BACKGROUND: In early 2007, Serena Hotels took over the operation of the Kigali InterContinental Hotel. In 2008, the hotel re-opened after a lengthy refurb, under the name Kigali Serena Hotel. Serena added a number of rooms, a spa and conference facilities to the existing structure and now offers a five- star hotel in the heart of the city.
WHERE IS IT? The hotel is located about 10 kilometres from Kigali International Airport, for a drive time of between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on traffic. The roads in Kigali are tarred and well-maintained, and although traffic can seem chaotic, congestion isn’t too big of a problem.
ROOM FACILITIES: The hotel offers 148 rooms – 60 standard, 37 superior, 19 deluxe and seven prime rooms, as well as 18 junior, six executive and one presidential suite. My deluxe room had a view of the pool area three floors below, a very comfortable king-size bed, air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels (although the reception wasn’t great), a work desk and tea and coffee station. The bathroom was stocked with Elemis toiletries, a shower and a bathtub. I found that the water temperature fluctuated during my shower, but not to uncomfortable extremes. Due to a lack of correct equipment, my access to power through plug points was tricky. The hotel does have a small number of two-pin adaptors on hand to loan to guests, but it’s first-come-first-serve and I was out of luck. Be sure to pack your own adaptor to avoid this hassle. Wi-fi is free and unlimited to guests, with speeds fast enough to stream a movie without interruption.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS: The Milima Restaurant, which serves buffet-style breakfast, lunch and dinner, is popular with locals as well as guests, and after sampling a few dishes, I could see why. The food is delicious. The breakfast buffet offered up fresh fruit juices, cold meats, breads, pastries, eggs prepared to your liking, bacon, sausages, cereal, and porridge. For the carb conscious, there were gluten-free items, as well as spring rolls and samoosas for the Chinese and Indian guests. From the lunch buffet I had small helpings of chicken curry, roast beef, lamb kebabs, salad, cold meats and dessert, and it was all extremely tasty. Dinner was a Mongolian-style barbeque, as it is every Wednesday, where your choice of ingredients is flash fried over an open flame. My seafood stir-fry was outstanding – all at once crisp and succulent, fresh, full of spice and flavour. The poolside Sokoni Restaurant serves colourful cocktails and offers a café-styled service to suit all tastes from 10h00 to 22h00. On Sundays, enjoy a traditional East African curry lunch followed by live jazz from 15h00.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES: The hotel has a large number of conference and meeting facilities available, including an 800-seater ballroom, a 500-seaterauditorium, three meeting rooms, an executive board room, an international press centre, a selection of indoor and outdoor reception areas and an interactive business centre. There is virtually no function the Kigali Serena cannot accommodate.
LEISURE FACILITIES: The Maisha Mind Body and Spirit Spa facility has been styled along a Moorish theme and offers an ultra-modern gym, aerobics studio, landscaped outdoor pool area, and separate spa areas for men and women. The aerobic studio offers cardiovascular, kick boxing, dance, yoga, Tai chi and ‘stretch and sculpture’ workouts. There is a full range of holistic massage, de-tox and aromatherapy treatments available, as well as a unisex hair and beauty salon.
VERDICT: Rwanda’s star is on the rise and many business travellers will find themselves investigating a trip to Kigali. When you do, the Kigali Serena should definitely be a consideration.
Address: KN 3 Avenue, Kigali
T: +250 788 184 500