This month, Lusaka city celebrates 100 years of existence! To mark this glorious occasion, the Best of Zambia will be sharing stories from across the city that not only bring back fond memories of the city but inspire citizens to greater heights. This first article is a submission by Lusaka Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Lusaka that still stands as a beaming light in the heart of the city.
The beginningThe Lusaka Hotel first opened its doors to guests in 1914. It was initially owned by a Canadian couple Mr. and Mrs. Counsell. During this time Lusaka was experiencing an economic boom. Lusaka’s first hospital was built south of Villa Elizabetha in 1918. In the same year the financial sector saw Standard Bank opening its doors and Barclays followed suit in 1924. This increased the customer base for the Counsells’ Lusaka Hotel.
Some of the guests enjoying Lusaka Hotel’s comfortable rooms were given a unique wakeup call made by the noise from the first plane to fly over Lusaka air space in 1920. And in 1921, the Lusaka Hotel food and beverage service was popular with the workers involved in the flamboyant tree planting project along Cairo Road.
Hotel in troubled watersIn 1926 however, the Lusaka Hotel suffered a setback as a result of the Lusaka floods which caused damage to the drainage system on Cairo Road. The flooding of the city and the Hotel itself may have been among the reasons why the Counsell family decided to sell the hotel that same year. It was snapped up by Lonrho Africa.
The rise and rise of the Lusaka HotelAs the city of Lusaka grew, the need for a prestigious hotel in town became increasingly apparent. Having secured ownership of the Lusaka Hotel, Lonrho Africa began to upgrade it, adding a floor to make it a two storey building.
The hotel was closed for a year while the renovations were done. In 1927, a new and luxurious “Counsell’s Lusaka Hotel” was opened with much enthusiasm.
The hotel now proudly featured a large centrally positioned tree, the ‘grand tree’, for natural air-conditioning, a spacious Il Bambino dining room, a roof garden and self-contained guest rooms with scenic views along Cairo Road.
The PresentThe Lusaka Hotel is now owned and managed by Horizon Holdings who have been at the helm of the hotel’s expansions and restoration.
A recent renovation project includes the construction of a swimming pool to replace the ‘grand tree’, and the refurbishment of all 80 rooms, closely monitored to preserve the character of this historic building. The current management of the hotel has faithfully preserved and maintained this status for the benefit of current and future generations ensuring that the Lusaka Hotel remains an icon in the hospitality industry in Zambia.
Celebrating 100 YearsAs the hotel, together with the city of Lusaka, celebrates this centenary, an invitation is extended to all visitors and city dwellers to visit the historic hotel and taste an old favourite dish of the Il Bambino Restaurant “The Oxtail”.
The Lusaka Hotel has a 100 years’ worth of experiences in the hospitality industry and is amongst a rare breed of hotels that have managed to successfully blend antiquity with modernity in terms of both infrastructure and technology. The Lusaka Hotel is looking forward to another 100 years of excellent service! Read more about Lusaka Hotel here.