“A magical small hotel in the heart of old Cairo, with a sublime roof terrace for breakfast in the sun”
Big, beautiful rooms await, not that they’re rooms at all, but extremely plush suites, every single one of them. The hallmarks are bold colours and lots of style, though each room is different with names to give a hint of what to expect: Pharaoh, Ottoman, Belly Dance, Bedouin. Superior Suites are bigger and have balconies that give views of the streets below; and while some also have separate studies, all come with WiFi and phone lines, and they can arrange a computer if required.
Each room could double as an art gallery. You get fabulous fabrics, coloured glass chandeliers, supremely comfortable beds wrapped in crisp white linen. Unlike many hotels in Egypt the finish here is not skin deep, a fact clearly demonstrated in your gorgeous bathroom, where you find vast glass showers, creamy sandstone tiles, thick robes, Acqua di Portofino toiletries, enormous towels. Sitting rooms come laden with excess: great art on the walls, sofas to curl up on, flat-screen TVs and DVD players, too. Elsewhere, you’ll find bowls of fruit, safes in wardrobes, beautifully embroidered armchairs, even dressing rooms. All rooms are fully air conditioned.
Breakfast up on the roof terrace was a highlight of our stay in Cairo. Plates of food were brought to the table while the sun shone benignly and the imams called the faithful to prayer. Then came the hard task of digging into fresh yoghurt flavoured with honey, a basket of pains au chocolat and hot croissants, freshly squeezed orange juice to wash it all down followed by strong coffee (or Earl Grey tea). There are plates of fruit, sticks of baguette, eggs if you want them, while butter comes resting on ice to keep it cool. All this accompanied by the sound of water falling from the fountain.
Officially, no other meals are served at the hotel, though there is a small snack menu available if the mood strikes you. Options include toasted sandwiches, salads and simple tomato pasta, as well as sweeter more traditional treats like pastries with Moroccan tea, and traditional Egyptian desserts.
You don’t have to walk far to eat out. Try Taj Al Sultan on the other side of the souk, a new venture in an old bank which offers very good Indian and Egyptian dishes. You can also sup with Cairo’s mover/shakers at Citadel View, where a huge terrace gives great views of the city; the food is traditional and tasty. Restaurants downtown are a little hit and miss, but Le Bistro (8 Sharia Hoda Shaarawi) is extremely popular with Cairenes. Staff will advise.
All ages are welcome, but there’s not much for kids to do here and you’ll need to be vigilant if they’re up on the roof terrace.
Children (4-12 years)
Rooms are easily big enough to accommodate an extra bed for children over 6; younger children are welcome to share their parents beds.