(173 rooms) Sun International Zambia, PO Box 60151, Livingstone; tel: 03 321122; fax: 03 324 558; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.suninternational.com. Central reservations: P Bag 700 Sandton, 2146 South Africa; tel: +27 11 780 7878; fax: +27 11 780 7061; www.suninternational.co.za
Opened by the president in July 2001, this opulent five-star hotel situated in extensive grounds is owned by the South African Sun International group. If its broad, low, white frontage is rather disappointing at first glance, inside all is spacious and elegant, with an old-world attention to detail and service. Step outside on to extensive verandas, where sweeping lawns lead to an unparalleled frontage along the Zambezi, the 'smoke' from the Falls rising tantalisingly close. A walk along the river brings you to the Falls themselves via the direct access point that is the preserve of the two Sun International hotels, or visitors can be transported on one of the hotel's 'club cars'.
All the hotel's rooms have twin or king-size beds and are fitted with AC, satellite TV, radio, video, minibar, mini-safe and telephone; two rooms are fully equipped for the disabled. Tasteful and comfortable, but on the small side, each room has its own private balcony, and guests have the services of an individual butler. Should all this not be sufficient, there are also four suites.
Meals are served either in the excellent à la carte restaurant or outside on the veranda, while for a special occasion individual candlelit dinners on the lawns can be arranged. The long, wood-panelled bar has a relaxed, colonial air, and there's also a boma, crafted in the traditional Zambian manner with seating for up to 350 people.
On the practical side, a travel agent can organise your itinerary of activities, from white-water rafting to game drives.
Considerably more expensive than the adjacent Zambezi Sun, the Royal Livingstone caters for a very different market – those seeking traditional standards of décor and service in a truly gracious setting. If you'd like to indulge without the high price of accommodation, consider taking afternoon tea in the lounge or on the veranda; at about US$10 per person for tea and a lovely selection of cakes and finger sandwiches, it's highly civilised.