Associated by some as a symbol of colonial ambition and decadence, but recognised by all as an icon of world tourism almost as famous as the Falls themselves, the Victoria Falls Hotel is steeped in a rich and interesting history.
The Hotel owes its origins to the determined dream of one man, Cecil John Rhodes, and his ultimately unrealised vision for the development of a railway the length of the African continent, from Cape to Cairo. Rhodes developed his railway from the southern Cape northwards, reaching Bulawayo in 1897 and arriving at the banks of the Zambezi (alternatively spelt 'Zambesi' in many earlier references) in 1904. Equipment and materials were quickly transported by train from Bulawayo for the construction of a simple hotel building, primarily to accommodate key railway personnel during the building of the Victoria Falls Bridge and continuation of the railway north.
Situated overlooking the Batoka Gorge below the Falls, the Hotel is positioned to face the grand view of the gorge, crossed by the Victoria Falls Bridge and with the rising spray of the Victoria Falls in the background. In those early days the gorges were romantically nicknamed the ‘Corridors of Time,’ after the discovery that they had been progressively eroded by the waters of the Zambezi over the millennia.
The original Victoria Falls Hotel boasted all the latest modern conveniences of the day, including electric lights, ceiling fans, hot and cold water and 'perfect sanitation.' Today the Hotel still offers all that one would expect from a first class five-star Hotel with a reputation for luxury and quality, supported by staff dedicated to the highest standards of service.
The Hotel's path through time to the present is the story of the development of modern travel and tourism, including the growth of two tourist towns, the birth of two independent democratic countries and all influenced against a backdrop of global events, including one world-wide pandemic and two world wars.
Many who visit the Falls find themselves exploring the corridors of the Hotel, either intentionally or accidentally (losing their way in the maze of interconnecting corridors!) whilst studying the archive photographs, posters and memorabilia from the early days of its history displayed along the walls.
'Corridors Through Time' describes the history of the Falls Hotel, from humble beginings to the luxurious five-star Hotel we know today, describing the events and colourful characters involved in the story of this iconic Hotel.
The following pages contain various bits of extra or extended sections of information across the Hotel's history for which there was no space in the final book. We'll also add to these pages any new interesting information on the Hotel which comes to light.
The First Victoria Falls Hotel - read about the first Victoria Falls Hotel, opened in 1904.
Henry Holland - details of Mr Holland's Farewell Banquet, February 1908.
Victoria Falls Hotel Memorabilia - a selection of early Victoria Falls Hotel memorabilia, from luggage labels to dinner plates.
The Victoria Falls Hotel Rebuilt - description of the new Hotel buildings, 1917.
Trolley Transport - an overview of the Victoria Falls Trolley System, introduced in the 1920s to transport guests from the Hotel to the Falls and Bridge.
1940s Victoria Falls Hotel Xmas Menu - the Hotel Christmas Menu, 1940.
Victoria Falls Hotel Publicity Release, July 2004 - Centenary Room announced at Victoria Falls Hotel.
Victoria Falls Hotel Publicity Release, November 2012 - Update on the Refurbishment of the Victoria Falls Hotel.
Victoria Falls Hotel Publicity Release, October 2013 - Livingstone Room among world’s best.
Corridors Through Time References - an extended list of references used in the book.
You will also find further items of interest on the Hotel on these external sites:
1928 Dinner Menu - Hotel Dinner Menu, including leopard design cover, 1928.
1948 Dinner Menu - Hotel Dinner Menus, 1948.