So near the falls you can feel the spray
This boutique hotel is perched virtually on the edge of the Victoria Falls gorge, and its relaxing atmosphere is offset by the rumble of 'The Smoke that Thunders' and the spray that rises from them day and night. From this magnificent setting, it's just a 15-minute walk to the cascade. The town is close too, with its markets, shops and restaurants – and hustling vendors. This luxury retreat, with its discreetly elegant decor, thatched colonial buildings and beautiful gardens, is the perfect place to stay to visit the falls or take part in some of the adrenalin-spiking activities on offer.
At the lodge
The elegant main lodge has comfortable seating areas, a bar and two restaurants – the award-winning Palm Restaurant, which has an à la carte menu (ostrich steak is a must), and the Kubika Restaurant, which specialises in stirfries. Don't miss the huge and excellent breakfast buffet. The service is friendly, although it can sometimes be a little slow. Outside, there's a pool and bar, and lovely gardens that are regularly visited by warthogs, monkeys and mongoose.
Ilala Lodge has 56 rooms and suites, all spacious and with en-suite bathrooms. The decor is stylish and understated, the lighting is good, the aircon is very welcome in summer, the beds are comfortable and lovely toiletries are provided. All have patio doors leading onto either an open lawn or a balcony.
Looking for excitement? Skim the rapids on a raft, kayak on the Zambezi, bungee-jump from the Victoria Falls bridge (it's an 111-metre plunge to the river!), swim in the "Devil’s Pool" (a small rock pool right on the edge of the falls) or view the splendour from above in a light aircraft. Prefer less-frantic adventures? Explore the national parks, cruise on the river (lovely at sunset) or take a heritage rail trip. Activities can be arranged at the lodge.