Arrival Experience: The lobby is an atrium style, and once guests pull into the porte cochere and pass through security it is a welcoming space of soft lounge chairs and seating. Front desk staffers smile at any interaction and are proud to point guests to the Rwandan-made crafts in the hotel's own gift shop. This is, in fact, the city's nicest hotel on the market. Even more important is the fact that this is the city's primary international five-star offering outperforming even the Hotel Des Mille Collines (of Hotel Rwanda fame) welcoming everyone from heads of state to celebrities. During our most recent visit, one of the many round-the-world private plane tours for elite travelers was staying here highlighting its status as the city's premier hotel.
Dining: The hotel's main eatery is Milima overlooking the pool and serving three Mediterranean-inspired meals a day including a solid snack menu for those who want to lounge by the water. During the day, the waterfall sounds attract guests to the pool for relaxation and occasional live music plies the space. Theme nights during the evening hours attract locals and guests for favorites ranging from African grills to Mongolian barbecues. Live music is popular in the hotel's bar and lounge area.
Accommodations: Guest rooms here are decorated in contemporary décor, but not without a handful of African elements like artwork and colorful fabric pillows. Complimentary wireless high speed Internet is available in all guest rooms and public areas. Ensuite amenities include everything from powerful air conditioning to cable TVs (flat-screen in some rooms), coffeemakers, robes, slippers, pillow menus, and phones with voice mails. Most appreciated are the electrical outlets catering toward international travelers and full-length mirrors. Prime rooms are preferred because they are mostly in the newer wing and feature balconies overlooking the swimming pool or front entrance. Rooms in the newer wing are typically more modern, but all feature the same high-tech amenities and modern-day comforts. Bathrooms are spacious with tiled showers, soaking tubs, and plentiful amenities including British Penhaligon's toiletries.
Conclusion: Regional guests find the hotel's Middle Eastern-inspired spa to be a major draw for massage and beauty treatments. All guests have complimentary access to the spacious fitness center, sauna, and steam room facilities. Room service runs nonstop, and special provisions are made for early departures with a boxed breakfast on offer at reception. Staffers are perfected to international standards, and the hotel's dedicated taxi staff is second to none. There is no better option in Kigali than the Serena, and the staff here performs to expectation.