Machweo: Our full report
Part of the Onsea House set-up, Machweo (or Machweo Wellness Retreat and Fine Dining to give it its full ...... name) opened in October 2011, and this boutique property is on the same plot as the original Onsea House, in the hilly rural suburbs east of Arusha town. By default, it's where Onsea's guests tend to eat - both properties share the same exuberant Axel Janssens as Chef-Manager.
Together with its sister property Siringit, also near Arusha – Machweo has a reputation for producing some of the best food in the region, and this is reason enough to stay here, either overnight or as a dayroom base between flights.
Approached along a muddy/dusty earth road south of the Moshi Highway, a few kilometres east of Arusha town, Machweo can be entered through its solid-looking security gates, or a similar pair for Onsea House, 100m further up the road. Most guests will check-in at reception at Onsea, before being installed in their room at Machweo. The common lounges, dining and terrace areas of both properties are open to all guests, though most people tend to congregate at Machweo, whereas Onsea is used more as an overspill and backup area for larger groups.
Everything at Machweo is modern, stylish and very nicely done, designed with clean plaster-and-brick work, flagstones, red-tiled roofs, dark woodwork and wood-framed windows, and overall a slight oriental styling. The main dining terrace with its fine views, and a high-roofed indoor lounge behind, leading up to the loos and kitchen, have high ceilings, giving everything a cool, open feel.
The nine guest rooms (housed in the main building and three separate two-or-three-room cottages) have similarly high ceilings, spacious stone-walled bathrooms with walk-in showers, plate glass dividers, double basins and large, four-poster beds with mosquito nets. There is also a small mini bar and coffee/tea making facilities in the room.
Activities are probably what you're about to embark on while staying here, rather than what you want to do (Macheweo is a very easy place to laze away the day), but the lodge does offer some very pleasant ways to pass the time, including the small lap pool (and the larger swimming pool in the lower garden at Onsea House, which was being refurbished on our last visit in February 2018), and a massage suite, steam room and sauna. And of course you have the option of visiting Arusha town, by cab (Machweo will organise that at extra cost) or building in a visit to Arusha National Park into your itinerary (best organised in advance through Expert Africa).
Renowned for its contemporary style and run with flair and energy, Machweo is one of our favourite places to stay – and eat – in the Arusha area. The breezy location and views are sublime, the rooms are spacious and comfortable and the Belgian-African food is some of the best we've had in Tanzania.
- Arusha, Tanzania
- Ideal length of stay
- One night if you’re passing through at the beginning or end of your safari. But you could easily spend two or three nights here just relaxing.
- Machweo is located in a partly suburban, partly rural setting, 20 minutes’ drive from Arusha and around 40 minutes’ drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO).
- Accessible by
- Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board
- Food quality
- One of the best reasons to be based at Machweo is the food, prepared and cooked by the Michelin veteran Axel Janssens.
Breakfast starts from 6am and consists of a wide-ranging continental buffet, with local fruit, cereals, bread and pastries, and anything cooked that you'd like to order – many guests opt for a full, English-style breakfast.
Lunch is very flexible and between noon and 6pm there's a bistro of frequently changing à la carte options, usually including a choice of several main courses and desserts, as well as lighter dishes and salads. When we visited these included Belgian beef stew with fries, “raw-food" veggie lasagne and tomato and prawn salad
Dinner which is from 7pm is much more elaborate with a number of courses. Guests can usually expect appetisers, soup, a cold or hot starter, a main course, a delicious dessert, and cake or chocolates with coffee. On our last visit we enjoyed appetizers of tomato bruschetta, followed by stuffed egg plant for the starter, roasted lamb with a rosemary jus for the main course and coconut ice cream with raspberry coulis to finish.
At lunch and dinner South African, Italian and French wines are complimentary, included in your full board rate.
Meals are served on the outside terrace, which offers diners wonderful views of the surrounding villages and rolling hills.
For more information see the food section of the Onsea House report.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Room service is available, at no extra charge..
- Drinks included
- Wine with meals is included, but all other drinks are extra.
- Attitude towards children
- Children are welcome at Machweo, though the atmosphere is slightly quieter and more adult than at Onsea House. The owners have a young family, though they are not always there.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- Babysitting by housekeeping staff is possible.
- Some toys and DVDs, plus baby cots and highchairs are available.
- Generally recommended for children
- Yes – Machweo is informal and the swimming pool is a draw. If you're staying here, you will also be able to use the pool at Onsea House. Beware: there’s no lifeguard at either pool.
- Power supply notes
- There is a back-up generator and inverter for Arusha's fairly frequent power cuts.
- There is mobile phone reception and free wi-fi throughout most of the property, though guests are encouraged not to use their devices in public areas.
- TV & radio
- There is a large sports screen in the massage suite/pool bar. This area will gradually be transformed into a full pool bar as the massage tables are relocated.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Water is pumped from the local river and goes through six filters, making the water used in the kitchen completely sterile. However, bottled drinking water is provided free of charge for guests.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- Four staff at Machweo and Onsea have received first-aid training and they have a first-aid kit available onsite. For more serious cases they are only a short drive from Arusha and a nearby hospital. The reception has a list of doctors with different specializations in order to help guide guests the best medial contact for their needs.
Quadbike warning: quad-biking is sometimes available as an activity in this area. As with any potentially dangerous activity, it's vital that you take responsibility for ensuring that you have adequate travel insurance prior to getting involved. Be aware that some insurances cover quad-bike activities only for bikes with lower engine ratings: check such clauses particularly carefully before you get on a bike.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- Machweo has a secure gate and askaris (guards) around the property day and night.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers inside and outside the main areas and most staff are trained to use them.
- Disabled access
- Laundry facilities
- Full Laundry Service - Extra Charge
- Limited foreign exchange can usually be arranged, but using an ATM in town is likely to be more cost-efficient.
- Accepted payment on location
- You can pay for your extras on checking out using US dollars Tanzanian shillings, British pounds or Euros in cash.
Other lodges in Arusha
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Rivertrees Country Inn
Set within lush grounds, the peaceful and relaxing Rivertrees lies between Arusha and Kilimanjaro Airport: ideal at the beginning or end of a safari.
Arusha Coffee Lodge
Arusha Coffee Lodge is a neat, comfortable lodge, right on the highway, close to Arusha Airport. It is a convenient stop for a night.
Onsea House is a small, family-run guesthouse on the outskirts of Arusha. The rooms are quite simple, but service and food here are good.
Katambuga House is a smart hotel on the western side of Arusha, an hour’s drive from Kilimanjaro Airport and 10 minutes from Arusha Airport.
Airport Planet Lodge
Airport Planet Lodge is a new hotel located close to Kilimanjaro Airport, making it ideal for a short stay before or after your international flight.
Kia Lodge is a simple, country-club-style lodge situated close to the buildings and runway of Kilimanjaro International Airport.
Hatari Lodge is designed around a bright, fun 1960s retro theme and is a relatively high-quality base to explore Arusha National Park.
Mount Meru Game Lodge
Mount Meru Game Lodge, near Arusha, is a good spot to stay en route to northern Tanzania's most famous safari areas.
Legendary Lodge is boutique luxury lodge, perfect for an indulgent overnight stay at the start or end of your safari.
Twiga is a Tudor-style lodge with welcoming owners, country-style gardens and a viewing platform looking onto Arusha National Park.
Arusha Serena Hotel
The Serena Arusha Hotel is a comfortable hotel close to Lake Duluti. It makes a good stopover before or after a safari in northern Tanzania.
Siringit Kilimanjaro Golf Safari Retreat is a six-bedroom villa offering a luxury stay in complete privacy on a championship golf course.