“ Address:Toamasina, Madagascar „
Sunny Hotel, Mahajanga
We flew from Antananarivo to arrive in Mahajanga at about 6pm as we had to fly up north to Nosy Be and down again. Luckily this hotel is literally five minutes from the airport so we were there pretty quickly.
This was a large high wooden desk behind which one lady sat. She welcomed us and then disappeared to return with a tray of juice as a welcome drink. This was gratefully received as my throat was parched and so fed up with water which I had been drinking all day. We were told we would have dinner and breakfast included here so would only have to pay for drinks.
The downstairs of the hotel was large and airy with windows all around but had a rather tired look about it. The building was one of those squarish totally box like 60s buildings. This area led onto the dining room which also led out to a patio with a huge pool and lovely tropical gardens.
We were escorted upstairs to our room. We stayed two separate nights here with a night at a lodge in Ankarafantsika National Park in between. The first night we had room 7 and the second room 9. They were pretty similar with a good sized double bed with mosquito net made to look like a four poster bed. Room 9 had a red brocade cover on the bed while room 9 had a gold coloured one. There only other difference was we had a fridge in room 7 but not in our second room, however the second room had a light in the wardrobe so you could see the safe without needing a torch.
Apart from the large bed there was a set of dark wood fixed desk and cupboards in the main room and wardrobe down the corridor part. Room 7 had two chairs while #9 only had one but a very comfortable leather chair and both had heavy marble coffee tables. There was a remote controlled old style TV but we found nothing in English to watch so that didn't entertain us for long.
Luckily there was an air conditioner as it was pretty hot. This only worked when the key fob was in the slot in the room so you had to wait a while to feel the benefit but it did work so for that we were grateful. On our second night we found it kept going off and we woke a couple of times very hot. We discovered that if we left the bathroom light and fan on and the door opened then the air conditioner stayed on. As it reached the temperature set it would switch itself off but didn't seem able to switch on again by opening the bathroom and having that fan on it never reached the temperature set and stayed on!
All the floors were tiled in the rooms and everything was very clean but it all had a rather sad and faded look to it. The wooden furniture was put in when the hotel was built and never been changed. It just all seemed a bit tired and dated; as did the entire hotel really. It reminded me of places we stayed in with my parents in Malaysia about thirty years ago before all the posh modern hotel were built and the big tourist take off in the area.
Again this was pretty large and had a corner bath, very posh at the time the hotel was built but rather 'yesterday' now. This had a shower over the bath and a good shower curtain. Toiletries provided included shampoo, an aromatherapy shower gel and a bar of soap. Once again there was no hair dryer. My hair was starting to take great pleasure in the fact that it could do exactly as it pleased and stuck up in all kinds of places with great glee.
The basin was set in a counter top of shiny black marble with coloured bits in it standing on solid stone base. The toilet was fine, all secure and very heavy solid seat cover.
There were plenty of plug holes so we were able to charge our cameras and laptop up ready for the next stage in the journey. There were bedside tables and bedside lights as well as wall lights and a standard lamp but they all had those long life eco bulbs in them so with the heavy lamp shades they didn't give off a huge amount of light. I just about had enough light to read in bed with. Both times we had a bottle of water left in the room, sadly the second time we had no fridge so it was a bit warm.
We had two breakfasts here and they were both the same. A small table was set up with a buffet. You could choose from pineapple or mango juice, there was hot water for tea or coffee and milk all in those jugs you have to push down the lid to squirt out the liquid from. There was a choice of yogurts, a fresh fruit salad, ham and cheese, a choice of two cereals and then a series of covered plates. I think there were about five or six and under these silver covers you found either, hot crepes, bread, pain au chocolate, croissants, some strange looking muffin things which I tried and they were pretty yuk, solid and mildly cinnamon. You could have eggs but they were extra and as I hate them anyway and my husband had eaten enough eggs recently we decided to pass on that offer.
Again we had two of these and each night there was a choice of two entrees, two mains and two desserts. Sadly I forget exactly what we ate the first night but the starter was a salad of sorts and as I can't recall it then it must have been okay. I remember I had fish with vegetables and it was pretty good and I think my husband enjoyed a zebu steak. For the dessert we had flambéed bananas which I do remember as they arrived flaming nicely and my husband's continued for quite some time.
Sadly we were almost alone and were only joined by one other table of three men and a young girl, the daughter of one of the men. Apart from that the hotel was empty.
On the second night I had a very nice crab salad and my husband had what he said was 'one of the nicest fish soups he has ever had'. I then had garlic fried prawns with vegetables but I could have chosen rice or chips with them, in hindsight I think rice would have been better as they were very rich and the rice would have balance that better. My husband had fried chicken on the bone which he was less enthusiastic about but he can't eat prawns so he had little choice really. For dessert we both echoes the crème caramel which was homemade and very tasty.
For this meal we were entirely alone so the hotel was even emptier. At breakfast there was one of table set and that was for a single person.
We were told we were staying at the best hotel in the town and obviously the town had been a place to stop and was no longer on the tourist route for some reason. We were told that French tourists come in the July August months and English September and October so whether it was busier in the July August season I don't know but it did seem very sad that the hotel had so few guests.
It was dated and nothing much had been done to make it more tempting to stay at. The pool looked really nice but we were not there on either occasion during the day to take advantage of it. Obviously there was nothing to draw people to the seaside town of Mahajanga these days if indeed there ever was. The hotel looked as though it was built in about the sixties by the architecture but I couldn't find out when it was in its heyday. Apparently President Mitterrand stayed there for some conference in 2005 and we did wonder if we had slept in the bed that he had used! I wonder if the red carpet was laid up the wooden stairs. There was no lift but it was only two stories high and all the bedrooms were upstairs, downstairs was the conference room, dining area, kitchens, bar and a gym but neither of us felt the need to exert ourselves in there.
We noticed other large groups of people at the Ankarafantsika National Park lodge and they left on the same day as us and we on the same flight to Antananarivo the next day so they must have stayed somewhere in Mahajanga presumably at one of the inferior hotels!
I am not sure what we paid for these two nights but we had dinner and breakfast included both times. As we paid for the entire trip in one payment I can only find out prices either through the internet or if there is a tariff card in the hotel, on the internet the price comes up at £62 per night which is pretty much what it is worth I feel.
So if you choose to come and explore Madagascar and to visit the North West of the country and the dry deciduous forests then don't forget this hotel to break your journey. The staff were so very lovely and really made a big effort to give us all we might want while staying there.
I was glad we only had one night in the lodge and two nights here as the lodge was pretty basic and this hotel though dated was clean, had hot water and air conditioning as well as a variety of food so a great improvement on the night in the middle.
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