Luxor - Aswan, Egypt
Nour el Nil has 4 boats: Assouan and Malouka (both sleeping 16), El Nil and Meroe (both sleeping 20). All are similarly stylish, so you just book a room type and get allocated to a boat, unless you choose to book a whole boat exclusively for a big group. You have a choice of rooms - panoramic, luxury and standard - though not all boats have all types of rooms. None of the rooms are big, but the standard rooms are most certainly small and we advise you chose a luxury or panoramic instead. However, if all you’re going to do is sleep in it…
Standard and luxury rooms run along both sides of the boat. Each overlooks the river and those on the left (or ‘port’ for readers of a naval inclination) get the morning light. They all come in the same style (though luxury are slightly bigger): panelled walls painted white, windows giving watery views, comfy beds dressed in crisp white linen, shiny wooden floors. Colour comes from scatter cushions, while ensuite showers do the trick (the pressure isn’t great and you’ll end up using the hand-held alternative, which is more than good enough). There's odd small thing - a cupboard door that doesn’t close properly, a loose-fitting socket - but overall it's impeccable.
The big question you need to answer is this: do you want the bed to be made up as a double or two singles? Double beds stretch from one side of the cabin to the other and you will have to jump on at the base, but twins come with a neat little walkway in between. All the rooms have good storage with drawers below the beds and separate cupboards, too. Windows are also rather clever and slide out of the wall in various forms that can be used in any combination: French shutters; mosquito shutters, old-fashioned glass.
The two rooms at the back – the panoramic suites – are bigger (not huge) and have space for a table and chairs as well as a bookcase. They come in the same style, but have a chandelier thrown in as well. Their main attraction is the vast window that fills the rear wall, framing views of the Nile. The windows themselves open in such as way to allow you to sit over the stern of the boat.
Breakfast is served informally at the front of the boat. You loll about on sofas while kind staff bring plate after plate. You can have omelettes or boiled eggs (occasionally a hard-boiled egg!), there are countless plates of pancakes, then honey to pour upon them. If you want, you can have a plate of delicious tomatoes, or a basket of bread or toast. There’s mango juice, tea and coffee, then more pancakes…
Lunch and dinner are served at the table in the middle of the shaded deck. You eat on Limoges china. The food is relatively straightforward: the freshest salads, chicken or fish, aromatic rice, a plate of fruit to finish. Dinner is a little more substantial, perhaps asparagus soup to start, more fantastic salads, meatballs or moussaka followed by mango sorbet or coconut cake. It’s fresh and healthy and, although sticklers might say it's a little repetitive, you’ll be more than happy with it. You can wash it all down with a bottle of beer or a glass of Egyptian wine (available on board, but not included in rates). If the weather is cold (and at night in winter it often is), you drop down below and eat in a country-house sitting room.
Reviewed by Tom Bell, photography by Dylan Chandler
- All meals included