Fawlty or Jolly? Where to crash in Livingstone.
Livingstone in south-west Zambia has, for some time now, been gearing up nicely for visitors. The problems in neighbouring Zimbabwe mean that visitors to nearby Victoria Falls are increasingly choosing Livingstone to access the Falls, and simply crossing the border temporarily if they want to indulge in the Victoria Falls Bridge-based activities like bungi jumping.
Consequently the choice of accommodation is now broad, and ranges from luxurious all-inclusive hotels to backpackers. Perhaps the two best-known backpackers are Jolly Boys and Fawlty Towers.
Jolly Boys has three different locations, but the main one is less than ten minutes’ walk from the main bus stop on Mosi en Tunya Road. Jolly Boys has a longstanding reputation for offering an all-round good experience for visitors, based primarily on a lively atmosphere and good quality food. Beyond the reception area, the sleeping facilities include air-conditioned en-suite rooms, chalets, dorms and space for your own tent. A clothes-washing area and shared toilets and showers, all kept in good clean order, are available to all visitors.
However, it’s the area in front of the reception that is Jolly Boys’ hub of activity. An excellent breakfast menu, from which you could choose a full English breakfast, French toast or the healthy breakfast sundae, is available from the bar. Later on in the day a good range of tasty cooked meals becomes available; you might spot some local meats, like kudu and crocodile, but there’s always a veggie option! Right next to the bar area is the small swimming pool and a handful of sun-loungers. This is an easy and welcoming place to spend a whole day by the pool, with instant access to cold beers, tea, coffee and delicious food. While it does attract visitors of all ages and nationalities, most visitors to Jolly Boys are young, white Europeans, many from the UK.
Back on Mosi en Tunya Road, and another ten minutes or so along, is Fawlty Towers. Once you’re through the security gates you enter a large, elegant, high-ceilinged room that serves as bar, Wi-Fi area and reception. The room is always cool thanks to the huge ceiling fan, and it houses deep sofas and shelves of books. If Fawlty Towers has a hub, then this is it, although it’s a far cry from Jolly Boys’ busy, poolside vibe.
The Fawlty Towers pool is through reception and back outside; a large, clean pool, it is surrounded by green lawns, trees and shrubs. It’s difficult to believe this elegant, tranquil space is only metres from Livingstone’s main road. Pathways criss-cross the lawns, leading to the sleeping accommodation and the shared kitchen, showers and toilets. Despite the calm, more grown-up atmosphere of the pool and gardens, the rooms themselves feel slightly shabby and even the en-suites are missing details like bedside lights and air-con. There’s a good supermarket right across the road, but if you’re not cooking for yourself you can get breakfast and lunch in a first-floor room, accessed by an incredibly steep staircase. If you want the evening meal, you need to let the chef know. This is where you can also get free teas and coffees, and it’s particularly worth tackling this staircase at about 3.30pm, as, in a nice touch, the chef provides pancakes – free.
The price difference between Jolly Boys and Fawlty Towers is negligible. So, if you want a young vibe, great accommodation and a constant flow of excellent food, Jolly Boys will be your cup of tea. But if you want peace and quiet, and the nicest pool I’ve seen in Zambia, settle yourself in Fawlty Towers. The choice is yours.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Fawlty Towers is set in a large, private garden shaded with mango trees, with a crystal clear swimming pool. We offer accommodation for those on a budget, as well as private air-conditioned rooms and with the best service in Livingstone. Enjoy our free pancakes served every day, whilst cold beers and drinks are available at the bar. Try our chef's legendary meals or have your own barbeque round the pool on our braai stand. Internet access and a Wi-Fi hotspot is available. The Lodge is in the centre of town with seven cafes and restaurants less than 500 yards away and the town's largest supermarket is just over the road. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Fawlty Towers Hotel Livingstone