It was an easy choice choosing my hotel in Kigali for my upcoming trip. Around East Africa and South Asia I have stayed at several Serena Hotels and they have never ceased to amaze me. So when I saw there was a Serena Hotels in Kigali it was an easy choice. In total I stayed 3 nights and in this review you can read all about my experiences.
My arrival into Rwanda was pretty smooth. I bought a prepaid sim card for Rwanda at Kigali Airport to stay connected and through the Yego taxi app I found a ride to the Serena Kigali Hotel. Serena hotels also offers Airport transfers but I chose to arrange it myself.
On arrival my luggage went through a scanner and the friendly staff helped me checking in the majestic lobby. I gave my passport and the whole process took just 3 minutes before I was escorted to my room.
Checking into room 241
When walking into the room I straight away noticed the big size of the room. The bed was equally huge and it needed 6 pillows to cover all the space.
As a warm welcome I was offered a complimentary bottle of South African red wine and a plate of fresh fruits.
When opening the curtains to see my view I was very happy to see that my room had a balcony.
The balcony had a perfect view of the pool and the restaurant.
The bathroom was very spacious as well with a bath tub and a separate shower.
The curtains blinded the room completely at night and it was very quiet inside the room. For me a blessing compared to some noisy hotels I stayed at around the world.
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For me one of the highlights staying in a 5 star hotel is the buffet breakfast and the Serena Kigali definitely didn’t disappoint.
There is a wide selection of pastries and breads available.
What me surprised is that they also had healthy bread options: sugar and salt free bread!
The salad bar has a lot of options and there are loads of fresh fruits and fresh juices available.
You can of course also opt for hot dishes and there is a cooking station where the staff makes you pancakes, waffles and eggs. There are tables outside but covered. So even when it is rainy you can sit outside.
Restaurants Serena Kigali
Although Kigali has some amazing restaurants I ended up eating at the Kigali Serena Hotel every night. It was simply very convenient and after I tried the food the first night I was sold. There are two restaurants at the Serena Kigali.
Sokoni is down at the pool side on the Lower Ground floor and there is the main restaurant called Milima on the ground floor where also the buffet breakfast is served.
The main restaurant offers an amazing buffet on most nights. Depending on the occupancy rate this can in exceptional cases also be a la carte.
The buffet for dinner is just like the breakfast very much recommended. On top of the many different main dishes they have an awesome salad bar with uncountable choice.
Name it and you find it: capers, pickled veggies, roasted vegetables, chili flakes, cheeses, fresh cut fruits, seeds, nuts, loads of different dressings, fish, meat, etc.
All of the above was also available for lunch. On Saturdays a special barbecue lunch buffet was served for $25 USD. Totally worth it!
The Milima restaurant is also a place where many locals come to eat on Sunday afternoon. It created a very lively vibe with a lot of very well dressed up people. I honestly felt I was a little underdressed as a guest and went back to the room to change for a more proper attire. That was btw a personal choice, there was no need for it. But the people around me all looked so beautiful that I wanted to be part of it. Sunday lunch at the Serena Kigali Hotel was amazing!
Of course I also tried the Sokoni a la carte restaurant and got myself a table near the pool. They have several tables near the pool and some more private and romantic tables up near the fountain with a great view of the pool. Worth reserving a table here when you are visiting Kigali with your lover. Totally recommended from the a la carte menu is the ginger pumpkin soup, the lamb chops and the king prawns. All delicious!
The Serena Kigali pool is a very prominent landmark of the hotel as it is located in the middle of the property. My room had the perfect pool view, but you can see the pool also from both restaurants and from the spa and the gym.
If you like the pool view request a room on the side of the pool when making a booking. You won’t have city view though and are missing the rolling green hills of Kigali. Both views are amazing!
There are several loungers around the pool and it was never busy when I was staying at the Serena Kigali.
The sun beds are covered with a plastic cover because of the unpredictable weather, but when walking up to the pool the staff will assist you removing the cover and handing you out a towel. Great service.
I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the gym. There were more than 10 new Technogym workout machines, as well as about 10 cardio machines.
On top of that there was a separate weights room with free weights up to 40 KG and a bench press and cables.
Next to the gym there was a big group lessons room with huge mirrors and several equipment. The gym at Kigali Serena was hands down one of the better hotel gyms I have seen in a long time. Personally staying fit while traveling is a challenge. Checking in to luxury hotels is never a guarantee for a good and well equipped gym. So when there is I think it deserves extra compliments.
The gym is located on the ground floor and is accessible from the lower ground where you can find the wellness. There is a receptionist who can book you in an appointment and hand you over the spa menu. Massages are very moderately priced. There is also a sauna which is free for guests to use.
This is the view from the relax area overlooking the pool.
My Kigali itinerary in short
As I had 3 full days for visiting Kigali I took my time to slowly get the feel of the country and what better way to do this with drinking coffee in local coffee places. Rwanda is all about coffee and Kigali is an amazing place when you love cute coffee shops.
There are many good coffee places scattered around the city. Walking around is very much possible as Kigali is very safe and traffic is very easy going. However, don’t underestimate the size of the city! To get to most coffee places you will need a motorbike ride or taxi ride. One of the coffee places in Kigali that received good reviews was Kivu Noir, I liked the vibe and the good coffee. It was a very pleasant 40 minute walk from Serena Kigali.
Other recommended coffee places in Kigali are: Question Coffee, Shokola and Baso Pattiserie. However, the latter one is more like a patisserie with a good view.
Another fun thing to do in Kigali is taking a photo with the big Kigali letters in the city center. They are located in the pedestrian area and you can get there easily by a 5-10 minute walk.
When staying at the Serena Hotel in Kigali there is no escaping from the gorgeous pool and yes apart from sightseeing in Kigali this is where I also spent a lot of time.
I guess I was lucky with the weather, but I had a lot of sunshine on my trip to Kigali at the end of February.
A must do when visiting Kigali is of course the Genocide Memorial. This museum about Rwanda’s dark history is an experience that will leave a deep impression. Prepare yourself for a very emotional ride. Learn everything about the 1994 genocide and you will understand why this tragic event in history has such a huge influence on what is Rwanda nowadays. Let the victims of the genocide never be forgotten.
For me visiting the Genocide Museum was something I really looked forward to as I was eager to learn. I spent almost 3 hours inside, reading every word displayed. The Genocide Museum is one of the best things to do in Kigali.
Going around Kigali is very easy motorbike or by the taxi app Yego. A motorbike ride to the Genocide memorial takes 9 minutes and costs 500 RWF, which equals $0.5 USD. A Yego ride would cost 4,000 RWF ($4 USD). Anywhere in the city should be between 500 and 1,500 RWF on a motorbike.
Less than 10 minutes walk from the Serena Kigali there is the M Peace Plaza, a high rise building in the city center. On top of the building there is a rooftop bar/nightclub with some exceptional views. There is an outdoor area with seating. Worth going for a drink and enjoy the uncountable lights of the city below and around you.
I hope all the above info about my stay at Serena Hotel Kigali was helpful to make you decide where to stay on your next trip to Rwanda. Check out the going rates of the Serena Kigali below.
After my stay at Serena Kigali I transferred to Lake Kivu and there I also stayed at Serena Hotel Lake Kivu.
Let me know if you have any questions about traveling in Rwanda or the Serena Hotel in Kigali in the comments below and I am more than happy to help you out.
If you are interested what it looks like traveling to every country in the world then check out my Instagram profile @traveltomtom for some serious wanderlust. As of March 2022 I have visited 127 countries around the world.
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Enjoy your trip to Rwanda!