Riley's Hotel

Riley's Hotel: Our full report

51 rooms
Traveller's rating
Good (71%) From 9 reviews
Any age
All year

Riley's Hotel was founded in 1910 by Harry Riley. At that time it was simply an extra rondavel right next to his own: suitable only for one guest and very poorly equipped. Later, he expanded his little 'hotel' bordering the Thamalakane River by joining the two huts together and creating a simple dining room in between. And so began a part of Maun’s history that makes Riley’s so much more than just a hotel.

In his book The Lost World of the Kalahari, Laurens van der Post described Riley's in the 1950s as a 'remarkable little hotel which he [Harry Riley] had founded for the odd, intrepid traveller who had been determined enough to cross the desert, as well as for the score or so of Europeans patient and courageous enough to make Maun the unique outpost of life that it is today.'

Nowadays, Riley's Hotel is part of the Cresta Hotel chain and comes with most of the facilities that you’d expect of a relatively modern three-star establishment. Although it is situated just off the busy Tsheko Tsheko Road, the setting remains relatively tranquil, helped by its proximity to the Thamalakane River (albeit with a sturdy fence between the river and the grounds).

The 51 rooms and suites at Riley’s are for the most part found in thatched two-storey buildings that partially enclose a pleasant, courtyard garden, with shade provided by a number of mature trees. The larger rooms, with tiled roofs, are set slightly apart, some closer to the river.

  • 36 standard rooms are located in the main buildings. Each room has twin beds (or a double), a direct-dial telephone, flat-screen TV, writing desk, safe, small fridge and tea/coffee-making facilities. The relatively plain, tiled en-suite bathroom has a shower over the bathtub. In hot weather, it’s worth asking for a room on the first floor, whose high thatched ceilings help to keep them cooler than those on the ground floor.

  • 12 ‘deluxe’ rooms, separate from the main buildings, are more spacious than the standard rooms, and include a table and chairs. They also have their own small balcony.

  • Three suites feature their own lounge areas, complete with a small sofa and a couple of armchairs, while outside they also have small verandas.
A nod to the hotel’s founder comes in the form of the wood-panelled Harry’s Bar, but Riley’s modern restaurant is rather soulless. The restaurant offers an extensive buffet breakfast and an à la carte menu for lunch and dinner – with the addition of a buffet when the hotel is busy. And on Sundays you can expect a braai lunch.

For more atmosphere you can opt to eat on the small veranda overlooking lawns that run down to the river – or order light snacks, afternoon teas, coffees and cocktails from the pool bar in front, adjacent to a pleasant outdoor swimming pool.

As well as conference facilities and a gift shop, Riley’s an activities desk where you can organise excursions from Maun, such as boat and mokoro trips along the Thamalakane River or scenic flights over the Delta.

Our view

We view Riley's as a relatively reliable, if generally uninspiring, hotel that's very conveniently positioned at the heart of Maun. It's lost much of the character that its history might imply – but it's still a useful place if you need to overnight in Maun.


Location: Maun, Botswana

Ideal length of stay: Usually used as a one-night stop-over

Directions: Riley's has a very central location on Tsheko-Tsheko Road, about 3km from Maun Airport.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Cresta Hotels

Food & drink

Usual board basis: B&B

Food quality: The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

A full buffet breakfast includes hot dishes and eggs cooked to order.

For lunch and dinner, there is a broad à la carte menu, with the addition of a buffet when the hotel is busy. On Sundays, a braai (barbecue) is served for both lunch and dinner. Snacks and light meals may also be ordered from the pool bar.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £10-15

Drinks included: Tea and coffee facilities are provided in rooms and water is considered to be drinkable. All other drinks are extra.

Further dining info: A room-service menu includes offerings such as pizzas and paninis. Minibars can be stocked on request.


Attitude towards children: The hotel accommodates children.

Property’s age restrictions: None

Special activities & services: Babysitters can be arranged on request, although they may not have formal child care qualifications

Equipment: Riley’s has a children's play area, and a good-size pool with plenty of space for children to run around. Where possible, the hotel is happy to add extra beds and camp beds to the rooms.


Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: Back-up generator

Communications: Each room has a direct-dial telephone, and WiFi access

TV & radio: All rooms have satellite televisions.

Water supply: Mains

Water supply notes: All rooms are fully plumbed with running hot and cold water, and flushing toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There is a doctor on call, with various clinics and a hospital in the town.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: The site is fully fenced and there are guards both on the gate and monitoring the premises.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers outside the rooms and in the main areas.


Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Same-day laundry service

Money: There are electronic safes in each of the rooms, and a foreign exchange desk.

Accepted payment on location: Mastercard and Visa cards are accepted; Diners and Amex are not. Cash payments may be made in South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula.

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