The Four Seasons is set in one of Africa's most fascinating safari areas - the Serengeti
Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti: Our full report
The very large, luxury Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti is located in the centre of the Serengeti National Park, backing onto an extensive low kopje and with a waterhole adjacent to the lodge. It lies 25km north of the productive wildlife area around Seronera, which has excellent permanent game. This area also hosts the migration in season, although it is usually one of the busier areas of the park.
Formerly the Bilila Lodge Kempinski, this hotel was taken over in 2012 by the Four Seasons group, and renovated to their high standards. The architectural concept that underpins the whole lodge is that it stands above the Serengeti landscape on piles, with raised wooden walkways linking the various parts of the property. With the lodge seemingly floating a few metres above the hillside, the wildlife can and does enter the premises from time to time: buffalo and various antelopes are often seen here.
With 72 rooms and 5 villas, a maximum occupancy of 180 guests, and some 250 staff, the Four Seasons Safari Lodge is the largest property in the Serengeti – and certainly the smartest of the park’s large, hotel-style lodges. The furniture and fittings are well suited to the spacious, airy rooms and carefully chosen for their luxurious feel and contemporary safari style. These elements are enhanced by modern comforts and top facilities such as air conditioning, internet access, a spa and a well kitted-out gym.
In addition to the spa and fitness centre, the main facilities at Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti include a comfortable lounge and reception area just inside the lodge entrance on the first floor, and a large bar on the ground floor. The lodge’s first floor has a vast restaurant serving international cuisine prepared in an open kitchen. Large glass windows allow diners to enjoy views over the waterhole and Serengeti plains beyond. At the heart of the lodge is an atrium, open to the sky, with tables set around a central fireplace, to create a boma-style dining area. A cavernous wine cellar is available for private dining, and also offers daily wine-tasting with a specific focus on South African wines.
Also installed in the central part of the hotel is an impressive, small museum, with a wealth of well-designed exhibits, including interactive displays and explanations of the Serengeti ecosystem and the wildebeest migration.
Outdoors, a large deck with umbrella-shaded tables is a great location for a light lunch or sundowner cocktail. A second wooden deck, dotted with sunloungers, partly wraps around an infinity swimming pool. Both overlook the waterhole. As well as good numbers of plains game, and the odd predator, herds of elephant frequently come to drink here.
The Four Seasons Safari Lodge’s spa is like a lodge within a lodge. Six individual pavilions, connected like every other part of the hotel by aerial walkways, are used as treatment rooms. A wide range of treatments is available from about US$120 for 90 minutes. The themes here are all Maasai-based, with “hot rungu" (Maasai club), known as kiffa in Swahili, rather than hot stone. Each treatment room has two beds, shower and steam room, and an outside bath. The spa has a yoga instructor from India, and you can do rock-top yoga sundowner sessions on the top of the nearby kopje, accompanied by Maasai askaris.
The lodge’s Kijana Children’s Club offers an arts and crafts room with a professionally supervised, Serengeti-themed programme and a separate film and video games area.
The lodge also has a well-equipped business centre offering wired and wireless internet access, audio-visual equipment and printing. As you would expect, the Four Seasons also has excellent conference facilities.
Raised wooden walkways take you between the main areas and Four Seasons’ rooms, suites and villas. The rooms and suites are located in two wings, each consisting of three blocks of 12 rooms on two levels. In each block, four Savannah Rooms and two Terrace Suites are located on the lower level, while the six Horizon Rooms are located on the upper level. The Horizon and Savannah rooms are identical in terms of layout and furnishings, but the Savannah rooms have flat ceilings, while the Horizon rooms above them have vaulted, thatched roofs.
All the rooms have been built to a high level of comfort, complete with top-quality linens, down pillows (hypoallergenic pillows are supplied on request), and luxurious bathrobes. Each room also has a TV channel which transmits a live feed from the floodlit water hole. The rooms are paired, so that a room with a kingsize bed and a room with twin beds share a private front door, enabling parents and children to interconnect.
All the Four Seasons accommodation is air-conditioned and very spacious, and the Terrace Suites have some of the largest bedrooms in the Serengeti. The suites have a second bathroom and loo accessed from the lounge. They also have a small swimming pool on each of their decks, measuring roughly 4m x 2.5m and 1.4m deep.
The five villas are located a fair distance away to the west – the furthest a good 500m away, taking around ten minutes to walk there on the walkways.
All the rooms have been built to a high level of comfort, complete with top-quality linens, down pillows (hypoallergenic pillows are supplied on request), and luxurious bathrobes. Each room also has a TV channel which transmits a live feed from the floodlit water hole.
- The 24 Savannah Rooms , each of which covers a chunky 55m² and has one king-size or two twin beds plus a sofa, and a dining table with two chairs. Facilities include air conditioning, blackout curtains, flat- screen TV, telephone (with voicemail), safe, hairdryer, minibar, tea/coffee- making facilities, a torch/flashlight, a good-sized safe (suitable for a laptop), internet cable points and WiFi access. Each room also has a small private outdoor verandah and a generous en-suite bathroom, including a separate shower and bath with a similar view onto the surrounding park as the verandah.
- The 36 Horizon Rooms are the same size and have the same furnishings and facilities as the Savannah Rooms, but they are on the upper level, beneath a thatched grass roof, giving even more impressive views from their balconies and bathrooms. Like the Savannah rooms, these Horizon rooms can comfortably sleep two adults and one child.
- The 12 Terrace Suites are larger (around 88m²), with a small plunge pool, an outdoor shower, a second bathroom and a lounge area with space that could take two ‘trundle beds’ (converted from the sofa and chaise longue)– so these rooms can comfortably sleep two adults and two children.
- The fivevillas include a 1-bedroom villa, two 2-bedroom villas and the 3-bedroom Presidential Villa. As well as the facilities common to the rooms and suites, each villa has a kitchen, separate lounge and a small swimming pool. You can have a butler and cook on request, but most villa guests use the main lodge restaurants. When we visited the villas, despite none of them having guests, all their private pools were spotless and sparkling blue.
The Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti offers game drives with its own resident guides (for a substantial extra cost) and you may share these activities with other guests. However, visitors to the lodge have the option to arrive with their own private vehicle and safari guide, using the lodge as a very comfortable base.
Our viewThis luxurious hotel won’t appeal to safari purists, but it's a great choice if you're looking for international-style five-star accommodation. With it's pools, kids' club and other facilities, it’s also excellent for families. That said, the lodge is relatively insulated from its surroundings, compared with the park's tented camps.
Ideal length of stay: Most visitors staying at the Four Seasons will probably want to spend some days just relaxing at the hotel, as well as time exploring the central Serengeti on game drives. On that basis, at least four nights here would be a good length of time, and up to a week would be fine for most people. If you are on safari for concentrated game-viewing then after four nights you would want to move on to a new area.
Directions: The Four Seasons Safari Lodge is about 90 minutes from Seronera airstrip, but the drive may take longer if you have interesting wildlife sightings on route.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Four Seasons
Staff: 250 staff
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The Kula, Boma and Maji restaurants at Four Seasons Safari Lodge serve “pan-African" and “international-style" cuisine. Breakfast and dinner are usually served as a buffet, while light lunches are served on the deck, in the bar, or in the lounge. At the Boma restaurant, they specialise in local grills, sometimes accompanied by Maasai performers. The Maji is an à la carte lunch venue (11:30-17:00) with excellent views to the southwest.
The food we thought was pretty good. You can also drop in here for a snack or a full meal if you're driving through the Serengeti.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Most drinks are included. Only Champagne, premium wines and luxury spirits are extra.
Further dining info: Yes
Family holidays: Next to a waterhole, the Four Seasons Serengeti is a large, international-style hotel that makes for safe, luxurious family safari holiday in Tanzania. This is one of the few lodges with special children’s activities, coordinated by an enthusiastic guide.See more ideas for Family holidays in Tanzania
Wellbeing: Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti has a comprehensive spa with six treatment rooms. Trained therapists offer a variety of treatments for couples and singles including massages, facials and manicures.See more ideas for Wellbeing in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome.
Property’s age restrictions: No age restrictions.
Special activities & services: Plenty of activities designed specifically for children are on offer, currently coordinated by an enthusiastic guide. As well as the kid's club, child minders can be arranged on request.
Equipment: Cots and high-chairs.
Generally recommended for children: This is one of the best options in the Serengeti for children.
Notes: Families will find plenty of space in one of the larger villas. Alternatively, the Savannah or Horizon rooms can take an extra bed for a child, whilst the Terrace suites can have an extra two beds. It’s also possible to request two adjoining Savannah Rooms – where the two rooms share a communal entrance vestibule.
Power supply: Generator
Power supply notes: Electricity is available 24/7, but there has been no effort to use sustainable sources.
Communications: Wifi is available throughout the lodge - including in the rooms – for up to 2 devices per party. You can pay a premium to connect up to 4 devices.
TV & radio: Each guest room is fitted with satellite TV, with DSTV and a channel guide. One channel is devoted to night-vision cameras positioned by the waterhole.
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: Water is supplied by borehole and water harvesting. The tap water is safe to drink, however bottled water is supplied to guests.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: Four Seasons Safari Lodge has a doctor on site, and access to flying doctors in the event of a medical emergency. The closest airstrip is Seronera airstrip, 90 minutes drive away.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Each guest room is fitted with a safe for personal belongings. During the day security guards (askaris) are ever present in the lodge grounds, and after dark guests are escorted to their rooms. There are also security cameras at all room entrances.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers and hose pipes are strategically located throughout the lodge and there are sprinklers in all corridors. There is also a fire break around the lodge. There is a full Four Seasons fire-training programme.
Disabled access: In Place
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is offered at an additional charge (currently $35 per day)
Money: The rooms have large safes and there is a foreign exchange bureau at the front desk.
Accepted payment on location: Four Seasons Safari Lodge accepts payment by Amex, MasterCard and Visa and there is surcharge. You can also settle any extras in cash using most major currencies including Tanzanian shillings, US dollars, British pounds and euros. The lodge does not accept travellers’ cheques.