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"A Classic in a Strange Setting" Colbert Hotel Tip by Blue_Boris

Colbert Hotel, Antananarivo: 197 reviews and 2 photos

  The escape route
by Blue_Boris

The short version is that I would recommend this hotel, but with some warnings/reservations.

The long version has several parts:

One part is that I was there on a tour, and the price of the hotel was included, so it was not separated out for me to know what the tour company paid, so I don't know much about prices.

The tour we were on was one on which we had to fly from Antananarivo to other parts of the country, spend one or two days in that part of the country, and then return to Antananarivo and check back into the Colbert. So we stayed there 7 separate times.

I finished a book and tried to leave it in the room several times, but it was always in my newly assigned room when I re-checked in. I took that as a sign of honesty.

The internal flights for Madagascar have a smaller weight limit than for the international flights into and out of the country and we were able to take an extra duffel and put our extra material in it and leave it at the hotel. That, too, was always correctly labeled and in the newly assigned room (except once when it was in a storage closet).

Laundry left in between occupancies was also in the room the next time we checked in. Apparently clean.

When we needed to fly at 0600 we left requests for room service at 0430 0r 0500 and it was correct and on time every time.

The staff will accept tips, but unlike almost everywhere else we went did not have their hand out every time they did something. The staff at the Colbert did their job and often just walked out without waiting for a tip or seeming to expect one.

The hotel has internet access of some kind that others in the tour used, I did not.

The gift shop in the hotel is rudimentary.

We were unable to independently buy stamps for postcards but the deskclerk happily accepted postcards and told us that they would apply the correct postage and put it on our tab. No reports yet as to whether any of those cards got to where they were intended to go.

The restaurant in the new portion of the hotel is brighter but is noisier and under a nearly constant pall of cigarette smoke. They do serve foi gras as a lunch appetizer so there are at least some plusses and minuses.

The hotel does take Visa credit cards. This is important because most of the country outside of Antananarivo does not accept credit cards or traveler's cheques. Exchange rates were not wonderful but they did do money changes and the difference in the exchange rates was less than the cost of getting a taxi and hunting for better rates somewhere else.

There was usually plenty of hot water and the showers and toilets worked reasonably well. There were a few complaints of low water pressure among our group. On one occasion we were not able to get warm water for the shower unless we turned the hot water taps on fully for the two sinks and for the (separate from the shower) tub. That took a bit of experimenting.

The soap was apparently quite nice as other members of the tour began to take it with them when we flew to other parts of the country and stayed in hotels for which star ratings are not appropriate!

They do have a gym. I did not use it so can't comment on it except to say that the ads they have for it are funny because they have photos of a number of girls in bathrobes working out on the exercise machines.

The first time you check in you have to fill out the police card. The rest of the times you just have to put your name at the top of the card and sign at the bottom.

This is an old hotel, I believe from about the 1920's, that has an old and a new wing. The rooms in the old wing have an odd layout with the toilet more or less outside the suite in a foyer to the suite. The suite itself contains a separate room for the shower/tub and vanity (with sinks). I understand that the rooms in the old wing cost 2/5 to 1/2 that of the new wing.

Both the old and new parts of the hotel have problems with the air conditioners, which, according to a survey limited to our small tour group, basically just make noise and do not cool anything or even move air about 2/3rds of the time (this is 7 people over 7 stays).

The door locks are very iffy and one of our group was locked out of her room for 45 minutes due to the electric lock jamming. They had to go to the next room and through the conduit in the bathroom wall to get her luggage out so we could make our flight. Note that the picture I have included in the review is of the front of the hotel and there is a window open. That is her room and at the time I was waiting for someone who had announced that he was going to try to climb from the roof over to the window to get into the room by that route. For other people in the tour the doors would not lock at all with the electric/card locks.

One of the idiosyncracies we noticed is that after the maids cleaned a room they often did not re-lock the door or even close it completely.

Another idiosyncracy was that with the AC not working I kept taking the 2 wool(synthetic?) blankets off of the bed, but when the maids came to turn down the bed they put them back on the bed.

Outside of the hotel you are immediately accosted by beggars and street vendors. The postoffice, whch was never open when we were there, is across the street along with a long line of people waiting at the pension office. Pala's, a jewelry store with Mr. Pala in residence, is about 2 blocks away.

Mosquitos were everywhere. The hotel does not have mosquito netting so if the AC is not working and you open your windows, slather yourself with DEET before you surrender yourselves to the arms of Morpheus.

For the most part while we were inside the hotel we felt safe and the staff was polite and helpful and the rooms were clean. In the US this would be a 2 star hotel (based on the lack of function of the AC, 3 star if they all worked).

Unique Qualities: The best quality of the hotel was the restaurant and bar that are part of the old hotel. The restaurant is called La Taverne and presented fairly good French food, mellow music and a small but acceptable wine list. The hotel has its own patisserie and chocolatier. The desserts at La Taverne were very nice with some of the best chocolate mousse I have had anywhere in the world. The bar, (un)imaginatively called Le Club, is small, quiet, upscale cozy and is a great place for a gin and tonic (no ice!) and a few minutes away from your fellow travelers or with your journal/notebook.

Address: 29 Rue Printsy Ratsimamanga Antananarivo 101
Directions: Central Antananarivo
Phone: 261 20 2220202
Theme: Hotel

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  • Written Sep 28, 2008
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