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“Great views, great place if it weren't for the backpacker crowd”
Review of Home Saint Jean

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Home Saint Jean
Certificate of Excellence
Dresden, Germany
Level 5 Contributor
59 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“Great views, great place if it weren't for the backpacker crowd”
Reviewed 24 August 2013

We stayed at Home Saint Jean for two nights in August 2013. We agree with previous reviewers that the spectacular views of the lake make this a very unique place well worth visiting, even for a beer when you stay elsewhere in Kibuye. The standard of the accommodation is good considering the price (RFW 15,000 for a double room with lake view per night). Especially the cleanliness of the bathroom was commendable. Nevertheless, it is a low budget accommodation with its limits. The room was very small, the bed sags and the constant smell of insecticide tells you that they are fighting a (loosing?) battle against cockroaches and the like. Moreover, there are not many comfortable chairs or benches on the compound to sit down and enjoy the views. There is definitely room for improvement there. The menu in the restaurant is pretty adventurous at times (gouda and sausage cubes covered in mustard), but we enjoyed the Lake Kivu fish very much and the prices are more than reasonable. We found the vegetarian options quite disappointing (especially the green potatoes, which came neither with spinach nor with garlic as announced in the menu). But this was one of the very few places, which served Virunga Mist beer. For a really good culinary experience on the island, we recommend the Moriah Hills resort (also for renting Kayaks). What spoilt our experience of this otherwise exceptionally friendly pension, was the crowd it tends to attract. Because it offers dorm beds, many young American and European backpackers go there and monopolize the small outdoor dining area with extremely loud conversations. The lack of other seating of the compound means that there is no way to escape or find a quiet place for reading or a private conversation at normal volume. But, I would really like to end on a positive note. All the staff was extraordinarily attentive and friendly, which is another big draw of this place.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Andrea279
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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  • Sleep Quality
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (21)
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Montréal
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 July 2013

We stayed for one night in the Home Saint-Jean. Because we didn't reserve a room, all of them were occupied and we had to sleep in the dormitory for the night. The price for the dormitory is very cheap (2500 Rwanda Francs each). There is one dormitory for men and one for women with many bunk beds into them (at least 10 into the women one and more into the men one) so my boyfriend and I were separated for the night. The bunk beds are really uncomfortable. The mattresses are just so used and old and most of the metal bunk beds are making a really annoying sound while we move in the bed. Some are even not stable on the floor.

We had to ask for a pillow to the administration. However, sheets are included. I was lucky as we were only two people in the women dormitory. Unfortunately, my boyfriend didn't got this chance and had to sleep with at least 15 others people. Some of them arrived late and were talking loudly into the room without respect for the people sleeping.

There is only three shared bathrooms that we can find at the second floor as the dormitories is on the first floor making it a little bit far when you need to go in the middle of the night. One of the bathroom had a broken hinge door making impossible closing the door. There is two showers.

We had the worst night of our entire one month trip at the Home Saint-Jean but we had the best view ever. We fully recommend to people to book in advance in order to live a different experience than our. The restaurant is okay and portion are huge.

  • Stayed June 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Annie S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Level 5 Contributor
72 reviews
60 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 100 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 March 2013

Kibuye is a pleasant town to spend some days. Home Saint Jean is a good budget option here. It is a brick building perched on a hill overlooking the pristine Lake Kivu. When you wake up in the mornings you can observe many birds and the typical 3 tied-together boats of this region, the chanting and signing of the men who drive them rising up from all the way down on the lake to the guesthouse's balcony. Quite a magical experience!

Accomodation is simple here, but it served all our needs. We stayed in rooms in the main building and used the shared bathrooms which were really fine and also had hot water. These rooms are on a gallery running around the building and there are fine views from all around.

There is an onsite restaurant which served food that was alright but which takes a lot of waiting (we had to wait on a simple chapati or omelet for more than 1 hour, more than once). So take that into account when ordering, don't order too late when you're already super hungry!

Friendly staff, everything clean, lovely outside seating area and a very pretty garden which you can walk through down to the lake. Although some people swim in the lake, it is advised not to do so because of bilharzia risk.

Location was very good for us. It's a little bit outside town (a 10 to 15 minute walk on the main road) but it felt secure (there is a gate) and also the walk going there is pleasant, many people walk on this road, there is hardly any traffic, and we never felt unsafe walking to and from the city. To get there, start at the roundabout where the road from Kigali enters Kibuye. Facing the town (with your back to the Kigali road), take the road going out on the right, slightly uphill. Just follow it untill you see the sign for the hostel, the entrance is a smaller road on the right of the church.

Actually we had a very nice walk around the town on the edge of the lake one day: just turn to your right once on the road outside the hostel, facing away from the town, and follow the road which circles the town. You'll see many pretty vistas and meet local people and see lots of birds.

Near the entrance to the hostel you will see a very pretty church. Unfortunately many tutsis were murdered here in 1994 and the church has a small memorial area to commemorate the dead. Well worth a visit although quite chilling... Survivors and relatives of those who died still visit here to pay their respects to friends and family members.

Generally Home Saint Jean is a good place to relax and makes a fine base for exploring Kibuye and its surroundings. It is not particularly aimed at backpackers and therefore kind of misses that special vibe you sometimes find at other hostels but what makes it so wonderful is definitely its location and the spectacular views you can enjoy here.

  • Stayed January 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank due_passi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Amherst, Massachusetts
Level 3 Contributor
16 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 February 2013

I could have stayed here for a month, reading, writing, and swimming! But I only had two nights at this idyllic hotel in this idyllic spot with its sparkling-clean restaurant, which served one of the best meals (local fish) of my three-week stay in Rwanda. For less than $20 a night, I had a corner room perched on a promontory on Lake Kivu, with different views of the lake, with its scattered islands. I had the privilege of making friends with a local history- and nature-buff whose English is very good, Fidele; Fidele showed me places of interest and answered my many questions with information but even more importantly, with insight. So ask around for him! Meanwhile, the staff at was so nice that one of them, Pierre, on his day off came back check on a guest who'd had recent medical problems (which were capably handled at the local hospital in the middle of the night). My biggest regret is not having time to swim in the gorgeous lake, which is distinguished by having zero cases of Bilharzia (Schistosomiasis) (worms) in over a year,

  • Stayed January 2013, travelled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank Kitty A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Milan, Italy
Level 5 Contributor
52 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 January 2013

Home Saint Jean is located in a beautiful place close to Kivu lake. Landscape is great. The place is fair and pretty cheap. You can have a double room with bathroom for around 20 euros per night per room. The solution is basic: we stayed there 2 nights and during the first day we had no water at all. The place has a small restaurant where you can find a good variety of acceptable dishes.

  • Stayed November 2012, travelled on business
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Helpful?
Thank Em_Poros_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kigali, Rwanda
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
Reviewed 21 October 2012

Home Saint Jean is located high on a cliff with the lake on three sides, offering both sunrise and sunset over the water. Great place to relax. Very friendly and helpful staff. Rooms are simple but many come with great views. We shared a triple with bathroom for 15 000. Beds are equipped with mosquito nets. We didn't turn the water heater on, but there was one. Restaurant offers okay food at low prices, but very slow for main courses. We took them up on their offer of a boatcruise to some of the islands (Napoleon/Bat Island and Peace Island) about 6 hours, 8000 Rwf per person when 5 people going, though there was space for twice as many. Great day excursion with hiking on bat island and swimming/relaxing/volleyball playing at Peace Island.

  • Stayed October 2012, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Kajsa K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Amsterdam
Level 5 Contributor
65 reviews
42 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 October 2012 via mobile

Kibuye is a small town with a great position next to Lake Kivu. Home Saint Jean has several options for places to sleep. Almost all rooms in the church-run guesthouse have great view on the lake (only the twin rooms at Centre Bethanie top the view but hasn't got better rooms).

There are different types of rooms available ranging from dorms, simple twin (8000 RWF), simple double (10000 RWF) and the 'suites' (15000 RWF).
The simple doubles have really small beds and a thin matresses. The suites don't offer much extra luxury except for a larger and better matress and a slightly better view. The rooms are clean but simple. There is warm water and showers are clean. Expect no towel (simple rooms) or just one towel (suites).

The food at the restaurant is affordable but nothing really special. We had mch better lunch and diner at Centre Bethanie, which has a well-maintained restaurant with a perfect view. The breakfast here is unfortunately disappointing.

The best way to get at Home Saint Jean is by motor taxi. The prices seem to be fixed and most motordrivers know to find the way.

  • Stayed October 2012
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank EazyK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Home Saint Jean

Property: Home Saint Jean
Address: Kibuye Road | B.P 20 Karongi, Kibuye, Rwanda
Region: Rwanda > Western Province > Kibuye
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 7 Speciality Lodging in Kibuye
Number of rooms: 25
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