“COLONIAL” and “colonialism” are seen by many these days as almost dirty words.
TRAVEL with DUSTY MILLER
I won’t enter the argument, just to say that in the little pamphlet issued by the totally wonderful Royal Livingstone Hotel in Livingstone, Zambia, the opening paragraph talks about a journey into colonial sophistication…and I see absolutely nothing wrong with that!
I don’t think I’ve stayed single night anywhere in the world as truly beautiful as the Royal Livingstone Hotel across the bridge at Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Zambia. Beauty and elegance are the watchwords of this super luxurious Sun International property standing in its own spacious landscaped grounds alongside its slightly less up-market sister hotel, the Zambezi Sun.
Both hotels have private access to the Zambian national park which runs down to the Batoka Gorge at which point up to 546 million cubic metres of water per minute plummet over the almost two-kilometer wide spectacular Victoria Falls.
Golf caddy cars transport guests (mainly American and Australian on my most recent visit)from the main hotel lobby, bars and restaurants to rooms; in between each hotel (there are tourist gift shops and a bank/ATM at Zambezi Sun) and down to the Falls through the manicured gardens where you may well spot zebra or giraffe.
The Royal Livingstone had a multi-million dollar refurb in 2012 and boasts 173 luxury rooms and suites in 17 riverbank residences, costing from 3082 kwacha a night.
There are discounts for longer stays and I think most people would need about three nights to thoroughly chill out and soak up the Livingstone scene.
Zambia has arguably just one vista of the Victoria Falls superior to the many splendid panoramas from Zimbabwe and, as the booklet says, the world-famous cascade of water provides the backdrop for a journey into colonial sophistication.
One of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, fine spray from the Victoria Falls may be seen like a grey cloud across the bushveldt, throwing rainbows hundreds of metres in the air.
On the thickly forested banks of the great Zambezi River, upstream of the mighty cataract, where it thunders into the Batoka Gorge, is the breathtaking Royal Livingstone Hotel.
And in its cool lounges, shaded verandahs and the comfort of your own five-star bedroom with verandah overlooking the Zambezi. You will encounter the elegance and luxury of an earlier, more elegant, epoch.
Guillame Durand is the very charming hotel manager at Royal Livingstone. Born in Paris, the suave 33-year-old, who is married with three children, studied in the USA and has an MBA in Marketing and MSc in International Relations.
He first worked for the Hilton Corporation and has been three years at Livingstone.
He told me he loved the hotel, Livingstone itself, the Zambezi River and Africa, generally, with a passion.
Being a Frenchman, he was, rightly, particularly concerned with the hotel’s cuisine.
It certainly received my seal of approval. The breakfast buffet was stunning.
For a fairly laid back lunch, (towards the end of a week-long, three-nation, gastronomic assault course!) I settled for what proved to be a magnificent fish “burger”: battered bream fillets flavoured with cumin and coriander on a home-made ciabatta roll with tomato, lettuce, saffron mayonnaise salad and chips at K80.
At supper I chose a very agreeable spaghetti bolognaise (can’t trace the price, but it wasn’t dear) with a very meaty highly flavoured ragu and great al dente pasta, followed by a superb French dish: apple-and-pear clafoutis freshly baked with vanilla ice-cream(K50).
I washed down both meals with the very drinkable, light, crisp local Mosi Lager.
It used to be absolutely dreadful until about 30 years ago, but is now truly nectar-like; a real African thirst-quencher!
The restaurant has a fine wine cellar at affordable prices and a wide range of ports from K40 a tot.
A really special treat for an educated palate would be the KWV 1948 or 1949 vintage at K185.