Conveniently located for the business traveler near Ministries, Embassies and the other main hotels, and a short taxi ride from Lusaka’s two main shopping malls, the Southern Sun Ridgeway is surely the most pleasant hotel Lusaka has to offer. It started out as a Holiday Inn but changed hands not so many years ago. The covered entrance is reached by a short driveway off the main road, on the other side of which stands the Anglican Cathedral (called the Cathedral of the Holy Cross), started in the 50s, first opened for worship in September 1962, but not finally consecrated until April 1970 (see pix). Well worth a visit.
From Reception, it’s a short walk to the inner courtyard, most of which is dominated by the ornamental pool. Here, crocodiles obtained as virtual hatchlings from a nearby farm are allowed to grow until their size is deemed hazardous—particularly to guests’ feet and ankles, should they choose to take breakfast, or a snack, at one of the tables alongside the pool’s bounding railing—when they’re “returned to sender”. Don’t worry, the current inmates are at a very juvenile stage, so now would be a good time to visit.
Currently (end-November 2012) the pool has been made even more fascinating by the myriad weaver birds, who during daylight hours race to and fro feverishly building nests in the pool’s luxuriant reeds. Remarkably, soon after sundown, but with the hotel’s lights still brightly illuminating the pool and its surroundings, the weaver birds have the good grace to roost. This permits all the hotel’s “guests” to get a good night’s sleep, something that would be impossible if the cacophony that dominates the daylight hours were to continue through the night.
As intimated, meals may be taken at the poolside, but the better solution is to enter the delightful dining room located at the far end of the pool and sample the delights of some of the best cuisine you’ll find anywhere. Under the watchful eye of tall and elegant Chimuka (the restaurant manager) and her colleagues, guests are guided to the table of their choice and invited to partake of the buffet. Both at breakfast and in the evening at dinner the choice is almost endless. Eggs the way you like ‘em, together with two types of bacon, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and other wake-up morsels are offered at breakfast, while at dinner, the steaks—gorgeously tender and seared to your taste over a flaming grill—or the fish, or chicken, or whatever else you fancy is all delicious, and freshly offered by one of the hotel’s friendly and welcoming chefs. There’s also a good selection of mostly South African wines.
The one disappointment on this trip was that in the intervening 2 ½ years since my last visit the charming long dresses of Zambian cloth worn by the restaurant’s senior staff have been rejected in favour of more conventional blouse and skirt, or trousers. It is to be hoped that the ladies’ dresses will be introduced, thereby adding an unmistakable African charm to the surroundings, while at the same time setting the senior staff apart from their team of nonetheless charming, and attentive, waiters and waitresses.
The rooms in the wing overlooking the pool—well, they actually overlook the road, though they’re all accessed from open air, covered landings on the pool side—have recently been renovated to a high standard. The hotel’s fast and effective Wi-Fi Internet access works well, and the room I had was perfectly adequate for a short, solo stay (three nights). A couple on a longer stay, however, might find the storage space for clothing somewhat inadequate. There’s a large enough wardrobe (with 8 excellent hangers), but a small chest of drawers would overcome the need to find parking space for “smalls” and other accessories on the limited shelf space in the wardrobe. Much of this was already taken by the safe, and spare bedding.
Having said all that, the Southern Sun Ridgeway is very well managed—the boss being clearly visible at all hours of the day and night—and they offer a relatively frequent shuttle service to and from the airport. Alternatively, the hotel will arrange for a cabbie to greet you as you emerge from Immigration and Customs should you touch down “out of sync’” with the shuttle. I have always enjoyed my stays at this hotel, and will definitely be back.
They're all good in their own way
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.