Perched on the edge of an extinct volcanic crater, the lodge boasts one of the world's most breathtaking locations, but given what they charge, they have an obligation to deliver more than a view. It's certainly the best place to stay on the crater, but relative superiority is not enough--the place should be extraordinary on all dimensions. It wasn't.
A group of us had booked two nights for ourselves as a "return to civilization" treat after two dusty weeks in the bush. On arrival we smiled (some giggled) at the "Trader Vic's meets the Shire" architecture with rows of luxury thatched-roofed "huts" on stilts. One of our group called it the "Masai Versailles."
When we finally got to our rooms--after an overly grandiose and alarmist lecture about the danger of the wildlife on the property, a recitation of the rules, and a little too much bureaucracy--the initial gestalt was: "Wow!" Such views! Such whimsical decor! A bathtub! So much space! A fireplace!
Then over 24 hours, an accretion of disappointing details:
(1) The phones in two of the rooms did not work . . . and took nearly a day to fix.
(2) The hair and bubble bath residue of the last occupant remained in the tub.
(3) There was dried vomit on the carpet in one of the rooms.
(4) The staff refused to take a bag of laundry earlier than the time specified in the laundry rules.
(5) The wood was not fully seasoned, so that the fireplaces would go dim minutes after the butler came to light them.
(6) The chef, after asking our preferences, sent us meat that suggested he was completely unaware of the difference between "rare" and "well done" meat.
(7) Special meals that were ordered were forgotten.
(8) Every staff member we saw wanted to know if we were enjoying ourselves, yet no one seemed to feel personal responsibility to see that the problems we raised were resolved.
We all felt that the Lodge could be one of the most exceptional and luxurious destinations in the world, but it clearly needs stronger management, better (and possibly more flexible) processes, and more careful training programs for staff. As it stands now, however, the ~$1,200 per night tariff feels like a rip-off.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Steeped in romance, each stilted, handcrafted banana thatch suite at andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is adorned with graceful antiques and unforgettable opulence. Ensuite bathrooms, with a centrepiece of fresh roses, feature huge showers and chandelier-lit bathtubs, while floor-to-ceiling windows ensure breathtaking views from all around. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Ngorongoro Crater Hotel Ngorongoro Conservation Area
- Hotel Ngorongoro Crater