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“Great location - Pity About the Service”

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andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Boston, MA
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Great location - Pity About the Service”
Reviewed January 10, 2008

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.

  • Liked — Setting
  • Disliked — Service
  • Stayed January 2008, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank BosPVC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
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New York
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed January 3, 2008

This was the last of our 3 lodge safari (Loisaba and Bateleur were the others). All 3 lodges were quite different so it made an excellent mix. Ngorongoro Crater is the most amazing place. When you go down into the Crater it feel like you are entering a different time, going back to pre-historic time. As with the other CC Africa lodge we stayed at everything was very professional and exceptionaly well managed. All the staff were outstanding including the security guards who escort you to dinner. The Crater lodge was fantastic with the most amazing architecture (although I'm not sure how much it had to do with Africa, it felt more like crazy Ludwig's castle in Germany). The rooms were massive as you can see from the photos. The temperature is quite cool (which we liked) compared to the other lodges so you need to bring warm clothes. The dining here was much more formal than the other lodges (a bit too formal for us), although one night the staff all did a song and dance during dinner which was very nice. Although the scenery in the Crater is amazing the game drives are not as good as in the Mara for a few reasons: 1) you don't go in open vehicles (the roof pops up) which impacts the viewing while driving, 2) you have to stay on the roads so sometime you are quite a distance from the animals, 3) you can only do one game drive a day because it takes so long to get in and out of the crater. Since this was our last stop we did a game drive on one day and on the next day we went to Olduvai gorge to see the shifting sands. Surprisingly we didn't think Olduvai gorge was that interesting, maybe because we had a terrible guide (not our CC Africa guide who was excellent). The shifting sands were incredible and well worth the long trip to see it, especially since we were the only visitors.

Overall we thought Ngorongoro Crater lodge was the most spectacular of all the places we visited. However, if we go back to East Africa, Ngorongoro Crater lodge is the one we are least likely to go back to. We would return to both Loisaba and Bateleur because there seemed so much more to do and see.

  • Stayed December 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank vcat67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed December 13, 2007

After staying here and in another CC Africa lodge (Klein's Camp), we would make it a priority to stay in one of their places if there happened to be one where we were going. They really have it down pat. These were the best run camps, the training they give to their staff is terrific, and it is clear that everyone who works there is thrilled to be at a CC Africa place. (I have no connection with them and they're not paying me to say this.) We stayed in the North Camp of the Crater Lodge, and our accomodations were stunning. The game in the crater is just amazing, as is the crater itself, and Erick was the best guide we had at any of the 4 lodges we stayed at on our trip. It does get a little cold at night and early morning (even though it's near the equator, it's at a pretty good elevation), and I wish I'd brought a heavier jacket.

Stayed July 2007
Helpful?
1 Thank eastsiders
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leeds, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed December 1, 2007

We stayed here for one night whilst on Honeymoon on safari in northern Tanzania and Zanzibar.

The location is amazing, set on the crater rim of the famous Ngorongoro Crater. This was by the most expensive part of our honeymoon, but the view we were expecting made us splurge anyway. Unfortunately, our view was obscured by two other guest lodges and trees as we were set back from the edge (Room 23 in South Camp). Having checked the map of all 3 camps it looks as though we were one of just 2 lodges with such poor views.

The lodge itself was truly amazing for furnishings and decor. However, we were also let down by a lack of hot water in the shower (it gets quite cold at 6pm up on the crater rim) and some misunderstandings over alarm calls by the staff (the level of English appeared worse here than everywhere else we stayed).

Having said that the main reception and dining area at the South Camp and food were all fantastic.

In summary, an amazing experience, let down by a poor view compared to every other lodge and some poor service. At these prices everything should have been faultless and the stay here ended up being the only time on Honeymoon we felt let down.

  • Liked — lodge
  • Disliked — view
  • Stayed September 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Grufti
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LONDON
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed September 26, 2007

Magical, simply stunning. Everything from food to views to service is easily the best ever experienced.

For a honeymoon or any romantic occasion it's perfect. Our butler ran us a bath sprinkled with rose petals just as we walked through the door after a "hard day's" safari.....my wife liked this. So I did too.

The food and wine really beats expectation but it's not this that you go for. It's the bewildering strangeness of the place - dangerous water buffalo roaming the garden, even more dangerous maasai warriors escorting guests around the grounds (with the poshest accents in Africa), the freezing cold and icey air so high up on the Rift Valley in the middle of summer and the early morning starts for the crater blanketed in mist so thick you'll think the Dementors are about to attack....such is the Harry Potter-ish nature of the lodge - the huts resemble Hagrid's from the outside and a sumptuous palace on the inside.

My wife wishes me to say also that the electric blankets and the indoor fire were her favourite parts. This kept her warm. Which was great. For me.

Stayed June 2007
Helpful?
8 Thank GussyD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pennsylvania
Level 6 Contributor
637 reviews
152 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 666 helpful votes
Reviewed September 22, 2007

[--]
Suites:

Absolutely incredible rooms--or several room areas connected together. First, there’s a little anteroom that we liked to call the “empty glass room”, because we would put our empty glassware there for our butler to pick up whenever we finished a round of drinks. Your morning wake up service (drinks and cookies) was also left on that table. The main bedroom area had a king size bed with enormous headboard, huge floor to ceiling doors/windows, and a small desk, there was also a wood-burning fireplace and two club chairs/ottomans in one corner. The next room was the bathroom, which could be blocked off by opening the wardrobe doors and fastening them together. Huge waterfall tiled shower, lovely free-standing bathtub, twin pedestal sinks, makeup table, and another floor-to-ceiling door (and the ceilings were HIGH!). Then there was another tiny room (like the “empty glass room”) that held the toilet. I don’t think there was a bidet here. The rooms are not spaced far apart, and due to the elevation of the landscape, it was nearly possible to see from our deck into the next rooms water closet (and there were no curtains or wooden doors provided for some of the windows--but other windows did have them). There are zebras and cape buffalo right on the property (no fences), so be sure to call your Masaai guide (there are phones in the rooms) for an escort to the main building. The animals will come right up to your deck and front door. (Each room has a larger deck off the bedroom area--use the four cushions provided at the end of your bed to set up a comfortable spot on the wooden step/bench--and a smaller deck located off the bathroom. Toiletries are provided in these neat, refillable glass bottles with cork stoppers (shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, bath salt scrub, shower gel). Massages are available (not included: about $40 for 1/2 hour and $60 for an hour). Robes and slippers were provided; umbrellas too. There is a lovely wooden/glass box filled with chocolates/sweets, and glasses with brandy/sherry in the fireplace area. There was an electronic safe, and the rooms could also be locked with a key. The rooms get quite chilly in the late evening/early morning. You’ll definitely need slippers to walk around (not bare feet), and the fireplace and electric space heater are necessary. Your bed will also contain a dual-controlled electric blanket, which will be turned on for you during the nightly turndown. (We found it too hot with the electric blankets, however, and turned them off.)

Common Areas: What can I say? Everything is true! It’s OVER THE TOP! We had room number 8 in the North Camp, which was midway between the dining area and the end of camp. North Camp would be the best choice, I think, if you have any mobility issues. The farthest room in South Camp required walking up a hill. We didn’t really see Tree Camp, but I think it was probably hilly as well (although the smallness of it may have helped). I requested North or South Camp prior to my stay, but perhaps Tree Camp would have been the better choice. There are a lot of rooms in North and South as compared to Tree, and we missed the more personalized service that we got at our previous (small) camp, Bateleur. The service was good, just not as personal or personalized. There was a curio shop which had a computer if you wanted to purchase internet time. There’s no pool at Crater Lodge, but don’t worry--there’s neither the time nor the hot weather to use one. (I can’t believe I almost didn’t stay there because they didn’t have a pool! What a fool!) Be sure to use the restrooms in the lobby/dining area--and don’t forget that you’ll have to go outside and via a wooden walkway to the restroom building. There is a common sink area, but separate rooms for men and women (look above the doors for the appropriate character--I missed it the first time and ended up in the men’s room instead). Cocktails were held in the lobby/lounge area from about 7:30 to 8:00, but we missed them both nights. It seemed like the time to chat with the other guests if you were so inclined.

Food: The dining room is lovely, with formal service. The meals were very elaborate and formal--and delicious. The current chef is from Oregon, and trained somewhere else in the United States (we think he said San Francisco)--it was our first and only encounter on the trip with someone on staff who was American). We had one really unique lunch here--ask to be seated out on the deck if the weather is nice. It’s too cold to eat out there for breakfast or dinner, so lunch is your only option. Breakfast is a cold buffet (e.g., juices, fruit, bread, cereal, yogurt, meats, cheeses), followed by a hot entree (if desired); too much food for me so early in the morning.

Electricity and Water: There are plenty of outlets in the rooms for recharging. Don’t forget an adapter (you will need the 3-prong English/Great British adapter for all of Kenya and Tanzania--not the Africa adapter); a converter was not necessary. There was 24-hour hot water here, but the electricity was turned off from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm and then again from 12:00 midnight through 3:00 am (or thereabouts). There is 24-hour hot water.

Laundry: Laundry service is included, and the Crater Lodge actually has washing machines and dryers, so you’ll receive a 12-hour turnaround or so. If you’re going to have laundry done, this is the place--I felt terrible asking someone to hand wash my unmentionables. And by the way, they do “smalls” (underwear and bras) at the CC Africa camps, unlike many other places that I heard about online. Laundry is returned in a neat wicker basket, wrapped in a satiny bag, tied with a ribbon, accompanied by a rose. It looked like a gift!

Game Drives: You can only do ONE game drive per day at the Crater Lodge, but it can be a long/extensive one, with a box breakfast and lunch to take along if you desire. I think the “morning” drive went out from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm, and the “afternoon” drive went out from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. You must stay on road in the Crater, under all circumstances, so binoculars and telephoto lenses are a must if animals are far away. This was the most crowded park of our safari, but not overly so. Another couple we met described the Lodge and park as touristy, but we disagreed; it was just more dense with vehicles and people. There are two restroom facilities in the Crater, but there might as well not be. It was my first experience with squat toilets: there’s a porcelain plate with footprints on the floor of each stall, and you squat and go--not easy!

Surprise at Crater Lodge: DON’T READ ANY FARTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SPOIL THE SURPRISE!
One day after lunch, when you return to your room, the butler will have drawn a lovely bubble bath for you, surrounded by rose petals. When you see that the tub is half full, you might add just a bit more hot (really scalding!) water to top it off, but don’t forget about the water displacement that your body will cause (therefore, DON’T FILL the tub to the top). I thought that I knew better than my butler, and filled the tub to the top with really hot water. Not only was it too scalding to sit in, but I would have flooded the entire room. The butler closed the drapes to the door/deck, but it was nicer with them open (particularly since the time coincided with the afternoon power cut), and I also lit the candle that was near the bath. A really relaxing afternoon! Crater Lodge also gave us a bag of coffee beans on our last night.

  • Liked — Unbelievable suites!
  • Disliked — Liked it all
  • Stayed August 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank fluffnfold
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Glendale, CA
Level 5 Contributor
61 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 143 helpful votes
Reviewed July 8, 2007

Stayed at Tree Camp -- and most rooms there have great views (contrary to one former reviewer's experience). We were in room 28, which has a fabulous view of the crater. Room 26 also looks to have fine views. But room 24 has no views, so avoid that. If you stay at South Camp, Room 23 looked great as well. Also at North Camp, Room 12A is basically a honeymoon suite that is more private and also has great views.
Also at Tree Camp, Room 30 is right next to the dining room, so you might get noise. (as are rooms 4 and 5 at North Camp; and room 21 at South Camp)
We thought the location was one of the most beautiful in the world. The service was excellent (but the butlers are NOT exclusive -- as advertised -- instead each one serves three rooms, but that didn't really bother us). Food was first rate. We loved the smaller dining room at Tree Camp -- it was more intimate and we were able to talk easily to all the other guests.
Can't rave about the place enough. I will be recommending it to anyone who intends to travel to Africa.
Our guide was first-rate and we saw lots of great game. Since there have never been poachers or hunters in the Crater, the animals walk right up to the vehicles. We saw a pride of lions after a kill; wildebeest fighting; black rhinos (but in the far, far distance); elephants feeding; and hyenas greeting one another. I think the Crater has the best game viewing in Tanzania.

  • Liked — The incredible location
  • Disliked — There are many, many vehicles in the Crater, so you'll run into congestion!
  • Stayed June 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
6 Thank D-co
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

Property: andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
Address: Ngorongoro Crater, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Arusha Region > Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Hotel Class:5 star — andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 30
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

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