Palm River Hotel: A lover’s paradise on the banks of the Zambezi

Min Read

Words by KingPhewa

The 3-year-old Palm River Hotel was built with lovers in mind. Lovers of glorious aesthetic, lovers of fine dining, lovers of the African adventure, lovers of architecture and certainly lovers of the riverside.

Nestled on the banks of the Zambezi, a few kilometres upstream from the iconic Victoria Falls, the hotel is quite frankly a stunner. A neutral wonder that seamlessly blends in with its surroundings, the 3-storey hotel took our breath away.

The first building you see as you drive in is the gym which is kitted with three top of the range stationary bicycles which immediately capture your attention. The closer you get to the main reception building; you are met with a replica of the resplendent Victoria Falls Bridge which fits in beautifully with the Australian inspired Queenslander building design. The simple façade really belies the ultra-luxury finishes in the welcome space. The space sweeps effortlessly into the restaurant which is airy and delicately finished.  Awash with natural light and sweeping views, the reception, with its triple volume ceilings and sweeping staircase, finish what is arguably one of the best receptions of any hotel on the continent.

Our room, with exquisite riverside views, was a sight for anticipating eyes. With a modest design philosophy and all the amenities one could need, we quickly settled into what was to be our home for the next few days. The mix of classic and modern aesthetics really tied in nicely with the entire hotel look and feel.

Snippets across the estate

Exploring the hotel, in unseasonably hot autumn, was tricky but well worth it. With the assistance of one of our hosts, we made our way across the grounds, past the on-site curio store, the calming spa, the tastefully curated art gallery as well as the intimate conference centre which is perched atop the reception building. More was yet to come. Ascending 3 flights of stairs, voluntarily at that, leaving the lift behind, we made our way to the presidential suite. A palatial space consisting of an outside lounge and dining area with its own bathroom as well as an indoor dining and lounge section before getting to the bedroom which features an ensuite bathroom that would rival any in its class. This was certainly the highlight of our tour.

Other rooms on the hotel offering include an executive suite, geared for the businessperson seeking serenity whilst never going off duty, the honeymoon suite, perfect for a couple looking for privacy and indulgence, the family suite with a shared living space and a massive terrace perfect for a family and finally the private villa, a three bedroomed private home with its own pool, perfect for a group or larger family. All rooms are incredibly well appointed and coupled with the outstanding service make it a must visit when vacationing in these parts.

Partaking of the culinary ethos at Palm River Hotel

Food is always going to be the centrepiece of any establishment and the culinary team at Palm River Hotel certainly didn’t disappoint. When checking in, a complimentary afternoon tea service soon follows. Featuring a wide selection of teas and a hardworking Italian coffee machine, the hot beverages were taken care of. The iced tea and cold water with fresh fruit completed the drinks selection. The accompanying treats included mini croissants with basil, cheese and tomato and the sweet treats, a variety of mini doughnuts and Danishes. Light, flavourful and sized just right for the perfect afternoon treat.

The bar selection was compact but filled to both regional and international standards. After all the exploring, there was nothing better than settling down to an ice-cold Zambezi lager and a Malawi Shandy. With the river a mere 15 meters away, we had our own little slice of heaven whilst enjoying our drinks. A second round soon followed but this time accompanied by a delightful and incredibly moreish toasted cheese and chutney sandwich and perfectly crumbed chicken strips.

Later, dinner was a fancy affair featuring a carefully selected wine list and a menu of some repute. Global sensations such as sous vide pork fillet and perfectly fried pork wontons took our tastebuds all around the world in the comfort of the hotel. The short rib main course served with the creamiest butternut risotto should be a dish they never remove, and our request seemed to have been not only heard but also seconded by the management team.

Breakfast was concise and appetising. Arriving from your room you are welcomed by a variety of freshly squeezed juices and the unmistakeable aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Fresh fruit, parfaits and a handsome bread and cold cut selection completed the continental selection. The hot section featured eggs benedict’s and wholesome English full breakfasts which couldn’t be ignored.

Overall, the service was attentive, without being overbearing and again the team really outdid themselves for the duration of our stay..

The trip was highlighted with ad hoc visits by a majestic herd of elephants who gingerly made their way across the front of the hotel. You truly realised how intertwined with its surroundings the hotel truly is.

An excursion that really took our breath away and added credence to the hotels location on the Zambezi was the sunset cruise on the in-house Ra-Ikane boat. Our group of 10 guests was thoroughly mesmerised by not only the sights but also the wealth of knowledge our captain and his first officer had. They were patient, articulate and their hospitality out of this world. We were happy to see crocodiles, water monitors, buffalo elephants and countless hippos dotted along the river. The sunset period is a popular time for cruising and whilst the river is busy you never really feel it whilst aboard because they were adept at making us feel like we were the only ones on the water.

In our opinion a trip to Victoria Falls will be incomplete without a visit to the Palm River Hotel. The wide range of accommodations on offer, the space to explore and the romantic setting make it easily and arguably a top pick for leisure and romantic travellers.

KingPhewa is a South African based duo who through their love of food, travel and lifestyle curate and review relatable and enticing content. Their focus is on fine dining, luxury travel and all things beautiful. Follow them on Instagram @kingphewa



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