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Lilayi Lodge
Lilayi Lodge
Lilayi Lodge
Lilayi Lodge
Lilayi Lodge
Lilayi Lodge

Lilayi Lodge: Our full report

Lilayi is a boutique lodge on the outskirts of Lusaka, which reopened in June 2014 after an extensive refurbishment.

Located on its own farm, its name means ‘the place to rest at sunset’, and it offers visitors a place to overnight in the Lusaka area, but in a rural rather than urban setting.

Lilayi is located on a 2,200-hectare farm, which has been owned by the Miller family for generations. Primarily used for growing wheat, barley and maize, there is also some wildlife on the farm. Peter Miller (the current owner) was for a time chairman of the Zambian Wildlife Society, and with a keen interest in wildlife he introduced Zebra and some antelope to Lilayi. As a result Lilayi has elements of a safari-lodge feel about it - we saw zebra and bushbuck in the grounds, and it is also possible to go on game drives. There are no predators or larger mammals here though, so it doesn’t replace a safari in one of Zambia’s national parks. However for those who have to overnight in Lusaka but want to avoid the city, it is a lovely option. Though people should bear in mind that it is just over an hour to the airport, so not so convenient for a very short overnight stop. It is better suited to people who have half a day.

Lilayi was built in 1988, but has only recently taken on its current form as a high-end boutique lodge after a year long restoration project. Now it offers one of the more luxurious places to stay in/around Lusaka, and prides itself on a high degree of service and excellent food. It has also become increasingly popular with expats as a place to eat, and so usually has a bit of a buzz about it – especially at the weekends.

The main building at Lilayi looks over a beautifully manicured lawn, with a sweeping veranda that runs all the way round it. This is a lovely place to sit out, either on comfortable sofas or at a table to enjoy an outside meal.

Inside, you first reach the bar. With its dark-wood parquet floors, numerous armchairs and leather stools, it has an old fashioned colonial feel. But the high ceilings and contemporary pieces of art on the walls help it appear fresh and modern too. It is a stunning space, and on cold nights when the fire is going, we imagine it’s a cozy one too. Upstairs in the eves of the bar is a further level where a small shop is located selling local crafts.

Next door is the vast circular dining room with tables and chairs set for the evening meal. The most striking part of the room is the stunning chandelier – which seems to defy gravity and makes a fantastic centerpiece to the room. A further veranda extends from the dining room, creating a slightly more formal environment for our outside meal.

Next to this main building is Lilayi’s inviting, sparkling blue swimming pool. Around which there are sunloungers and shades, for those who want to relax a little instead of embark on any of the activities on offer here.

Activities on offer at Lilayi include game drives around the farm, guided safari walks, horse-riding and wine-tasting. Most guests will visit the elephant orphanage whilst they are here, which is located near Lilayi’s entrance. This is a nursery for young elephants managed by a conservation organization called Game Rangers International, who are involved in a number of projects in Zambia. The elephant calves can be seen daily when they are fed between 11:30 and 13:00.

The rooms at Lilayi are lovely individual chalets dotted through the garden and reached via paved pathways. Inside they are bright and airy, with polished floors, cream walls and simple modern furniture. Two comfortable armchairs are positioned to look out through the glass sliding doors, in front of the four-poster bed. Then there is a writing desk, television, safe and a kettle for teas and coffees. Outside there is a veranda with wicker chairs and a coffee table – it is from here that we saw bushbuck walking across the lawns in front.

The ensuite bathroom is nicely done, with pale green patterned wallpaper, cream tiled floors, a free standing bath, shower and flush-loo. Toiletries are provided.

There are also two family chalets available and these are much the same as described above, but with two ensuite bedrooms separated by a central lounge.


Our view

Lilayi is a rare find, a luxury boutique hotel on a small game farm with a sense of remoteness whilst also having reasonable access to the international airport. We think it is elegant, stylish, peaceful – and all whilst serving some of the best food in Lusaka.

Megan Green

Megan Green

Country manager: Zambia

Geographics

Location
Lusaka area, Zambia
Ideal length of stay
1-2 nights
Directions
Lilayi is currently about an hours drive from Lusaka Airport, though when the surrounding roadwork’s are completed, it should be closer to 30 minutes.
Accessible by
Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis
Full Board
Food quality
Lilayi prides itself on having some of the best food in Lusaka. When we were there we met a local Lusaka resident, who told us the food was always exceptional. We certainly enjoyed an excellent meal when we were there. The menus are varied and the meat, fruit, vegetables and herbs come mostly from the farm making the ingredients incredibly fresh.

Breakfast is served on the terrace, or in the dining room on cooler mornings. A selection of cereals, fresh fruit and homemade bread are always on offer. There is also the option of a cooked breakfast – just tell the waiter what you would like.

Lunch and dinner are different a la carte menus, though both offer three courses. Starters include tasty options such as smoked salmon and caper tartare, pan seared scallop and venison tortellini, carpaccio or a salad. Main courses might include a grilled pork fillet, chicken and prawn curry, pan fried tilapia or confit duck. Lilayi also offer some game options, with meat taken from culls on the farm. When we were last there we tried a very tasty puku steak with a pepper crust, and impala is often on the menu. Desserts might include poached pear, chocolate parfait or a cheese board.

The restaurant has a full time sommelier too, to help guests pick the right wine to accompany their meals.
Dining style
Individual Tables
Dining locations
Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included
On full board rate the house drinks are included, though Champagne and imported wines and spirits will be an additional cost.

Children

Attitude towards children
Lilayi has no minimum age.
Property’s age restrictions
There are not age restrictions at Lilayi.
Special activities & services
No.
Equipment
Lilayi has high chairs, board games, card and a library for children. There is also a play area in the garden.
Generally recommended for children
Lilayi get a lot of expat families, and so have quite a lot in the way of facilities to keep them busy.

Communications

Power supply notes
Lilayi is on mains power and has a generator back up – so there should always be power available.
Communications
There is cell phone reception at Lilayi. The WiFi is free for guests to use and is available in the main area as well as the rooms.
TV & radio
Every room has a Samsung HD television with satellite TV. There are no TVs in the main areas.
Water supply
Borehole
Water supply notes
The water at Lilayi is from a borehole. It is used for washing and is considered safe for drinking.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended
Yes
Medical care
Lilayi is close to SES which is the emergency services – only 3kms away. No one is first aid trained on site, but they do a basic first aid kit here for minor injuries and can drive guests into Lusaka for anything more serious.
Dangerous animals
Low Risk
Security measures
Lilayi has a security team who patrol the game park, gate and rooms. There are safes in the rooms for valuables.
Fire safety
Lilayi has extinguishers in all the main areas and by the rooms, as well as firebreak around the lodge.

Extras

Disabled access
Not Possible
Laundry facilities
Laundry is included at Lilayi. It is machine washed and line dried.
Money
Lilayi don’t offer currency exchange.
Accepted payment on location
It is possible to pay in cash in any major currency, and Lilayi also take credit card. No surcharge us applied for the use of a credit card.

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