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“Should be so much better”
Review of Sunbird Ku Chawe

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Sunbird Ku Chawe
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Zomba
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed October 21, 2013

Oh dear.

We had booked a de luxe room (one below suite) and paid for same, but between booking and arrival the rooms had been subjected to grade inflation, such that standard rooms are now deemed "de luxe" and the garde we had paid for renamed "executive de luxe". We were shown into a tip of a room for our money. After some shenanigans, we agreed to pay for an upgrade to the very thing I had paid for (naturally I got our agency to straighten out the money side of this).

But that was just starters. The first executive de luxe room emitted brown water from the bath tap and leaked copious water to flood the bedroom carpet within 30 seconds of initiating a shower. Third change was slightly better but still the plumbing was bizarre - too boring to describe but a worrying link between gurgling bath outlet and perpetually trickling toilet.

I'll spare you the lengthy tale of ordering some nuts with our beer, suffice it to simply recommend that you don't try anything quite so baroque, as the head of food and beverage sees that as a sign that you are made of money and want to be ripped off.

This is the only place you can stay right up there on the glorious Zomba plateau, so if you want the views and activities on hand, you might simply have to put up with it.

Our lasting impression is of beleaguered junior staff trying their best in the face of chronic mismanagement. A place that could be truly excellent, but falls so short due to neglect and graft.

Someone who knows how to run a hotel should put this chain out of its misery and restore a potentially delightful property to the state it (presumably) formerly had and certainly deserves.

Room Tip: Allow plenty of time to change rooms a few times.
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  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank IanLHarris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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95 - 101 of 156 reviews

Reviewed September 26, 2013

I would rate this hotel excellent because its a good property located in the middle of nowhere.
Built on top of a Hill and is surrounded by clouds most of the time.
Rooms are big with antique wooden beds and furniture.
The views from rooms are magnificent.
The restaurant area has indoor as well as outdoor seating. To have breakfast while surrounded by clouds is a nice experience.
The staff was nice and the drive up and down the hotel is very scenic.
There are many things to see nearby.
do visit the local market. quite an experience.

Room Tip: Get a room with balcony.
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled on business
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1  Thank Sharnjit_Sondh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 22, 2013

Ku Chawe Inn is probably the best hotel for sight-seeing around Zomba and the plateau however rather like the town of Zomba the hotel has seen better days. The bedrooms are shabby which includes the garden rooms. We had paid extra for a de-lux room however the first room we were offered could in no way be described as even average! To start with it was only a few yards from the market traders with just a thin hedge between our room and the stall holders. The cacophony of sounds one would associate with a market was not quite what we had in mind for our first day as having just spent 36 hours travelling we were hoping for some peace and tranquility in which to relax. It was also the furthest room from the reception with many steps to navigate - a real problem for my husband who had recently undergone knee surgery. At first the female Receptionist was quite hostile when we asked for a better room, insisting all other rooms were booked and despite the fact that the hotel was half empty when we arrived. A large party did turn up later the same day and stayed for one night whereas we had booked for three however switching the rooms around was clearly not an option. The Receptionist was finally prevailed upon to offer us a room closer to the main building however this came with twin beds rather than a double. We accepted this room as it seemed there was nothing better on offer. That aside the public rooms and gardens are delightful. The restaurant and bar staff could not have been more hospitable and we found the food and service to be of a good standard. In short despite our initial disappointment we were finally won over by the remainder of the staff who genuinely wanted to please.

Whilst in Zomba we looked up a few acquaintances and then on our last day toured the plateau in a self drive 4x4 using a local guide. It was a trip we will not forget not only for the stunning scenery but also for the extremely hairy descent! We were grateful we had taken along a guide however as he was a non-driver he could not be relied upon to give advice on the best way to navigate some extremely hazardous conditions. When collecting the vehicle we were given a tip which was to ignore advice from locals when driving and to just trust our own judgement employing caution at all times. This proved invaluable advice.

Room Tip: Insist on a garden room either in the main block or close to it.
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Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
Thank Susan H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 10, 2013

Ku Chawe was clean and comfortable. We stayed in a garden room with fireplace which we made use of one cold afternoon. The views are lovely. The food here was unexceptional and took a long time to arrive even though not busy. Room service for drinks and firewood was quick and efficient. The check-in staff were lacklustre and gazed in amazement at simple requests. They also carried very little local currency to exchange even though they advertised it as a service.

One of the reasons for staying at Ku Chawe is to tour the plateau and see the sights and Chingwe's Hole etc but this is nigh on impossible now. Forty years ago you could tour it in a saloon car but now it is almost impassable even in a Landcruiser. This is not the fault of the hotel but removes some of the potential and should be addressed.

Room Tip: garden room with fireplace for chillier times.
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  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Ian B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 10, 2013

While the conference room was a little inadequate (not suitable for pinning papers to the walls etc) the management and staff did very well to accommodate our needs. My room was OK but with a leaking shower the carpet was continually wet. Food was above average and the hotel is in a great positiona and gardens are lovely. Poor connectivity is letting down many hotels in Africa and this was evident at this hotel as well. Overall a very pleasant 3 days

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled on business
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Thank GDTravelsMargateRSA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 4, 2013

My husband and I stayed here for 2 nights as part of a month's visit to Malawi and Zambia. We enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, the friendly service and our room was comfortable and cosy. We particularly enjoyed the open fire to relax at the end of the day. We would certainly recommend the hotel.

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank rootstogrow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 4, 2013

We stayed here for four nights in July while visiting our sponsored children through the World Vision charity.Reception staff were rude on check in and demanded to see documents/vouchers.Bear in mind that we were on a three week holiday in Kenya and Malawi and nowhere else asked to see our booking voucher.Holiday was booked through the one company and reception clearly knew our booking but just wanted to make a point in my opinion.Each evening meal over the four nights we had to wait one hour after giving the waiter the order !!
Once the arrived they were only warm and never hot.
One morning I waited 45 minutes to exchange dollars into Kwacha !!

This hotel seems to rely on its past glories but should embrace the present.Without doubt the worst place we stayed in our three week trip.

Room Tip: Room we had was on the ground floor and noisy.
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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Thank SCCC0608
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

Address: Zomba Plateau, Zomba, Malawi (Formerly Le Meridien Ku Chawe)
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: $133 - $285 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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