Madagascar has no shortage of hotels, and on the whole they offer good value, certainly by international standards.
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Only a limited number of outstanding city hotels, national park lodges, tourist safari camps and beach resort hotels could really be said to reach top levels of service and amenities: there just isn’t enough competition – or enough urgency – to provide better for visitors who may only come here once, and who hardly have any choice once they’ve started their trip. So there’s a small group of top-end places scattered thinly across the island, with concentrations in Tana and on Nosy Be and Île Sainte Marie. These will cost from around €100 per night for a room for two, with everything included (stylish furnishings, breakfast, 24hr hot water, electricity, wi-fi and probably a spa). A tiny handful of super-luxurious beach and wildlife resorts offer all-inclusive rates for several times that figure. Most of your fellow guests at these hotels will be overseas visitors.
A good step down in standards will give you mid-range places, stretching from charming and extraordinarily good value to very ho-hum and rather overpriced. Standards can vary from day to day and from room to room in the same hotel, and even more so with a change in management or ownership: consistency isn’t a hallmark of Malagasy hotels. Nevertheless, if you’re paying between €20 and €100 for a room you can expect a presentable en-suite set-up, decently furnished, with reasonably comfortable beds, mosquito nets, fans or air-conditioning (a/c; sometimes offered as a daily supplement), satellite TV and room safes. Increasingly, mid-range hotels have wi-fi, too, though it may be temperamental or only available in one or two areas. Some of these hotels may also have a pool – though not always a very tempting one – and some of the trappings of the top-end places, like a spa, excursion services or a good restaurant. They will usually have a backup generator, even if they may not always turn it on when the mains power cuts out. The guests will be a mixture of tourists and business visitors, and wealthier locals.
If you’re paying between €10 and €20 per night for a room (or more likely it will be priced in ariary – say 30,000–60,000ar), then you’re in the budget category that can be widely afforded by Malagasy travellers. Most of these hotels offer excellent value for money and tend to be quite busy and sometimes full. Typically they consist of a group of wooden, thatched bungalows, some en-suite, some sharing shower and toilet facilities and some with the option of air-conditioning. If there’s a bar-restaurant it may run as a separate business. In any case breakfast, as well as air-conditioning and wi-fi (if any) are likely to be extra. It’s always worth checking the beds for comfort and cleanliness and asking about hot water and electricity supplies (there’s no point paying the extra for a/c if the power is off most of the night).
If you’re paying below 30,000ar you can be fairly sure rooms are going to be rough and ready and may be very tiny and largely occupied by the sole piece of furniture, one sagging bed. One bare, low-wattage light bulb (when the power is on), worn clean sheets (hopefully) and a blanket, and, if you have an en-suite bathroom at all, a shower/toilet combo with tepid rather than hot water, will be about the most you can expect. Your door may only just about lock, and shutters may be very loose, so security can be an issue. Rock-bottom rooms with shared facilities may go for as little as 10,000ar.
Regardless of price, every hotel is a registered business, its rates set and approved (a small training levy and taxes are included in your bill) and even the very cheapest place will provide towels, soap and toilet paper.
Campsites are widespread in the national parks and typically cost 5000ar per person, using your own tent, which you usually pitch under a thatched shelter or on a platform. In busier parks, pre-erected tents or simple hut or dormitory accommodation may also be available (from around 10,000ar per person). Most campsites have shared shower, toilet and outdoor kitchen facilities, often with firewood or charcoal for sale.