La Terrasse

La Terrace at Hotel des Mille Collines by Kempinski

Hotel des Mille Collines had never been a place that topped my list of Kigali lunch spots. Service in the past had been mediocre at best, the prices were high, and the food pretty average, to be honest. Except for brochettes night, a quick drink before heading out somewhere else in Kiyovu, or their popular Sunday brunch with swimming included (which they mysteriously and unfortunately stopped years ago) there really wasn’t a lot drawing me to the place.

But there should have been! The setting is really nice with a lovely grass-roofed bar right next to a relaxing pool and plenty of garden seating (with hammocks, people!). But the nice atmosphere never really could make up for the inattentive service and mediocre and expensive food, so the hotel was never made it onto my radar for lunch.

But all of that has changed, folks! And for the better! And in a big way! Since being taken over by Kempinski in 2013, Hotel des Mille Collines has improved drastically. At least the restaurant side of their operations has. I know there are plans to renovate the entire hotel to push the standard up and they’ve started nicely with their poolside restaurant, La Terrace.

Chicken Caesar Salad - Rwf 6,000

La Terrace has two of my favourite meals in Kigali. First up is their chicken Caesar salad – this thing is legit. Crunchy, buttery croutons, generous helpings of real Parmesan (not that plastic-like stuff you’ll usually find around town – I’m looking at you, Serena), loads of nicely grilled chicken, and a pretty nice dressing. It’s the closest thing to a ‘real’ Caesar salad I’ve found in Kigali and it’s well worth the Rwf 6,000 price tag as it’s a pretty substantial meal. Ask for the dressing on the side, though, as they sometimes put a lot on.

Sliders - Rwf 8,000

Their sliders are also on my list of favourites. You can’t get these little mini burgers anywhere else in Kigali but there’s no need because La Terrace does an excellent job. The buns are suitably soft (not super dense and heavy like you’ll find with most burgers in town), the chips are very good, and the sliders come with three different toppings. The blue cheese one is excellent, the burger is excellent, and they’re just… excellent.

Chocolat Fondant - Rwf 7,000

At Rwf 7,000 the chocolate fondant is pricey but the gooey interior is so yummy that you might be temporarily blinded to the price. In general the prices are a bit all over the place. Many of the meals are large enough to fill two people up at lunch which means that some meals are a steal. Others, like the lamb brochette at Rwf 3,000, are tasty but they don’t come with anything except for a sauce to dip it in that I had to ask for. At that price I’d at least expect onions or a cabbage and tomato side salad or something besides one smallish brochette all alone on a plate.

I really like the atmosphere here. There are plenty of spots all around the pool, garden, and patio so you can see what suits you best. Or pull a chair straight up to the bar. There are shady bits, sunny bits… and it’s just a nice space. Plus the previously oppressively loud music has been turned down to a more tolerable volume which is nice.

Chickpea Salad

Service still isn’t always the most attentive which I hope they can address going forward. They’re very friendly and good at their job but getting their attention is sometimes a struggle, even when it’s not so busy. But the servers tend to congregate around the bar so sitting nearby as well will guarantee you aren’t forgotten. But they do have that nice touch of the manager checking in to see how your meal is going and everyone is friendly enough.

So this new version of Hotel des Mille Collines by Kempinski is on the rise! The food is really good, they’re renovating the hotel to raise the standard, and they’ve even started hosting more exciting events like movie screenings and concerts. They have a regular band who play in the evenings who are quite good (plus a few visiting bands from time to time) so it’s one of the few places in town for regular live music. Plus it’s great to see them add even more events into the mix.

All up I’d totally recommend La Terrace for lunch or for dinner and a drink in the evening. I’d go out on a limb and say that the food has improved so much that it’s one of my top lunch choices these days. That Caesar salad just keeps drawing me back in! Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments!

Hours: Daily, 6am – 11pm
Phone: 0788 192 000 / 0788 303 325

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About Kirsty

A Canadian who left in 2001 to wander around the world in search of sun, beautiful views and goat brochettes. Found Kigali in July 2010 and it seems like the perfect fit. I expect to be here until I get kicked out for defiantly walking on the grass while wearing flip flops.