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“Decent hotel, some staff could improve their service”
Review of Crossroads Hotel

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Crossroads Hotel
Ranked #2 of 12 Hotels in Lilongwe
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
35 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Decent hotel, some staff could improve their service”
Reviewed March 5, 2012

I stayed at this hotel for 2 weeks in January whilst working in Lilongwe. The hotel itself was a pleasant surprise considering some of the reviews I'd seen & not being sure what to expect of my first time in Malawi.

Initially, I had a small room on the ground floor close to reception, but was upgraded to a deluxe room when the renovation works began. However, it was rainy season & the renovation corridors were often impassable during the day which meant getting an absolute soaking en route to the rooms from reception!

The rooms were clean & mosquito plugs were provided, although it was a little annoying to return some evenings to find the window had been left open & mosquitos buzzing around the room.

The breakfast buffet had a good choice of food & the Copper Pot restaurant was pleasant & the staff in there friendly.

The service by reception staff was not as good as the room & restaurant staff. The day I arrived, I found that the safe would not lock & despite informing reception, nothing was done about this. One morning there was no water & having called reception twice to be told that a bucket of water would be sent, nothing arrived. I ended up using a part-boiled kettle (which luckily had been filled by cleaners), but was a bit annoyed to discover that my colleague who had also called for water had been brought it almost immediately. Occasionally, there would be no obvious available taxis outside the hotel, but asking reception staff was useless, as they would just tell you to look outside & not offer to assist. Finally, on my last day, it took over an hour to check out!! There were 2 other guests in front of me in the queue, heading to the airport to catch flights like myself, with one member of staff at the desk. Other staff were wandering past & not stopping to help & the card machines weren't working, resulting in some people just walking out!

Finally, the wifi at the hotel is relatively expensive, & the availability of cards isn't great. I couldn't get hold of any of the cards one evening & needed to send work emails, but the staff could not tell me anywhere else where they would be available.

The location of the hotel is fairly good - everyone knows where the Crossroads complex is which is handy for getting taxis. It seemed to me that wherever you stay you're likely to need to take taxis / a car to get to most places as the city is quite spread out. A taxi would cost between 1,000 - 4,000 MWK (4-10 USD) depending on how far you're going which didn't seem too unreasonable to me considering the fuel shortages at the time.

Overall, probably quite a good standard of hotel for Lilongwe & nice staff but reception staff could be more helpful. I'll be returning to Lilongwe in a few months but don't plan to stay here again.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Lfclou
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (43)
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zoran
Level Contributor
21 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed February 25, 2012

Stayed here a couple of times already. Quite an acceptable hotel (for Malawi, didn't find something better in Blantyre). When I was there, the hotel was undergoing a renovation (of course, they would not tell you that when you do the reservation). Anyway, my room was OK, price was reasonable, and the food at the hotel restaurant was OK.

Room Tip: Do a room upgrade, the simple rooms are very low quality. The "executive" suites are much...
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled on business
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Helpful?
3 Thank danielos2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed December 10, 2011

I had read the previous reviews and was anxious but what I found was very pleasant indeed.
The deluxe rooms are large and well appointed with an effective air con.
The bathroom is spacious albeit a little dated but still very good.
Good wifi throughout hotel - even by the pool.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank robt88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
south africa
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed October 7, 2011

Finding a good hotel in Africa can be challenging. This was a great find. Large clean room, friendly staff, great Indian restuarant. breakfast a bit tacky, but good value for money.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
3 Thank killerjohn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Burnsville, Minnesota
Level Contributor
19 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed March 17, 2011

Just a few observations about this hotel. There aren't many options for business travelers in Lilongwe. A Chinese company is building a huge new hotel in the government area, so that represents a competitive threat to the existing hotels, like this one, which are going to need to "up their game." The staff here at the Crossroads hotel was very friendly and accommodating. The Copper Pot restaurant was really good - mostly South Asian and Chinese food, but a selection of international dishes, too. It was the physical infrastructure of the hotel that I found really disappointing. The hotel is only 7 years old, but it looks 27 years old. The plumbing and electricity were problematic. The TV channel selection was limited, and half of the 9-10 channels they get didn't come in clearly. The equipment in the gym was poorly maintained, and some of it didn't function at all. Maintenance would check out the problems, tinker with things, but not really fix them, which was frustrating.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled on business
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Helpful?
4 Thank Retired Government Employee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Level Contributor
48 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed November 12, 2010

After reading some of the reviews on here, I was a little skeptical of the Crossroads Hotel. But it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I was booked in a deluxe room which was huge by any hotel's standards. It had two desks, a bureau that held the refrigerator, two wardrobes, two chairs (besides the ones at the desks), and there was still plenty of room to walk around. The service for my room was also impeccable. Every morning (after I left), my room was cleaned to perfection. And every evening, while I was at dinner, my room was turned down. That service included a chocolate and a cold bottle of water on my night stand.

A couple of things to be ready for: They are on a scheduled power outage on Tuesdays and Thursday from 6-8 p.m. The hotel has generators but your air conditioner will not work. I didn't feel like it got too hot in my room for these two hours, though.

Also, from traveling in Africa extensively, these people love to please. They will not tell you no, even if it's impossible. A good example is my shower. It never worked properly. I had to hold the button down to make sure it stayed on. I told the front desk about this the first night I was there. With a warm smile and kind tone, I was told it would be no problem. But despite asking them every day, it never got fixed. My advice would be to just switch rooms.

The free breakfast every morning was great. Omelets made-to-order, boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, cereals, yogurts, and a lot of fresh and canned fruit. And be forewarned, the sun comes up at 5 a.m. in Malawi! It made sleeping in very hard for me. But I never heard noise in the hallways or through the walls. Very quiet... when I could sleep!

The wi-fi doesn't always work well. It worked fine in my room, but my co-worker couldn't get a signal at all. You'll see a lot of people working on their computers from the lobby. It's where you get the best signal.

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled on business
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank OKTraveler77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
144 reviews
65 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 149 helpful votes
Reviewed September 6, 2010

I stayed at the Crossroads Hotel for a week in August-September 2010. I was there for a conference. I had no idea of what to expect of the hotel or of Malawi. I was pretty pleasantly surprised, but there were some shortcomings. The hotel is at a crossroads between the luxury it claims and the potential it has.

Reception - I was greeted well by the reception staff when I arrived, and given a cold drink of papaya cocktail while we took care of the paperwork. I had been given a reservation number and they had my reservation and all the information correct. A bellman came to show me to the room (they are all on the first floor) and when my key didn't work he commandeered a skeleton from housekeeping and opened it. (I later got my key re-done and it was fine. This whole thing was repeated a couple of times during the week.) The lobby area is pretty nice - overstuffed arm chairs throughout a lot of it, and then part of it is the breakfast cafe area with tables and chairs. There are daily newspapers on the tables in this area and some tourist booklets about Malawi. The front desk will change money, but the forex just outside the doors to the right when you leave gives a better rate. At checkout, they said they could only process credit cards through this bank in South Africa and in rand. They had on my bill the price in dollars and the price in rand. My credit card was not a problem, but a colleague's corporate credit card did not work - it wasn't declined, it just didn't register as the hotel asking to make the charge.

Location - The location is in Area 9, seems a little far out but there's a lot to say for it - it is actually very close to the center of the Old Town area, it is Lilongwe that is really spread out. Crossroads has got a petrol station and shop, and is situated in a shopping center. It looks like there is this kind of center all over Lilongwe. When you turn into the complex it looks sort of like there can't be a hotel here - it's got pharmacies, a forex, a couple of banks, clothing and toys shops, a supermarket (that has everything!), and a couple of fast food places. But the hotel is there in the midst of it all. It's an easy drive to the tourist market with the crafts, a local market, more banks, a post office and Nando's (all of which are in Area 3, to Area 9's south).

Rooms - The rooms are not bad, although you have to re-define "luxury" a little. It has all the basics you need - air conditioning (worked only so-so but I didn't need it much - if it had been really hot I might have another sentment), TV (about 8 channels, one of which is a movie channel that plays American movies that you've never heard of but many of which have famous people anyhow). I had CNN for most of the week, although the last 2-3 days it was out. That's the cable/satellite, though, not the hotel. The TV is small and not a flat panel, but it is one of the only hotel TVs I have ever seen that's mounted just where it needs to be if you want to watch from the bed or the chair. There is a safe (mine had couple of problems but the housekeeping staff got it fixed in a couple of hours my first day), wifi that works well but isn't free (2000 kwacha for 5 hours, which don't have to be used all at once, and 8000 for a full week of it), the hotel makes no profit from this but sells it at the same cost as if you were to buy it from Skyband itself. There is a hot water kettle and instant coffee packs and a fridge that was supposedly a minibar but it was empty, so I bought my own drinks from the supermarket and put them in there. It kept things cold cold cold! Irons available on request, although no ironing board. Pieces of the room could use an updating or refurbishment, but it was functional.

Electricity is pretty iffy in Lilongwe, we seemed to lose power significantly so that a generator was needed about every other morning for a few hours - when the lights go out like that there's a generator but it won't power the air-con (you can open the windows), and the wifi gets messed up temporarily. (Strangely enough - I didn't know this, all I knew was that the lights went out and 15 mins later everything came back on except the a/c. I called reception to report this and they said they would send someone to check it out, but an hour later no one ever came and I went out. Then when I came back from breakfast, I ran into someone from housekeeping and mentioned it to him and he told me that we were on generator and the a/c doesn't work on generator but would come on when it switched back to grid power. Why couldn't they have just told me that at the front desk when I called?) Other times and days there is some fluttering of electricity but not a full on power loss requiring a generator. At turndown service they offer you also a mosquito net. (All of Malawi is malaria-endemic.) The bed is very comfortable and the linens were really, really nice - well more than most hotels and more than what I would expect. They were crisp and clean cotton sateen and just really nice - the towels were huge and fluffy as well!

However, the shower was the bane of my existence here. First, the bathroom is fine, it does come with a vanity pack of q-tips and cotton balls, soap and shower gel, shampoo and lotion (no conditioner) and a note that the front desk can help if you've forgotten any of the basics (and again, there's the "hyper mart" across the way that has anything you could possibly need). There is a hair dryer. Water pressure was great all around, and a note says the water has been tested and is okay to drink (although they give you a bottle of water). But, the shower was nutty. First it wouldn't get really warm - only lukewarm. That's okay, I don't like my showers too hot anyhow. But that night I tried it again and it was ice cold. Not warm water anywhere in my room. I called, they sent someone, he tested it and ran it 10 mins. after the 15 I'd spent running it, and said he would check and be back. 5 minutes later another person comes and does exactly the same thing. Then while he was there, another person came with exactly the same intent. So at this point I am so frustrated because what is this, a museum exhibit, why is everyone looking at this and not fixing it? Then after another 5-7 minutes (so now the water has run for more than 20 mins in all), they say, ok, now it's getting hotter. I ask them, so every time now I have to turn on my water and let it run for 20 or more minutes before I get in? One says yes, the other one says that a hot water heater had broken that afternoon and so there was no hot water in it. This makes sense to me, but why couldn't they have just said that and told me to let it run so the cold water ran through and it would get hotter? Anyhow I did have my hot shower and it ran fine the rest of the week - a broken hot water heater could happen anywhere and that's life. But other shower issues: the shower curtain doesn't cover the whole tub, only about half of it. And it's one of those that has the showerhead that you can take off and hold in your hand, which is okay normally, but mine wouldn't stay facing forward, it either went off to the corner (so you couldn't stand under it), or whipped around to the outside, forcing the shower curtain askew and soaking the bathroom floor. I wrestled with it and it was like those movies with the people wrestling with theirs like it's a snake, seemingly needing superhuman strength just to make it stand still. It's funny in the movies but it wasn't funny here! No matter what I did I couldn't make the shower just stay so it hit me and I could stand under it.

Food - Mixed reviews. I ordered room service Chinese and it was not good, although the soup was. All the soup was good - the hot and sour, chicken and corn, and the Copper Pot soup which was like a combo of the two. Since this was an Indian-run place I tried the Indian food as well. It was much better than the Chinese - not the best I've ever had or even the best in Lilongwe, but it was fine, and it came in a timely manner and the environment was nice. They catered the event I attended and the snacks and lunch buffet was pretty good. I always found something I really enjoyed there. I have to also say I was impressed that not only did they accommodate vegetarians, but the hotel also allowed those celebrating Ramadan to use their lunch coupons after sundown for dinner.

Bar - there is a bar just inside the reception. It's small, but it's comfortable and there is an amazingly large choice of libations. Overall though - I went to an event at the Sunbird Capital and it was much nicer all around - the bar and restaurant, the grounds, etc.

Amenities - gym, pool - Gym is ok although I didn't use it nearly as much as I should have! Pool was sort of dirty and really cold. Lots of kids playing in it though. Chairs and tables around, in shade and in sun. It was a really nice atmosphere to relax in.

Staff - The staff was very nice and well-meaning, but something was a little strange. I have already recounted the two times above where there was simple information (the electricity and the hot water) but the front desk staff didn't think to just explain the situation at the outset and the housekeeping staff explained after the fact - recognizing that I was frustrated and confused, they told me what I needed to know. The front desk should be able to do the same. The housekeeping staff is first rate! They were so so helpful and always in good humor. They let me in my room when the key went bad (about once a day on average!) so I didn't have to go to the front desk right away, at turn down service each night they left the TV guide open to just the right page for that night's TV and held the place with the remote. Lots of really nice, small touches. And they knew everything! Worth their weight in gold. The front desk staff needs to have some concierge training. I know a lot of people come to Lilongwe for the lake and the pottery village, but the staff should be prepared for when someone wants to do something in Lilongwe, advising on what to do, where to go, how to get there, how much it will cost, etc. When I ask what there is I can do for the day, the answer shouldn't just be to leave and go out of Lilongwe! It took me an hour and talking to five people before I got the information I needed to go to a market and the craft area (Area 3, Kiboko Market for tourist stuff, Free Market for the regular market stuff, both about 10 mins from hotel) by taxi. Everyone at the front drew a blank when I asked where the market was or what it was called, and they couldn't show me on a map (one person read the river as a road and didn't know where he was sending me, another tried to help, but threw up her hands and said she wasn't from Lilongwe and had no idea). And again it was someone from housekeeping who came to the rescue! Make friends with your housekeeping staff, they are gold.

Conference facilities - I was very surprised, the facilities were very nice and really perfect. There were small meeting rooms for 6-8 people, medium for 15-30, and enormous with a stage, for hundreds. Laid out nicely, catering on time (see food section above) and pretty good. Other than the hiccups when the power went out, everything was great - the microphones, the computers and screens for presentations, the layout of the room for the attendees, the office setup for the conference organizers.

Overall it didn't seem as nice as the Sunbird - I think it was the Capital I was at for a brief visit - but it was pretty good. I do think the Crossroads is at a crossroads - do they want to be one of the premier hotels in Lilongwe, or do they want to be a basic good hotel? If it's the former, they are on their way (the linens, the turn down service, the basics) but they need to keep moving forward to offer the special touches to the clientele, like knowledgable reception staff, like upgrading the rooms and the bar.

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank philsdottir
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Crossroads Hotel

Property: Crossroads Hotel
Address: Mchinji Roundabout | Crossroads Complex, PO Box X1, Lilongwe, Malawi
Phone Number:
Location: Malawi > Central Region > Lilongwe
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 12 Hotels in Lilongwe
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Crossroads Hotel 3.5*
Number of rooms: 101
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Crossroads Hotel offers guests an illustrious and unforgettable stay. Adjacent to the Crossroads Shopping Complex, on the Mchinji roundabout, the hotel is located within minutes of the central business district, and only 25 minutes from Kamuzu International Airport. The hotel combines business services, contemporary dining and state of the art conference facilities, appealing to both leisure and business travellers, offering convenience and easy access to the city’s finest amenities and 124KMs north – east of Lake Malawi. ... more   less 
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