You're in the middle of rural villages and you're about to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, where you'll spend a week in the wilderness with relatively few minimalist comforts.
So, you would really want a good's night sleep before you leave civilization, and Protea Hotel Aishi, part of a Tanzanian chain of hotels and resorts, fits the bill
On beautifully landscaped grounds in Machame, just a 20-minute drive from Kilimanjaro National Park's Machame Gate, the hotel has a nice traditional architecture of woods and whitewashed walls that still manage to look pleasingly rustic.
The rooms are spacious, with enough room for a desk, a little coffee table and two cushioned armed chairs, and a very clean bathroom.
The beds are comfortable and because it gets nippy at night, you don't quite need air-conditioning - in fact, it's really nice to be wrapped up under the linens in natural chill.
It's still rural Tanzania,
so you don't get the gamut of modern technology and in-room entertainment, but
that's not why you're there - it's far more pleasant to sit on the patio
outside the restaurant and sip a nice African red.
Speaking of the restaurant, that's where this story takes a turn for the best. The front office staff is very friendly, welcoming and helpful, and it's great when a couple of them trot over to the restaurant to help out.
We found the Protea to be a great pre-trek stop point, and the night we stayed there after our climb was also much appreciated and enjoyed. The hotel was very comfortable to begin with and when every little basic luxury is accentuated after a week on the mountain, it all seems like a really, really nice set-up