Halfway down a sandy side street in the upmarket, beach-side neighborhood of Les Mamelles, this small, friendly hotel is a sparkling budget gem. It takes its name from the nearby lighthouse (Le Phare) and the twin hills up above (‘Les Mamelles’ is French for ‘mammaries’.) Founded by a welcoming Belgian family and now run by their Senegalese counterparts, the hotel has a selection of bright, comfortable budget rooms that come with Wi-Fi and air conditioning, but without a hefty price tag.
Le Phare’s 10 rooms are spread out over the floors above a terrace area that catches the early morning light. They vary from single rooms to quadruples, which are great for friends travelling together or families on a budget. Although simple, the use of color in the decor means they are far from drab, so you won’t feel the heavy-heartedness that often goes hand-in-hand with staying in budget digs. Two of the rooms have interconnecting doors – a great option for even larger groups.
Guests can sign up for full or half-board, or just bed and breakfast. The breakfast is continental-style, but it’s consistently good, and the lunch and dinner menus include fresh Senegalese seafood, Belgian-style steak frites, pizzas, pastas, toasted sandwiches, salads and Senegalese dishes like the tangy yassa poulet (chicken marinated for hours in onions, spices and olives), mafe (meat in peanut stew) or thieboudjenne (the national dish, bringing together everything from crispy rice to fried eggplant, stewed carrots and fish.)
Best of all are the prices. Rooms start at just 22,000 cfa per night; unbeatable for a place of this quality in Dakar. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s out of town. Although it’s a 15-minute cab ride from the downtown Plateau district, life in Dakar is spread out through the beach suburbs. Some of the best restaurants in the city are on Le Phare’s doorstep, not to mention the nearby beach spots. It’s easy to find taxis at the junction at the end of the street, just outside the pharmacy.