Just so you know, as Moses Opobo writes, the hotel featured in “Hotel Rwanda” wasn’t the real Hôtel des Mille Collines, it was a hotel in South Africa.
The story of Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali is intertwined with the story of hope amid the horrors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The four-star facility is set in the centre of Kigali, with clear views over the capital.
It was made internationally famous by the Hollywood film “Hotel Rwanda,” which told the story of how it became a refuge and enabled more than one thousand people to survive the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Just so you know, the hotel featured in “Hotel Rwanda” wasn’t the real Hôtel des Mille Collines, it was a hotel in South Africa. The real hotel does appear, however, in the film “Sometimes in April.”
More than anything else, people visit the Mille Collines because of its association with the genocide. There are certainly many hotels that are not only better but also less expensive than the Mille Collines, but its unique selling point is clearly its history. Understandably, they do not have much by way of memories of 1994 preserved for guest’s viewing. On any given visit, Mille Collines is a cultural melting pot. You will find tightly woven bands of locals and tourists comparing notes and sharing experiences. The pool side seems to be particularly addictive during the evening breeze.
There is not much on the genocide on display, as the bullet and smoke-riddled walls have long been dressed in a new coat of paint. Looking into the sparkling swimming pool, it is almost impossible to imagine that, in it, desperate refugees sought the last drops of stagnant water during the genocide.
During the genocide, a secret society developed at the 113-room, five-storey hotel. This society comprised mostly of the refugees, for who the hotel secretly provided meals of beans and rice; while a priest celebrated mass with the refugees and conducted marriages in the conference room. A doctor and nurse were on hand too, delivering babies and treating ailments.
In the early days after the blood-letting began, the hotel turned into an assembly point for western expatriates.
Historical connections aside, the hotel is the usual conventional city centre facility with over 100 rooms, although it boasts that rare intimacy and comfort that is hard to come by in other big league hotels across town.
It is favored for those on mid-range trips, especially if an overnight transit stop is needed in order to connect to late arriving or early departing international flights.
The hotel prides itself in a world-famous swimming pool, a fitness room, and a floodlit tennis court.