Rwiza Village offered a free night in exchange for a review.
Apparently this new accommodation in Kibuye has been in the works for a couple of years and only opened its doors a few months ago. The place is made up of nine pointy cabins that are perched high on the hill with balconies looking down over the gardens and bay below. The bar and eating area also have great views and, overall, the setting is pretty magical.
Rooms are small and simple with one double bed in each (there are no twin or family rooms so friends either have to get cozy or rent separate rooms), a small balcony, a desk, and an en suite bathroom. The half door on the bathroom will also bring friends a bit closer together (if the smallish bed hasn’t already accomplished this) and there were a few problems with hot water and water pressure, but otherwise the toilets are fine. You can here your neighbours in the adjacent huts loud and clear so this is probably more of a quiet, relaxed type place. I think the rooms are great. Sure they’re small but the views really make up for this. It’s better to hang out on the balcony anyway. The beds are really comfortable with proper mattresses, fluffy pillows, and a heavy duvet for any chilly nights.
I happened to be staying there on a Thursday night and was rudely awoken on Friday morning by a horrible screeching noise that I thought was a group of baby pterodactyls being murdered but turned out just to be market day. Market day with a lot of pigs. I guess Friday mornings are pig exchange day between the locals and visiting Congolese who boat over with their wares. It was kind of cool and would probably make an interesting visit, but if kind of kills the serene atmosphere for the place. I got used to the pigs and even kind of missed them when they boated away but if you’re looking for a quiet morning sleep-in then avoid going on Thursday night.
There are a few communal areas for hanging out, if you want to venture beyond your room. The bar and restaurant area has a huge deck with one of the nicest views in Rwanda and cold beer a mere metres away. There are some shaded tables along with some sun chairs if you’re hoping for a tan. There’s also a huge building that I guess is a replica of one of Rwanda’s traditional-style houses. It’s pretty dark and wasn’t that welcoming but there are a few tables inside if you want to escape the sun. They also have a fire pit and got that going each night we were there.
There’s a floating dock down and some flat-ish grassy areas to relax on down by the water. The dock was built way over on one side of the property close to the neigbours and the neighbours appear to be screamy, starey, splashy boys who make the whole dock experience kind of feel like you’re in a fishbowl. It made sitting on the dock uncomfortable with a bunch of kids gawking from the other side of the fence and I’m not sure why they didn’t build the thing a bit further away around the bend in the bay. Kids are cool but not when they’re all up in my serenity.
The menu isn’t really all that exciting with a couple of Senegalese chicken dishes (Rwf 4,000) which sound promising but don’t really deliver, the ubiquitous spaghetti bolognaise, beef and goat brochettes (Rwf 3,000 with sides), grilled chicken, chips, potatoes, and a few soups and salads. Vegetarians won’t find much to keep them happy and you’ll probably get bored of the menu if you plan on sticking around for a couple of days. I’d recommend planning ahead and bringing some supplies to keep you happy. We arrived with some wine, cheese, and crackers and enjoyed sitting on the balcony with that watching a lightening storm. I wish I’d brought more goodies. The grilled whole chicken (Rwf 10,000) is quite good, as are the potatoes (Rwf 400 for varying quantities each time) and will feed a few people.
There’s not a lot happening in the drinks department, either. There’s a small selection of spirits and some beer but nothing in the way of cocktails or anything like that. But the beer is cold and the shots of liquor are huge. My Rwf 2,500 whiskeys were gigantic… close to being a triple, I’d say. Too bad they ran out of Coke. But the beer is cold and they always had ice on hand which is something that most places I’ve been can never seem to keep stocked. I was really enjoying sitting on their balcony with my book and an icey Amarula in the afternoon sun. It’s such a beautiful view and a relaxed, nice atmosphere.
My only real complaint with Rwiza Village is the service. There was only one guy working the entire time we were there and he was working morning, noon, and night which really isn’t cool. He was trying hard but we couldn’t communicate very well in either French or English and it turned any food orders or customer service requests into a frustrating experience. Paying for anything was an ordeal lasting way too long. Fortunately, the Kenyan manager is very much on his game and he was able to step in and help us out before everyone’s heads exploded.
The service complaints extend into the kitchen with food taking well over an hour to come and orders often being wrong. One friend waited an hour to then be told of a ‘mistake’ where her food was never made. The manager stepped in with a discounted whole chicken and saved the day, but the kitchen is very slow and I never had much faith that my order was actually delivered in good time. I hope the owner sorts out the staffing issue, gives some training and pays a fair wage to attract good people. I feel like too many places want to achieve a high standard but then skimp on their staff which is a huge mistake. This place is great but the reason people will stop going and not recommend it will be bad service.
But enough of my complaining… all up, I’d recommend this place. Sure, their service let them down a bit during our stay, but there are many other good points so I’m going to choose to hope things improve and focus on the positives. I’ve relayed all of my issues to the owner and he’s not only aware of them but also very thankful to hear feedback and seems eager to work towards improving. He really wants to improve his place and with a few tweaks here and there, I think it will become the go to place for many people. It’s not on the level of Cormoran Lodge, but it’s also not as expensive so it makes a really great place to stay for a bit cheaper. If you’re looking for a mid-range option… this is the best.
Residents & Nationals: $45 single / $50 double occupancy midweek, $60 and $70 on the weekend
Non-Residents: $90 for single, $100 for double
All prices include breakfast of eggs, fruit, coffee, and tea. Prices are correct as of May 2014 but please call them to confirm.
The Google map for the Kibuye area is pretty crappy so I’m just guessing at the location but as you head into Kibuye towards the bus station area, you’ll see small signs pointing to Rwiza Village which is located at the south of the city just past the gas works then left on a dirt road over a hill.