There aren’t many hotels in the world that could rival The Royal Livingstone’s location — situated almost on top of Victoria Falls along the Zambezi River. Indeed, in just a few minutes you will reach the pedestrian entrance to the falls – flash your card – and you’re into the UNESCO World Heritage Site free of charge.
Situated on the Zambian side of the falls (of which are shared with Zimbabwe), this is the third property in the Sunlux Collection – known as South Africa’s “Golden Triangle” of luxury hotels I am visiting on my trip to Africa. Whilst we’re now in Zambia, the three properties are indeed three of the most luxurious properties in the region… each with their own unique flare. The ‘flare’ here, we might say, is distinctly African… in a Victorian / safari / animal prints kinda way. It’s the Africa you imagined and The Royal welcomes you like a royal guest indeed, to the party of the century. Before you go you should know that the hardest part is leaving… but while you’re there, this is one of the world’s most special oasis’.
For a royal landing, I was greeted by a representative of the hotel at customs + immigration and whisked through to the VIP line – smooth!
From there, we met with my driver at the arrivals area who took me the short journey to the departure point for my water taxi to the hotel. Of course you can choose to drive the short distance to the hotel without the water taxi arrival, but many guests choose this little extra as they’re eager to get on the waters of the Zambezi River.
Once we arrive (10-15 minutes later) at The Royal Livingstone, I was met with a colourful welcome in the form of Edward – the life and soul of the hotel. He walks around in a bright red traditional outfit (you won’t miss him), and is on hand at all times to ensure you have the time of your life from the moment you arrive, to the time you must regrettably leave.
I was then treated to a complimentary welcome hand massage (nice touch!) and a cold ice tea. Shortly thereafter, I was accompanied to my room – 5078 on the ground floor – and checked-in.
It wasn’t long before I had checked into my corner suite and began to settle in to life on the Zambezi river. The rooms are far from the opulence you see throughout the public spaces of the hotel. Instead they are made to feel homely, warm and inviting. At the end of a long day of activities or exploring the Zambezi river, it’s a warm welcome and those homely touches you enjoy most.
The bathroom was my favourite feature of the room – featuring a large shower and bath tub. Bathroom amenities are the same throughout all of the Sunlux Collection Hotels, featuring Molton Brown products and replenished twice daily.
There is a great wi-fi connection for the remote location of the hotel and I was surprised by the speed – never an issue with the technology! All in all, I felt very much at home here inside my corner suite and most enjoyed early afternoons in my private deck area watching the sun begin to set.
I had high expectations for the level of service at The Royal Livingstone following a number of recommendations and for the most part, this was the case. Every so often you would encounter a staff member who could care less if you wanted to order a drink as a paying customer, but these were exceptions to the rule. The service at The Royal Livingstone does for the most part, live up to its’ name.
Even if you do encounter the odd staff member who isn’t particularly interested in your query or comment, this is far out-weighed by the fantastic and energetic service you will experience from the management staff and guest relations. Edward is the life and soul of the hotel – never too far away to check on all guests’ experience and ensure they are enjoying their stay.
While each room is said to be equipped with a personal butler, I didn’t see mine during my stay – nor did I require anything to warrant calling him/her.
Inside the hotel, you simply must book yourself in for a sunset treatment on the Zambezi River. The spa manager was more than helpful in arranging a treatment to best suit my needs, and I left feeling completely rejuvenated after a 90 minute traditional African massage – their most popular offering.
Outside the hotel, the options are endless. During my stay I enjoyed: a private walking tour of the falls, a microlight flight over the falls, canoeing on the Zambezi river (with the crocodiles and hippos), a gorge swing and much more. There is also a bungy for the more adventurous – or a helicopter ride should you wish for more covering when flying over the falls.
I could not possibly praise this hotel more highly. This is renowned for being one of the most luxurious accommodation options on the Zambezi River, and is as close as you can stay to the Victoria Falls (so close that you will hear them 24/7, peacefully in the background). Be sure to come prepared to try a few activities as there is so much to enjoy whilst here. And don’t miss that sunset massage on the Zambezi! An absolute must do.