If you’ve flown out of Kigali at any point in the past year and a half then you will have noticed the Pearl Lounge – Kigali’s airport lounge. Business class travellers or people who manage to scam an upgrade are given access to the lounge for free but, rejoice, for this lounge isn’t just for the fancy travellers among us. Unlike most member-only lounges found in airports worldwide, us mere mortals who travel in economy are able to access to the Pearl Lounge for a very reasonable Rwf 15,000 (US$25, 20 euros, Visa is accepted).
Included in the price is wifi (with a pretty decent connection for Kigali), juice and soft drinks, water, beer (yes, beer!), tea and coffee, a glass of wine (the first is free and any others will cost Rwf 3,000), and snacks like bread, cheese, croissants, chips and nuts. If you’re looking to take the pre-flight party to another level, there’s also a bar where you can buy spirits (at around the same prices you’ll find in most Kigali bars), but they’re not included. Newspapers and magazines are available and there’s a TV which was turned to Al Jazeera when I was there but I’ve often seen it playing football matches.
If you’re like me and prefer to get to the airport somewhat ridiculously early and then just relax, then the Pearl Lounge makes a lot of sense. Normally I’d hang out at Bourbon, paying about $10 or $15 on an overpriced coffee (the Bourbon airport prices are higher than in town and the drinks are smaller) and a sandwich. Then I’d probably buy a giant Toblerone and shuffle off to the cramped waiting area eating chocolate until I feel sick as I wait for my flight to board. I’d much rather pay $10 more to relax in a comfortable chair with a glass of wine, fresh juice and some snacks while reading the paper, using the internet or just gazing through their huge windows as planes come and go. I can grab a bottle of water or two for my flight and usually people n the Pearl Lounge get priority boarding. The lounge is always open.
As a lowly economy traveller, I haven’t encountered many airport lounges in my day. Actually… maybe none. But as I’m typing this, I can hear some American-sounding-people behind the wall at the reception desk discussing amongst themselves how nice of a lounge this is. So I guess that means it’s nice. I like it too. It’s spacious and comfortable and has everything you’d need to chill out a bit before getting on the plane.
It might not be worth the price if you’ll only be in there for a half an hour or so before your flight boards. But if you like to arrive early, ditch your bags and unwind a bit before flying then I think Rwf 15,000 is a good buy. Especially if you like beer.
Hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Address: Kigali Airport
Phone: 0784 951 273