Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania *****

The Ngorongoro Crater – possibly the best view from any hotel anywhere in the world.
The Ngorongoro Crater – possibly the best view from any accommodation anywhere. For your next round of Trivial Pursuit: The crater floor is 610 meters (2001 ft.) below.

The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge has 30 suites on stilts…
The 30 suites on stilts and the large main building are all in
the same quirky style, complete with grass roofs and banana leaf ceilings.

Here’s where you sleep at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.
Here’s where you sleep (and more). The bed has an electric blanket for comfort, which is necessary as the lodge is located 2375 metres (7,800 feet) above sea level.

Fancy a bath? It’s perfectly timed with your arrival.
Perfect coordination: They finish the filling of the tub at the very moment
you finish that fruity drink you received upon your arrival. Rose petals added for effect.

Here’s where you’ll have your sherry.
A carafe of fine sherry has its own little table in the corner next to
the fireplace. You may help yourself to as much of it as you like (enjoy in moderation).

The style of the dining area in the main building of the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge: Whimsy.
No, I will not tell you what I think the designer of the dining area
smoked before going to work. The staff is pretty damn amazing.

The bar area – with no bar but with great bartenders.
Note the absence of a bar. Here is where drinks are served at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. Here’s also where people hang out and brag about their sightings of unicorns.

A quick note before I start to praise this place:
Every year, the magazine Condé Nast Traveller publishes The Gold List, where the readers vote for the best of the best. Typically, the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge have been ranked among the world’s top hotel for many years. 2007 ending up as the world’s 3rd best hotel in the ‘Overseas’ class, getting a score of 95.50%. In the ‘Best Location’ category it gets 97,50%. There is a clear message in those numbers.

On the rim.
You’re staying on the rim of the Ngorongoro crater (it’s a room with a view – see top picture)… You personal butler is given a discrete signal by his colleagues when the drinks are handed over on your arrival; this is to ensure that the bath tub will be filled just as you arrive to your suite… If nature calls, you will make your way to a separate little room, tucked away in the corner, accessed through a walk way… and yes, it came with a view… Near the fireplace is a crystal carafe filled with premium sherry… You go to bed and at this altitude the temperature in your room is just on the chillier side. You start to wonder: Did they really overlook this? Within a second or two you get the answer: The blanket is electrically heated.

I’m afraid it’s very, very hard to top this.
Sunsets are a soft lightshow that baffles the human mind. It’s 610 meters down to the crater floor. If you look carefully you may see buffaloes or elephants as tiny dots down there. It’s one of the world’s very best safari lodges in one of the most spectacular places possible. It may have to surrender its title the day when somebody builds a revolving restaurant on the South Pole (hope it will never happen!) or decides to fit panorama windows into the ISS Space Station (hope it happens!).

Only one thing puts a dent in the polish:
A good friend who made it big in the restaurant business once told me: ”The better the place, the more boring the guests will be.” I have to agree with her, when a Californian couple take their places at the nearby table together with their teenage sons. One kid entertains the whole restaurant with deep insights about his necklace: “Hey, everyone! Look, it’s Praaada…” and the other has made the decision to enjoy a three course dinner complaining loudly and wearing an inca-style dayglo beanie on his head. They are loud and they are behaving like primetime idiots and their parents don’t give a flying frscchhq.
Their waiter is extremely discreet, low-key, patient and professional. I wonder what he thinks? Myself, I just want to throw these loud little brats to the lions. And in this particular location, it would not have to stay with just wishful thinking.

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
(operated by andBeyond, Africa)
+27 11 809 4300.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area

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