Radisson Blu offered a me free stay in exchange for this review.
Since arriving in Kigali in 2010 I’ve waited patiently, along with everyone else, to see what the massive construction site in the middle of the city would produce. The dome slowly went up and the hotel came together bit by bit. I was mostly intrigued by the unusual stripey outside of what I knew would be the new Radisson Blu and as the complex was completed, I was excited to have a peek inside.
Radisson Blu opened in 2016 and it really lives up to its expectations. I think it’s rather sexy. I had a glimpse inside on previous visits and when I came to review Filini awhile ago and this time around I got to go all the way into a room! Woohoo! The location really can’t be any better, located sort of in the geographical centre of Kigali and with easy access to all parts of town.
The rooms are perfectly designed, especially if you’re in town on business and need everything to run efficiently and for your stay to be flawless so you can concentrate on business-y type things. The bed is super comfy, the room is spacious and includes a desk, the showers have great pressure and hot water, and there’s a pretty sweet balcony to unwind on.
Plus the room has a TV with a good selection of channels (though I made the mistake of watching network news… CNN, you make my soul sad), there’s a little coffee/tea/hot chocolate station, the mini bar is stocked, and the internet was perfect. There’s even an app you can download to order room service or to use to learn more about the hotel. Basically everything works as it should and that’s the sort of experience people would expect from a higher-end hotel like Radisson Blu.
There are five different types of rooms at Radisson Blu – standard, business class, junior suites, diplomatic suites, and royal suites. They range in price depending on the type of room but also on the level of availability at the hotel. For prices, check the Radisson Blu website and that’s also the easiest place to make a booking.
What really struck me on my overnight stay was the level of professionalism of the staff. I was given great service in every encounter – from a quick and easy check-in and check-out process to friendly wait staff and even all the way down to Diane who works at Piazza Bar taking the time to show my friend and I the knack for getting their weird matches to light. Every person I passed was smiling and every time I had a question or wanted help with something, it was always easy.
If you follow the Living in Kigali Instagram feed, you’d think that all I did during my stay was drink cocktails. I had a fair few, true, but for review purposes, you see. It’s a tough job. I’ve sampled mojitos all around this city and Radisson Blu makes one of the best. The room service menu seems a bit sparse for booze (with a mojito, beer, and wine as the only options), but the Piazza Bar has a full bar and a good selection of cocktails.
The Piazza Bar on the roof of the Convention Centre was actually a nice surprise! I hadn’t even realised people could go up there. I met a friend at the bar and we were right underneath the brightly lit dome. The space is a bit sparse, with only a few sitting areas spread across a very large space, but I can see it being really great for group events. I think they also host salsa lessons on Fridays and it’s perfect for that sort of thing. There’s also an absolutely huge big screen TV (probably the largest in the city) that was playing football at first and then moved on to music videos. It would be a pretty awesome place to watch major sporting events.
My friend ordered an icey cold draft Mutzig and I opted for a Snowball cocktail (Rwf 8,500) which was a delicious mix of Amarula, Kahlua, and the nutmeg sprinkled on top was a tasty addition. I also tried a couple of snacks – the chicken wings and the meatballs – and I was impressed. The balls were saucy and the wings came with yummy fries.
My evening at the Radisson Blu was pretty much perfect. I went to sleep with thoughts of their breakfast buffet in my head (yes, these are the things I think of) and the next morning I was not disappointed. They put on a pretty serious spread of breakfast including a large selection of fresh juice and pastries, cold meats and cheeses, an omelet station, hot African options, yoghurt, a choice of cereals, and a wonderful selection of bread. If you want to splash out and fill up on a great meal for breakfast, the buffet costs Rwf 25,000 for non-guests and runs from 6am to 10:30am.
As with many of Kigali’s larger hotels, Radisson Blu has a fitness centre, a sweet pool, and a spa. The gym overlooks the pool and it’s spacious and has a good selection of cardio machines, free weights, and weight machines. It’s not huge, but you’ll be able to get in a good workout. The pool is in the centre of the hotel and it’s really nice, surrounded with palm trees. They have a good number of lounge chairs and The Larder restaurant is right there if you want to order drinks or their lunch buffet.
As part of my stay, Radisson Blu also offered me a free spa treatment. Yay! I opted for a facial and it was a great choice. Not only did Yvonne the spa lady choose a treatment based on my skin, she also threw in a quick neck and shoulder massage and a foot massage while one of my face masks set. Three for one!
Radisson Blu’s Amani Spa has a full range of treatments on offer including a variety of different massages (ranging in price from Rwf 40,000 for 30 minutes up to 72,000 for 90 minutes of bliss), facials (Rwf 29,000 to 64,000), and a few combo packages lasting three to six hours that include exfoliation, massage, and a manicure and pedicure. It’s a super relaxing setup, the staff are very professional, and it’s recommended for anyone looking to relax. As a bonus, when you pay for a spa treatment, you also get access to the steam room and sauna.
Since I’d already eaten at Filini a couple of times, I opted to try the lunch buffet at The Larder, the restaurant down by the pool where the breakfast buffet is served. The spacious restaurant has some nice outdoor seating by the pool and they serve up a huge selection of food. The sweet and sour tilapia and curried spinach were particularly delicious but you’re bound to find a whole bunch of items that you like as there’s such a huge choice. They even have some veggie sushi rolls off to the side and I was also happy to wander past a leg of lamb. It’s totally worth the Rwf 25,000 price, especially if you hang around for awhile and make sure to fill up. There are three courses (starters, mains, and desserts, and you can break it up per course if you want for Rwf 10,000 each). On Sundays they have an extended version of the buffet for Rwf 30,000 (Rwf 10,000 for kids between 5 and 12 and free for kids under 5) that also includes a BBQ station plus kids options and even a candy station.
The Radisson Blu team really looked after me on my free stay and even insisted I stick around for most of my second day to sample their business lounge. Everyone booked into a business room also gets access to this lounge. It’s a fabulous place to work while taking in great views on their patio. The internet works great and after 6:30pm, free food and drinks are available to lounge guests. I enjoyed a Long Island Iced Tea and a pizza while getting a lot done on their quick internet connection. The hotel also has 18 meeting rooms of varying sizes and capabilities which is expected since the hotel is attached to the Convention Centre and lots of business travellers will be passing through. If you need to host a meeting of any size, you should check in with them to see what they can offer.
I really loved my stay at Radisson Blu. It’s not that often I get to stay at the nicer places in Kigali so this was a real treat. If you’re coming to Kigali for business or a convention, the hotel is the perfect choice for convenience. Plus most places in Kigali will only be a short trip away and you’ll even find yourself able to walk to nearby neighbourhoods like Kacyiru, Nyarutarama, and Kimihurura (make sure to pick up a Kigali map for directions!) to enjoy good restaurants and cafes.
If you’re heading to Kigali and on the fence about where to stay, definitely consider Radisson Blu. Or if you live here, stop by for a nice meal at one of their restaurants, to find a quiet corner to do some work (they have free wifi all through the hotel, even if you’re not a guest), or to check out their pool, spa, and gym. I was quite impressed and I think you will be as well!
Phone: +250 252 252 252 / +250 252 253 253
Email: [email protected] / [email protected]