Convenient, relaxing and frustrating: Comparing three of the best hotels in Liberia
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I visited Liberia — in West Africa, not Costa Rica — recently with four other TPG staff members to represent the site at a PeaceJam conference it sponsored. To see a bit more of the country, my husband JT and I decided to add a few days on to the start of this trip. In doing so, we stayed at a few additional hotels that are generally considered to be the best options in Liberia outside of Monrovia’s city center. Here’s how I think they compare.
There are no Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott or IHG properties in Liberia — which is one of the poorest countries based on gross domestic product as well as one of the least developed countries according to the United Nations.
Comparing hotels near Monrovia, Liberia
- Farmington Hotel: Best quality, great for late-night or early morning flights
- Libassa Ecolodge: Best for pools, sunsets, environmentally friendly operation and an ethical animal sanctuary
- RLJ Kendeja Resort & Villas: Best for visiting both Monrovia and rural areas by car
Of course, there are other hotels in Monrovia’s city center that are well-rated including the Mamba Point Hotel. But, as these are the three hotels we stayed at while visiting Liberia for PeaceJam — and Monrovia’s traffic make staying in the city a poor choice if you also plan to visit rural areas — I’ll focus on these hotels.
One-word description: Convenient
Transfer cost to/from airport: included
Distance from airport: <1 mile, can walk or use complimentary shuttle
Distance from Monrovia city center: 37 miles
Air conditioning: rooms, dining room, lobby, lobby bar
Opening date: 2017
Wi-Fi speed test: 3.35 Mbps download, 3.20 Mbps upload
ATMs on site: Two, although both had signs noting the hotel isn’t responsible if the ATM dispenses the wrong amount
Daily fee for non-guests: $20 for adults, $15 for children
The Farmington Hotel is an excellent option for your first or last night in Liberia due to its proximity to Monrovia’s airport (ROB). This is especially true since traffic around Monrovia can be horrendous, most streets aren’t lit and some flights arrive and depart in the middle of the night. Brussels Airlines crew currently use the Farmington Hotel for overnight stays between flights.
We booked a deluxe room with two twin beds for both stays, which is the least-expensive room category. The twin beds are located next to each other.
The room has a desk with chair, a flat-screen TV and a mini-fridge. There’s a closet with ample storage and a safe.
The bathroom has a shower with bathtub, sink, toilet and bidet. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash and soap are all provided. But, we were only provided one bath towel during each of our one-night stays despite booking a room for two guests.
There’s a boardwalk with tables along the Farmington River.
There are also three pools along the river, including an infinity-style pool overlooking the river.
Closer to the pool bar is a shallow children’s pool as well as a lap pool.
There’s also a garden area along the river that is relaxing.
Most stays include breakfast, which is served in the main dining room starting at 7 a.m. An omelet station isn’t obvious, but you can order cooked-to-order eggs from a server.
For other meals, you can order from a menu in the bar or enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet in the main dining room.
After considering prices, we decided to order from the menu in the bar both nights we stayed at the Farmington.
Although the Farmington Hotel is managed by Campbell Gray Hotels, it isn’t associated with any of the major hotel programs familiar to U.S. guests. If you’re departing on the Royal Air Maroc flight at 3:45 a.m., the Farmington offers a Sleep and Fly package that offers a reduced rate when you call or email to book, check-in after 6 p.m. and depart by 3 a.m. We paid $181 per night through Hotels.com for each of our one-night stays.
One word description: Relaxing
Transfer cost to/from airport: $35 for a car each way
Distance from airport: 22.7 miles
Distance from Monrovia city center: 27.8 miles
Air conditioning: no
Opening date: 2012
Wi-Fi speed test: 2.71 Mbps download, 1.73 Mbps upload
ATMs on site: None
Daily fee for non-guests: $10 for adults, $5 for children
Libassa Ecolodge is located off a dirt road and is definitely more remote than the other two options discussed in this guide. The property has no air conditioning, although there is 24-hour power that only went out a couple times during our stay, Wi-Fi and fans. You’ll also see more bugs in your room at this property than at others — especially if you leave your lights on and doors open after dark.
There are various room types, but the most plentiful and least expensive are the Palaver huts. These huts are separated into two guest rooms that share a common balcony.
Each room has a name, which you use when charging meals to your room. We stayed in the Raccoon Lodge.
Inside the room, there’s a double bed with a mosquito net.
In one corner of the room is a desk with a chair and a safe.
There’s also an open-air closet, a chair under the closet and a bench that seems like it could hold a mattress for a single bed.
Each room has a private bathroom, although the flooring wasn’t very stable in the shower and I saw multiple cockroaches disappear into the floor. Soap is provided in a bulk dispenser in the shower and next to the sink, but no shampoo or conditioner is provided.
The highlight of Libassa isn’t the rooms though. Instead, the property is why you really come to Libassa. There are five swimming pools, including a lazy river and two slides that are only operated on the weekends.
There’s also an animal sanctuary that appears to be ethically operated.
Tours are offered three times a day and cost just $5 per person, so I highly recommend going to see the animals and learn more about the sanctuary and wildlife conservation in Liberia.
Although the waves and rip-tide make swimming in the ocean unsafe, there is a beach with lounge chairs.
In addition to the beach, there’s also a lagoon area where you can relax or swim.
You can also have a snack or drink by the lagoon.
Breakfast is included in your room rate, and is served each morning in the dining area near the pool. You can order cooked-to-order eggs from a server.
For other meals, the same menu is used regardless of whether you eat near the ocean or by the pool.
We generally enjoyed the dining options but found that some items were never available.
Libassa advertises Palaver huts rooms at $125 per night. But, these rooms start at $220 through most online travel agencies. I originally booked through Hotels.com and attempted to use the site’s price guarantee — but my request was denied, so I canceled and booked direct to save $95 per night.
One word description: Frustrating
Transfer cost to/from airport: $50 per person for a shuttle each way or $60 for a car each way
Distance from airport: 25.5 miles
Distance from Monrovia city center: 12.2 miles
Air conditioning: rooms, dining room, lobby bar
Opening date: March 11, 2009
Wi-Fi speed test: 21.10 Mbps download, 17.85 Mbps upload
ATMs on site: Two, although one didn’t work and the other was frequently out of cash
The RLJ Kendeja was where all of the TPG and PeaceJam staff stayed during the PeaceJam conference. The resort claimed when it opened in 2009 that it was the first hotel built in Liberia in the past 20 years.
Check-in didn’t go well, as the hotel had incorrect dates for my stay. And, when I eventually received a room key, another guest already occupied my room. When I was assigned another room, the door would not fully close. The third room didn’t have any major issues, although its air conditioning didn’t work nearly as well as rooms occupied by other TPG staff.
Each of us booked and received a standard double room. Rooms are located in 14 hexagonal villas, most of which contain six standard rooms.
Our room contained one king bed, a desk with chair, a small lounge chair, a mini-refrigerator and a closet with a safe.
The bathroom was long, and had enough space on the vanity, shelves and nearby ledges for any toiletries you might carry. The shower had a half-wall that didn’t keep water from spraying into the toilet area.
Unfortunately, the water at this resort went out multiple times during our stay, including times in the morning and evening when guests wanted to shower. And, the cleaning staff was not consistent about leaving toiletries — and many of the toiletries that were left were only half full.
There are two pools surrounded by outdoor seating for the restaurant.
Both of the afternoons we spent at the resort, there were pool parties hosted for people who weren’t staying at the resort. These parties were not only loud but also eliminated any notion of guests relaxing at the pool or beach.
The beach at this resort provides impressive sunrise and sunset views, but there were persistent men selling items on the beach that sometimes made it difficult to enjoy the sunset.
There’s also public beach access near the resort. Beaches are public in Liberia, so the beach area in front of the resort was crowded on some occasions.
The resort has one restaurant that was open during our stay: Posh. The Posh restaurant serves a breakfast buffet daily that is included with most stays.
Posh also serves dinner until 10:30 p.m. Don’t get your heart set on any particular item on the menu though, as items were frequently unavailable.
There’s also a lobby bar that has a pool table that is free to use for guests. This bar area is a comfortable place for a light meal or drink.
I booking our stay using my Citi Prestige® Card that offers a reward night when you redeem points for any stay of four or more nights. Although we paid $235 per night after the fourth-night reward benefit, we received a bill at check-out showing that the resort only received $150 per night, which likely means Citi and Expedia made a profit of $85 per night on this booking.
The information for the Citi Prestige credit card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Since traffic can be terrible in Monrovia, where you stay is generally dictated by what you plan to do. The Farmington Hotel is an excellent choice before or after a flight, but I might consider it for a longer stay if I didn’t need to be near downtown Monrovia and found the location worked well for my trip. It’s the highest quality hotel of the three we visited.
The RLJ provides the best Wi-Fi we experienced in Liberia and is a convenient option because it is close enough to Monrovia for a few visits but it also just outside of Monrovia’s worst traffic. But, the RLJ’s power and water outages were frustrating, pool parties and loud music made it difficult to work or relax in the afternoon and evening multiple days, the boardwalks to the rooms felt like they might give way and I thought the value provided for the cost was poor. I wouldn’t look forward to another stay at this property but will concede it is perhaps the best option for business travel due to its location and Wi-Fi quality.
I’d stay at Libassa again for a trip if I wanted to simply relax. And, Libassa was the least expensive nights we had in Liberia at $125 per night. I enjoyed the sunset views and wildlife sanctuary and found they were able to book the most reasonably priced transportation of the three hotels. But, Libassa’s remote location means credit cards may not be accepted on-site and the Wi-Fi is slow. Plus, not having air conditioning can be uncomfortable if you’re generally accustomed to having it — and the resort would likely not be as relaxing on weekends and holidays due to its popularity with day-use guests.
Featured photo of Libassa’s beachfront and pool area by JT Genter/The Points Guy.
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