I have stayed at this hotel and visited a number of times over the years since 2006 but have just join trip advisor so thought I would offer a perspective althought the 2011 date is not strictly accurate but is as far back as the review box will let me go.
There is no doubt as soon as you approach this hotel that your are somewhere special. As you make the climb from the base of Zomba plateau the temperature immediately begins to drop and by the time you get to the hotel it was on ocassions as much as 15 degrees cooler.
The altitude means that there are no mosquitos and this is certainly a welcome relief.
Rooms vary in size and levels of comfort. Those at the front overlooking the garden with patios were generally the best whist those over looking the carpark were not just as good and those that are in the annex at the rear were the poorest of the three. That said all were clean and spacious enough for two people.
On two occassions I had travelled with large groups involved in health and aid projects and as a result all our meals were included. Food was well presented and plentiful. (Never forget for vunerable people that unless it is cooked and still hot or you can peel it don't eat it). There was also great mix of European and local food. My son pronounced the nsima was not as good as he had tried in other places but I found the range and quality to be most acceptable.
The hotel is very popular with better off Malawians at the weekend with many driving large distances to enjoy Sunday lunch/dinner as a result there is entertainment which was hugely enjoyable.
Malawi is a country that you have to experience to understand the true meaning of hospitality and this is reflected in the staff who are friendly and helpful. Service for the most part was excellent but it fell down on a regular bases when staff attempted to serve too many people at the same time and end up failing everyone. They need to learn to say I am with another guest and will be with you in a moment.
I seldom charge stuff to my room as I prefer to know exactly where I stand and when I am tipping that the money goes directly to the staff member. I did find a number of items charged to my room that I knew I had either paid for and had the receipt or had not used bought. On one ocassion it was for a meal in the hotel when I was not at the hotel as I was staying with a friend in Blantyre.
I don't believe that this was deliberate but rather a system failure on verifying guests signing for meals etc. so check your bill.
This hotel is aimed at the European and American markets and you will pay similar prices so don't be surprised.
Ask for a safe deposit box at reception as soon as you arrive and use it. Unless you want to lock up your room with windows tightly closed and return to a sauna you will need it. I found staff to be honest but the hotel is a magnet for anyone on the make. Security are as good as they can be but can't watch every room 24/7.
The guys selling crafts outside the gates belong to a co-operative and most are selling for extended family groups. If you are an idiot they will of course relieve of your hard earned cash but really all they want to do is make a living so tell them that Mr Louis from Ireland said you should buy from them.
In summary this is a top class hotel where you would not expect one to be. Enjoyable and comfortable.
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- Also Known As:
- Sunbird Ku Chawe Hotel Zomba