One and Only Gorillas Nest is my favorite hotel in the world. There, I said it! Everyone always asks me that question and before visiting this property, I truly didn’t have a favorite. “Well, it depends on what style,” I’d say. Or I’d ask, “For a boutique hotel or a resort?” For One and Only Gorilla’s Nest, it doesn’t matter who you are or what your taste is, I can pretty much guarantee you’re going to love it and never want to leave.
We landed by helicopter on the property’s helipad after a 40-minute helicopter ride from One and Only Nyungwe House, again greeted by tear-inducing African dancers and drummers with the staff impeccably dressed in suits with their hands held over their hearts. If there ever was a moment when I felt like a celebrity or the President of the United States, this was it. Speaking of celebrities, Bill Gates was one of the property’s first guests, which speaks to the calibre and privacy that the resort offers.
The owner of One and Only Gorillas Nest is from Dubai and literally spared no expense to perfect every detail in a way that I have never seen before. Craig, the area manager who oversees both Rwandan properties, gave us a tour of the locker rooms at Club One, the main pool, gym, and spa amenities area, and I commented how even the men’s locker room used dark wood while the ladies’ locker room was white and bright. He paused and raised an eyebrow, saying, “Funny you should mention that. There’s a story behind it actually.” He went on to tell us that after the installation of the locker rooms was complete, the owner was visiting and realized that the location of the ladies’ room would require them to walk on a pathway with no overhang (for a total distance of about 15 feet). He didn’t like the idea of the ladies getting wet in the rain, so swapped the men’s and women’s rooms, which required a complete de-installation of cabinetry from each room.
The interior decorator, Hurburtus Feit, who lives in Paris and primarily does residential projects, incorporated different patterns and textures throughout the hotel and purposely gave it the residential feel for which he is so well-known, creating a cozy retreat that makes you feel like you’ll never want to leave.
Initially the idea for the resort was to build 42 rooms, but after considering that the property lends itself to privacy and exclusivity, they decided to build just 21, allowing for a sense of place within each space. The entry level room cannot even be considered entry level, as all rooms have a sitting area with fireplace, great outdoor deck, and outdoor shower. Some of my favorite details about the Forest View Lodge, where I stayed, was the view, the best bed sheets I’ve ever slept in (I looked at the tag and unfortunately they are made exclusively for Gorilla’s Nest) and the design details like the gorilla doorstop and hand-carved pen, the gluten-free snacks especially made for me and left at the self-serve bar, fully stocked with the finest china and glassware, and the heated bathroom floors. They even have a Dyson hairdryer in the bathrooms, and speaking from experience, I know that many of my clients will love that!
Aside from the Forest Lodge, they also have a Double Queen room, which is essentially a 2-bedroom with shared bathroom and living room. The second bedroom has a powder room off it as well, which would be perfect for older kids. The property has 5 Virunga suites, with one being in a cluster of 3 rooms, perfect for a family or group traveling together. The Virunga Suites are gorgeous, and would be a better option if you need more common space. Finally, the Silverback Suite is the top suite on property, with a full outdoor pool looking over the best view on property. It also has a kitchen that can accommodate a kosher diet, or for someone who needs to eat their meals in villa, a private chef can prepare their food there.
What makes One&Only Gorillas Nest so special though is not the property itself, but rather the people and the experiences that they provide. Everyone is so kind and genuinely happy for you to be there, that every moment, word and action is made with such heartfelt intention. The staff addresses you by name, and offers a subtle bow with the signature hand over heart as they smile and ask if you need anything. When the sun goes down and the chilly evening settles in, they pick you up in a golf cart, a heated water bottle wrapped in beautiful African fabric is placed over your lap as they wrap your shoulders in a soft wool blanket. Post-trek you’ll be met at the reception as they seat you on a bench where they remove your boots and dirty socks to replace them with your choice of African slides or white flip-flops. By that evening, your hiking boots magically appear in your room, looking as clean as the day that you bought them.
One final note about One and Only Gorillas Nest: we stayed 3 nights but I secretly inquired with Micato Safaris about staying on a 4th night. There are commercial flights that run to Kigali, but unfortunately there wasn’t any running the day that I needed it; 3 nights was not enough, especially considering that I did two gorilla treks, so when we plan your vacation to Rwanda, I highly recommend staying on 4 nights if you plan on doing the second gorilla trek.
Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following One&Only Preferred Partner Amenities:
- Exclusive One&Only Offers
- Daily Full American breakfast for up to two people per bedroom
- USD $100 food and beverage credit
- Welcome note and amenity
- Priority Upgrade if Available
- Priority Early Check-In/Late Check-Out
- VIP Status
- Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using theTravel Planning Service