After six consecutive nights of basic accommodation whilst touring Sierra Leone, we were looking forward to staying at The Place on Tokeh Beach, particularly as our Bradt guidebook suggested it was ‘quite possibly the nicest place to stay in the whole country’. Expectations were high.
We’d booked one of the twelve beach front premier suites for our three-night stay: sea facing superior suites and mountain facing suites are also available. A wooden deck, which had seen slightly better days, ran between the suites and beach, but it was well lit at night with lots of solar lamps. A small path and three steps led up to our suite, with its deck and two chairs for sitting out.
The room was impressive, especially after a tent. The large bedroom had a king size bed with quality linen and lots of pillows, bed side tables and reading lights. There was plenty of seating with two easy chairs, a chair hanging from the ceiling and a chaise longe. Other ‘luxuries’ included a TV, tea and coffee making facilities, including a coffee machine, fridge, easy to manipulate and effective AC, and plenty of English style plugs. The complimentary Wi-Fi just about extended to the beach.
The adjacent room had a wardrobe, safe, dressing table and stool, iron and ironing board, robes and slippers.
There was a large walk-in shower with plenty of powerful hot water, sink and loo. The large mirror had two wires dangling down which should have lit up the mirror and so it was rather dark. There was no hairdryer or hand towels, but there were complimentary toiletries in refillable containers. It felt like a real treat.
The hotel had a large swimming pool, but the outdoor showers and toilets needed a makeover. On the beach were 12 permanent thatched umbrellas and every day, loungers were put out at half of them: we were the only real tourists as a large residential conference was taking place.
The beach had lots of lovely white sand and minimal debris. Turning left we came across what appeared to be the fishing village and a daily fish market, as the fish was landed directly on the beach. Walking in the other direction, we came across a dilapidated jetty.
The conference meant the formal upstairs restaurant was unavailable, so we ate in the ground floor Tides restaurant. The weather was perfect for eating out and we chose the decked area over the indoor restaurant and bar, as two large screens constantly showed English football.
The menu had a good selection of snacks, pizza and pasta, sandwiches, mains, and an Indian section which was available from 2pm to 9pm: the hotel is said to be owned by an Englishman, but with an Indian manager and chef.
From the bar, we enjoyed cocktails and reasonably priced white wine. Service was a little erratic and one night we were charged for a more expensive bottle of white when we’d ordered house. On another occasion, we’d not spotted two tonics had been missed off our bill until having returned to the room and got into bed, a waitress rang the doorbell and asked us to sign – we felt this could have waited for another day.
Whilst we enjoyed our lunches and dinners, breakfast was a disappointment. There was a bowl of chopped fruit, two cereals, a small selection of meat and cheese and an eclectic range of hot dishes on the buffet which one day included, bulgur, an unlabelled Indian dish and bread, chicken sausage, hard boiled eggs, chicken wings in a sauce, and baked beans. Although there was a ring with a frying pan at the ready, the egg chef was missing. There was a baby burco, a huge selection of teas, and sachets of Nescafe, with espresso being extra. When I tried making toast with the grill set on high, a waiter insisted on taking over and as he turned the heat right down, I waited patiently whilst he put it through six times.
Due to its proximity to the capital Freetown, a 45-minute drive, it attracted several non-resident groups partying on the beach which kept us amused. As well as the fishermen pulling in their catch of the day, the beach was used regularly by locals carrying all manner of goods on their heads.
Originally, we were only scheduled to stay two nights, but when our flights were changed, we added in a third. We were glad we had, as we could have stayed even longer.