A visit to astounding Victoria Falls is usually a once in a lifetime experience, a magical trip which should be perfect on all levels, including where you stay. As such this was important consideration when I was planning our trip to this stupendous natural site, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. I wanted a welcoming and convenient hotel that had authentic local personality and modern comforts we’d appreciate after long, hot days exploring the area. I was particularly taken with the Ilala Lodge, a gorgeous 4-star hotel nestled within a lush garden and only an 8-minute walk from the Falls. The family-run establishment met and exceeded our expectations. Take a peek inside this enchanting hotel below.
A Stunning Setting Next to the Falls
Upon entering the grounds of the hotel, you are instantly surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, including local Ilala palms, which gave the lodge its name. These connections to the area’s traditions, history and nature are beautifully woven throughout the hotel and ever since construction began on it in 1989. The Ilala has gradually expanded from its original 16 rooms to 73, however, the hotel still managed by the family of one of its original two partners who astutely ensure that its spirit and personal level of hospitality are maintained.
Classic, Old World Elegance
Indeed, coming inside the airy foyer with its soaring ceilings, you are warmly greeted by the friendly staff in this welcoming space. The vast lobby area is filled with an eclectic array of memorabilia and vintage prints of the area, antiques and artefacts which evoke the grand era of exploring in Africa and discreetly hark back to the “discovery” of Victoria Falls in the mid 1800s and the history of its early days. Rattan furniture, deep woods, African prints and a traditional thatched roof add to the common areas’ inviting appeal.
Relaxed Fine Dining
The Ilala’s award-winning Palm Restaurant is considered one of the best restaurants in Victoria Falls and is quite popular with outside guests. The spacious interior dining room is relaxed yet classy, however, in the evenings the restaurant’s romantic terrace beckons. From here you can also see the famous “Smoke that Thunders,” the tremendous mist which rises from the Falls, visible and audible just beyond the lodge’s grounds. Enjoy this sipping on a refreshing cocktail as the sky decreases to a crimson blue and the night’s sky awakens. You can then choose from the restaurant’s refined menu of creative modern dishes using local ingredients such as springbok samosas, kudu wellington or the tamer butternut and sage risotto.
Luxurious & Stylish Accommodation
The Ilala has five categories of rooms to suit various budgets and experiences. The standard and deluxe rooms (above bottom left and right) are elegant, comfortable and have either a terrace or balcony overlooking the splendid garden. The standard and executive suites are a real treat and perfect for a romantic getaway. The hotel has also recently launched its majestic Strathearn Suite (above top three photos), a sprawling suite originally built for the owners and named after the hotel’s co-founder Strathearn Brown. The awe-inspiring suite has a large lounge, a well equipped kitchen, a heavenly bedroom with a romantic four-poster bed with a view onto the gardens, an en-suite bathroom with double vanity basins, walk-in shower and an opulent soaking bathtub. The cherry on the cake is the hot tub located on the suite’s private balcony from where you can relax at the end of your day to the view of the thundering mist of Victoria Falls. Ideal for honeymooners, the suite connects to another suite making it also convenient for families traveling together.
Excellent Facilities & Service
You can feel at home outside of your rooms in the various common areas of the hotel. Next to the foyer there is a large lounge with a big screen TV and two sitting areas. Guests can also enjoy the sitting areas in the front garden, the charming inner courtyard and the divine pool where there is a poolside bar. The informative staff can also assist you with planning additional activities, in advance or onsite, which will enhance your stay at the Falls. Among these are cruises on the hotel’s fleet of boats, the Ra-Ikane, easily the most stylish boats that sail along the Zambezi River (the source of the Falls). We adored the Ra-Ikane sunset cruise, a two hour tour that includes refined snacks, an open bar and the most amazing sunset views — more on this to follow!
The Ilala Lodge provides a memorable and luxurious experience at one of the world’s most awe-inspiring sites. We highly enjoyed our stay and recommend the beautiful hotel without hesitation.
Rates at the Ilala Lodge $468 USD for a standard room at double occupancy. The hotel offers a variety of promotions, especially for multi-night bookings, see their website for full details and booking.
I was a guest of the Ilala Lodge, however, all of the opinions expressed above are entirely my own.