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“Easy going and beautiful” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Cool Runnings

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Cool Runnings
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Senga, Malawi   |  
Hotel amenities
Orebro, Sweden
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Easy going and beautiful”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2013

Love this place, been here several times over the years and it never disappoints me. It is easy going, has a great, soft athmosphere and is perfect for back packers and campers. they have a dorm-area, a camping area and ever en suite rooms inside the main house if you want a little more luxourius tuch on it. The owner, Samantha, is energictic and warm, spending all her energy in helping out in the villages around the lodge. She does a wonderful work, and I am very impressed of her energi and enthusiasm. Food is wonderful, staff is friendly and well mannered. Great beach where you can see a lot of the locals daily life. You just have to love it =) Only one thing: Be wary when the lake is rough, the waves can be high and the under current poweful at this part of the lake.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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35 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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    4
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (12)
Date | Rating
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English first
Ludwigsburg, Germany
Top Contributor
53 reviews 53 reviews
31 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
358 helpful votes 358 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 1, 2013

Cool Runnings is a beautiful place directly at Lake Malawi. It's simple but clean and there has been put a lot of thought into details - there is lawn with sunloungers, a bar, a terrace with supercomfty chairs. The food is nice and the beer cold :) There is plenty of hot water.
You can also easily book a number of activities at the reception (boat trips, kayaks, etc.)
The best thing in my eyes, however, is the owner's dependability. Samantha arranged absolutely everything we wanted (you can easily contact her by mail or (mobile) phone) - lodging, meals, transfer from the airport, trips. We transitted via the burnt-down airport in Nairobi, and I told her that I wasn't even sure we'd reach Malawi, she told me not to worry and to send her a text message on her phone when we'd depart from Nairobi -> I did exactly that, and when we arrived at last, our driver was already waiting for us to take us to the hotel. Everything went smooth and hassle-free. When there was some trouble with the reconfirmation fo our flights, Samantha was able to provide efficient help as well. She has a great sense of humour and knows a lot about the country.
A slight drawback is that there is quite a lot of noise during the hours of the night - some club is nearby playing music until midnight, and, starting from about six in the morning, the TV is running in the nearby lounge, and the staff starts cleaning the gardens; but we could always sleep.

Room Tip: We had the ensuite (which was spacious and great) but there are also cheaper rooms, even a dormitory...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brussels, Belgium
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
53 hotel reviews
Reviews in 47 cities Reviews in 47 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2013

We stayed here because it's mentioned in the Bradt travel guide. But to be honest, we regretted it. Near this place are two night clubs, and they played very, very loud music all night long. It was simply impossible to sleep here. And when you finally get to sleep, the staff of cool runnings starts to make noise as from before 6 in the morning!! Collection the bins, doing the lawn, running around, ... Is this really necessary at this time of the day??? People come here to relax! Stop making all that noise.

The place is situated actually in the middle of a residential area. I would not stay here again and instead look for a nicer and quite place to stay.

There are some chaise longues placed on the grass with view on the beach. That is pretty nice to relax in.

We camped for 5 dollars pp pn. Only negative thing is that they ask you to pay extra for fire wood. And when you pay, you get almost none, anyway it's certainly not enough.

The lady who managed this place is from UK and lived in Zimbabwe for a long time.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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Lamu Island, Kenya
Senior Contributor
41 reviews 41 reviews
41 hotel reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2013

I heard about Cool Runnings in a guide book and when I was in Malawi two people recommended the place, too. So, I went there and I really enjoyed my stay there. First thing when I arrived I saw the sunbeds which are a great place to relax. Great food, also.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Cornwall, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 13, 2013

We heard that going to Senga Bay there was only really one place to check out and cool runnings was certainly it. Driving through Senga bay we really didn't know what to expect and became a little hesitant but cool runnings was such a breath of fresh air. Through the gates you see beautifully kept gardens with green grass everywhere. A very pretty little spot. Good service and a really nice room which was in the main building. Cheap price for an en-suite we were very happy, had all you need and a great hot shower. Supper was great in the evening and proper coffee the next day was a real treat. Shame that we could only stay one night on our way back to Lilongwe. We would have loved to have stayed longer. Sam is such a great owner, extremely friendly and has a great little spot. We would recommend it to anyone traveling through!

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
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London, United Kingdom
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2013

I'm always fascinated by negative reviews of places, especially in Africa, as often people tend to complain about the poor wi-fi, Tv wasn't working, lack of air-con or electricity and the general fact that it was "hot"/"full of ants"/"not what I was expecting given how great the reviews are". In my subjective opinion, the majority of these reviews are written by people I'm going to - impolitely, but in my view, not unfairly - refer to as idiots. Cool Runnings is not for everyone. It is a genuinely remarkable place, as I think anyone who reads the overall reviews will be able to appreciate. The owner, Sam, runs it as a means of funding/supporting a tremendous range of local community projects. She isn't just a 'hotel manager' there to cater for every single one of her customer's needs (for better, for worse - in my opinion, it's great that she's like this, and makes her infinitely more interesting than the kind of hosts who pretend to be fascinated by each and every one of those boring tourist's stories about how they were at this amazing beach, with a cool vibe, and then the bus journey was terrible and we broke down...yawn). Sam is really friendly and incredibly interesting. It's just that sometimes she's got more important things to do such as deal with sick kids, or problems in the village, than get you a coke, regale you with anecdotes or apologise for the fact that it's hot and that the electricity might be off. Some might think that's the correct job description of the person running a hotel - but Cool Runnings is NOT a hotel. It's a guesthouse/campsite and - in my opinion - is far better suited to someone with a little bit of experience about how to travel in Africa than someone who's just come over from Europe/USA and wants to pretend they are in Africa whilst having European-style standards. Go somewhere else, would be my advice. Cool Runnings is a lovely place. It's clean, the staff are great, and standards of food and hygiene are really pretty high compared to many places in Malawi. If there's a problem, politely say something about it, rather than whinging about it afterwards. I know Sam takes an incredible amount of pride in her establishment, both in terms of the experience her guests enjoy (many of whom are repeat customers from Lilongwe/elsewhere in malawi...) it's not just a 'backpacker' place, though backpackers are most welcome. It caters for pretty much everyone apart from the top-end, though for some weird reasons people seem to think that if a place looks really nice - for Cool Runnings has a stunning location on the lake, and some beautiful gardens/trees/plants - it's going to be some kind of boutique establishment at near rock-bottom prices (though actually it's not that cheap...$10 upwards for a bed.) It's not that. It's great, unique (or close to it) and definitely COOL. It's just that sometimes it's a little hectic and crazy, but in a good way. So put aside your preconceptions, and go and have a look for yourself. (The facebook page is a good indicator of what it's like).

(Addendum: I'm sorry to write so much but having spent quite a bit of time there in recent months, it frustrates me to see a place misrepresented, not that Sam isn't perfectly happy to hear people's comments/suggestions/criticisms in my experience. I'm not a "friend" of the owner, though I have obviously got to know her quite well through my repeat visits. So in a nutshell, very highly recommended - it's an unusual but special place)

Room Tip: I've given the 'swimming pool' 5/5 - though in reality the pool is Lake Malawi. Addition...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Espoo, Finland
Top Contributor
108 reviews 108 reviews
31 hotel reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
63 helpful votes 63 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 5, 2013

This place feels like someones summer cottage located in a warm country by a beautiful lake. There is that usual library/living room with couches, a garden bar and a few rooms inside the guest building. The garden is greener than anything in the nearby areas and there is only a few steps down to the lake shore. The personnel is very helpful and made the stay pleasant with tasty food and cold drinks. Some small improvements could be done (replacing the loud fridge outside a bedroom window, fixing some details in the bath rooms etc.) but this place is sympathetic and cozy as it is. The value for price is good and it felt nice to have some space for ourselves and just to relax for a couple of days. Not many other tourists are around and you get pretty much service and attention. The days are easily spent by gazing over the lake and enjoying watching the everyday lives of people passing by in the beach.

We can warmly recommend this place when traveling nearby. Be sure to make a booking since there aren't too many rooms.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about Cool Runnings

Address: Senga, Malawi
Location: Malawi > Central Region > Senga
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Senga
Number of rooms: 18

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