I’ll just come out and say it; the new Papyrus hasn’t raised the bar just a few notches when it comes to restaurant atmosphere in Kigali, it launched it into the stratosphere. The new location, a behemoth of a building just a few blocks away from its old place in Kimihurura, has quickly established itself as the new hotspot among the well heeled and muzungu crowds. And, in a city where social circles are fickle and new hotspots start off strong only to flounder after the next new cool place opens, Papyrus has a good shot at maintaining itself as one of the Kigali places to be for some time to come.
A three floor giant of dining and socializing, Papyrus’ main attraction is without question its sprawling and lively lounge on the first floor (or second floor for us Americans). I guarantee that you will not find any place like this anywhere else in Rwanda. The open air lounge is expansive and wonderfully designed, having two full bars, African themed décor and furniture as well as several enclosed seating areas for those of you looking for a little more intimacy. The greatest feature of the lounge, actually of the entire place, is the view. From just about any seat in the house you’re offered a fantastic view of downtown Kigali. As great as this is, the fact that there are no walls means it can be chilly late in the evenings or during poor weather, so bring a scarf or a light sweater along with you just in case.
Below the lounge is a dining area and café that seem to be more for use during the daytime. Similar to the old location, the café offers a variety of baked goods including donuts, cakes and various other pastries as well as a several choices of tea and espresso drinks. During lunch hours they offer a high end buffet for 5,000 francs (including a drink), but you can also order from their kitchen.
Papyrus offers a large array of menu items for one to choose from. From appetizer to entrée to desert, they’ve got you covered. They have two food menus; one for their grill and one for the kitchen. The grill offers such options as brochettes, steaks, chicken, etc, while the kitchen has a range of Italian dishes, salads and several variations of the ever popular pizza. Most of these items cost between 4,000 and 7,000 francs per plate. My friends and I agree that the food is always good, although not always hot (read below).
Below the restaurant, tucked away in corner of the bottom level, is the Papyrus nightclub (the nightclub might be in the process of being shut down). The door charge here is 5,000 francs, but the fee is waved if you show them a dining receipt from the restaurant or lounge. The club itself is also well designed and the sound system is as good as you’ll find in the city. The lighting does seem to be a little on the bright side, brighter than the lighting in the lounge itself, but I guess that will help to offset some “beer-goggle” incidents with the opposite sex. The drinks aren’t cheap, but not any different than what you’d pay at Planet Club or Cadillac.
As great as Papyrus is it does have a few issues that need to be addressed. The first and probably most important is the service. Because Papyrus is new and all my friends have to check it out I’ve been there several times now and each time I have found the service disappointing. Often we’ve had to wait a long time to order food or drink, sometimes just going to the bar to do it ourselves. A couple of times we’ve had the wrong food brought to us and on two occasions my friends’ food was delivered cold. I’d like to think that these problems can be chalked up to new staff working in a new, very busy environment, but they really should up their game so the service matches the atmosphere and the prices. Another issue is the lack of water. On two visits the toilets and sinks had no running water, and one would expect a palace of a venue like Papyrus to have spent a little extra on water storage and pumps because, quite frankly, in a place that big the toilets get can rather nasty quite quickly on a busy night.
If Papyrus can solve these problems it will surely remain among the top nightly gathering places in Kigali. With a restaurant, lounge and nightclub all in one, it is sure to remain a focal point of the Kigali social scene for years to come. So if you’re looking for a lively spot where you can get food, drink and dancing all in one place, give Papyrus a try.
Café Hours: 8am to close
Lunch Buffet Hours: 12pm to 2pm
Restaurant Hours: 11am to 12am (depending on how busy)
Club Hours: 8pm to until you go home