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“Very nice place”
Review of Cool Runnings

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Cool Runnings
Lamu Island, Kenya
Level Contributor
61 reviews
60 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
“Very nice place”
Reviewed 1 June 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, travelled solo
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Helpful?
Thank JamboHouse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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67 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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  • Sleep Quality
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  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (17)
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Charleston, South Carolina
Level Contributor
54 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 May 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, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank gbrown_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
26 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 May 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, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank wonderstevie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sweden
Level Contributor
186 reviews
50 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 79 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 February 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, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Lasse L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
11 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 January 2013

Went here last weekend with a group of friends. Being the rainy season and January, we called just a couple days ahead and booked rooms without difficulty--this is apparently not always the case in the dry season, so plan accordingly! They have different lodgings spread around the property. Their nicest rooms are in the same small building as the restaurant and bar, which has a lovely shaded area overlooking the beach. A friend and I shared the room with two twin beds and en-suite bathrooms. Other friends had the 2nd room with 2 twin beds and bathroom across the hall, our couple friends shared the room with the double bed, and the final member of our group had the caravan to himself. Our room was clean and well-maintained. Being rainy season, it did smell a tiny bit musty, and their were a few bugs (ants mostly), but this is virtually impossible to combat without going to extreme expense, and one of the charms of this place is certainly the excellent rates. Another strength are the very nice outdoor areas--you didn't come to the lake to just hang out in your room, anyway! Food was basic but tasty. Coffee in the morning was real, not the instant stuff, and brought to you in a french press. All in all, it was a super enjoyable experience. If you want a quick break from Lilongwe or are working your way up the lake, Cool Runnings comes highly recommended.

  • Stayed January 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank JeanVerde
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
23 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 January 2013

Stayed here with a group of friends for a weekend at the lake - it was exactly what we were looking for. We were a little apprehensive as some of the previous reviews were somewhat negative, but we had a really great experience. Sure, the power was out during lunch so we had our sandwiches without fries, and it being the rainy season, things were a little musty. That said, it was clean, our food was delicious, our rooms were comfortable, there were lots of lovely lounge areas to sit and relax in, and the price was reasonable. We had a great time and will definitely be going back here.

Room Tip: The double room with ensuite bathroom is a little loud at night as it is right beside the bar, but i...
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Stayed January 2013, travelled with friends
Helpful?
Thank Denise J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Fremantle, Australia
Level Contributor
136 reviews
68 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 January 2013

Intended to stay at Cool Runnings for five days during our trip through Malawi, previous reviews all looked good so we were looking forward to it.

On arrival (at 3pm) the gate seemed locked and there was nobody about, we had to get out and figure out how to open the gate and then parked ourselves on the other side in the grounds to go looking for a staff member. Once one appeared and gave us a room key.... that was that. We had no idea about meals / breakfasts or anything else on the property which left us a bit lost!

Rooms were dingy and not particularly clean, water pressure in the showers was non existant and the fan in the room needed to be 'jump started' which took us a while to work out. Beds were short, small and hard with torn mosquito nets. Altogether not particularly impressive but as usual the excuse is this *is* a backpacker place.

We had a few beers at the bar and spoke to the barman briefly then walked down the beach for a bit. The surroundings are a bit hit and miss, some parts of the beach are quite scenic and others have trash everywhere, local people are friendly and happy to talk to you. Sunrise in the morning over the island was pretty impressive though!

Dinner and breakfast turned out to be quite good although there were ants all over the place on the tables. Prices were not expensive but weren't cheap either.

Our plans changed the next day and we actually ended up leaving and driving North but I don't think we would have stayed at Cool runnings for the five nights anyway. After reading previous reviews I was also quite surprised about the owner 'Sam' who basically ignored us (she was there at dinner and breakfast),overall i had expected a completely different atmosphere at Cool runnings to what we got.

Yes it is cheap, and yes it is a 'backpackers' but I don't see why 'backpacker' seems to have to mean 'shoddy, dirty and broken' but these days it seems that every overnight we do at somewhere that has 'backpacker' anywhere near the name is exactly that! It's great being involved in all the community projects, but if you don't start to pay attention to your guests.....they will leave or stop coming! There is also no internet access for guests at CR, if you want internet you're shown the way to the Sunbird hotel a bit further up the coast.

If you're intending to go to Senga Bay, i wouldn't as there's not much there and the lakeshore etc is much more scenic either further up or down the coast.

  • Stayed January 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank AtlantanHaggis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Cool Runnings

Property: Cool Runnings
Address: Senga, Malawi
Region: Malawi > Central Region > Senga
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Speciality Lodging in Senga
Number of rooms: 18

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