We were in Rwanda in Aug 2011. Prior to our departure, reviews and information in Ishema were scant, but hotel provided photos looked very nice. This was our 2nd trip to Rwanda. We were booked at the Gorillas Nest, but since the fire occurred, we had to stay elsewhere and options near the Volcanoes Park are extremely limited.
Our review of Ishema is a poor one. But, this is Rwanda, not New York, and it comes down to expectation management. There were 9 of us travelling and our feedback is the same.
The Gorillas Nest Lodge really wasn't significantly better 3 years ago, but it made up for it by being in very nice, tranquil surroundings and having quaint huts. The food and service was significantly better too. Ishema was very expensive for what we got, but we realize there are very limited options outside of Kigali.
When we arrived, I couldn't tell if our room had been cleaned, as the towels were on the bed (folded), but wet (and not in the bathroom). I don't think the staff are used to dealing with mzungus - the porter took us to room 115, even though our key said 215 - we kept saying we need to go up another floor, but he didn't understand. We kept showing him the key and pointing upstairs. He then took off (god knows where), so we just picked up our bags and went up another floor. The staff were constantly mixing things up - bringing towels to wrong rooms, removing towels (so there would be one towel for 2 people), no water in one room, but 4 bottles in the next room etc.
Some rooms didn't have hot water for the showers. Showers were moldy. Most of the beds were lumpy - one had a spring sticking out - the staff's solution: flip the matress over.
It was the night noise that was probably the worst thing - it's location is very noisy - we could hear celebrations and parties during the night; the call to prayer around 4am, and then the police academy drills start at 5am. If you slept with the door open, you suffrered not only from the noise, but mosquitos. If you closed the door, the room became hot and stuffy. A simple solution would be to have fans - even portable ones.
The lighting in the rooms is atrocious - no way you could read at night - room was just too dark.
They had TV's, but no remotes, and the signal was awful. 3 channels, with Al Jazeera being the only channel you could actually see anything on. (not that we were looking for TV's).
The food was of exceptionally poor quality and service was even worse.
Again - I think compared to some of the other accommodations near the Park, this was probably better than most, but it was VERY expensive for what you got.
One positive note- our travel agent asked for our feeback, which we provided, simply so she could manage future guests expectations or provide to the hotel with suggestions for improvements. She must have chased the hotel persistently, as today, I was notified that our group would be receiving a partial refund on our 2 night stay.
Other than this review, I cannot say enough positive things about Rwanda and would thoroughly recommend visiting the country. The mountain gorilla experience is unparalled.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Ishema Hotel, located in stunning Musanze, Rwanda, is a full service facility offering a wide range of accommodations, delightful dining, and impressive conference capacity. Only a two hour drive from Kigali and twenty minutes from Volcanoes National Park, Ishema is a perfect options for those wishing to trek gorillas or simply come relax in the serenity and beauty of mountainous northern Rwanda. Ishema, meaning pride in excellence, goes to great lengths to ensure our guests are greeted with quality service and exceptional facilities. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Ishema Hotel Rwanda/Ruhengeri