The Iconic Victoria Falls Hotel

The iconic Victoria Falls Hotel is unlike any other traditional hotel. It’s a historic hotel that was built as part of an ambitious project amidst an extraordinary landscape, one of the natural wonders of the world. Its existence is due to the development of the railway system in Zimbabwe in the early 20th century. The original structure was built to accommodate the workers on the railway. On completion of the railroad, the building was immediately converted into a small hotel, welcoming guests during the opening ceremony of the new railway line. It was officially opened on 8th June 1904.

Early beginnings

Cecil Rhodes, who had a dream to connect Cape Town to Cairo, initiated the construction of the Victoria Falls bridge across the Zambezi River. Rhodes stood for the British Empire’s principle to expand Royal rule all over Africa for the exploitation of its resources. The completion of the bridge increased traffic on both sides of the river, and there was more demand for hospitality around the site of Victoria Falls. Despite opposition to keeping the site of the initial structure from Northern Rhodesia’s traders and residents supporting the emerging Livingston Town, the newly born Victoria Falls Hotel was on the way to creating a historical moment by expanding to a high-quality luxury hotel, making it now the oldest hotel in Zimbabwe.

Colonial Grandeur

As you pass through the gateway to the forecourt of the hotel, its white façade dazzles you. It boasts an Edwardian style that reflects the grandeur of the old colonial era. The entrance lobby and wooden desk at the reception take you back to those early days of its opening. In this impressive reception area are an arched concierge desk for booking activities and a souvenir shop. Check-in was completed swiftly. I didn’t want to rush to my room, such was the tangible grandeur and richness of the building that I felt that I was in a museum.

Gorgeous rooms

I walked through hallways looking at paintings and photographs depicting the past. The walls were decorated with images of famous and historical personalities. The long corridors were like an unexpected maze, inviting further exploration. I was initially offered a room in the stable’s signature wing, a beautiful rectangular courtyard surrounded by several rooms, which used to house horses. I liked the room but preferred a room with a view towards the gardens – I was moved to a classic room on the newly refurbished second floor of the south wing with a view of manicured gardens, the Victoria Falls bridge, and spray from the mist arising from the fall. There is plenty of choice with 149 rooms in the hotel, ranging from standard to large executive rooms and suites.

The Victoria Falls hotel is one of those rare real classic hotels in the world, a delight to explore both its interior and the exterior architecture. I walked down the stairs from the reception area to a large courtyard with two small ponds with fountains on either side. At night, you can hear loud melodic croaking noises from the frogs enjoying life in the ponds.

Inside the hotel

The path led me to the southern side of the hotel complex. I entered the Palm Lounge which is furnished with paintings, antiques, and other artifacts and resembles a museum gallery. On the right side of the lounge, you can relax in Stanley’s Room (bar) which is decorated with large paintings, enjoying a variety of drinks. To the left, the Bulawayo Room is a luxurious lounge with special décor to radiate warmth and comfort to the private guests of the hotel. At the far end of the corridor behind Stanley’s Bar, you can find the Livingstone Room, a spectacularly adorned restaurant for romantic and unforgettable dining. One evening, I dined here enjoying the à la carte menu to the accompaniment of a live piano performance.

The gardens and beyond

I walked from the Palm Lounge onto Stanley’s Terrace, a nice setting for a traditional afternoon High Tea offering spectacular views of the bridge and the falls. I stepped down onto the vast, lush garden lawns bordered by trees that lead steeply down towards a gorge that faces the bridge. The scenery is simply a breath-taking mixture of nature and wilderness. As I strolled towards the swimming pool, I saw a few monkeys with young ones jumping up and down on the lawns and climbing the trees. I didn’t see warthogs, but I was told they lurk around the extensive grounds. If you are lucky, you may also see other animals roaming around the grounds of the hotel, as the hotel is so close to natural habitats.  

I reached the swimming pool, which is surrounded by classical porches with Edwardian columns and set in a lavishly exotic garden. You can relax by the pool and order your lunch or enjoy a BBQ at the poolside restaurant set in the garden. The Jungle Junction is outdoors and serves buffet breakfasts and dinner. In the morning while having your breakfast, you can gaze over the garden which leads steeply down to the gorge. In the evening, I enjoyed the nightly traditional presentation of Zimbabwe given by local performers dressed in indigenous clothing with masks, displaying their folklore and tales of resistance.

In conclusion

Staying in the Victoria Falls hotel is a privilege, permitting one to enjoy the magnificent falls and the town, which is within easy walking distance, and many other exciting activities from water-based adventures to other thrills such as bungee jumping, the flying-fox, zip-lining, a sunset cruise and game drives in the national parks to encounter lions and elephants. Back at the hotel after an action pack day full of activities, you can be pampered in the spa or in the poolside room.

The Victoria Falls Hotel is a truly unforgettable experience that combines learning about local history and heritage with the enjoyment of the offerings of nature, wildlife, and an array of thrilling activities. I would not hesitate to return and experience it all over again. 

Fact Box Info:

For information and bookings please call Silver Travel Advisor on 0800 412 5678. Prices vary according to several factors and our advisors will be happy to discuss all the options.

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    Mohammad Reza Amirinia

    Freelance journalist, photojournalist & travel writer

    One Response

    1. Would love to go my only dream since a little girl to see the Victoria amazing just need to know how much for two adults for forteen days

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