Living in Indonesia I was able to stay and explore some pretty amazing accommodations. One I was most looking forward to was Le Pirate’s newest Boatel that launched in September 2017. I had heard nothing but amazing things about the Le Pirate brand and was excited to book a stay on their new boatel (hotel that is a boat).
The new boatel was in Labuan Bajo making it easy to make a visit to Pink Beach, Komodo Island, and Padar. The boatel only had ten rooms and they all have waterfront views. The week leading up to my stay I couldn’t help but look at pictures on their site and become giddy with excitement.
Unfortunately, the stay did not live up to the photos or description at all. Now I try whenever I do reviews to be unbiased and as honest as possible. Keep reading for my full experience.
The description on the website when I booked made the boatel seem like it was in located in a pristine bay with crystal blue water, and boy was that catfishing at its best. A harbor full of crowds isn’t the ideal setting for snorkeling. The water was very murky and dirty from all the trash and other boats. This was so disappointing as I was very much looking forward to snorkeling and paddle boarding my entire stay.
Transportation to and from the boatel is a NIGHTMARE. Now why I say that is because they have scheduled departure times from the LePirate in Labuan Bajo and the boatel. However, there is a huge time chunk of 4 hours in the middle of the day. Either leaving you stranded on the boat or in port.
If you ask to go in outside of those times, they charge you an exuberant fee which does not sit well with good customer service. Now when I first arrived there was an hour and half until the next scheduled boat, and I asked if we could leave early since I was just checking in. I was promptly told “no” and had to wait the hour and half upstairs in the hotel’s restaurant. I was a little irritated, but I mean what could you do.
Come to find up there were six other people waiting to get to the boatel as well and all for check in. They had been asking to get to the boat for two hours and had just been sitting there. This is unacceptable service when you have seven people all trying to get to the boat to make them wait especially at check in. Not the best way to start off the trip.
Now with those waterfront rooms I imagined a boat of paradise and again was disappointed. The rooms are all waterfront however you can easily get into neighboring rooms and there is no way to secure your area at all. They advertise that they have locked doors. Again, it was misleading as you can lock your door from the hallway but not the side to get into the water. If you roll down the “screen” you feel like you are cooking in a hot box. No air flow and the fan does not work. I couldn’t sleep at all because of the heat. The boat doesn’t move and the harbor is so crowded there really is no breeze that comes through.
The rooms also were already showing extreme signs of water damage and it had been operating less than a month! The rooms also came with lots of ants, how the hell ants got on a boat I couldn’t tell you, but they were there. Some of the girls I made friends with who stayed at the end of the boat had to deal with a chemical paint smell in their room.
Overall, the rooms were horrible and not thought out at all. To top it off I have a slight allergy to cigarette smoke and the people next door smoked all night! I couldn’t sleep I would get sick and dizzy and even closing the door I could smell it. One night I just slept upstairs in the lobby/relax area.
I am a foodie as you all know and was looking forward to the advertised fresh seafood on board. Wow what a lie that was, all the food on board was frozen and there were maybe two options and no vegetarian or vegan options except one thing.
The food was also crazy expensive especially for a 3-star style hotel. There was hardly any veggies or fruit and the breakfast was the same thing every day: toast, eggs, jam. Yep, that’s it and if you stay more than two nights that gets very old. I was extremely let down in terms of food and the trip honestly didn’t live up to what I thought by a long shot.
To top it all the service was really bad, and unfriendly. They crew was not helpful with the issues that would arise on board, and they offered no solutions. I am still hoping to stay at another one of their locations on land and hope the service is better because it was truly disappointing and most on board felt the same way which is a shame. To their credit when I wrote my review at the end of my stay, they gave me a full refund back which was appreciated.
They do have snorkeling gear and paddle boards for you to rent. Now I would not snorkel or try to paddle board in the harbor because of the amount of boat traffic. If you paddle board out of the harbor, there is a “trail” that you can take. I took it one day and it was amazing because that water was super beautiful!
Overall, I was disappointed. I normally only stay at luxurious and unique accommodations. I wanted to give Le Pirate a try but was so let down! If you find yourself in Labuan Bajo and looking for a place to stay, I wouldn’t recommend the boatel. If you check my full travel guide, I have a list of other hotel options.
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