How has this hotel rated in the past?
TravelPod Member ReviewsHostal Athenas Sant Adria de Besos
The hotel is beautiful, situated right on the edge of Victoria Falls. The rooms are comfortable and the compound is safe.
The internet - just OK. The connection was fast, but limited to 15 Minutes per session (unless you buy a data package) - and worse - no Internet connection was available from the room - you had to go to the business center to connect.
Everything else was great - but expensive.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TravelPod member and not of TravelPod.com.
Historical Traveler Reviews Hostal Athenas Sant Adria de Besos
Will remember the courtesy and smiles
We have just returned from a visit to the Zambezi Sun (then on to Cape Town afterwards). We found the hotel to be much, much more than we expected and will always remember the courtesy and happy smiles of staff there, and from the various tours/trips we took. Everything that Louise and others have said is true; yes you will find food (we didn't buy wine) rather expensive at $35pp evening meal but wow, what a choice and what a setting. Even in March we have been able to sit out every day for our meals in the glorious main restaurant (though we did try the others also) - and what choice of food in the main restaurant and what fantastic service (with a smile), wow and double wow! We were greeted with happy smiles all day/night long and found the trips we took enchanting.
For really good value you should try the late afternoon/evening cruise on the African Queen, now that was good value with drink and food provided in the price, and what a setting.
The rooms were large and airy and charming with a native feel to them, and we smiled continually as we were warned about not leaving our french door open as monkies may come in! Yes monkies were playing about all the time, though the caring staff shooed them off when they could so as not to cause nuisance to the guests. Zebras and impala munched on grass in the gounds as well!
As others have said, there is a problem with large denomination notes, and the main currency is in dollars rather than the local currency - so go prepared with lots of low denomination notes. But there is a helpful bank in the grounds to assist.
As well as the main hotel there is a small complex of shop, visitor attraction centre where you can book tours, etc and of course, the Royal Livingston Hotel is just a short walk away for a different feel. The two hotels are owned by the same company and you can visit either as you wish.
Of course, the main feature is the amazing Falls - they are just totally stunning and breathtaking in their beauty and the short walk there takes you through a security gate where your name/hotel room is noted to ensure your safety there and back, as leaving the hotel takes you into the Game Park where real wild animals roam - baboons, giraffes etc.
So, we would recommend this hotel to anyone who wishes to enjoy courtesy and fantastic service, a wonderful room and exciting food and amazing things to see and do. But go prepared with small notes (dollar preferably) and note that you will not find food and drink cheap, but about on par with English prices. Also, responding to the smiles and greetings of the staff is well worth it, as they reciprocate greatly and value friendliness.
Enjoy yourselves - we certainly did.
Fantastic but pricey!
This is a really beautiful hotel - the decor is really something and the whole hotel has a light and airy feel to it. It is within a complex within a national park and so there are giraffe's, zebra's & monkey's roaming free which is pretty amazing to see. As it is within a complex you are pretty much tied to staying there or visiting the next door hotel the Royal Livingstone - a little less family orientated but looked very luxurious and has a stunning deck by the Zambezi River where you can watch the sunset and sip on cocktails (around $7-10 - wine can be more expensive than cocktails!).
All the staff we encountered were really helpful and always cheery but a little too attentive if truth be told - we were checked on during meals by up to 5 different waiters and managers despite being assigned a waiter when you arrive at the restaurant!
The Zambezi Sun rooms we found were really bright and cheery. Due to the monkey's love for sugar you can't keep your balcony door open for any time as they come into your room to steal it!
The restaurant in the hotel is totally overpriced for the standard of teh food - not that it wasn't nice but we expected more for $35 each - plus the cheapest bottle of wine was $40 - and that was for South African wine that you can buy in SA for about R60 or around £5/6! The evening meal was a buffet as breakfast but we were given dirty looks by staff when trying to get our money's worth and trying small amounts of lots of food on offer!
YOu could go out into the town but suggest that you're super careful and get the right taxi's but we saw plenty of white people - you just need to be street savy and aware. I've seen some reviews where people mention problems with change etc - we had the same issues at times and they didn't have enough change to give us but we usually benefitted from this and they gave us a couple of dollars more! you will fnid that you can pay in SA Rand, USD, pounds, kwacha - you get change back in kwacha usually though despite what you pay with. the bank only gives out kwacha but they prefer you to pay for everything in dollars.
The falls is a 5 minute walk from the hotel and is truly wonderful. Do try and go at different times in the day as it changes all the time and you can sometimes see more or less dependent on when you visit.
The hotel tends to spray for malaria and provides plugs in the room and we didn't get any bites while we were there but suggest you get decent tablets before you visit.
Also don't forget that you have to pay a USD $20 per person departure tax at the airport when you go - we weren't told until we were collected and had to panic at the last minute to get dollars together. The airport has nothing there so take juice, water etc and only go through into the departure lounge at the last minute as there is nothing to do! Stay outside in the sunshine!
I would definitely recommend this hotel but not to anyone on a budget - the trips are pricey but a shame not to do them. We did the elephant safari which was really amazing and worth every penny. They do want to charge you for the dvd they make of it - about $40 which we didn't buy but i wish that i had now so that i had a momento of the trip as well as the photos.
Keep an open mind about the hotel - it's beautiful but pricey but where else can you stay and hear the victoria falls, watch a sunset over the zambezi river or see giraffe and zebra from your bedroom window!
A great time with the whole family relaxing by the pool. A great adventure close to he falls and lots of activities. Hotel stay includes access to the small game park to which Victoria falls is a major part. Clean accommodations and friendly service.
- This time of year the falls are low enough that a walk along the top will take you natural pools for swimming.
- Go to town and by a selection of drinks at local cheap prices in favor of buying at the hotel.
- Eat at Squires in the evenings if on a budget as the main buffet will set you back $40 usd.
- If traveling with Locals have them book at the local rates and save half the price.
-buy souvenirs in town not at the local hotel shops...and remember that the first price is at least double the going rate.
- Remember this is Africa, be patient, relaxed go with the flow and all good things take time.
- Above all remember that at night the staff that wait on you hand and foot sleep in a mud hut on the floor and still manage to smile in the morning.
Disaster of note
Family and friends arrived at the Zambezi sun, excited about our five night stay. Dinner was disastorous at $40 per person. Every morning we dealt with the strong smell of sewer water as the sewers are drained. Waiting for sandwiches around the pool was equally disastarous,waiters could never help us with a simple sandwich. I would not reccomend this hotel. Pay the extra and stay at the Livingstone that has to be better.
Sunset over the Zambezi
A comfortable and informal hotel walking distance from the Victoria Falls and situated within a national park with zebra grazing in the grounds, glimpses of baby giraffes and a proliferation of well-mannered monkeys - now there's an oxymoron !
Zambia for tourists is expensive due to very hig taxation. Wine for example carries a tax at 125%. Despite that, it is a wonderful country to visit with very friendly people.
Not sure what hotel these other reviewers were staying at but it wasn't the experience we had.
We decided to stay on the Zambia side of the falls because of the political turmoil on the Zimbabwe side that I had heard about. After our experiences I would recommend to anyone going to stay on the Zimbabwe side in Vic Falls. Things in Vic Falls were very clean and relatively safe, just use common sense, plus you had a town to go to for shopping and eating. Instead we were trapped at our hotel to get ripped off for food and drinks. As an example a 20 oz ice tea was $4.00 at one of the hotel shops, food was a rip off with the exception of the casino restaurant which was just alright. Breakfast was included in our stay and the selection for this was very good.
The activities desk was helpful in booking our excursions we did microlight flight, bungee and an elephant safarii all of which were enjoyable. The consierge desk was completly useless, we had brought some information on other activities we were interested in outside of what the activities center offered and the consierge desk was useless. I went to them three times to ask about different things and was helped zero times.
The sister property to this hotel is the Royal Livingstone which was breathtaking. The views were beautiful, the hotel and the restaurant was very nice. All be it beautiful it still wasn't worth the $500 upgrade for two nights to me. But if money isn't a big concern stay her instead.
I would completly disagree with the previous review about the market right outside the hotel. Once you get over everyone trying to talk you into their shop and sell you something all at once it became kind of fun. The shop owners are very nice and you can bargin things down for very little money and trade. We got a wooden giraffe and a solid hardwood elephant for around $30 a hat and a towel. As a recommendation they love shoes and socks. If I was going back I would pack about 10 bags of new socks and you could trade for just about anything. They also wanted T-shirts and shorts. There are even better deals to be had at the market on the Zimbabwe side.
Overall our trip to Victoria Falls was good. It was just a difficult end to our trip. We had found food and other things to be very reasonable in Cape Town with the exchange rate and just felt like we were being ripped off everywhere at the hotel. The hotel rooms were quaint but lacking in comfort, all concrete floors. Zebra's and monkeys on the property were entertaining.
As for currency if you are from the us don't exchange your money they accept the US dollar everywhere on both the Zimbabwe side and the Zambezi side. Take small bills with you or "try" and exchange large bills in at the hotel desk. For whatever reason no one ever seems to have change this includes the hotel stores and restaurants. Also, for ease of use bring cash instead of travelers checks. The hotel bank will give you US currency for your US travelers check for a fee of 13%. We found only a few activites that would accept travelers checks and were glad we brought cash.
Also, the view of the falls is much better on the Zimbabwe side than on the Zambia side.
Great Stay at Zambezi Sun, and Those Falls!
What's not to love about this hotel!
With the exotic architechture and artwork that adorns the entire hotel, the bright and inviting rooms, the zebra that visit each day, the wonderful service, great food and Victoria Falls a 5 minute walk - you can't ask for a better experience!
We loved the pool and bar area, which contained beautiful mosaics throughout. Try the Malawian Shandy (a very refreshing drink) while you enjoy the interesting entertainment. We watched a group of 5 men playing various types of wooden African Marimbas (think of a wooden xylophone). They played everything from childrens songs to the Beatles - just amazing!
They have a great breakfast buffet, but for dinner their buffet is overpriced. Instead, try Squires, the Sun's more casual restaurant which is connected to their casino (tiny casino - saw maybe 3 people playing the slots over a 4 day period!).
I enjoyed the various shops at the Sun, but be warned about the market behind the hotel - you'll pass it on the way to the falls. Don't even think about going in there unless you're prepared to deal with very agressive vendors who will try to overcharge you! We wanted to run screaming from the place, because they're all trying to pull you in to their stalls and you can't even stop to browse at something before they're all over you. Thank goodness I had a good grasp of the value of Zambian money and had done some earlier shopping. One vendor tried to charge me nearly 200,000 Kwacha (approx. $40) for a small wooden monkey and 2 necklaces. The cost really should have been in the area of 50,000 kwacha or $10. Once I called his bluff, he tried to come down, but even after expecting them to start high on their pricing and eventually meet in the middle, this was ridiculous! If this scares you - do your shopping at the hotel - the prices may be a little higher than the market, but you can shop in peace!
After nearly drowning during a whitewater rafting trip on the Zambezi River (watch out for Rapid #7!), had a wonderful massage ($60) beside the pool. Be sure to ask for Malala - she's great!
Lastly, the reception desk was out of postcard stamps for our entire stay. They also were never able to provide change for large US bills. Simply use the bank in the hotel shops.
Listen to the Falls
This is a special hotel and a memorable experience. Even though I was there on business, it's the kind of place you would honeymoon or spend a little extra to stay. From the moment you arrive, you are well cared for and very well fed. This is a family resort, and kids would be really happy here. The food is out of this world -- diverse and imaginative buffets await for breakfast and dinner. The service is very good. There is a huge pool and poolside bar, and nightly entertainment. When I was there, a Zambian band was covering Sinatra -- rather hysterical but fun. The rooms are spacious and decor interesting and colorful. The bathrooms are large, with separate tub and shower. The best part is you are only a short walk from Victoria Falls. At night I dreamt it was raining, but I awoke to realize what I was hearing were the falls! There is an African crafts market to browse, monkeys to avoid, and a sister hotel to visit. I would go back in a minute!
I tried to contact the management of the hotel direct to thank them personally for a wonderful time. The staff were warm and wonderful, food was excellent and rooms were confortable and appealing. Located so close to the falls was a bonus. We would return for another visit in a blink!!!! Well worth the cost. Also great and reasonably priced massages at the Livingstone!!!! Made us love Africa even more! Thank you once again!!!!
Gigi and Carlos Gramuglia
Perfect end to our honeymoon
Having travelled from Jo'berg to Cape Town for two and a half weeks we flew on to Livingstone and stayed at the Zambezi Sun for the last few days of our honeymoon. The location of this hotel is amazing - you can hear the roar of Victora Falls from the hotel gardens and the falls themselves are a two minute walk away. It's also very easy to travel over the Zimbabwean side of the falls - which I would recommend.
The hotel has an activty centre where you can book a variety of activities during your stay which is an excellent facility. We booked a helicopter ride over the falls, a boat cruise and a safari while we were there and all of these proved to be well run and good value for money.
The rooms are large and very clean and the staff are really friendly. There's a good sized pool and the pool bar is a good place to relax, have a cold beer or grab a snack.
There are two restaurants at the Zambezi Sun - we dined at Sports Bar as we found the main restaurant to be quite expensive. The breakfast buffet is very good with plenty of choice.
TripAdvisor Reviews Hostal Athenas Sant Adria de Besos
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