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“Lovely location”
Review of Sunbird Ku Chawe

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Sunbird Ku Chawe
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Zomba
Doire
Level Contributor
48 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Lovely location”
Reviewed August 26, 2012

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.

Room Tip: Ask for room over looking gardens
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank MacGiollaBhrighde
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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145 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
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  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (35)
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English first
Schenectady, New York
Level Contributor
90 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
Reviewed August 11, 2012

As is often the case in Africa, these hotels are a complete surprise, located in the middle of nowhere - as the saying goes. Zomba was once the capital of Malawi and as a town boasts a few traffic lights, a prison and the National Archives. The drive up the mountain offers panoramic views of the plains around that southern part of Malawi. The Sunbird Ku Chawe Inn is an oasis of western modernity in an otherwise poverty defined landscape. My team only ate there and so I can't comment on the accommodations.

We ordered a variety of hot drinks and 'tea' related eats. My apple pie was excellent but arrived with hot custard instead of the advertised whipped cream. My companions had various difficulties with their orders, mostly around the non arrival of plates, jams, or other items related to the order. The server seemed undertrained for the task and had to be asked several times to bring the missing items. In the end it all arrived but the order (basically tea and cakes) for 6 people took about 50 minutes to arrive.

We stayed for lunch - and all our food was delicious from burgers to steaks. This we ordered on the bar which has a TV with satellite channels. In general staff were polite and accommodating. Just don't be in a hurry and understand that what you order may not be exactly what you get!

We tried to exchange US$ for Kwacha (Malawian currency) but the hotel did not have enough cash (we just wanted to pay for the meal). The credit card machine was working.

The bill for the tea was wrong as the server had left off several items. Check for accuracy before paying.

Note that a section of the road from Blantyre is under construction and by the look of things will be so for some time - July 2012.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Noel S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level Contributor
75 reviews
42 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed July 26, 2012

What a pleasant surprise! This hotel was comfortable with large rooms (if a little dated) but its overall ambiance, wonderful gardens and magnificent views made our stay a pleasure. The service was good and the food well above average. I just spent 4 nights at the Ku Chawe Inn and would happily return. The bedroom even has its own fireplace for cold nights but the restaurant and bar area also had lovely fires for cold nights. Bathrooms were a little tired but functional, airconditioning worked well but the overall building, with its many alcoves and arches was most welcoming. Worth the drive from Blantyre.

Room Tip: All rooms seem to have a great view.
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank Andrew J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
29 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed July 19, 2012

Our stay at this hotel was enjoyable because we chose to make lemonade out of lemons. When we arrived, they put four of us in a room with one bed. They then asked us if we could sleep on mattresses on the floor. We told them no, so they brought in two beds. This created absolutely NO walking room. The bath tub was dirty, the floor in the bathroom was dirty. The hot water did work. The management staff was just not very helpful.

The grounds are stunning, no doubt about that. That is the only redeeming quality.

The restaurant is unnecessarily fancy and completely overpriced. Of course, it happens to be the only place to eat.

I would never go back to this hotel. I would stay elsewhere in Zomba and just drive up to the plateau for the day.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank oconnorjen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Glasgow
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed July 11, 2012

Just spent 7 nights in the Ku Chawe Inn on the Zomba Plateau. We stayed in a deluxe room which had plenty of space. The open fire could be lit at night while you're having dinner, a nice touch. We had a small terrace area overlooking the lovely gardens with great views across Zomba. The bathroom had a separate bath and shower, it could be doing with a bit of a makeover but it wasn't that bad. The staff are very friendly and helpful, the housekeepers, receptionists, bar staff and in the restaurant. The food was pretty good, plenty of choice at the buffet breakfast with eggs cooked to order. In the evening it varied from the occasional buffet to an a la carte, both were fine ( I'd recommend the goat biryani).
Walking on the Plateau is fantastic, you don't need a guide from the hotel, we used one of the local guys working in the curio stalls outside the hotel, he was great, took me to places and described thing I couldn't have done on my own.
All in all avery good hotel in a great location but if you're going during the dry cool season pack accordingly!

Room Tip: Deluxe Rooms have A/C that also blow hot air, helpful for cold mornings.
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank clyde-valley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bangula
Level Contributor
15 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed June 28, 2012

The Sunbird Ku Chawe is a very nice property that was built quite a while ago. The building is very unique and beautiful. The rooms have had some updates, but the bathrooms need a complete makeover. The beds feel old. The fireplaces in the rooms are wonderful on cool plateau nights. The breakfast is nice with lots of local fresh fruit. The DSTV selection is not good. The hotel is the only large place on the mountain and it is good for a night or two.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank malawimatt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level Contributor
23 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed June 15, 2012

High up on the Zomba plateau the hotel has a bit of a 70s feel to it - face brick with many arches and fire places in the rooms to boot. The terraced gardens make a wonderful setting for a few sundowners or to relax in with a good book. The views over the tree tops below and down into the valley on a clear day are nothing short of spectacular.
Rooms are adequate but could do with an update. The fire place in the room is a real winner, particularly on those cooler nights in the winter months.
Food is again average but by no means unacceptable.
The bar is well stocked with the standard Malawi smile adorning the staff. Again; warm fire standard protocol for the cooler nights.

This is not a 5 star hotel but it is good value for money and there are not many better options in the area.

Room Tip: Get a ground floor room with a terrace that opens onto the garden.
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank BigWillyStyle42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sunbird Ku Chawe

Property: Sunbird Ku Chawe
Address: Zomba Plateau, Zomba, Malawi (Formerly Le Meridien Ku Chawe)
Phone Number:
Location: Malawi > Southern Region > Zomba
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Zomba
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Sunbird Ku Chawe 3*
Number of rooms: 37
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Sunbird Ku Chawe Hotel Zomba

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