Making up one element of Sun International’s The Falls Resort, the 5-star Royal Livingstone is one of two hotels perched almost on the lip of the Victoria Falls – the Zambezi Sun is the other. The resort encompasses 114 acres of the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park, within the Victoria Falls World Heritage site. The Royal Livingstone opened in 2001.
Where Is It?
On the border with Zimbabwe, the hotel can be accessed from both Victoria Falls (30km) and Livingstone (10km) airports. If you’re flying into Zimbabwe, you will have to cross the land border and travel over the Victoria Falls bridge, before changing drivers. But depending on the day and time, this isn’t necessarily a huge undertaking. The hotel sits on 47km2 of riverfront property, right on the edge of the Falls, with wildlife – mostly zebra and antelope – roaming freely on the grounds.
The large hotel consists of 173 standard rooms – twin and double – three standard suites and one presidential suite in double-storey blocks of eight rooms per block. My first storey twin room was luxuriously appointed with clean white linen, air-conditioning and a ceiling fan, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels and a DVD player, a fully-stocked mini-bar, Nespresso coffee machine, and a writing desk. There was a dressing gown, slippers and electronic safe in the closet. The bathroom offered up both a large shower and a bathtub, as well as an assortment of Molton Brown toiletries. Although I was told that the tap water was perfectly safe to drink, there were always a couple of stylish glass bottles of water in the room. The hotel offers 250MB of complimentary Wi-Fi to each guest, with additional data available at a cost. I had trouble connecting to the Wi-Fi in my room, but that was quickly sorted out by the reception staff.
Restuarants & Bars
The hotel lounge serves snacks and light meals from 10h00 to 22h00, as well as high tea in the afternoon – something that comes highly recommended. You can also order drinks on the Sundeck while watching the sun dip below the horizon. The dining room serves an a la carte dinner and a buffet breakfast, but you can also order an a la carte breakfast if the buffet isn’t to your liking. I enjoyed a Chief Mukuna breakfast of eggs, focaccio bread, steak, bacon and mushrooms. For dinner I ordered the pan-fried Bream fillet, which was both tender and moist, and served with stir-fry veggies. Delicious. A little tip – make use of dinning outside and maximising the amazing view.
Business & Meeting Facilities
The hotel has a business centre and two small boardrooms for meetings of between 10 and 12 people. The David Livingstone room is available for hire for private parties, whilst the stunning lawns looking onto the river can accommodate 250 people banquet-style. An extension of that is the Sundeck, which can accommodate 100 people and is ideal for lunches, cocktail parties and brainstorming sessions. Alternatively, the Royal Livingstone Express is a completely different option – a steam locomotive that can accommodate 92 dining guests.
The Zambezi River and Victoria Falls are at the end of a short walk along a paved pathway. Your room key is your passport to the Falls – there is no entry fee for guests. There is also the option to wade into the river slightly upstream, which means you can wander close to the Falls’ edge. Local guides will assist you, for a handsome fee. The hotel also offers spa treatments in gazebos overlooking the river, and there’s a newly-built gym. It’s possible to get a taxi into town, about 10 minutes away, and the drivers will even take you to the local Maramba market for a taste of authentic Zambia. You can exchange foreign currency at the front desk for kwacha, if you’d like to make purchases from informal traders.
The hotel lives up to its 5-star rating. Never mind the stunning setting – it is also luxurious with excellent service.