I stayed here with my husband and our two small children (age 3 and 1), my father, and our nanny on our recent visit to the gorillas. I chose it based on the good reviews here and the reasonable prices compared to many of the super expensive options around.
I emailed back and forth with the reservations agent several times to make the reservation. We booked a family cottage which had one room with a king bed and one with 2 doubles. The originally told us on the phone that they had cribs but when we got there they didn't. Luckily we had a travel crib for our 1 year old. They initially said they had no cots or anything for the 3 year old but in the end once they realized the sleeping situation brought a full size bed into the room that fit in the corner beautifully for our son to sleep in. There was a nice common room with a fire place that they lit each night. The beds weren't luxury by any means but were acceptable and clean. Our bathroom was the most disappointing part of our stay. The toilet leaked a big puddle next to it every couple of hours so everything was soaked. They tried to cover it up by putting a doormat in from of the toilet but it squished when you stepped in it - which I made the mistake of doing in my socks the first night - from then on we all wore shoes at all times. The shower stall shower didn't work at all though the shower head in the bathtub (with no shower curtain which is pretty typical in Rwanda) did suffice. The towels even when we first arrived were folded up on the rack and supposedly clean but still wet. Yuck!! I'm sure they just line dry and didn't have time to dry them fully before our arrival but a cold wet towel (and not just a little damp - wet!) is just unpleasant and unacceptable for a hotel claiming to be of this level. My dad's bathroom was totally fine without the floods and associated grossness but still with wet cold towels.
The service here really was incredible though. They greeted us on arrival with delicious ginger tea, settled us in our room with a fire in the fireplace, served us a good Rwandan buffet dinner and then gave us hot water bottles to warm our beds and keep out the mountain air chill. The first night dinner was quite late because we didn't arrive till 6 and then it took them over an hour to get it ready so our kids (who normally eat at 5) were a bit exhausted. But the next day they served breakfast and lunch at the times we requested. Dinner was a bit late again despite the fact we asked for it to be at 5 because even though we didn't return to the hotel from our gorilla trek till 4 they saved lunch for us (which we weren't expecting nor did we want at that hour). Next time I wish they'd just offer a boxed lunch or something. The food was all good and they catered to our vegetarian diet on request quite well. Pretty much everyone we encountered there gave excellent service and couldn't have been nicer.
Definitely take them up on having someone escort you to the gorillas. Johnson was great - he rode in our car and then got a ride from someone back to the hotel. He helped us not only find our way (which we could have handled on our own) but knew who to talk to, skipped us to the front of the line of people waiting to register, and got us in the Susa group that my father was coveting. They next day he accompanied us to the cultural village as well which we probably couldn't have found our way to without a bit of difficulty.
So this would have been a decent review, right? Disappointing bathroom and unacceptably wet cold towels but great service and otherwise nice rooms.
But then we went to check out and they tried to claim we owed double what they had quoted us. I had emailed back and forth with reservations several times getting quotes, asking questions, etc. We wanted one of the single budget rooms for our nanny which they tried initially to quote us $150 for and then came down to $100, which was still over what I see in the guidebook but we decided was acceptable. But then at check-out we found out that they didn't put our nanny in a guest room they decided on their own that she was a servant and put her in the room "we give to drivers". I was angry that they would make that assumption and wish I hadn't told them that she was the nanny - we wanted to get her a regular room and it sounds like they charged us regular room price and then put her in a "staff" room. Our family cottage was quoted to us at $200 USD full board per night for 3 adults and 2 kids. This sounded like such a better deal than the single room that I didn't really believe it, so I emailed to clarify whether this was a per person rate or for all of us. They emailed back that it was not per person but per room and even did the math at the bottom of the email stating it would be $200 per night for 2 nights so $400 USD total. But when we went to check out they claimed that the family cottage was 2 rooms so we owed 400 USD per night for $800 total. Even after showing them the email they claimed that is what we owed. They had my husband talk to the hotel owner on the phone who said he was losing money on us because of the food. Having lived in Rwanda for 6 months now we know quite well that the food prices here for vegetables, rice, potatoes, eggs that we were served are very cheap - especially for locals, and that staff are also paid very inexpensively (average well paid staff even in the capital are making only about $150 USD per month). He said he'd have to make up the difference himself - but given that he is the owner this makes no sense. He just makes less money off of us but I'm quite sure was still net positive for the weekend. We refused to pay the double price given that we had email proof of our quote - and they let us check out and leave begrudgingly.
We never would have stayed here at 400/night. We would have gone to the luxury place down the street and had a clean dry bathroom, dry towels, and a comfortable bed.
So in summary great customer service, average accomodations except for our flooded bathroom, wet cold towels, good food - but beware of last minute price changing and please don't pay $400 per night for this place - that is such a rip off for the level of hotel.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Dear Guest,We are delighted to welcome you to our new website and especially to our lodge now called LE BAMBOU GORILLA LODGE. Our luxury and comfortable lodge is situated in Northern province of Rwanda, close to the endangered gorillas in their natural environment (Volcanoes National park).Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge has an unrivaled reputation for relaxation. Well suited for you being away from home yet feel at home.We provide you the best facilities, the most opulent furnishings and the highest quality service as our esteemed guest.Our goal is to exceed the expectations of our guests. It's not just a goal, it's a promise made by our team of hospitality professionals to ensure that your stay here is extraordinary.We take our social responsibility very seriously. Rendering good service is our code. Feel the Volcano and Gorillas around. All our furniture are hand made in bamboos. We hope that we can welcome you as our future guest and we are gladly to assist you in arranging your reservation, transport or other requests that may be needed to make your stay wonderful.Once again, welcome to Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge. It is a privilege to have you as our guest.Best regards! ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Le Bambou Gorilla Hotel Ruhengeri
- Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge Rwanda/Ruhengeri