Victoria Falls Hotel – Colonial honeymoon luxury

Victoria Falls Hotel has grown from a small place with 16 rooms in 1904, to a grand luxury hotel with 161 beautiful rooms and suites. © 2020, Photo: Peter Hanneberg

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (MaDeRe). Historical romantic hotels with legends to tell are popular among couples and honeymooners. When WELTEXPRESS contributors Sandy Eime and Peter Hanneberg engaged to be married, they chose the colonial Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe. Here, they are taking us on a guided tour around this beautiful hotel, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World.

The lovely gardens and vast lawns, together with the white-washed colonial architecture, make this hotel a memorable experience. © 2020, Photo: Peter Hanneberg

Both Victoria Falls Hotel and the mighty waterfalls attracted visitors from afar long before the era of jet flying. The hotel was completed in 1904 not long before the railway from Cape Town and Johannesburg. It soon became a beloved icon for train passengers, especially during the happy 20s. The dramatic spray of the huge falls is visible from the hotel and is only a fifteen minute walk away.

The entrance mural depicts the Flying Boat’s five stages of the long journey from London, starting in 1948. © 2020, Photo: Peter Hanneberg

The rumour spread fast in 1947 when Crown Princess Elizabeth and father King George VI visited the hotel. The following year, the first aircraft flew the five stops between London and Johannesburg. The Solent Flying Boat landed on The Zambezi, docked upstream from the vertical falls, and the passengers could stay at the hotel. On the wall outside the entrance, there is still a mural depicting the route from Europe.

Great Britain’s King George VI, Crown Princess Elizabeth, and her sister Margaret marvel at the falls on their visit in 1947. © 2020, Photo: Peter Hanneberg

The hotel’s colonial romantic atmosphere has been preserved into modern times, even throughout its latest renovation in 2013. An authentic colonial hotel built over a hundred years ago has a soul. The luxury should not be superficial or flashy but discreetly integrated into the walls and furnishings as a result of the hotel’s long experience of different ages and values. In an authentic historic hotel, the walls have a lot to tell.

The grand Vic Falls Hotel offers comfi transport from the airport, which has been extended to enable A380s to land. © 2020, Peter Hanneberg
After check-in, the couple booked for a suite is escorted to this waiting lounge in the Stable Signature Wing. © 2020, Peter Hanneberg

We love history, and we love Africa. That’s why Victoria Falls Hotel appeared to be the perfect place for our engagement, so we booked one of the hotel’s two Honeymoon Suites. Out of nine room categories, spread over a total of 161 rooms, the Honeymoon Suites are ranked somewhere in the middle. They are what we would categorise as spacious Junior Suites, located in a quieter, more secluded wing of the hotel, the stylish Stables Signature Wing. It represents the best part of the hotel for any couple seeking privacy.

One of the two Honeymoon Suites, both of which consist of a very spacious room with a four poster bed, a sitting group, and a big terrace. Sandy & Peter call it Engagement Suite. © 2020, Photo: Peter Hanneberg
One of the two Honeymoon Suites, both of which consist of a very spacious room with a four poster bed, a sitting group, and a big terrace. Sandy & Peter call it Engagement Suite. © 2020, Photo: Peter Hanneberg

The one room suite is spacious and has a beautiful, mosquito net fitted four-poster bed and an inviting divan at its foot end. A large terrace facing the lush gardens attracts with its feeling of freedom. Unfortunately, the park’s vervet monkeys also want to join our high tea on the balcony. The other eight room categories range from 64 standard rooms up to a Royal Suite, and a Presidential Suite.

Engagement dinner in The Livingstone Room, one of Africas most elegant restaurants. © 2020, Peter Hanneberg
The crépes suzette for dessert is flambéed at the table. © 2020, Photo: Peter Hanneberg

For our engagement dinner, The Livingstone Room is the one place to be. In this elegant, Edwardian-styled restaurant, praised by some as one of Africa’s best, we enjoy as the main courses Guinea Fowl confit leg with ravioli and root vegetables, and Zimbabwean fillet with butternut gratin, root vegs, and crumbed oxtail.

The Livingstone Room is a beautifully arched restaurant hall, serving over twenty South African red wines. © 2020, Photo: Sandy Eime

About twenty South African red wines are available to choose from. The Crépes Suzette for dessert is flambéed at our table, to come with Grand Marnier ice cream.

Adjacent to Stanley’s Terrace is the beautiful Palm Lounge, comfortable for a pre-dinner cocktail. © 2020, Photo: Peter Hanneberg
Flanked by pressed plants framed on the wall, a musician plays the piano in The Palm Lounge. © 2020, Photo: Peter Hanneberg

The hotel’s buildings and furnishings are in the Edwardian style. Elegance is the motto. Also elegant are the gardens; the large Palm Lounge; its neighbouring lounges Bulawayo Room and Stanley’s Room; the spacious pool area with whitewashed, classic arches and columns; the restaurants; and the irresistible Stanley’s Bar. Every evening, the hotel boasts a large barbeque buffet in the Jungle Junction outdoor restaurant. It is the same name as this stage stop for Solent Flying Boat Service was named more than seventy years ago.

Stanley’s Terrace as seen from the garden lawns. © 2020, Photo: Peter Hanneberg

Stanley’s Terrace is a lovely place for High Tea, served every afternoon from three o’clock with old British finesse by waiters in white shirts or jackets. If you do not want to eat a large buffet dinner in Jungle Junction, displaying everything from sushi to grilled venison, you can look for something lighter in the à la carte menu on Stanley’s Terrace.

The night view from Vic Falls Hotel of the floodlit bridge and spray from the falls is breathtaking. © 2020, Photo: Peter Hanneberg

The view of Victoria Falls is spectacular. When night has fallen, the famous Victoria Falls Bridge and the fleeting, smoke-like spray from the rapids are illuminated by strong floodlights.

These twin drinks, served at Stanley’s Bar, are of course named Stanley & Livingstone. © 2020, Photo: Peter Hanneberg

A few steps away, Stanley’s Bar awaits, where we enjoy a drink every night before dinner. This bar’s African-colonial atmosphere is wonderfully inviting. Elephant tusks and other local props hang on the dark wood panels above the bottle shelves. One of Stanley’s Bar’s specialties is gin. The list attracts with its nine varieties describing their different flavours and botanical ingredients. Also, do not miss the bar’s non-alcoholic, refreshing lemonade drink on hot days.

t is worth getting up at dawn in order to catch the falls by sunrise. © 2020, Photo: Peter Hanneberg

The not to be missed-excursion is of course the short walk to the falls in the national park, which is particularly awesome at sunrise. The Zambian side of the falls is also worth a visit.

A must in the Vic Falls area is to go on a sundowner cruise on the Zambezi, upstream the falls. © 2020, Photo: Peter Hanneberg
The better sundowner boats serve dinner and drinks on white-clothed tables. © 2020, Photo: Peter Hanneberg

At the hotel’s concierge we book a morning game drive; a ride on the old tram to Victoria Falls Bridge; the Flight of Angels helicopter ride over the falls; and the indispensable sundowner with drinks on the Zambezi River at sunset.

Starting the sundowner cruise with a gin & tonic on the deck. © 2020, Peter Hanneberg

We choose a slightly more expensive sundowner, inclusive of dinner on the deck with white tablecloths, because we have our engagement to celebrate. From a distance, the dinner is constantly accompanied by the baryton voice of the roaring Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the smoke that rumbles.” That is how the Kololo tribe called the waterfalls centuries before Dr. David Livingstone came by and named them in honour of his queen.

When leaving Vic Falls for Johannesburg, we take the luxurious, colonial-style train Rovos Rail, a romantic five-star icon in its own right. The railway station from 1904 is just a fifty meter walk across the hotel’s front yard.

Photo report

More photos in the Photo report: Victoria Falls Hotel – Colonial honeymoon luxury from Peter Hanneberg.

The Victoria Falls Hotel

Adress: 1 Mallet Drive, PO Box 10, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Contact: Phone: +263 83 284 4751, E-mail: enquiries@victoriafallshotel.com

Webwww.victoriafallshotel.com

Annotation:

The article by Sandy Eime and Peter Hanneberg was first published in WELTEXPRESS on November 12, 2020.