Before travelling to Rwanda, I researched hotels in Ruhengeri and the price at the famous lodges was shocking - like, USD$500 per person per night.
We were only staying in the area for one night, the night before our gorilla trek, and to pay such a high rate seemed like a colossal waste of money. So I took a gamble and booked a room at Virunga Hotel through their website, reconfirmed by email.
I was surprisingly pleased with the accommodation. The hotel is not atmospheric, scenic, or fancy - so don't expect that - but it was a clean, newish business hotel in the town for the reasonable rate of USD$80 for a double room . Our room was simple but tidy, clean, comfortable and new-feeling, not old and grungy. There was a TV and free WiFi, although the signal was low in the room and it worked best in the restaurant/bar downstairs.
The best thing about the place was the service. The young man at the front desk, Olivier, without being asked put us in a room near the back of the hotel in case there was noise (our room was dead quiet, but there might have been street noise if we were in a room overlooking the road).
We had a problem with our gorilla trek booking -- there had been a mix-up; in the end after a lot of stress it turned out fine -- and a genuinely concerned Olivier went out of his way to assist us and take care of us. He even accompanied us to the park office in the morning to make sure that we were OK.
The hotel manager was frequently around, asking if everything was all right.
It took only 15 minutes to travel from the hotel to the national park office, where you must go in the morning before beginning the trek, to be divided into groups. You will then require a 4x4 vehicle to travel to the location where you will start the trek. We were able to rent a good vehicle/driver through the Virunga Hotel - I can't remember the cost but it was reasonable.
The only problem was the free breakfast, included in the room rate. It was slow to prepare and wasn't ready in time, and so we only had bread to eat before our four-hour trek. I would recommend leaving a lot of time for breakfast, or asking the night before if they can prepare something quickly.
But otherwise I would highly recommend staying at Virunga Hotel if you are looking for a cheaper, just fine alternative to the expensive lodges in the area.
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- Also Known As:
- Virunga Hotel Rwanda/Ruhengeri