The “Protea Hotel Blantyre Ryalls,”:http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/blzry-protea-hotel-blantyre-ryalls/ in Malawi’s commercial capital of Blantyre, was one of the swishest places during our trip, even by international standards – it is after all, part of the Marriott group.
Room 112 was on the ground floor, near reception and overlooked lovely gardens. It was large and well equipped with comfy bed, desk and chair, empty fridge, large wall mounted TV (with BBC World), good hanging space, tea and coffee making facilities, a safe (only our second) and hooray, a hairdryer, my first in a month.
The good-sized bathroom had an albeit narrow bath and separate shower. Although we arrived to an in-room note telling us Blantyre was experiencing a water shortage, which could result in low pressure or no water flow at the taps, this wasn’t the case during our stay.
In the evening, the bar was busy with overnighting conference delegates, Western workers, smartly dressed locals (including one in black tie) and a birthday group. This was obviously the place to be in Blantyre.
We’d been looking forward to trying their highly recommended 21 Grill, but found it was closed for a soft refurbishment for a month. Instead we used the buffet in the main restaurant which was good with a carrot soup and starters (prawn tempura, chicken rissoles, pizza squares, chicken skewers), all with a good selection of salad (and excellent pickled onions). The mains were mainly meat dishes in sauces with rice, potatoes and vegetables (and a vegetarian pasta and tomato sauce) but there was a local selection which included nsima (their staple food made from maize flour and water and similar to a stodgy semolina). A live cooking station produced chicken and noodles and fried hake fillets on request. Puddings were small bites of various cakes, but we indulged in cheese and biscuits.
A bar menu was good for a light lunch and we enjoyed a Greek Salad and a sandwich with the food being tasty and well presented. Breakfast was the usual full affair with a good selection of hot and cold dishes and eggs cooked to order.
Once again, we found the swimming pool next to the conference area, and as the delegates were all having an al fresco lunch right next to the pool, we found it a little off putting so made do with a trip to the shops.
Overall, this was an good international hotel and we could have been anywhere in the world, but it provided us with a night of home comforts before flying back to the UK.