Ilala lodge is situated just 10 minutes walk from Victoria Falls...
Ilala Lodge: Our full report
In a convenient location just 10 minutes' walk from the Victoria Falls themselves and even closer to the centre of Victoria Falls town, Ilala Lodge offers good quality, affordable rooms furnished in a comfortable and fairly timeless style.
The accommodation at Ilala is situated on two levels; on the top row each of the rooms has a balcony reached through some patio doors directly from the bedroom. The lower tier of rooms each has a verandah accessed in the same way. The balconies are not high and both the balconies and the verandahs have easy access to the grassy banks in front of the lodge. The clever design of the rooms at Ilala Lodge means that the lower tier of rooms are set slightly further forward from the upper tier, thereby minimising any noise from the patios below. That said, the patios and balconies are arranged quite tightly next to one another, great if you are with a group and know your next door neighbours, perhaps a little too close if they are not part of the same group.
There are 32 spacious standard rooms and two deluxe suites at Ilala Lodge, all with en-suite bathrooms and separate showers, as well as satellite TV, a phone, an overhead fan, air-conditioning and tea and coffee making facilities. There is also an electronic safe in each. Each of the standard rooms is adequately sized with enough space to store a decent amount of luggage and still be able to move around the room freely.
The en-suite bathrooms could be considered a little dated these days but they are all spotlessly clean and in full functioning order with both a bath and a shower. There are some complimentary branded toiletries too which are a nice touch.
In late-2014 work began on the addition of a brand new wing at Ilala Lodge. This extension will expand into the plot of land adjacent to the current property. This new development will mean Ilala will soon boast 22 brand new rooms in addition to the existing hotel. At the time of writing (February 2015) the foundations had been laid on this project and we have been informed that the noisiest building work should be completed by mid-June / July 2015 – with a final opening penciled in for October. Building work is being confined to weekdays and some Saturdays and we’ve been reliably informed that the disruption to guest’s stays during this period should be very minimal. We don’t envisage this having any adverse affect on the high levels of comfort that guests can expect while staying at Ilala Lodge, but please do ring us to discuss this in more detail if it’s a concern.
Ilala Lodge's communal area contains a pleasant lounge area near reception with free internet access for guests of the hotel. The Palm Restaurant at Ilala Lodge is a focal point of the main area and offers dining both indoors and outdoors. The food here isn't cheap but is excellent and extremely varied. Most of our travellers stay on a b&b basis at Ilala and the breakfast is very nice indeed. A great selection of bread, pastries, yoghurts, fruit and cereals as well as a full English option all set you up for the busy day ahead.
Almost adjacent to the restaurant there is a good sized swimming pool with an open air cocktail bar. As well as soft and alcoholic beverages, snacks can be ordered throughout the day here too.
The activity centre at Ilala Lodge can be found near reception where you can book the many activities that Victoria Falls has become famous for over the years. These range from the relaxed to the ridiculous but whether you're an adrenaline junkie or prefer to keep your feet dry and on the ground, one particular option that appeals to all is the Ra-Ikane. A river boat named after one of the first guides to lead Dr. Livingstone on the Zambezi the Ra-Ikane offers a variety of trips with the most popular undoubtedly being the sunset cruise. The cost for this trip is extra but it's a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a few hours. You'll be transferred from the hotel to the jetty and on arrival be greeted by traditional dancers. On departure you will be introduced to your captain and the bar staff and waiters, spending the next couple of hours getting progressively better acquainted with the latter. There are snacks provided and on our last trip these included 'crocodile bites', cocktail sausages and a variety of nuts, crudités and dips, there is also an open bar. You'll be finished in time for dinner by about 7pm and be returned to Ilala's door.
There are a number of other operators out on the river so this isn't the most tranquil of trips but once you get away from the more crowded area nearer town there is the chance to see crocodile, hippo and elephant. Kudu and bushbuck are also often seen on-shore.
Our viewIlala does a great job of maintaining much of a 'lodge' feel despite its 'small-hotel' size. The service is personal without being over the top and the rooms are clean, comfortable and provide you more than simply the basics. The food is much better than one might expect - it's probably the best in the Falls. However, there is a wide range of cheaper (but lower quality) places to eat in town. For a base from which to explore the Victoria Falls, Ilala Lodge is our favourite by a long way because it's close and so well priced.
Ideal length of stay: Typically we find that 2-3 days is an ideal length of stay here, although occasionally our travelers stay longer if they plan to engage in lots of activities.
Directions: Guests will either arrive into Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) or Livingstone (Zambia) by air and then transfer to the hotel by road. They may also arrive at Ilala Lodge by road from one of the other major tourist destinations in the west of Zimbabwe Such as Hwange or the Matobo Hills National Park.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Jim Brown
Food & drink
Usual board basis: B&B
Food quality: The food at Ilala Lodge is Excellent. The Palms serves varied and imaginative dishes either inside or outside on the verandah from where you can often hear the Falls during high water and certainly see the spray... On our last visit to Ilala Lodge in November 2011, the evening menu included:
- Appetisers of Kingclip fishcakes; ostrich Scotch eggs; spicy crocodile quenelles or Halloumi and sundried tomato filo parcel's
- Main courses including pan fired Zambezi bream with a roasted garlic and lemon crust; Tandoori chicken breast with a citrus basmati rice, sautéed green beans all served with a mango pickle and coriander veloute or warthog fillet served with sadza balls(similar to polenta), braised red cabbage and a honey and sesame jus
- Desserts such as coffee and Kahlua parfait; pear and oat strudel and lemon cheesecake
Breakfast was an equally sumptuous affair with a variety of continental and full English choices. Have a look at the photo gallery on this page for a better idea of what we mean…
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Most of our travellers stay at Ilala Lodge on a bed and breakfast basis and as such drinks are not included.
Attitude towards children: Ilala Lodge welcomes children
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There is a telephone in each room and the lodge has internet facilities for guest use in reception.
TV & radio: There is a TV in each room receiving some satellite TV from South Africa.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The nearest hospital is in Victoria Falls Town not far away from the Lodge. For any serious injuries or illnesses guests will be transferred to Harare or Jo'burg if necessary.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: There are security guards that patrol the premises and electronic-safes in each room.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Ilala Lodge offers a laundry service.