Stayed here for 2 nights. Hotel is located about 700 metres (by road) and about 500 metres (via the short cut through the bush - about a 10 minute walk) from the Victoria Falls Visitor Centre.
Hotel is reasonably spread out with quite large grounds. We had a standard room (no: 33) in a building on the far side of the swimming pool/bar area, which was furthest away from the reception area. Although our room was located on the third (top) floor, it was really only one floor up from the main entrance area - the building where our room was located being on a slope such that level one (the ground floor) was below the level of the reception area and you entered the building from reception which was effectively on level 2. I did not notice any elevator. Stairs up to the room were quite easy to navigate.
Room itself was quite large with 3/4 size twin beds (a majority of the rooms appeared to have twin beds), long desk along one wall, cupboard, chairs and a safe. The room was air-conditioned and the hotel did have a generator which kicked in when the power was off, which happened on a daily basis during our stay. Bathroom was large with a separate shower - pressure was good. The room was very clean. Perhaps the best feature though was the large covered private balcony which afforded us views of the grounds (and various animals that grazed there including baboons and warthogs), the bush and the constant spray from the Falls. You could also hear the noise coming from the Falls, particularly during the night. There was free WIFI via scratch cards (Chilli spot). Reception was reasonably good although you had to login every time you used your I-Pad or I-Phone.
Meals were served in the main dining area or outside on an extended grass and paved balcony area that afforded the same views as those from our room. Breakfast was very good with a wide selection of hot and cold food. The hot food was ordered at your table from a menu whilst the cold food was a self serve buffet and included cereals, cold meats, fruit, cheeses, juice etc. Only disappointing feature was that you were charged extra for barista coffee.
We also had two evening meals at the restaurant, both seated outside under the stars. Again the food was very tasty and there was a good selection. Wines were from South Africa for the most part. Service was good.
All the staff that we encountered from check-in/out to the restaurant were very efficient, pleasant and helpful. A special mention though for Blessed at reception who was excellent.
There was a tour office near reception that we found to be very good. Highly recommend the extended (25 minute) helicopter journey over the Falls. Expensive at US$275 each but an unforgettable experience. A guided walking tour of the Falls themselves though is not recommended. A map costs US$1 from the Falls Visitor Centre and there is effectively only one path to follow so a very easy self guided walk. Remember though to take your passport as the cost of entry into the National Park depends upon which country you are from. Cost for Australians was US$30 each.
Also highly recommended is a trip down to the Victoria Falls Bridge. It is just over 2 kilometres (via the road - about a 25 to 30 minute walk) from the Hotel to the Victoria Falls Bridge which spans, at a great height, the mighty Zambezi River at a point just below the Falls and joins Zimbabwe to Zambia. Allow an extra 5 minutes each way being spent at the Zimbabwe border post showing passports and getting a bridge pass (slip of paper) to exit Zimbabwe which you then handed to the immigration official on the gate which is located about 150-200 metres away from the bridge. Similar process on the way back, visited immigration, got another slip of paper which you then handed to an immigration official on the gate to re-enter Zimbabwe - no stamps in passport or visas required. Excellent view from the bridge of the narrow gorge that has been etched into the rock over the centuries by the ferocity of the water. Could also see a part of the falls but the mist and spray significantly clouded the view. You cross into Zambia whilst on the bridge, but there are no immigration formalities required for Zambia as the border post check for Zambia is located a couple of kilometres away. Watched a brave sole bungee jump from the bridge. Great sight.
The Ilala Lodge was about 700 metres away from the Victoria Falls Hotel where the Rovos Rail train from Pretoria terminated. Not knowing the terrain we organised a transfer with the Ilala Lodge for US$7 each from the Railway Station which was very worthwhile given bags etc. We did visit the Victoria Falls Hotel for a drink one afternoon. It appeared to be an excellent hotel, more Victorian era in design, with facilities (and cost) one step up from that of the Ilala Lodge. There is also a magnificent view to be obtained from one of the outside dining areas of the Victoria Falls Hotel looking straight down onto the Victoria Falls Bridge.
Staying with the geography, there was a bank next door to the Ilala Lodge and a local craft market, with about 12 shops in it, about 5 minutes walk away. Another, more commercial shopping area was an additional 5 minutes walk from the local market. There were a number of Tourist Police on hand to show you around and keep the significant number of persistent hawkers at bay.
Ilala Lodge was comfortable, easy walking distance to the Falls, Falls Bridge, local craft market and commercial shops, and good value for money..
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Ilala Lodge is ideally located only minutes away from the spectacular Victoria Falls. A family run hotel, Ilala Lodge has 56 stylish, well-equipped rooms, providing the ultimate in comfort. The top-rated Palm Restaurant at Ilala Lodge offers delicious al-fresco dining under the starry African skies, whilst listening to the roar of the falls. The staff are attentive and friendly, and ensure your bucket list trip is perfect for you. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Ilala Hotel Victoria Falls