‘Karibu!’ say Langare and Lesikar as we arrive at Gibb’s Farm. These cheery chaps dressed in traditional shukas, rubber tyre sandals and Maasai beads are the resident Maasai healers who work at this luxury retreat. And as our bags are carried to our rooms and welcome drinks pressed into our hands, we instantly sense that we are in for a special stay.
Gibb’s Farm: A Sense of History
Gibbs Farm is a hotel I was so excited about visiting during the Tanzania leg of our trip. This rural house dates back to the 1920s when it was originally built as a coffee farm and in 1948, James Gibb bought the property. It was this British war veteran and his wife Margaret who started a vegetable farm on the plot, which you will still find here today.
Thirteen years on, Gibb’s is now being run by Gerd and his wife Lee-Anne who welcome guests into its collection of cottages. Located near the town of Karatu, it was the perfect place to visit after our safari in the Ngrorongoro Crater.
And let me tell you, it’s a fantastically unique place.
Let’s start with the setting…
Gibb’s Farm: The Setting
Once you leave the main road in the town of Karatu, the drive to Gibbs is down a long red earth road. It’s actually only around 6km but when you’re snaking through local villages of traditional African houses over potholes and bumps, you feel like it might never appear! Once it does, you’re on a spectacular spot overlooking the great Rift Valley. The path meanders off in various directions to its 17 cottages and you’re surrounded by an abundance of plants and some of the most beautiful flowers I’ve ever seen. As you pass the weaver’s pond over a little footbridge, that’s when you get the ‘wow’ moment – the panoramic vista over the coffee farm and the deep valley this farm was built on.
Gibb’s Farm: The Guest Rooms
The guest rooms at Gibbs Farm comprise of 17 chocolate box cottages – all individually named – and two larger two-bedroom cottages suited for groups or families. We spent three days in the aptly named ‘Weavers’ Cottage, where we could watch weavers swoop in and out of the pond. This cute little house really did feel like a home away from home.
Beautiful wooden furniture is decorated with vases of fresh flowers, the walls are decorated with woven African baskets and Swahili beads, and the timber ceiling beams and bare stone walls give it a charming old-world feel.
The bathrooms are beautiful – expect a huge bathtub, huge indoor and outdoor showers and traditional style basins. The bathrooms also offer a full collection of gorgeous Africology products.
During our stay we had turn down service every evening where the mosquito curtain was pulled back. If we liked, we could also choose to have a fire lit so we could return to a warm toasty room after dinner. Each morning, a member of staff brought us tea and coffee and our room was incredibly quiet and peaceful. Its homely, yet upscale design looks like it’s come straight out of the pages of a travel magazine.
Gibb’s Farm: The reception and Dining Rooms
The reception area is found in the original farmhouse and this ivy-strewn building has bags of charm. During mealtimes, you can choose one of the tables here in front of the original house, or you can sit in the light and airy dining area where African masks and artwork adorn the walls.
There’s also a beautiful patio area at the back where we loved sitting for breakfast and lunch. The bar area looks like you’ve walked into a cosy British country pub! Pop over to the gift shop and you’ll find collections of beautiful Swahili jewellery, artwork, souvenirs and children’s toys.
Food and Drink at Gibb’s Farm
What makes the food and drink so special at Gibb’s is it is 95 percent home-grown. After all, there’s a full-working farm and organic gardens here – so this is true farm-to-table dining. In the mornings, a breakfast buffet is laid out on a big farm table and there’s an abundance of cereals, delicious fruit and home-baked breads and pastries. There’s also a menu of healthy smoothies and cooked breakfast to order. The coffee is 100% organic and is all roasted on site. Oh, and the jams and marmalades here are amazing.
The dinner at Gibbs is all thoughtfully presented with colourful beetroot salads, delicious soups and stuffed courgette flowers being just some of the highlights. It’s a nice feeling to know you’re always eating food that’s fresh and seasonal and hasn’t clocked up hundreds of miles to reach your plate.
Oh, and the desserts here were an absolute delight. I weakened and ordered a dessert almost every time.
The lunch buffets definitely became our favourite meal of the day. Homemade quiches, spicy chicken, cous cous, freshly-baked bread and vibrant leaf salads are just the kind of lunch I love – fresh and simple yet full of flavour.
How to Spend your time at Gibb’s
During our stay at Gibbs Farm, we quickly realised, this place is an ideal retreat for exploring the Ngorongoro Crater, but it’s also a top place to come to unwind and relax. If you want to know more about things to do here, check out my piece on top things to do at Gibb’s and you will hopefully get a feel for just how special and unique this place is.
Just like us, you may never want to leave…