Review: Marriott Kigali

Filed Under: Marriott

Unfortunately my layover in Kigali was fairly short, as I was arriving from Nairobi after 4PM, and my flight the following morning to London was at 8AM. While I didn’t get to see a lot this time around (other than walking around the area near the hotel for a bit), it’s a place I definitely want to return to with Ford very soon, especially to go gorilla trekking.

For my one night in Kigali I decided to book the Marriott. It cost just 16,000 points per night, while the paid rate was over $270 including taxes and fees, so that was an excellent use of points.

I had arranged an airport pick-up through the hotel. That cost 40USD, and the drive to the hotel took about 30 minutes, in spite of it being around rush hour. There were a couple of security checks at the hotel, as seems to be the norm in the region.

The Marriott is quite beautiful, with a massive lobby that has several different seating areas.

Marriott Kigali lobby

Marriott Kigali lobby

Marriott Kigali lobby

The lobby overlooked Soko, the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant.

Marriott Kigali lobby

While I thought the hotel itself was nice, unfortunately the service experience left a bit to be desired (at least initially).

I arrived at check-in at 4:40PM, and the check-in agent wasn’t friendly at all. He just took forever — I wasn’t sure what he was doing, but I waited and waited and waited.

“Your room isn’t ready yet.”
“But isn’t it way past the check-in time?”
“Yes, it’s not ready.”
“You don’t have any room available at all? I have a short night here and leave first thing in the morning.”
“No, it’s not ready, you’ll have to wait.”

There was no “I’m sorry,” there was no “have a drink on us at the bar,” there was no “why don’t I bring you to the executive lounge, so you can wait there.”

I had some work to do, so I told him I’d be over at the nearby couches working, and he should let me know when my room was ready. After sitting there for about 15 minutes working I asked how much longer it would be. He said five minutes. It ended up being over 30 minutes, at which point another (in this case friendly) front office agent came and brought me with my keys.

I understand sometimes operational snafus happen, that doesn’t bother me. But not apologizing or offering anything for the inconvenience isn’t good service at all.

With my key in hand I headed towards the elevators, located on the opposite side of the lobby of reception.

Marriott Kigali elevators

I was assigned room 444, on the fourth floor (the hotel has five floors).

Marriott Kigali hallway

Marriott Kigali room exterior

I believe this was just a standard king room, and I thought it was quite nice. To the right of the door was a closet, and to the left of the door was the entrance to the bathroom.

Marriott Kigali room entryway

The room featured a king size bed that I found to be comfortable.

Marriott Kigali king room

Marriott Kigali king room

Across from the bed was a desk built into the wall, as well as a wall-mounted TV.

Marriott Kigali king room

Then in the corner of the room was a daybed and a table.

Marriott Kigali king room daybed

In the immediate distance the room had a view of the hotel grounds and of some trees, but in the distance you could see the city.

Marriott Kigali room view

The room even had a small balcony.

Marriott Kigali room balcony

Back near the entrance was a kettle, bottled water, and a mini-fridge.

Marriott Kigali coffee & kettle

Marriott Kigali in-room fridge

The bathroom was fairly compact, but featured a sink, walk-in shower, and tub.

Marriott Kigali bathroom

Marriott Kigali bathroom

Marriott Kigali bathroom

Toiletries were from Acca Kappa.

Marriott Kigali Acca Kappa toiletries

The hotel did send up a welcome amenity, which was a nice touch. This had some fruit, sweets, and nuts.

Marriott Kigali welcome amenity

In the evening I checked out the club lounge (which I had access to on account of my Platinum status), where happy hour was offered from 5:30PM until 7:30PM. The lounge is located on the first floor, one floor above the lobby.

Marriott Kigali executive lounge hours

The club lounge was large and also a beautiful space with lots of seating. The lounge had some partitions to create a few different zones.

Marriott Kigali executive lounge seating

Marriott Kigali executive lounge seating

There was also a small business center with a printer.

Marriott Kigali executive lounge business center

The one downside to the club lounge is that it didn’t have exterior views, but rather just faced the lobby and the restaurant.

Marriott Kigali executive lounge view

My experience in the executive lounge was the opposite of my experience at check-in. The staff in the lounge were phenomenal. Like, not just friendly, but they offered Singapore Airlines first class levels of service.

The lounge was well staffed, they were constantly roaming to clear plates, and they also offered drink refills every few minutes.

The food and drink selection was also excellent for a “standard” Marriott.

Marriott Kigali club lounge buffet

I’ll let the pictures of the food speak mostly for themselves.

Marriott Kigali club lounge buffet

Marriott Kigali club lounge buffet

Marriott Kigali club lounge buffet

Marriott Kigali club lounge buffet

Marriott Kigali club lounge buffet

Marriott Kigali club lounge buffet

Marriott Kigali club lounge buffet

Then there was a coffee machine, as well as a selection of liquor, beer, wine, and soft drinks.

Marriott Kigali club lounge coffee machine

Marriott Kigali club lounge liquor

Marriott Kigali club lounge wine

I obviously didn’t have much time at the hotel, though the hotel did also have a decent looking gym, open 24/7.

Marriott Kigali gym

The hotel also had a nice outdoor area. Part of that space belongs to the hotel’s main restaurant, but then there’s also a pool area (the pool was closed for renovation while I was there).

Marriott Kigali outdoor area

Marriott Kigali outdoor area

Marriott Kigali pool

Marriott Kigali exterior

Marriott Kigali exterior

I walked around the area for a bit, and really want to return to Kigali soon.

Eventually I headed to bed. I mostly slept pretty well, though I should note that there was a weird noise all night, and I couldn’t quite figure out if it was coming from inside or outside of the hotel. It sort of sounded like a flagpole with a flag “up” on a windy day.

Furthermore, when someone in the room a floor above mine showered, it basically sounded like I was in a swimming pool. So I had a couple of minor “noise” issues, but that was it.

I left the Marriott at 4:30AM the following morning, since I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to review the lounge before my flight to London.

Marriott Kigali bottom line

The Marriott Kigali is a beautiful property with an excellent club lounge and well appointed rooms. I did find the service to be really inconsistent — it was pretty terrible at check-in, while it was excellent in the executive lounge, so I guess that balances out.

On balance I’d probably recommend this place.

  1. 40 USD for airport transfer in Kigali. Someone must have had a good laugh at your expense.

    Also, gorilla trekking is better done on the Ugandan side.

  2. @ John — I’d really like to stay there, but figured I’d save it for next time, when I actually return to visit with Ford, rather than for a quick overnight.

  3. @ Bob — I know the typical going rate for a taxi is closer to $20, and I was fine with paying the premium for a hotel transfer. I’ve simply had too many issues negotiating with taxis at airports that I find a hotel car to be worth the premium. I shared more of why I feel that way in this post:

  4. Love the food descriptions written straight on plates in marker pen. Marriott can’t run to a few labels?

  5. The Sofitel Legend Metropole in Hanoi has one of the most amazing club lounges you will ever be able to experience – unfortunately, you’re not into Accor

  6. Ben, I didnt say a taxi. Those are indeed a pain at Kigali in the evening.

    But there are other reliable transfer services, when a nice man in a suit waits for you outside arrivals with a sign with your name. For a lot less money.

  7. I’m staying there for 5 nights in February. There was a promo post devaluation (this is a hotel that moved up a category and was only 8000 points just a few months ago) and with the 5th night free I ended up paying 12,800 points per night, when the cheapest rate was $330 per night so I’m pretty happy with that!
    Very excited about this trip, although disappointed we won’t get to go gorilla trekking. Rwanda recently increased the fee from $750 to $1500 per person, and knowing you spend just an hour or so around the gorillas, we can’t really afford that. It’s way cheaper on the other side of the border in Uganda at “only” $600 per person, but as a LGBT traveler I am absolutely not venturing into Uganda.

  8. @Lucky. Glad to hear you want to come back to Rwanda. I’m a tour operator/DMC based in Kigali and Kampala so let me know if I can assist you in any way. It’d be my pleasure. All the best and merry Christmas.

  9. Spent 5 nights there last year and loved the hotel. All the staff were great, especially in the lounge. Fun part of that lounge is if you are there long enough you wind up meeting some really interesting folk who spend professional time in Rwanda and have really great insights into the country.

  10. Lucky, you’re complaining about the service initially in the post, That’s a typical city hotel in Africa, what do you expect? Service levels of Fogo Island Inn or Aman?
    Next time, based on your location and hotel brands, adjust your standard of expectation accordingly.

  11. I stayed there as a Gold before it went up in points which made it even more exceptional value considering the crazy high cash prices. I too wasn’t impressed by the check-in staff but got upgraded to a Junior suite with a huge balcony. Lounge was quite good indeed although it’s a bit odd you even have to order soft drinks. Overall excellent property and not too far from the genocide museum (i actually walked there although i guess most people will take a taxi).

  12. I spent three nights at the Marriott in Kigali in April, and my experience of the hotel was similar to yours. Not sure if its a good thing or bad thing that the service is the same after 8 months. I also agree with you about the outstanding service in the lounge – the lounge attendants were really nice, welcoming and very interactive with the guests.

    My full review of the hotel:

  13. We have stayed here a couple of times, and have minimal (gold) status through Amex platinum card. Both times the ladies checking us in were super. Gave us the junior suite rooms which were excellent. I always wonder if I’m receiving the correct benefits at check in. Depending on how busy it was sounds like they goofed.

  14. Your post described a typical short trip to “anywhere”.

    Last year I flew 450,000 miles and while I did appreciate the chain hotels for reliable service, the executive lounges for their predictability, the legacy airlines for their punctuality, my most memorable trip was a Shaheen Airlines flight to Lahore staying at a local hotel and hiring a local taxi driver. The other 445,000 miles, Hilton hotels and Star Alliance lounges were a blur.

    Not bashing your reviews, but sometimes it maybe to you and your readers benefit to stay at a local hotel and mix a bit with the local scene, otherwise you end up describing a short trip to “anywhere.”

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *