Cotonou, Benin: Le Chant D’Oiseau

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When in Cotonou, Benin, we chose Le Chant D’Oiseau because it was recommended in Lonely Planet and seemed like a good budget option for a couple of days in Cotonou, Benin. Big mistake! We’ve spent the eight last months staying at 54 budget hotels in 24 countries across Africa —and none have been worse value than Le Chant D’Oiseau.

For starters, the 50 dollar per night (for a double room, two people) rate is a really poor deal in a city where you can pay the same price and stay in the three star Hotel Benin Vickenfel. Nothing in our room (or in the rooms they tried to move us to) worked —not the advertised hot water, not the 8 dollar per day internet, and not the air conditioner we paid extra for. To boot, the toilet seat in the first room was not only broken it was split in half, ripped apart in a way that might hurt someone.

Also, the staff does absolutely nothing to accommodate their guests. No hospitality at this Catholic community owned hotel. Instead, they were the only hotel we’ve stayed at in Africa, that I would use the term “unfriendly,” downright hostile even. The staff at Le Chant D’Oiseau would rather argue with the guest about the non-working water or internet than try to help fix the problem.

Also, don’t expect any help here —not in finding a taxi, not in carrying your bags, not in getting directions, let alone a warm greeting or smile. In fact, your more like to be mocked, made fun of, yelled at, or laughed at than helped. It’s the only place we’ve had to check out early anywhere in West Africa and if you look at our other recommendations on borderjumpers.org, it is also one of the only bad reviews we’ve had to write anywhere on the continent. We strongly urge people NOT to stay here. The only positive thing is the location: across the street from a supermarket, near a tasty Chinese restaurant.

Bernard Pollack
Bernard Pollack, an expert on local labor movements and communications, is currently traveling across the continent of Africa with his partner Danielle Nierenberg BorderJumpers.org, meeting with farmers, community organizers, labor activists/leaders, non-governmental organization (NGOs), the funding and donor communities, and others.

His travel writing from Africa has recently been featured in the Montreal Gazette, the NC News Observer, the Omaha World-Herald, and the Des Moines Register.

He holds an M.A. in Political Management from The George Washington University School of Political Management and a B.A. from the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University.
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0 Responses to Cotonou, Benin: Le Chant D’Oiseau

  1. Delia August 6, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    oh my goodness guys, I’m SO sorry I didn’t warn you! I got into so many petty shouting matches with the awful staff there, who blatantly mocked us and demanded I thank them for their mercy on me whenever they eventually decided to be semi-reasonable.

    they refused to give me a bug net one of the times I stayed there, and we were put on the very top floor for no reason. They also pressured my-non-french-speaking fellow travellers to sign their name to things in French claiming what was in the room, when most of the stuff was never there.

    Chant d’Oiseau is the very worst example of the Beninois, but likely it’s a huge outlier. Sorry again for not warning you! I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me you might stay there.

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