Eight Reedbuck is a relaxing small hotel that is very Zambian.
Eight Reedbuck Hotel: Our full report
Anonymously sited in Lusaka's residential suburb of Kabulonga, number 8 Reedbuck Road seems like any other house on the road. However, inside Eight Reedbuck, its individual and flexible approach allows it to claim the title of Lusaka's first boutique hotel – even if a few of its Zambian fixtures will make disciples of Scandinavian design wince.
Eight Reedbuck is the brainchild of Clive Shamwana, a genial and cosmopolitan Zambian who spent time running health clubs in the UK, and working in a senior role for Intercontinental Hotels, before deciding to return to Zambia, where he was born. Seeing a gap in the market, he decided to open a small, guesthouse with individual rooms and a sense of place; somewhere that actually felt Zambian. Clive's understanding of the needs of overseas travellers was a real positive here, and for a number or years Eight Reedbuck was a real favourite of ours. However in recent years the hotel has lacked investment and the standard of the rooms and main areas has sadly slipped making the whole place look a little tired.
That said Clive still owns and runs Eight Reedbuck, which remains full of character for those who are happy to overlook the aesthetics. The ten suites – all large, totally different and fairly eclectically furnished. All are named after Zambian tribes, and their furnishings and colours subtly reflect this. So, for example, the Lozi suite has a black-and-white striped theme, and is decorated with carvings, fabric and art from western Zambia.
Of these ten suites, two – the Lozi and Botatwe – are slightly larger than the others, and command a slightly higher rate, but all enjoy broadly similar in-room facilities: satellite TV, a proper domestic fridge, a small safe, tea/coffee-making facilities, a large digital safe, remote-controlled air conditioning, a phone (for internal calls) and free WiFi access (which is a little slow). Most have king-size beds, and there's usually space to add an extra bed for a child if requested.
Each room at Eight Reedbuck has a large en-suite bathroom with a flush toilet, a shower and a separate bath, but they're all very different. The ground-floor rooms have a glass roof above the shower – with bushes and trees around it outside – and one or two even have a Jacuzzi!
All the suites are designated as non-smoking, so smokers should ask for a ground-floor room with a private outside garden. For more general use, there’s a large garden beside the dining room that incorporates several shaded areas with soft seats and sunloungers, and also a very large, clear and inviting swimming pool. Having said that, the main areas of the hotel appear to have become popular with residents for celebrations and occasions. So on recent visits we have found it to be a bit noisy, so we didn't feel very comfortable spending much time in the public areas.
We didn't stay long at Eight Reedbuck, just a few hours to freshen up on our way back to the UK and have a look around the hotel. Although the place was neat as a pin, we noticed that some of the paintwork in the rooms could do with a bit of attention, as could some of the fixtures in the bathrooms. We are assured that refurbishments are underway and plan to visit the hotel again in the near future to check on its progress. Nonetheless, the team were extremely accommodating and we felt very welcome and so we are still recommending the place but with the above provisos in mind.
8 Reedbuck has a driver who works with the hotel, plus a relationship with a local taxi company who can supply them with reliable taxis. This is particularly useful as reliable taxis aren't always easy to find in Lusaka!
Our viewWe used to think of Eight Reedbuck as one of the best options for our travellers who overnight in Lusaka though sadly it has become rather worn out in recent years. Its décor remains quirky and slightly ad hoc and we are assured that refurbishments are underway. But for the time being we only cautiously recommend it to those unfussed about interiors – though it does remain an interesting, authentic and very Zambian place to stay.
Ideal length of stay: We often use this for just one night in Lusaka.
Directions: It's about 25–30minutes’ drive between Lusaka Airport and 8 Reedbuck, depending on the traffic.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: B&B
Food quality: There's a small restaurant here, used by residents and a few non-residents. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner – although if you're arriving /leaving at a strange hour, the kitchen can usually rustle up a toasted sandwich and salad or something similar.
The dinner menu has half-a-dozen options for starters and main courses, some of which are either Zambian dishes or based on Zambian dishes (albeit prepared very much with an overseas palate in mind). The fundamentals of these – steak, fish, pork, chicken and a vegetarian option – are fairly standard, even if some of the names and details are new. For example, Impwa, which is a vegetarian starter, consists of aubergines slices grilled with olive oil and served with a sweet tomato and raisin chutney; or a Musalu Parcel, in which seasonal stir-fried vegetables are wrapped in spinach leaves.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £10-15
Drinks included: Drinks are not included
Further dining info: Yes – on request. Can be very flexible.
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome here.
Special activities & services: Eight Reedbuck have high chairs, but no cots.
Generally recommended for children: Eight Reedbuck is generally fine for children.
Notes: Parents (and children) should be aware that although there are steps into the shallow end of the swimming pool, the depth is unmarked in the deep end, and the pool is unfenced.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Power supply notes: They have a back-up generator which kicks in automatically if the main supply fails.
Communications: The phone at reception is manned 24 hours, and local SIM cards are available. There is free WiFi throughout.
TV & radio: All rooms have satellite televisions, which have BBC World, CNN, Al Jezera and package of satellite channels.
Water supply: Mains
Water supply notes: All the suites have plumbed-in showers, baths and flushing toilets.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: There are security guards on site 24 hours, linked to a rapid-response unit. Parking for guests is within a security gate.
Fire safety: The hotel has fire extinguishers in the central corridors. It does not have smoke alarms, although we have recommended these to them as important!
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Extra Charge
Money: The hotel can change small amounts of money for guests in case of need.
Accepted payment on location: Visa and MasterCard are accepted with no surcharge, Amex and Diners are not but; neither are travellers' cheques. Cash payments may be made in Zambian kwacha and US dollars.