Behind The Design | The Zambezi Queen - Zambezi Queen Collection

We’re so proud to share the results of the Zambezi Queen’s all-deck, all-suite makeover – it’s simply stunning!

The refurbishment, which took six weeks to complete, focused on the interior and exterior of our luxurious houseboat, with paintwork, carpeting, furnishings, finishes and fabrics all updated to beautiful, modern and exacting standards.

We caught up with designer Maurette van Eyssen, to talk about all things interior design, the vision behind the Zambezi Queen’s brand-new look and her strong connection with nature.

Zambezi Queen Exterior Sunset
Zambezi Queen Exterior
behind the design

Maurette is the founder of Mi Designs, an international interior-architectural design house established in 1994. Based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Mi Designs offers a wide portfolio of interior design related services, showcasing the brand’s passion for handcrafted designer furniture, fabrics, art and objects along the way.

Lounge design details
Lounge design details
Lounge design detail

How would you describe your design style and how has that influenced the new look and feel of the Zambezi Queen?

What an exciting opportunity and privilege it was to be part of the refurbishment of the Zambezi Queen, the oldest floating luxury safari hotel on the Chobe River.

I was hugely influenced by the surroundings of the region and as an interior designer I believe that the spaces we create have a marked effect on our physical and mental wellbeing. Humans have an inherent need to connect with nature, and from the moment that you step on board the Zambezi Queen, that is exactly what happens.

When asked if I have a specific style, the answer is complex! I truly think that interior design is the art and science of enhancing the interior of a specific space to achieve a more aesthetically pleasing environment for all those that will enjoy it.


Lounge Design
Bar Design
Lounge Design 2

Share your vision behind the design. What inspired you?

The Zambezi Queen is a grand old lady with a rich history. She is the pride of the river, gracious and imposing and my aim was to refresh and celebrate her status.

Every interior tells its own story and in the case of the Zambezi Queen, the main influence was to celebrate the abundance of wildlife, the beauty of nature and the fascination of the river. Although the Zambezi Queen is in Africa, I decided to introduce some European design components. The challenge however was to ensure that the opposing elements all merged harmoniously, and to create a seamless sophisticated flow from indoors to outdoors.

African design is largely influenced by a combination of elements, from organic shapes to the subtle colour palette of nature, the reeds growing along the river, the trees on the banks, the boldness of the clouds growing before the storm, the bright designs on the printed skirts of the ladies from the village. All of this encompasses the soul of Africa.


Ardmore design details
Ardmore design details gown
Ardmore design details with Hat

The result? The refurbished cabins are light and airy. The horizontal slatted natural oak headboard was influenced by the natural reeds and the combination of oval shaped bedside pedestals add an eclectic accent to the cabins.

The upper deck with its large sliding doors is a space of utter calm and tranquillity. The interior combination of light coloured natural raw timber with a slight open grain seeks to bring the outdoors in by incorporating natural materials like rope, rattan and comfortable leather chairs. The bar on the top deck is clad in brass which reflects light during sundowner drinks in the golden hour.

This elegant yet unpretentious combination creates a look that is both authentic and comfortable. Brown and white patterned Nguni skins are scattered to add colour and pattern to the subtle neutral colours of the comfortable sofas and armchairs.

stern bar setup

What materials have you featured in the makeover that you are most excited about?

It was very important for the Zambezi Queen Collection that consideration was given to Southern African suppliers. To that effect, artwork from celebrated artist, Denby  Meyer, and fabrics specially selected from the Ardmore African-Inspired Luxury Fabric Collection, which features an exquisite selection of unique, hand-drawn designs, were chosen.

The focus was really on the accents and as a textile designer I was immediately drawn to the wonderful range of Ardmore printed fabrics. Ardmore was founded around the same time the Zambezi Queen was built, and what better choice than to pair with this luxurious brand’s exquisite and colourful designs of animals and flowers. The attention to detail as well as their uncompromising dedication to skill and creativity enlightens the spirit of everyone that enters the room.

Read related content: Find romance on the Zambezi Queen

Here’s more of what you can expect from the new-look Zambezi Queen:

The upper deck (bar, lounge and dining area) is decorated in a natural, earthy palette. Creams, greys, greens and taupe work with a range of textures, including natural wood, leather, linen and wicker, to give the common space a fresh, laidback and organic feel. There is a newly revamped library section where guests can relax with a book – or use one of the onboard binoculars to spot game.

Step outside, and the outdoor furniture has all been updated. L-shaped couches and poolside loungers invite you to soak up the view from the bow of the boat, while a new cocktail lounge area at the stern promises snacks, sundowners and the best cocktails on the continent!


Moses Bar profile
stern bar setup
Stern Lounge relax

Large windows open onto the river and the national park beyond, and the Zambezi Queen’s generous proportions, natural light and indoor/outdoor flow makes for an easy, idyllic stay.

The 14 accommodation suites follow the same principle, with clean lines, nude palettes and well-considered pieces to complete the look. There is no clutter – just plenty of room to take in the extraordinary view from your king-size bed or private balcony.

To enjoy a stay on the Zambezi Queen, contact us today.

Luxury suite design
Suite design
Suite with guest


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