Hotel Review: The Radisson Blu, Dakar Sea Plaza in Senegal
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TO THE POINT: The Radisson Blu, Dakar Sea Plaza is a waterfront resort just outside the center of Dakar, Senegal. The pros: stunning views, a relaxed, beach vibe and spacious rooms. The cons: The location isn’t ideal if you’d like to be within walking distance of Dakar’s most popular attractions.
When I learned I’d be traveling to Dakar, Senegal, I was excited to explore a new country and region of the world — but first I needed a place to stay. Dakar doesn’t have an abundance of points-hotels to choose from, but the one it does have — The Radisson Blu, Dakar Sea Plaza — seemed like a pretty sweet option to me. It has an amazing, seaside location in Dakar’s trendy Fann Corniche neighborhood just a little outside the city center.
The Radisson Blu, Dakar Sea Plaza is a Club Carlson hotel, but with paid rates starting at just under $200 per night for the weekend I would be there, I decided it would be great to use my Citi Prestige Card. I called up Citi Concierge, and the representative was quickly able to make a reservation at the rates that I’d seen, explaining over the phone as well as in the confirmation email that my fourth-night free credit would be applied after I checked out — note that if you book a pre-paid rate, you’ll receive it within 1-2 statements after the transaction date. I ended up paying $779 for my four-night stay before receiving the statement credit in the amount of $193 a few weeks later.
My South African Airways flight landed in Dakar around 5:30am while it was still dark outside. Because of the airport’s proximity to the city center, there was a ton of activity here in the early morning hours even before the sun had risen. People were already hard at work selling things and haggling people as they waited for their bags in the arrivals hall. Luckily, the hotel provided me with a complimentary shuttle transfer from the airport. It was easy to find and I was soon on my way to the Radisson Blu.
I was nervous that because I’d be checking in so early in the morning, the hotel wouldn’t have a room ready for me yet. When I arrived, I was delighted to learn that I’d be able to get into my room without any wait at all. The check-in process was pretty smooth, and in just a few minutes I was heading to my room, where a king-sized bed was waiting for me just in time for a wonderful, early-morning nap. It’s worth noting that upon entering the hotel, everyone has to put their bag(s) through an X-ray scanner and everyone must walk through a metal detector before entering the lobby. While this wasn’t a huge inconvenience for me, it was definitely out of the norm compared to what usually happens at other hotels.
The Radisson Blu is built into a cliff, so the lobby is actually on the fourth floor and the rooms are located on floors four and below. Mine was on the ground floor — floor 0 — so I had to keep remembering that I’d actually be going down to my room. The lobby itself was bright, open and airy, and provided scenic views of the Atlantic as well as the coastline of Dakar.
As I mentioned earlier, my room was on the ground floor, so I had to take the elevator down from the lobby to get to it. Another thing about this hotel: whatever it may lack in height, it makes up for in length. The hallways were very long and my room happened to be toward the very end of one of these long corridors. On the plus side, this meant it was nice and quiet outside my room and made it seem like the hotel was emptier than it probably was.
The hotel is decorated in a calming brown and gray color scheme, which I found to be modern and stylish. Tile is also used extensively in public spaces as well as in the guest rooms, which helps keep things cooler under the hot African sun. Upon entering the room, I found plenty of storage space, including a handy shelf for luggage to my right, while the bathroom — and its cool-looking, frosted, sliding glass door — were to the left.
The room itself was spacious and featured a large window/sliding door. It was before dawn when I arrived, so the large brown shade was drawn, making the room very dark. I appreciated the desk and office chair that were in the room — a great place to get some work done during the one rainy day I had while I was in Senegal.
During the day, the view from my room was stunning, with the resort grounds, palm trees and the Atlantic right there to look at.
Opposite the desk was a brown fabric chair that ended up serving as a storage space for my backpack for the duration of my stay.
The king-size bed was extremely comfortable — the perfect place to crash after my transatlantic flight.
Across from the bed was a wooden table that contained a Nespresso machine, as well as some information on the hotel and glasses for water. Mounted above that was a flat-screen TV that seemed too small for both the huge wall behind it and the long table it was mounted above. It seemed like this area could’ve benefitted from more items being placed on the table and just seemed like a lot of wasted space.
To the right of the wooden table was a large closet that contained a stocked mini-fridge. There was a selection of water, juice, soda, beer and wine, as well as a Toblerone chocolate bar, which I gladly helped myself to.
Above the mini-fridge was a selection of salty snacks, some additional glassware, a bucket for ice, an electric kettle and other assorted items.
The bathroom continued the same color scheme employed in the hallways and the rest of the room. The vanity had one sink and was covered in a brown/earth tone type of granite, while the same neutral-colored tile ran into the bathroom as well. It was perfectly nice, but didn’t blow me away or strike me as being especially stylish.
To the right was a standalone shower, with a rainfall shower head as well as a handheld piece. The water pressure was great and I could easily find a comfortable temperature, so this shower passed my approval test with flying colors.
The hotel provided hand soap, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner as well as a vanity kit — nothing too fancy to report here but everything was perfectly adequate for my needs and was replaced daily, which I appreciated.
During the one rainy day of my trip, I decided to give room service a try for lunch. I easily placed my order by phone and only had to wait about 20 minutes for the food to show up. I ordered traditional Senegalese Chicken Yassa (roasted chicken with onion sauce), salad, a hummus and pita appetizer and a green juice to finish it all off. I guess I was hungry that day. The Yassa wasn’t as good as when I’d tried it at a cafe in the center of Dakar, but it was still tasty. Everything else was great and I have nothing but good things to say about the staff members who delivered and took away the room service tray. In total, my lunch order ran me about $30.
The resort itself is low-slung and sprawling, so there’s plenty of room to walk around and relax. Most of the outdoor space was grass-covered, which was nice.
This hotel never lets you forget that you’re in a tropical destination — palm trees were pretty much everywhere.
I enjoyed spending time by the pool — there were plenty of chairs to choose from both in the shade and in the sun, the service was quick and attentive and the views were unbeatable. The hotel was in the middle of some minor paint work and other maintenance projects while I was there, but it didn’t disturb any of the guests.
As you can imagine, it was very hot and humid while I was in Dakar, so I really liked jumping in the pool to cool off and admiring the view from the infinity edge. Every evening, there was a local DJ spinning a mix of international and Senegalese beats.
Back inside the resort, there was a sitting area at the bottom of the multi-story atrium, which featured a large spiral staircase as well as a wall made entirely of glass that let in a ton of light and looked out to the pool and the Atlantic.
Opposite the spiral stairs was a lounge restaurant that served sushi and cocktails, but didn’t open until 4:00pm each day. I noticed there was an ash tray at each seating position — it seems like the ban on smoking indoors that’s ubiquitous in the US hasn’t made its way to Senegal just yet.
I found Wi-Fi performance to be great at this hotel and had no problem connecting or maintaining a speedy connection throughout. Plus, it was free, which made it that much better in my book!
I really enjoyed my stay at the Radisson Blu, Dakar Sea Plaza. The staff were very pleasant all-around and worked hard to accommodate any requests. The resort felt new and trendy without being too over-the-top and its beach vibes were undeniably fun. If I go back to Dakar anytime soon, I’ll certainly consider staying at the Radisson Blu again.
Have you ever stayed at the Radisson Blu, Dakar Sea Plaza? Share your experience with us in the comments, below.
All images courtesy of the author.
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