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“"Thou Shalt Not Tempt"”

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The Victoria Falls Hotel
Ranked #6 of 16 Hotels in Victoria Falls
Certificate of Excellence
hong kong
Level Contributor
16 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“"Thou Shalt Not Tempt"”
Reviewed July 7, 2008

Great atmosphere - Bad morals. The first thing that caught our attention was its great ambience. The hotel is a living museum and it does take you back to the colonial days.

The second thing, however, was a note on the table of our room, "Thou Shalt Not Tempt" - that should have sent alarm bells ringing loudly and immediately. More on that later.

Anyway, my wife and I stayed there for 2 nights. Service was mixed - professional but tended to be always trying to sell you something. For a "leading hotel" and for the price, the quality of cuisine was somewhat disappointing (even after accepting the lack of produce available in such economic circumstances, the cuisine itself would not be what we considered "leading").

It offers a great view of the bridge. Having high tea on the terrace does bring you back to the colonial days.

Vic falls was amazing. You will not need a guided tour. Pay US$20 entrance fee and exploring it yourself will do just fine. Bring your own raincoat otherwise, you will be charged US$3 to hire one, and you will need it.

However, our experience quickly turned sour when we discovered that US$40 was stolen from our room. Here is how it happened:

We had our passports and money locked in the safe, which was working just fine on the first day. One the second day, after I opened it to get something out, I was not able to lock it again. Since we were just heading out to the terrace for dinner, I thought it would be ok to leave it opened for just a couple of hours.

Upon our return to the room, we found a nice hand written note saying that since the safe was unlocked, they were required by law to remove all the contents from the safe and keep them "safe" for us. They also left us a plate of nuts and chips that was not there the night before.

When we got our contents back, we found that two US$20 notes were missing from a stack of twenties (totalling $280). It was obvious that between reporting the unlocked safe and the money having being returned to us, someone had pocketed some money. We notified the management of the hotel. We were shocked by the manager's reaction. He showed no interest whatsoever to help us on the matter. He basically insisted that it was impossible that anyone could have taken the money. He pretty much told us that he trusted his staff more than he trusted us.

Yes. Thou Shalt Not Tempt. They mean business when they say it.

  • Liked — Heritage and location
  • Disliked — Getting money stolen
  • Stayed July 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
5 Thank yush_em
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Sydney
Level Contributor
22 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed June 15, 2008

I have just spent the night in the Victoria Falls Hotel. It feels disingenuous to criticise given the chaos in the country at the moment but this place is COMICALLY overpriced and pretty awful. It was clearly once a beautiful place and the location is fantastic but it isn't worth the money by any stretch of the imagination.

Rooms are shabby, dark and in generally poor condition. The public areas are much the same and it just feels like you are visiting 20 years too late!

The food was literally inedible. Though it is clearly very difficult to get produce in most of Zim at the moment its not that hard in Vic Falls and they should be doing a lot better considering they are charging New York prices. Both the starter and main i ordered were so awful i had a mouthful and nearly threw up. Only highlight was getting a bill for Z$65 billion and that was just for the comedy value. (As a comparison I had a couple of other decent meals elsewhere in the town for a lot less money).

Obviously the selling point on the place is the location. If you are in Livingstone you HAVE TO go to the Zim side of the falls. The view is so much better than the Zam side. But there is no need to stay here. Plenty of better places to stay in Victoria Falls for a fraction of the price.

Do not get duped by the "Leading Hotels of the World' branding - no idea how they have that. If you want to stay in a spectacular colonial style hotel stay in the Royal Livingstone on the Zam side (wonderful place) and go to Zim for the day.

The only other thing to add, which I guess people are wondering in the run up to elections - is on safety. Vic Falls is perfectly safe and though you will get a bit of hassle from spruikers selling rubbish it is sanitised and no problem to go to at all.

  • Liked — Only the location
  • Disliked — Awful, awful food
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank Beard3894
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Goldsboro, North Carolina
Level Contributor
64 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 78 helpful votes
Reviewed June 13, 2008

We stayed at the Vic Falls Hotel the days leading up to the election. The hotel has seen its better days but it was very illustrative of Zimbabwe. You are able to see very clearly the granduer of the past and the potential of the location. I traveled with my 75 year old father, my wife, my 11 year old son and my 14 year old daughter. It was extremely educational in that we all saw first hand how a dictator run amuk (Robert Mugabe) can almost single-handedly ruin a country. However, the staff at the hotel showed how resilient people can be. We were able to see a microchosm of past grandeur, current political turmoil, and hope for the future all in a short time. The falls are beautiful and can only truly been given justice from the lower side (Zimbabwe). The Vic Falls hotel was interesting in its historical value and beauty but was definitely showing its age and the almost impossible upkeep foisted upon it by the current regime. However, because of all of this the trip to Vic Falls and the hotel proved to be the most memorable few days we had in Africa. If you want posh accomadations and to be removed from the realities of Africa stay away. If you want a microchosm of what is happening in Zimbabwe and many other African countries go to Vic Falls and stay in this historic hotel.

  • Liked — View and insight into Zimbabwe
  • Disliked — Downtrodden because of current political situation
  • Stayed March 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
5 Thank curtishinton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
bangkok
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed June 10, 2008

Victoria Falls Hotel is beautiful. The gardens are well manicured, the buildings are beautiful, and the photos in the corridors attest to the past grandeur of this establishment. The private pathway to Vic Falls is quite useful and yes there are touts, but there are friendly and not so insistent, they're trying to make a living, you cannot be angry at them for this...The view from the hotel is wonderful as well.

Yes it's true the halls are starting to look a bit worn down and the rooms could do with refurbishing (especially the mattresses), but the old colonial charm is still there.

The service is very good and friendly. My husband (who got food poisoning on the flight to Vic Falls - Thank you SAA) was very well taken care of while he was ill at the hotel. A nurse stayed with him the whole time.

The food is expensive by South African standards, but again when you know the situation in Zimbabwe, you can only be delighted at the quality and variety that is on offer at the hotel.

I would say my only disappointment was our dinner in the Livingstone dining room, the food really was not up to par. I thought the buffet and veranda menu were much better and more affordable.

Overall we were delighted with Victoria Falls Hotel

  • Stayed June 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Castor_Pollux
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Warwickshire, England
Level Contributor
23 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed June 8, 2008

We -- a middle-aged gay male couple -- stayed at the VFH on May 23rd for two nights before joining the southbound Rovos Rail trip to Pretoria. The location proved to be convenient not just for the Falls, but also because the Rovos Rail station is right in front of the hotel.

The British government were warning against all but essential travel to Zimbabwe, including to the Victoria Falls area, but, having done our research, and noting that few other governments were issuing similar advice, we decided to go ahead with our trip. We are so glad we did.

The VFH is a charming property with friendly staff. They try very hard to be helpful, and generally succeed.

We had low expectations regarding the physical state of the property, but were pleasantly surprised by the high standard of decor and upkeep in all the public areas and grounds. We toured all the many corridors looking at some fascinating historic cartoons, photographs and art work which adorn the walls.

The hotel's website states that it has, in increasing order of opulence, 7 standard suites, 4 honeymoon suites, 6 executive suites and 1 royal suite. We booked a package on the Leading Hotels on the World website and chose the honeymoon suite, described there as being 33 sq metres but which included an upgrade subject to availability. We didn't get the upgrade, as we were assured that all executive suites (65 sq m) were taken.

We also had a garden view rather than a gorge view, which was another disappointment initially. Putting two and two together, what seems to have happened -- and explains the different reviews on this website -- is that there was an additional wing built on the hotel as part of the 1996 renovations. This is the Stables Wing. This contains 42 deluxe rooms and 2 honeymoon suites, all having garden views, the suites having balconies. This is where our room was. Far from being 33 sq m, these two suites were at least double that size, being about 8m by 8m. They are however, just one very large room, not a "suite" of rooms, as the name would imply.

The rooms in the Stables Wing are the rooms that explain the good reviews on Trip Advisor. From what I saw via the occasional open door in the main building, some rooms there might be a little worn and much smaller. This is where you will be if you want a gorge view though. We spent a lot of time sitting on the terrace enjoying the view, so decided the garden view from the honeymoon suite watching the baboons made for a pleasant alternative, and dropped our request to change rooms to one of the much smaller honeymoon suites in the main building.

The buffet breakfast is at Jungle Junction, which is situtated a 100m walk away from the main building, past the swimming pool. We couldn't fault it. Buffet dinner is also served here, but we didn't try that, as being vegetarian, buffets often represent poor value for money. Instead, we ate one night on the terrace and the second night in the formal Livingstone Room, as both offered a veggie a la carte option on the nightly menu. Food was of a good standard, and the chefs had been quite creative with the limited ingredients they had at their disposal. I love a Crepe Suzette, and the one here was excellently flambéed at our table and had the best brandy sauce I've ever tasted.

We had lunch next door at The Kingdom, which was interesting as power cuts -- for reasons we didn't fully understand -- meant that they could only do margherita pizzas, which was fine by us. (The cuts affected the non-public areas of the VFH as well for about 4 hours in the afternoon.)

We wanted to explore the local town, but walking to the Falls and to the Kingdom were such an ordeal, that we were deterred. The local young men pester you for money and clothes to an extent that feels like relentless bullying. They won't leave you alone until you are back on hotel property, whether you give them anything or not. This was the one unpleasant aspect of our stay.

In May, the Falls themselves are at full force and the spray is quite phenomenal. You will get completely soaked by the spray when you view the Falls, or what little you can see of them throught the mist. But in high temperatures, that's actually quite nice.

We didn't venture into Zambia because their visa fees are ridiculously high for Brits, and, we had only a single-entry visa for Zimbabwe. We heard that arrangements could be made for an "unofficial" visit, but we felt safer staying strictly within the rules given the political tensions that exist currently with the UK.

We were struck by how expensive most of the local attractions were, such as the elephant safari, bungee jumping and safaris, and so decided to do only the sunset river cruise, as that was priced more affordably. In fact it turned out to be quite a bargain as it included unlimited free drinks from the bar on the boat. (There are several boats and several companies offering the sunset cruise, which all set off at the same time but manage not to crowd one another on the mighty Zambezi.) We saw elephants, hippos and crocs aplenty.

Watching the ZBC tv channel in our room brought a mixture of emotions: laughter, incredulity, sadness. We re-named it the Zanu-PF Broadcasting Company, as the news was so biased as to be ridiculous. We wondered what went through the minds of the news readers as they read their autocues.

The town was full of tour groups from Italy, France, Canada and South Africa, yet we were the only Brits to be seen. In fact, the last British entry in the guest comment book in the Bulawayo Room of the VFH was two years ago. This is such a shame. This was a stay that we wouldn't have missed for the world, not least because of the insight it gave us to the political situation in the country.

  • Liked — High level of comfort, very large room
  • Disliked — Incessant bullying of local hawkers the moment you set foot off the property
  • Stayed May 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
5 Thank Martin_MidlandsUK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tempe, Arizona
Level Contributor
272 reviews
130 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 190 helpful votes
Reviewed June 7, 2008

Should be revoked one of the Leading Hotels of the World; maybe in 1970 when the last time they have refurbished it! Even the $30 for the English Tea service would have bene a rip-off IF the food was decent; instead if came wrapped in saran wrap and was a hard as the rocks along the Gorge. Every time I asked a question of one staff member - would get differnt answers from other staff members. Bed linens stained. Dont even want to be in the room, much less touch it. When I wask a hotel staff member to kill a huge wasp on my ceiling; he proceeded to get a towel from the bathroom, swat it onto the bedroom pillow and started to leave, as if leaving a dead insect on the pillow was acceptable! I can go on but having stayed there is already enough a waste of time on this property.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — SIMPLY EVERYTHING
  • Stayed May 2008, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank kareny13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Durban
2 reviews
Reviewed May 5, 2008

Reviewer: Dr.Ernest Chetty - South Africa

I have stayed at the Vic falls hotel during the last week of April 2008.I am generally a very difficult to please traveller.My stay at the Vic falls hotel was an incredible experience.The hotel has an excellent ambience of it's own which is really hard to describe.The staff are willing to go the extra mile .The gardens and the general condition of the building is immaculate.The croaking sounds of the frogs at night gives you a feeling of being outdoors whilst you are still indoors.The breakfasts are more than adequate if carefully spaced you can quite easily miss lunch without having to go hungry till dinner.I would strongly recommend this hotel to the most discerning traveller.If ever I visit Vic falls again the Vic falls hotel would be my hotel of choice.

  • Liked — It's location to the Vic falls
  • Disliked — There was no tea facilities in the room
  • Stayed April 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank ErnestC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Victoria Falls Hotel

Property: The Victoria Falls Hotel
Address: 1 Mallet Drive, Victoria Falls PO Box 10, Zimbabwe
Phone Number:
Location: Zimbabwe > Matabeleland North Province > Victoria Falls
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#3 Romantic Hotel in Victoria Falls
#3 Spa Hotel in Victoria Falls
#4 Business Hotel in Victoria Falls
#6 Family Hotel in Victoria Falls
#6 Luxury Hotel in Victoria Falls
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — The Victoria Falls Hotel 5*
Number of rooms: 161
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
For more than a century, The Victoria Falls Hotel has been the address of choice for Royal Families, statesmen, celebrities and discerning travellers as it occupies a fine location from which to explore the magical wonders of untamed Africa. From the thundering Victoria Falls at its threshold, to the big 5 that roam freely less than 5kms away, the “Grande Dame” provides an experience like no other. Less than a ten minute walk away from the Victoria Falls Rainforest, this is one hotel that can truly claim to be unique.The Victoria Falls Hotel’s grand Edwardian architecture evokes the spirit of a bygone era. The courtyard and entrance completed in 1915, with flowering shrubs, palms and stately mango trees picturesquely reflected in the water lily ponds. The chic elegance of the marble floored reception area sets the tone for the style and sophistication synonymous with The Victoria Falls Hotel. Many a guest has marveled at the magnificent views seen from The Victoria Falls Hotel and the experience begins with the sun rising beneath the mist of one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Combining old-fashioned, traditional elegance with warm and welcoming decor, the main lounge provides a perfect backdrop for relaxing with friends, whilst the Bulawayo Room offers serenity and seclusion in surroundings of exceptional comfort and luxury. There’s a well-appointed curio shop specializing in colonial memorabilia. The Palm Lounge, bright and cool, is a quiet and secluded corner in which to relax, read or write. Throughout its many corridors and alcoves, the hotel’s long and fascinating history is depicted through photographs, posters and artistic impressions, reflecting the past glories of the empire. The quaint Chapel, built in 1929, has been the venue of many weddings and The Victoria Falls Hotel remains a favourite destination for honeymooners from around the world. Echoing its glorious past, The Victoria Falls Hotel’s traditional rooms and suites are truly a 5 star experience. Style and sophistication are trademarks of the hotel’s executive suites, which are luxuriously appointed with decor being warm, inviting and rich with tradition. Deluxe guest rooms are spacious, well-appointed and furnished in traditional Edwardian style with an "out of Africa" feel. All rooms are air-conditioned with every modern amenity including digital satellite television, direct dial telephone and a personal safe. Cast-iron, roll-top bath tubs in the stables wing rooms and suites turn the bathroom into a haven of sumptuous relaxation. All three restaurants have ideal locations, making dining around the hotel a memorable experience. Lavish buffets at the casual Jungle Junction restaurant are but one of the many choices for breakfast and dinner. Stanley’s Terrace is an excellent option for light meals throughout the day and is an absolute must for the infamous High Tea served every afternoon, with spectacular views of The Victoria Falls Bridge and the Falls themselves. Later, enjoy the hotel’s legendary cocktails or a gin and tonic in Stanley’s Bar while listening to the roar of the mighty Falls. Evening dining at the open-air jungle Junction restaurant offers an unforgettable experience with a fusion of flavours of Africa. Entertainment from ethnic groups epitomises the spirit of Africa; Jungle Junction is the ideal venue for incentive groups. Enjoy dinner and dancing in the elegant, Edwardian Livingstone Room, with classic a la carte and table d’hote menus. Whilst the Livingstone Room reflects the century old hotel’s style of grandeur and opulence, the dress code has been slightly relaxed for the convenience of the guest and it is no longer essential for gentlemen to wear jacket and tie for dinner. A fine selection of wines and liqueurs are available to complement the chef’s wonderfully innovative creations. Cool off and enjoy the splendour of the glorious colonial swimming pool set amongst the beautiful landscaped gardens, overlooking the famous Victoria Falls Bridge with the Batoka Gorge below. Massage treatments are available in the airy gazebos located around the poolside or in the tranquility of the hotel’s gardens. The Pullman Suite and the Centenary Room are well-appointed with exquisite antique furnishing, adding a new dimension of sophistication to conferencing. Suitable for meetings of between 8 and 40 people, conference packages (including spouses’ programs) are available. The Victoria Falls are approximately 1,690 metres wide with an estimated 550 million litres of water per minute cascading over a 111 metre chasm. It must be highlighted that Zimbabwe has 16 out of the 19 prime viewing spots and is where you will find the "untamed" Victoria Falls Rainforest with its many winding pathways and trails. In 1855 David Livingstone, arguably the first European to see the awesome Falls, remarked "scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight." The Victoria Falls have been declared a World Heritage Site and enjoy special conservation status. ... more   less 
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