The most beautiful palace in Kigali celebrates its 50th anniversary from August 4th to 6th, 2023. Opened in 1973, this establishment immortalized in the movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’ offers suites, bars, and restaurants in a festive ambiance. Its destiny is intertwined with the events of this country, which was the stage of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century.
Hotel Mille Collines experienced by Prince Balla Moussa Keita.
In 1991, during an inaugural flight of Air Zaire from Kinshasa to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, I found myself face to face with Mr. M Amri SUED, the late ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda, who had granted me a visa to visit the country. Surprised to meet each other, he invited me to have a drink with him at Hotel Mille Collines. The hotel, situated impressively at the bottom of one hill and overlooking another, had a grand appearance.
After passing through the gate, I entered a vast courtyard, somewhat flowered, with dozens of cars parked – the parking area. From there, I reached the reception through a large glass door, and beneath it, there were hectares of space with a spacious terrace, a pool, and a large bar that gave the impression of a grand kitchen surrounded by worktops. All around, clients perched on chairs or seated at tables enjoyed the delights of this 4-star hotel. The service and hospitality were impeccable. In 1991, despite the curfew, Hotel Mille Collines, the most luxurious in Kigali, was the meeting place for diplomats, intellectuals, foreigners, and businessmen, all gathering around a drink.
I frequented the bar and restaurant between appointments and encountered a charming and charismatic woman who drove a taxi – she became my designated driver. Mille Collines was a must-visit place.
Returning to Kigali many years after the genocide, this hotel, inaugurated in 1973, withstood the test of time and history, offering even more to its guests. I got to know the spacious and luxurious rooms, with elegant furniture and windows that provided breathtaking views of the green hills. The restaurant, overlooking the city, offered delicious dishes, providing ‘a thousand flavors’ for a delightful dining experience.
The evenings around the pool, in a beautiful garden, attracted many people, creating a festive and jubilant atmosphere. They were even more beautiful when Intore Masamba, the popular and great singer during Gakondo traditional show, performed. Mille Collines shone brightly, almost as if it had a thousand stars!
In December 2017, during one of my numerous stays, I had the privilege of being invited by the owner, Madame Consolatta RWIYITARE, to witness the preparations for the year-end celebrations for her clients and guests. She appeared elegantly dressed in the beautifully decorated reception hall adorned with flowers and some beehives, symbolizing the upcoming Christmas.
With finesse and simplicity, she spoke kindly to everyone present, and the ceremony sparkled with joy. Knowing that Hotel Mille Collines saved thousands of lives, I would return a thousand times. Congratulations on the 50th anniversary of this iconic place! See you again for a thousand more years!”
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