I always chuckle a bit when people remark to me about the “slower pace of life” in Africa/Rwanda/Kigali. Sure, some things take a longer time (the bank, for example) but seem to only add to the buildup of stress- which, for me, can best be alleviated by planning some sort of escape or sabbath. This is a chunk of time spent intentionally, whether that is at home resting and watching a movie or reading, or outside of the house, somewhere beautiful and restorative.
I’ve found several lovely places around Kigali in the last few years, each with their own vibe, that I know are a quick and easy way for me to take a breath for a bit and relax- even if it’s just a prettier, more fun place to work for the afternoon. I’m always on the search for more places like this- so do give me your suggestions!
I have to admit, I slept on Casa Keza for a bit. I went when they first opened for dinner, except their menu is tapas, which makes dinner very expensive (though delicious). My brand is more frugal luxury (ha!) but I have recently loved their prix fixe lunch menus, or simply cozying up in an outside nook with a glass of sangria in the afternoon. Casa Keza is a spanish-fusion resto, also serving delicious breakfast, coffee, and cocktails. They house Touch of Rwanda Fashions, too, so there’s lots of lovely things to browse if you need a break away from working.
My favorite afternoon- grabbing lunch from their set menu with a friend (6000 for three delicious courses) and then finding a place outside to relax and work for the afternoon. Their Americano is delicious! My favorite dish on the menu is the Chia Pudding, but it’s hit or miss. When it’s great, it’s great- but I’ve had it before when it’s been runny/not as flavorful, too. The avo toast is a standard winner always, though!
A crowd favorite, Inzora boasts a lovely view of Town and a small but delicious menu of grilled cheese, baked goods, italian sodas, and coffee. In particular, the rooftop area (up the terrifying stairs) is so lovely in the afternoon and evenings- perfect for hiding with a book or laptop and pretending you’re somewhere else for a moment. I’m a huge fan of “Dusk”, Inzora’s Friday ritual of signature cocktails and tasting boards. The cocktails are always fresh and imaginative (check their FB on Friday afternoons for what they’re featuring), and the tasting boards bring original flavors hard to find elsewhere in Kigali- marinated mushrooms, vegan cheeses, seasoned macadamias, gooseberries.
My favorite afternoon- heading there at around 3pm on a Friday for a tasting board and cocktail with a friend. Or a glass of house wine, if that’s more your style 🙂
Kigali has many lovely pools to enjoy at this point, but I can’t tear myself away from the Marriott. Little known fact- you can order from the poolside bar and eat/drink next to the pool without paying the pool charge- as long as you aren’t swimming! The menu is fun and not as outrageously priced as you’d expect, and just being at a resorty hotel feels great to me 🙂
*Disclaimer: I used to go and order coffee (they serve Question) but for some reason it was always really gross- like undrinkable, it was so strong. And I drink my coffee black so I have a threshold for this stuff. Grab a green tea instead 😉
My favorite afternoon: bringing my laptop and/or a book, ordering gorilla fries (these will change your life) or a spiked lemonade, and working poolside. Especially fun with a friend!
The Distillery at 1000 Hills
To be honest, I’ve only been here once, but it was lovely. It’s rare in Kigali to get a beautiful view that isn’t a city view (though I do love the Kigali skyline) but the short trip out to The Distillery is so worth it! Just over the Kicukiro crest, The Distillery looks out over the rolling hills and marshes of Bugesera. All of the food I’ve tried is amazing (especially that hot rock beef filet) and there’s a diversity of cocktails available, including “The Muzungu”, their take on a white russian, which always makes me chuckle 🙂
My favorite afternoon: Taco Tuesday, free cocktail with every Taco Meal. Not quite as cozy of a place to work or read, so convince some friends to meet you for an early dinner!
My OG spot to escape for a bit. When we first moved here, Pili Pili was one of the better pools to take our kids to midweek- and the pizza deals helped, too! Now, I find myself stopping there to work for the afternoon, with a beautiful view over the city (particularly as the sun sets). It’s become much more of an event/night spot over the last few years (peep that new soccer pitch they built for the world cup, it’s awesome), but Pili Pili during the day is relaxed and restorative, at least for me!
My favorite afternoon: uninterrupted productivity at a high top table with a cold Mutzig on draft. Because sometimes, beer is cheaper than coffee, so…. Also, their ice cream sundaes are actually really good, when they have the ice cream 😉