Reviews of Ilala Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
We spent the last two days of our holiday at the Ilala Lodge. The hotel is beautiful and at a very short walk to the Victoria falls. From our room window we could see the spray of the falls and the sun rising behind it in the morning. The food was amazing and moderately priced. Breakfast was so good and abundant that at lunch we did not need to eat much at all.
The room was spacious and clean with all the modern comforts including flat screen TV and air con. The service was good although when we arrived to check in we felt that the receptionist was not that welcoming.... maybe we had just been spoilt in Botswana... Also the night we had our meal at the hotel the waiter made it quite clear that we were supposed to leave a tip. We did not mind leaving one because we enjoyed the meal and the service was good but we would have left a bigger one had he not say anything.
We went to see the falls on the same afternoon we arrived in town and we managed to complete the visit in 2 and a half hours. It was great! My husband had seen the falls many years ago during the dry season and he loved seeing them again at full flow! They are so powerful! We went prepared wearing sandals and good rainproof coats. We also had plastic bags for our cameras although we wish we had a transparent one to be able to take more photos or videos when we went through the thick splashes.... it was just like walking in heavy rain and being surrounded by rainbows.
On the second day we decided to walk around and explore the town. We went to the Victoria Falls hotel as we were told that from there it was possible to see the bridge that links Zimbabwe to Zambia. We took lovely photos and we took a path via their back gate and we reached a view point. It is one of these places where they do flying fox and other adrenaline rising activities etc. but we just went to look at the amazing views of the gorge. We then walked to the "big tee" which is about 2 km from the centre of the town, along an asphalted road which follows the Zambezi river . On the way back a driver told us to be careful as there were some crazy elephants around. Although I was a bit scared I must admit that I also found it very exciting. We indeed spotted one of the elephants while he was drinking water from the river but to be on the safe side we only stopped a couple of minutes to see him from a safe distance and then we walked back to town where we crossed the bridge, walked through the "no man land" to then step on the Zambian ground. It was a lovely afternoon and we could see the falls and feel the water spray which had been travelling in the air.
To complete the afternoon we went back to the Victoria falls hotel for a high tea experience. We had a gorgeous tea while enjoying the views. The last morning we went to the craft market which is just around the corner from the Ilala Lodge. The people who were managing the stands were pleasant and even if everybody tried to sell everything to us as soon as we walked into the market, we quite enjoyed the experience and the bargaining. We managed to come away with a few nice local artefacts without spending a fortune although we would have done if we gave them the asking price. We actually noticed that they too enjoyed our bargaining skills :-)
Finally a driver came to pick us at the Ilala Lodge in a mini bus according to schedule to take us to the airport. Overall we rate our experience at the Ilala Lodge and Victoria Fall as excellent.
Very comfortable lodge in great position.
Nice rooms and surrounds in the middle of town and within walking distance of the falls.
Good and cheap food and wines.
Only criticism was inability to accept Mastercard payments
Water water everywhere
My only complaint relates to my being (in sure inadvertently) overcharged US$848, details of which I have sent to Maruska.
The room, meals, outdoor areas and level of service were excellent.
Expert Africa comments
Upon receiving the details of the credit card overcharge, Ilala Lodge quickly looked into the matter. They discovered that a glitch in the credit card system made it appear that the first payment deducted from the card did not go through, and so they processed the payment again in reality both payments were deducted from the card. In order to settle this matter, Ilala Lodge quickly refunded this travellers card, and apologised for any inconvenience caused.
Good accommodation at Ilala Lodge
Staff were able to provide good advice on things to do.Read more about the whole trip
Wonderful safari & excellent team
Shower temperature mix was inconsistent
Food was very good
Would have scored higher if more African style food available and spicier food options available
Perfect spot to visit the falls
This was the last stay of our trip and it was perfect to relax and unwind.
The short walk to the Falls and the city center made it very convenient for us to explore on foot in our own time.
ilala lodge #1
We visited Victoria Falls Hotel and even had a meal there * but other than the view from the terrace, I will take the Ilala over it for cost, convinience, quality of food and friendly and efficient staff that really want to help.
The falls were wonderful and quite an experience. Not there for an extended period but liked the area.
Ilala Lodge review
Our road transfer from Muchenje Lodge in Botswana to Ilala Lodge in Zimbabwe was quite an ordeal. Our driver from Chobezi-Hylton Ross Safari Touring was absolutely invaluable in helping us through the chaotic and intimating Zimbabwe border crossing. The driver Luckson on the Zimbabwe side was also excellent
Ilala Lodge was a pleasant step back in time. The colonial pictures and atmosphere of the public rooms was charming. The bed and bath was comfortable and clean. Front desk staff were very helpful.
We walked from the hotel to Victoria Falls, about 10 minutes.
Adequate night at Ilala Lodge
Because we missed our flight to Victoria Falls we only spent one night here which was a blessing. Had to queue for over an hour for immigration as we didn't have a visa like everyone else who arrived on our plane. We would definitely recommend getting visas in advance of the trip. Toilets at airport dirty and lacking in soap and towels. Unwelcoming staff except for one female receptionist who had an impossible name to remember and dried our shoes for us after they were soaked at the Falls!
Internet absolutely useless - difficult to connect and only lasted a few minutes.
Dated hotel which needs money spent on it. Room like rooms were 30 years ago. Bathroom dated. No mosquito nets around beds. Had two single beds so not ideal for honeymooners!
Food adequate but rather spartan breakfast with tinned fruits. Not a lot of choice in the Continental breakfast. Swimming pool was cloudy and needed "shocking" so I was reluctant to use it.
Bar was really pleasant and airy. We had cocktails at The Victoria Falls Hotel and wished we had stayed there!
Wilderness Safaris organised our tour of the Falls which was very good albeit an expensive $60 each for 2 hours walking and a one minute bus ride. (Abiot was the guide)
When we asked for a late check-out the next day at 12.30 we were told that the latest was 11.30 - eventually we managed to negotiate 12 midday! We were a little peeved as we had only stayed one night anyway so they could have let our room the night before as they had adequate notice from Expert Africa. We returned to our room at 11.50 and were locked out. This was the last straw and this ranks as the worst hotel on our holiday.
Surrounding area is not very nice to walk around as you are accosted by locals and one man even tried to bargain for my husband's M and S deck shoes! Wilderness Safari drivers very good and pleasant.
Expert Africa comments
We received a prompt reply on these comments from one of Ilalas managers, Martin. He was very disappointed to read them, offered his apologies and explained a few things.
With regards to the internet, internet speeds in Africa are seldom as fast as in Europe or the US. Ilala Lodge are very aware of this; they have the fastest link that they can get, but its still slow. They will upgrade as soon as they can; currently theyre hoping this will be in Aug 2013.
With regard to the hotel looking a bit dated, thats probably fair. Like many hotels and lodges in Zimbabwe, Ilala Lodges dcor has dropped behind the curve. However, now things are changing there and Martin commented, We look at all our linen and towels every year and replace where needed. We have completed the installation of flat screen LCD TV units in all our rooms at the end of February 2013 and, although the air conditioning unit in their room was installed in 2007, we are half way through replacing all of these units, and will have the rest finished by August. [Ed: Aug 2013!]
Readers should remember though that Ilala is very affordable in comparison to other properties in the area, and the hotel is decorated in a colonial style, which some may feel adds to a feeling that it is dated.
Ilala doesnt have mosquito nets in the rooms. Martin explains that: We spray the rooms on a quarterly basis, have plug in mosquito repellent, offer mosquito repellant spray and insect spray in all the rooms. We also encourage the use of the air conditioning units as this discourages mosquitoes as well.
Martin was surprised to read these comments on tinned fruit, as they only ever serve fresh fruit at breakfast. He says that they We offer only fresh fruits. We offer 3 types of fresh cold meats, 3 types of croissants, 3 types of muffins, various seeds/nuts and dried fruits and a cheese and biscuit platter. We also offer 8 hot egg-based options on the a la carte menu.
About late check-outs, Martin was sorry they didnt do better on this. He explained that they try to arrange these for guests where they can but because Ilala is often very full, it can be difficult. In this case, he explained that: The key system is also defaulted, as a security measure, to expire at 11.30am but our team should have realised this and renewed their card I will address this with our reception., and he apologized for this.
We are extremely sorry to hear that these guests did not like Ilala, but are pleased that they enjoyed the rest of their trip with us.
Ilala Lodge review
We arrived in Ilala Lodge after being in 3 camps in Botswana and it was quite different.
The comfort,design and location of the Lodge is wonderful but the staff a bit less personable than we found in safari camps. This is quite understandable as it is a hotel in a tourist town and has to cater for many different tastes.
The breakfasts were magnificent and the dinners at the restaurant were tasty but slightly fussy and over designed.
We paid a handsome sum to go microlighting over the Victoria Falls from the Zambia side. It was worth digging deep in our pockets as to see the falls this way is possibly a once in a lifetime experience.
We liked Victoria Falls town but fear for it's future. The tourist police are very helpful and do their best to stop tourists being hassled by local people selling anything and everything they can to you. The Elephant Walk shopping centre in town is nice (no hassling) and has a great friendly little cafe where one can escape from the heat and eat some nice food such as Warthog ciabatta! It's quite fun to watch the wildlife including baboons, warthogs and mongoose wandering around town.