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“Good location for the Gorillas but avoid the buffet!”
Review of Ishema Hotel

Ishema Hotel
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Ishema Hotel
Ranked #13 of 17 Ruhengeri B&B and Inns
Croydon, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
15 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Good location for the Gorillas but avoid the buffet!”
Reviewed 25 June 2012

We stayed 3 nights at the Ishema hotel purely to go Gorilla trecking. The Goriall trecking was amazing, but the hotel was a little disapointing after our experiences in Uganda. On the plus side it is close to the Volcanoes National Park and has a great swiming pool. The water was consistently hot and the bedroom was ok. On the negative side, the food was terrible. The food on the buffet was so overcooked as to be almost inedible. On the last night we went a la carte. Having ordered our meals for 7.30 we went downstairs for a drink with our group before dinner at 7sih. We were told that our food was ready, so duly ran around making sure everyone was there. The staff then waited another 30 minutes and served the food cold and brought every course at the same time!
The location is great for the Gorillas but it is quite noisy outside.
Overall, however, we got to see two families of gorillas and that's all that realy mattered!

  • Stayed June 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank LowriMai
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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14 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
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  • Value
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (4)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Kampala, Uganda
Level Contributor
388 reviews
197 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 266 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 June 2012

This is the fourth hotel in Musanze / Ruhengeri I ever stayed in and while it looks impressive from the outside, on the inside it was just average or a notch below.
The staff were friendly enough no doubt but English still needs to take deeper roots to understand what clients want. Tabasco, contrary to my expectation, is NOT a universally understood word ...
My room was very spacious, the internet connection worked reasonably well - free for inhouse guests - but the furnishings were probably more appropriate in a private residence than in a hotel room, same for the bathroom which had both shower and tub available. The water was hot with good pressure, a positive element at the elevation where it gets quite cold outside at night.
The food was filling but no gourmet cooking, square meals but on a safari, that is what is needed, and my expectations were not looking at a Chaine de Rotisseurs restaurant as there is none to be found in the entire Ruhengeri / Musanze.
The Ishema Hotel can do for a night or two or even three and they even have a pool ... not my first choice of outdoor activity considering the chill the way cold water would inflict on me. If they could get their staff trained in greater fluency in English and inject a few more skills amongst the F&B service staff, it could be a rather pleasant experience after all.

Room Tip: Try get a room away from the road noises as trucks at night did disturb the little sleep I found.
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  • Stayed June 2012, travelled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Safariafficionado
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Aussie in London/NY
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 September 2011

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.

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank SS&RS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
218 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 168 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 September 2011

My husband did a ton of research before our trip to Rwanda, and we relied on the reviews written on TripAdvisor when we booked our stay at the Ishema.

Our group of six had reserved three executive suites about six months ahead of time. However, when we arrived at the hotel around 6:00 pm, one of our suites had been given "by mistake" to another couple so we were given a regular room. That wouldn't have been a problem, except it was half the size, there was black mold around the tub, and there was no shower curtain so we had to borrow the shower in our friend's room. The lighting is very dim in all the rooms - I assume to try and prevent the mosquitoes from coming in. Power outages are frequent and the internet is slow. We found the food to be mediocre.

On the plus side, the staff bent over backwards for us. They were friendly, helpful, courteous and did whatever they could to make us feel welcome.

The hotel is about a 15-20 minute drive to Volcanoes National Park, so it's well situated if you want to see the golden monkeys and/or gorillas. We did both and they were highlights of our entire trip to Africa. Our guide, Ronald from 1000 Smiles Adventures, was amazing. He met us at the airport in Kigali and accompanied us every step of the way, even inviting us to his home and introducing us to his sister. He grew up in Musanze and used to be the catering manager at the one of the local hotels, so he's very well connected. He took us to the Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village (pronounced Ibi-watch-u) which ended up being a really fun, interactive experience. He started his company this year and I would highly recommend hiring him for a hassle-free experience. He will take very good care of you. His e-mail address is ronald.vmugisha@gmail.com and his fee is nominal. He prefers to be "paid from the heart", whatever you think he's worth.

Anyway, back to the Ishema.....we were awoken by Muslim chanting every morning as the sun rose (we were there during Ramadan). It was too cold to use the pool, but it was nice knowing it was there. The Ishema is right in Musanze so we could walk everywhere. The local market was amazing!

After trekking to see the gorillas, our shoes were covered in mud. The hotel cleaned them for us for the equivalent of about $3 - a bargain!

I would stay at the Ishema again, but would recommend one of the executive suites located in the main building, one in each corner.

Musanze is like stepping into another world - the people are so friendly! Enjoy.

Room Tip: Corner suites are large, bright, comfortable and have a fridge. The other rooms don't have a fr...
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  • Stayed August 2011, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Linda L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tilbury, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
141 reviews
64 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 101 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 September 2011

The Ishema Hotel is a large(ish) hotel dominating a corner plot next to the cathederal. In fact the hotel is owned by the Anglican Diocese of Ruhengeri.

The staff are very friendly, the rooms comfortable and spotlessly clean. The food is good and the hotel has a tucked away swimming pool. I am also impressed that the hotel is totally non smoking.

I use it when in Musanze overnight with work.

The only reason it doesn't get a 5 star rating when compared against the other hotels in Musanze is that there is no hotel bar. You cannot buy any alcohol in the hotel but they don't mind you buying it outside and bringing it in. I was even told that you can send the staff out to buy it for you.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Simon B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
88 reviews
60 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 September 2011

This is a very good option for the gorillas. The hotel itself is a little bit strict as it is run by the Catholic Church but it is good value. The rooms are more than adequate, especially for the price. There are substantial grounds which you can relax in. There is wireless but it is variable. There are multiple travel service offices in the building itself.

The hotel staff are very accommodating and helped me purchase a ticket at relatively short notice. They were able to arrange a good driver to take for the gorilla trek (and one who was able to convince the appropriate people that I was fit enough for the Susa group when I patently am not! what a champion) and were able to whip up a packed lunch for me. The restaurant is outstanding value - would recommend the green peppercorn steak which goes for less than $4. Just don't expect a beer or a glass of wine with it!

All in all great value and would definitely return.

Room Tip: Stay in the new wing
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  • Stayed June 2011, travelled solo
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank divvy_l
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Falls Church
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 January 2011

The Ishema Hotel was a wonderful and relaxing experience! The staff is amazing: very attentive and diligent in doing their job and making the stay at the hotel a pleasant one.
The restaurant is buffet style and the food is delicious. It has a different variety of food items each day. The restaurant and the hotel rooms are very clean and comfortable. The hotel staff seems to take pride in the hotel and it is obvious their main goal is for the customer to enjoy his/her stay. I would highly recommend staying at the Ishema. By the way, it is very close to the gorilla park, so it would an obvious choice for tourists to stay there when going to observe them. It is also very affordable. Loved it!

  • Stayed July 2010
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank dixiemyrealtor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Ishema Hotel

Property: Ishema Hotel
Address: P.O. Box 26, Ruhengeri, Rwanda
Region: Rwanda > Northern Province > Musanze District > Ruhengeri
Amenities:
Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #13 of 17 B&Bs / Inns in Ruhengeri
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 72
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

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