useful tool.

What makes the perfect hotel for you?

The location, the cuisine, the staff or even the other guests? I’d love to hear what floats-your-boat when it comes to the perfect getaway.

The food at Ngala Lodge is not only delicious but also beautifully presented.

The food at Ngala Lodge is not only delicious but also beautifully presented (and very bad for my waisteline).

 

 

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Travel Planning Resources


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Travel Insurance

I never travel without insurance. If something unexpected goes wrong the costs implications are just too high to take the risk. World Nomads provides travel insurance to travellers from over 130 countries. They're the perfect choice for long term travellers or single trip insurance.

 

Travel clothes for women

Check out my guide to all my favourite travel clothes for women.

 

Book your hotel or package holiday

TripAdvisor is my preferred hotel search engine. They compare all the top sites to find you the best deal. I also use Airbnb ($31 discount) for booking rooms/apartments.

 

Rent a car

Discover Car Hire is a great site for comparing car hire prices to help you find the best deal. They search both local and international rental companies.

 

Book an experience

When I’m travelling, especially to a new city, I use Viator and Get Your Guide to book tours and excursions, in particular, food walking tours or to visit somewhere tricky to get to by public transport.

 

Don’t forget your travel adaptor

Worldwide travel adaptors are perfect no matter where you are travelling from or to. Buy this one from the US or this one from the UKIt’s pretty much the only one you’ll ever need.

 
 

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