Finding somewhere truly special to stay that whilst travelling is not necessarily something that happens all that often, but the mid-priced Hôtel Mandé is definitely one such spot. Even though it is neither the best placed or the most luxurious accommodation option in the city, spending time at the delightful establishment was a real pleasure, and in my opinion finding more charming or better value accommodation in Bamako would be very difficult, if not impossible.
Scattered around the pleasant site, which is in an outlying eastern district of the city, is a series of buildings that manage to be fairly traditionally styled, despite being concrete. Each contains several plain but clean and comfortable bedrooms, all of which have a reasonable selection of facilities, such as en-suite shower, satellite television, slightly ineffective air conditioning and much-needed mosquito nets.
Elsewhere, the pleasant reception features some eye-catching wooden sculptures, and is home to a small shop, an Internet connection and the area in which the very good breakfast buffet is available each morning, whilst upstairs there is a very highly regarded restaurant. Meanwhile, the members of staff are both generally efficient and always friendly, which encourages a thoroughly agreeable atmosphere.
Although the location may not be particularly convenient in some ways, it does mean that the hotel can spread out over a larger area than that covered by rivals closer to the city centre. The well-maintained and lush grounds feature a fine outdoor swimming pool, stretch right down to the banks of the Niger. Such a prime waterside setting is unrivalled, and offers tranquillity as well as plenty of opportunities to enjoy some interesting views, as fishermen travel past in pirogues and local women do their laundry in the waters.
Finally, the covered but otherwise open-air veranda that extends out over the river houses a fine bar. After a day spent in the hectic heart of the Malian capital, it is the perfect venue for having a cooling beer whilst watching the setting sun bathes the always lovely scenery in a glorious orange hue.