Reviews of Royal Livingstone Hotel
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Rest and relaxation
After a week of safari it was very nice to relax in the sumptuous surroundings of the hotel. The location is amazing, and sundowners on the deck were a great way to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The hotel was preparing for a major conference, and there was a certain amount of preparation work for that going on - but it was kept out of the way as much as possible.
We did travel over to Zimbabwe to see the falls from that side - and we strongly recommend that. It does require some negotiation of African customs and immigration, but that in itself is an interesting experience!! It did not seem that there was anyone arranging trips over, but that added to the interest - working it all out ourselves was a good challenge. Someone who is less confident might want to find out more about the procedure before going.
We also did the Jet Extreme boating experience at Victoria Falls. The kids loved the extreme of the boating, but what was particularly interesting was the drive through the villages to get there and stopping at the Chiefs house!
Royal Livingstone and Victoria Falls - WOW!
When we were planning our trip, the Royal Livingstone Hotel seemed a little pricey.....but wow, this is such a special place. The setting alone is spectacular and the grounds are beautifully kept. Our rooms on the upper level were lovely with balconies that overlooked the Zambezi River and the Sunset Bar. The ambiance was exceptional; watching the sun set over the Zambezi River was pure magic. We especially liked being so close to Victoria Falls and walked there several times.
This was our first stop so seeing elephants, zebras, impalas, giraffes, baboons and monkeys roam the property provided a fun introduction to Africa. The grounds staff was helpful in making sure we spotted the wildlife and sometimes escorted us to the "prime" observation areas. One evening, a pair of elephants interrupted happy hour as they fed on the trees near the bar and a family of zebras grazed a few feet from our rooms.
We loved the restaurant. The food was excellent...especially the steak, prawns, goat cheese appetizer and crocodile omelete. We enjoyed our breakfasts and dinners al fresco and found the prices quite reasonable.
The Island Breezer Tour (tour of Livingstone Island) was our favorite activity….we never dreamed we would get within a foot of the falls’ edge…and even had the opportunity to "swim"! Our timing was quite good as the rainbows on our 9:00 a.m. excursion were stunning. Seeing hippos and elephants on the boat ride back to the hotel was an unexpected bonus. We enjoyed our afternoon helicopter tour as well....seeing the falls from the air was thrilling, but this was the only activity that felt rushed.
One morning we took a taxi from the hotel to the curio market in Livingstone; this proved to be a fun and somewhat adventurous way to collect some souvenirs. We encountered one issue in room 5082: the fan for the heat/AC was extremely noisy, but intermittently so. The maintenance staff was responsive, but the issue was not resolved during our stay.
Beautiful hotel in a superb locationRead more about the whole trip
Royal Livingstone Hotel
The Royal Livingstone Hotel was a perfect bit of luxury after our safari. Although we'd read beforehand about the local residents, it was still a shocker to see a giraffe outside our door first thing in the morning!
The hotel was heavenly, from the hand massages offered to us at check-in, to the comfy beds and generous breakfasts. The Falls are practically on your doorstep, and the view from the hotel's deck is magical! But watch out for the monkeys which appear out of nowhere when nibbles are served with your drinks! Hilarious!
Zambesi Sun, upgraded to Royal Livingstone
On arrival at the Zambesi Sun hotel we were told that because they had a conference on, we had been upgraded to the sister hotel, the 5 star Royal Livingstone.
For us the hotel was just somewhere to sleep and have breakfast before venturing out to the falls and other excursions, rather than spending a lot of time relaxing by the pool. So, while it was a lovely place, situated as it is on the banks of the river and within easy walking distance of the Victoria Falls, we ate no meals apart from breakfast and spent our days and evenings elsewhere in the main. Breakfasts were a huge buffet and of excellent quality. Such service as we had was good. Both the Zambesi Sun and Royal Livingstone share extensive grounds, or rather a mini safari park given the zebra, antelope and giraffe roaming free therein. There is direct access to the falls from the Zambesi Sun side of the grounds.
A good base for the falls, river trips (we went fishing as well as enjoying a sunset cruise) and the nearby town of Livingstone with its museums, bars and restaurants. We found an excellent indian restaurant (the Golden Leaf) and ate there twice in our 3 days.
Royal Livingstone Hotel review
I must say I enjoyed this hotel. It is on the river and a few minutes walk from Vic Falls themselves
The whole thing in sort of "an Americans idea of a British colonial hotel in the 1890s" but with modern bedrooms. There is an incredible reconstruction of a colonial bar, and someone (I assume with a sense of humour has kitted the staff out with outlandish uniform - the porters in pith helmets and Bermuda shorts, the man who greets you is in a multicoloured robe with a matching flat hat, the "butler" is in a white uniform with a red sash, and topped with a red fez
We took their steam train excursion for dinner, which is expensive, but we enjoyed, particularly as we got a ride on the footplate when the engine changed ends to return to Livingstone.
And its only a 20 minute ride to the airport
Royal Livingstone Hotel review
Just perfectRead more about the whole trip
Royal Livingstone Hotel review
The accomodations were outstanding.
We really enjoyed the room, grounds, scenery, and activities nearby.
The location is stunning and the rooms are very well appointed.
Unfortunately the levels of service have dropped significantly in the past two years in the restaurant and bar. The bar deck by the river is a wonderful place but service was very poor with the staff standing around chatting and taking long times to deliver drinks. The quality of the food in the restaurant was very mixed, some good and some poor. However our experience was coloured by one dinner when I received overcooked food and the very poor reaction to resolving the problem.
Expert Africa comments
The hotel manager has apologised for the poor service that these travellers experienced during their stay at the Royal Livingstone. He felt that the negligent service on the sundeck is unacceptable and will be looking into this straight away.
The manager also apologises for the review of the restaurant and the complaint about the overcooked meal. He addressed this with the restaurant team and though the meal was replaced for these travellers, it was not done so quickly and easily, nor was it initially removed from the bill. He is looking into these service issues and hopes to resolve them straight away.
Colonial Royal Livinstone
We have very mixed views about the Royal Livingstone Hotel.
It is in a beautiful setting, the falls are amazing, and on the whole our stay there was pleasant. It is however, a large and busy hotel and there is no escaping this, often visited by large tour parties. The aeriel activity (helicopters and microlights) over the falls which run from dawn until dusk makes this quite a noisy place, which came as quite a shock after the peace and quiet of the African bush. Over and above this however, our greatest objection is to the hotel's efforts to retain a colonial feel. Staff are all dressed in pastiche colonial dress which personally we feel is quite deeming. We come to Africa for Africa! Why can there not be pride in African dress?
During our stay we made gentle enquiries with staff regarding their views on the uniforms and in the most part they reported disliking them. Overall service was very good but we found the level of attentiveness on occasions oppressive.