We were originally scheduled to stay here, but because we adjusted our itinerary en route, we cancelled our booking. However, as fate might have it, we then experienced a 17 hour delay in our return flight, and so had time to visit Akagera on a day trip.
I seldom write negative reviews, but in hindsight, I'm very glad that we didn't stay here. Although it's part of the usually reliable Serena group, it had the air of a neglected hotel in desperate need of a facelift. One wing appeared to have been burned out in a fire and the free standing accommodation structures were boarded up and clearly hadn't been in use for some time. Oddly, there are also half finished structures in the vicinity of the pool which give it the atmosphere of an abandoned building site.
It's a pity, as the location is good, and it commands a lovely view out over the lake into Tanzania. The pool area is pleasant and well maintained (even if the service is slow even by Great Lakes standards) and with a substantial injection of cash and enthusiasm, it might again become a nice place to stay.
At present, it seems to subsist on the local conference venue trade, which is seldom a good omen.
To my knowledge, at the time of our visit (March 2013), there were no other accommodation options in Akagera, so if you want to overnight in the park, you are either stuck with this hotel, or a drive in from another location. If you do decide to stay here, make sure that you don't pay top dollar on the basis of its self proclaimed 'safari lodge' status - it's simply not worth it.
We stayed in the Stipp hotel for our final night in Rwanda.
In truth, it's a bit more upmarket than we'd usually choose for ourselves, but as we were at the end of a wonderful but exhausting tour, we didn't raise any objection when the tour operator suggested this.
It's a very pleasant hotel, located in the upmarket suburb of Kiyovu. As we were travelling with our kids, we had booked two double rooms, although it turned out that one of the rooms (23?) was enormous and contained a double bed and two single beds, so if you're travelling as a family, it's worth asking if this is available.
The Stipp Hotel is what you'd expect of an international standard hotel: whilst it is not outstandingly wonderful in any aspect, everything is efficient and functional. The only caution that I would raise is that in the wing where we stayed on the first floor , there wasn't a lift, which could be an issue for those with impaired mobility - if you are in this category, then be sure to raise it at the time of booking.
The restaurant was good for lunch and supper, but the breakfast was a bit dull.
One attraction worth looking for are the pair of crowned crane that wander freely in the grounds.
The only truly memorable part of the hotel is the pool, which was bracing (code for 'flipping freezing') even in the late afternoon. It has a waterfall and a pool bar (you know, the ones you see in 70s Bond movies where you sit on seats submerged below the water) and once the sun set, we did a double take when the disco lighting of the pool area was revealed. The colour of the lights change slowly, and it was a revelation to see this surprisingly funky side of an otherwise sedate hotel revealed!
I am conscious of the fact that I pride myself on seldom writing negative reviews - yet two out of the four hotels I'm reviewing in Rwanda deserve more criticism than praise. And, because I'm feeling sensitive on this issue, I should clarify that I am an 'old Africa hand' over a 25 year period, and am therefore not superimposing unrealistic first world standards onto the developing world.
Let's start with the positive. The rooms at Hotel Muhabura are clean, secure and in good repair, so absolutely fine for budget travellers such as ourselves. The gardens are also home to a good variety of bird species - particularly sunbirds - and it's well worth taking a few minutes to prowl around with your camera.
The problem with this hotel is the restaurant, which needs to be taken by the scruff of the neck and given a good shake out of its disinterested complacency. Even by the extremely slow standards of service that are endemic in the Great Lakes region, the 'speed' (deliberate inverted commas) of service is unacceptable and it shouldn't take over an hour to deliver the starters ('entree' to Americans) of an order to table on a quiet evening.
Slow + rude is a REALLY bad combination. After 45 minutes, I politely raised my concern with a surly waiter, who clearly took umbrage at being questioned by a customer (and a female) and whose response was ... let's try to be polite ... less than service focused. In plain speak: hostile, dismissive and absolutely disinterested. However, to be fair to him, although he's accountable for his rudeness, he can't be held responsible for slow food preparation in the kitchen, which seems to proceed at a glacial pace.
The ultimate insult was that the food wasn't worth waiting for.
I understand the constraints of hotels in out of the way places, but Ruhengeri is fast becoming a significant tourist destination, and rude service is unacceptable. Much to the horrified astonishment of the waiter in question, I raised my issue with his management, who were responsive in a 'damage control' sort of manner because they were trying to avoid a scene. However, I was left with no confidence that the root cause of my problem - which is ultimately poor managerial supervision - has (or will be) addressed.
Sooner or later, the management of establishments like this will realise that they will only continue to exist as there is a tourist trade to support them, and that they continue to treat customers with contempt at their peril. A very poor show.
I have to preface this review by stating that the Gisakura Guest House is very basic, and probably a step below the sort of accommodation that we'd usually consider staying in. Having said that, at the time of our visit in March 2013, it was the only budget accommodation available in Nyungwe, and given the eyewatering rates at the other establishments, we decided to lower our standards for a couple of nights.
This turned out to be an excellent decision, and our stay was pleasant. The rooms are spartan and the bathroom facilities are shared, but it's clean, secure and well located and the money we saved was much better spent on chimp trekking!
The food is - well - basic. Rwandan food tends to be blandly unspectacular at the best of times (unless you decide to spice it up with a dose of akabanga, and what is served is simple, filling fuel. I suspect that one of the reasons for the simplicity of the fare is that the guest house doesn't have refrigeration facilities, so everything has to be prepared from scratch from locally available ingredients.
Accommodation is on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis, and your choice is to either eat it or leave it, as there are no other restaurant facilities within the surrounding area. If you're leaving early to go hiking to chimp trekking, then they'll prepare you a perfectly acceptable packed lunch.
The best thing about the guest house is its location. The little garden was literally buzzing with birdlife - particularly sunbirds, which I've never seen in such profusion elsewhere. It is also directly oppose the Gisakura guest offices which are one of the departure points for chimp trekking - and given that these set off at 05:00 in the morning, this is a major advantage!
The location of Bethany Hotel is amazing. It is built on a small hill right in the middle of the water and looks like a fairy palace..
The staff is very helpful and polite and the rooms are nice and comfortable. There are two restaurants, and internet connections.
It is 2 klms away from the the place where the bus drops you and you can easily reach it by taxi or motor taxi.
Double rooms cost 19 , 31 and 38 euros, according to their views and facilities. They all have private bathroom and hot water supply.
Contact: P.O.Box 56 - Kigali – Rwanda
tel: +250 (0) 252568235 / mob : 250 0784957945
Located in the center of Kigali this hotel is very convenient and also logically priced for the standard of the city. Double rooms cost about 30 US$ including breakfast from a tasty buffet. You can also have lunch between 12.00 and 14.00 paying only 3US$.
The rooms are comfortable and very clean with bathroom and hot water, and the stuff are nice and efficient.
It is on Kalisimbi street
tel & fax 250-252572578 / 252572581 / 252572793 fax 250 252575109
Rooms are spacious and comfortable and come at a good price including breakfast, which makes it a good option. They cost from 19 to 35 euro for singles and almost half for two people in a double room. There is a restaurant.
Ibis is one of the best hotels in Butare. There are different kinds of rooms at different prices. They cost from 35-38 for singles and 19 - 21 euros for each person in a double room. The rooms are very comfortable and spacious…..
There is a restaurant and a bar. Breakfast is included in the price.
tel 252 530335 / 0788985562
This pleasant hotel is suitable for low-budget travelers. The rooms are set around a small but colorful garden, they are spacious and have bathrooms. Cold and hot water are available in buckets. They charge 6 euros per person.
There is a local restaurant attached offering a buffet until 3.00 pm with quite tasty local dishes, costing about 2 euros. You can order your food after that. Dishes served with salad and rice cost about 1.5 euros or less.
The staff is friendly and efficient.
Tel: 0784692454 / 0724692454
In Ginseyi I stayed in a nice hotel , “La Corniche”, which is not far from the beach. The price is just right for the town standards and offers a beautiful garden , an open bar which the locals frequent for a drink. It has spacious rooms and a rich buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is included in the price. A double room costs about 30$. But there is also a cheaper wing where the rooms cost about 20$ but they are not good value for that money.
It is located at the western part of the town about 200 meters from the coast line.
Grand hotel is next to the central station. As I had a very early bus to catch I slept in Grand Hotel for one night. It is very cheap and just perfect for the early wake up. There is nothing special about it except that the building although old is really atmospheric and it has a “local color” although in the heart of a big city. It is next to Nyakabogo bus station. I think I payed about 4 euros. The rooms are very basic but pleasant.
Not far from the city center this hotel is relaxing and comfortable. There is a buffet restaurant during the morning and breakfast is included in the price of the room. The staff is efficient and very polite. You can also relax in the balcony with nice views of the hills in front or in the small garden. The rooms with private bathroom and hot water cost about 25-30 euros but prices are negotiable.
The city center is only a 15 minute walk from the hotel.
Tel : +250 (0)788867863 / 250 (0) 788735341.
It is located near Serena Hotel, on Avenue de l'Hopital (CHUK)
I didn't stay in this hotel but I visited and this is the information I got from the stuff and the guests. It looks a little boring to me but maybe I am wrong. It has a little beach and looks well organized. The rooms are comfortable and have bathrooms and hot water of course. The rooms with the views to the beautiful lake are nicer but pricier. They cost 25euros/40US$, while the no-view rooms cost a few dollars less.
The first person in a double room has free breakfast while the second one pays 3euros/5dollars for breakfast. ( this I have never heard before...)
Anyway it looks neat and tidy and the stuff look efficient.
As you are approaching Kibuye, just before entering the city you can see this impressive building standing proudly at the very top of a hill. It promises amazing views and a relaxing stay just by its location. And indeed ….It offers stunning views of the verdant hilly coast of the wonderful lake Kivu and the surrounding countryside. I chose the room with the best views and payed only 10 euros .Breakfast on the small balcony in front of the restaurant is an unforgettable experience. The room was very clean with mosquito net, bathroom and hot water. There are also rooms sharing common bathrooms at half the price. The restaurant has acceptable food and helpful, polite stuff.
Tel 252 568526 / mob 0784725107
A nice hotel - nothing exciting but good value and it is close to everything you need in town. It was opposite one of the only working ATM's when I was there.
The rooms were exceptionally clean and staff were very friendly. There's a bar and restaurant, wireless internet is available in all rooms.
Accomodation is not cheap in this town as it is the entrance to Volcanoes National Park so almost anyone coming to see the gorill's stays here. This hotel was a respite (for me) from camping in the rain and I liked it.
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