“An immaculate privately-owned lodge set in lush, subtropical gardens within easy reach of Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater”
If the configuration of rooms and suites varies a great deal, the standard of finish and level of comfort is top notch throughout the lodge. All are diaphanous spaces with polished black screed floors, high ceilings and masses of windows that draw your eye out to the gardens. Watercolours of Tanzanian wildlife, Indian bedspreads, vases of cut flowers and bright silk cushions add a dash of colour to a decorative palette that sticks mostly to whites, blacks and browns. Bathrooms are in the same big, functional and pristine vein as your sleeping space.
The Garden House, with 4 ensuite doubles, and the Coffee House, with 2 enormous suites, each have dining and sitting rooms and are perfect for small groups.
The Zanzibar and Bamboo Houses are good options for families. Both have 1 double and 1 twin room, which share a bathroom. Plantation House, with 2 interconnecting rooms, could comfortably accommodate a family of 5.
Couples are often lodged in the Forest House or in the Eucalyptus House, we like how secluded and private they felt, though they do have twin beds. Jacaranda House is billed as the honeymoon suite and comes with a kingsize double and a bath. However, we found its position, close to the main lodge and next to the path leading up to reception, less romantic than several of the other garden cottages.
Meals here are moveable feasts. There are 5 different dining rooms spread out amongst the different houses and main lodge, as well as a number of alfresco eating areas. And wherever you choose to eat you'll have attentive service lavished upon you by P.L.'s uniformed staff.
Breakfast kicks off early: most guests want to make sure they're one of the first through Ngorongoro's main gate. In addition to a buffet of cold meats, cheeses, carton juice, a choice of cereals and a seasonal fruit salad, there are eggs cooked to order.
Guests tend to be out on game drives at lunchtime so box lunches - you get a couple of sandwiches, a slice of quiche, some kind of cold meat, fruit and a juice. But if you're picnicking in the Crater or beside the Manyara Lake your meal will still be a memorable one. Lunch back at the lodge is a light repast of salad, pasta, or perhaps an omelette.
Dinner always feels like a special occasion. Your table will be candlelit and beautifully dressed in all-white linen and crockery then strewn with petals of frangipani or bougainvillea. Dinners follow a 4-course formula. Ours began with seafood tagliatelle, followed by roast beef accompanied by veg which had been picked the same day in their garden. The meal ended with a scrummy dessert of grilled pineapple and mango topped with homemade ice cream. Award-winning Tanzanian coffee provided a perfect finale.
Kids are welcome at Plantation Lodge. They would get good measure out of the extensive gardens and pool, and there are rooms which have been designed specifically with families in mind.
Children up to 2 years old stay for free, 2 - 6 year olds are charged 50% of the rate if sharing with parents, 6+ year olds in in own room full pay adult rate.
We've rated it best for kids aged 4 and up largely because the game drives are better if you're quiet and can concentrate...but we know there are exceptions out there.
Children (4-12 years)
The Zanzibar Suite and Bamboo Family Unit both have a double and twin bedroom; The Plantation House has interconnecting bedrooms, and can sleep up to 5.
Babysitting is available by arrangement.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
You may need to request an early dinner for smaller kids or something less extravagant in the evening in general for them; otherwise, breakfast, packed lunches and afternoon tea are all perfectly child-friendly.
Kids need to be good at travelling to tackle this kind of safari trip - ideally, you'd stay here for 3 days then move on to another stop. The pool is unfenced and some balconies have wide slats along the rails so aren't ideal for tinies.