While Kigali, the capital of Rwanda set in rolling hills, may be worth exploring, during the 2021 pandemic year we used the city only as a base for international transfers, staying one night upon arrival and one night before our journey onward. We ate all our meals at the hotel where we were staying.
Heaven Boutique Hotel
The Heaven Boutique Hotel has small but comfortable rooms. The king room was equipped with mosquito netting over the bed which we did not use. The bathroom was also small but adequate with a good sized shower. Amenities included shower gel, shampoo and conditioner and a hair dryer in the bathroom; a hot water kettle and French press for coffee; and a good Wifi connection. The room also had a small patio with a table and chairs, perfect for dining when we were in quarantine waiting for our Covid-19 test results.
Staff is friendly and was helpful hunting down Covid-19 test results when there was a problem with one of our test codes.
There is a nicely landscaped pool and lounge area in the front courtyard.
As we were waiting for the results of the Covid-19 test taken at the airport upon arrival we were still in quarantine at dinner time and ate in our room.
The set dinner included in our travel package was a choice of green salad or vegetable soup followed by stir-fried homemade noodles with bok choy, carrots, cabbage and soy sauce or a Rwandan Potato and Plantain “Agatogo” stew served with a beef or chicken skewer. Dessert was chocolate cake.
Overall the food was well prepared with fresh ingredients. The vegetable soup was a cream soup with a bit of heat. The stir-fried noodles and veg were well executed but nothing special. The star of the evening was the Agatogo stew in a creamy sauce with bitter greens. The chocolate cake was good but not too chocolatey.
The breakfast buffet included a selection of hot items – eggs made to order, beans potatoes and different kinds of sausage. Cold items included breads, cereal and homemade yogurt.
Hotel des Mille Collines
Hotel des Mille Collines is an upscale establishment with historic significance as the hotel in the film “Hotel Rwanda.” Based on a true story, the hotel is where over 1000 people hid during the 1994 genocide. The resort style hotel has well-appointed grounds with a spacious bar and outdoor dining area, great lap pool and surrounding gardens.
We were given a chic, recently updated suite decorated in a subtle African motif with a transitional modern flair. Then problem was I don’t think the room had been tested by actual guests and had a number of minor inconveniences – no place to hang your wet towel, no outlet for the hair dryer in the bathroom, the cord to the coffee machine was not long enough to reach the outlet, no coffee pods for the coffee machine and the air conditioning unit in the bedroom didn’t cool. The room looked great but didn’t function well. Still, we were happy to have the extra space as our flight was delayed from a 12:50pm departure to 23:45.
The service in the bar/dining area was super slow. Lots of hotel staff milling about but getting someone to actually bring you a menu, drinks and food was a lengthy waiting game. Once the food arrived it was hit or miss, some dishes were well prepared and served hot others had been sitting somewhere and served at barely room temperature.
Over the day and half we were at the hotel we ordered the pork chops – a good cut of meat nicely don’t albeit a tad overcooked; the house cheese burger with fries – more of a meat loaf sandwich than burger but tasty, the fries fresh hot; the spaghetti Bolognaise had good flavor and was served fresh hot; the chicken wings were not even warm.
The breakfast buffet was well done with an excellent assortment of cut fresh fruit all nicely ripened and tasty. For cold items they have a variety of bread choices and cereal. Hot items included beans, fried potatoes and a variety of sausages and bacon. There was also an egg station.
During our stay the reception area was being redone which made communication with the reception difficult. You had to either call room service or walk down to the interim reception area. That said, requests were handled quickly and efficiently. We had a number of documents that needed to be printed for our onward travels which were delivered to our room.
Our biggest complaint was the afternoon DJ that played a loud dance music mix until 5 in the afternoon. As we had a midnight flight we were trying to get some rest after lunch and were unable to sleep with the loud bass pumping through our room.
Genocide Memorial and Museum
Before heading to Volcanoes National Park we paid our respects at the Genocide Memorial and Museum.
The Genocide Museum tells the story of the atrocities that were committed in a horrific 3 month period of 1994 when a million Rwandans were slaughtered and the events that created the tension starting with the colonialization of the region in the late 1800s. Most tours in Rwanda include the museum and memorial on their itinerary as this is an important part of Rwandan history and culture that affects everyone living in the country today.
Much of the display is emotional – videos of individuals telling their personal stories, a room filled with photos of lost loved ones and a children’s section with large portraits of littles ones cut down way before their time.
Behind the museum is a peaceful garden with a mass grave of 250,000 persons.
September 1-5, 2021
For links to all the posts in this series see the East Africa Safari page.
For a review of the tour company we used see Review of Amahoro Tours.