Updated 05/12/2007


SHERATON ROYAL GARDENS (****L): Nicely located just off Pyramids Road. Though quite far from most sight seeing in Cairo, this is the ideal hotel for discerning travellers touring the city, and wishing to return to that oasis of civilization at the end of an exhausting day. 

We liked very much the elegant and highly refreshing gardens, with one of the largest and nicest pool in town. Perfect for relaxation after facing the chaotic Cairo, it was once the park of the recently restored historical villa where Youssef Wahby “Bey”, father of the modern Egyptian Theater, used to live some decades ago. 

The rooms and suites display plush design and comfort. Air-conditioned, quite large (take a Deluxe or Junior Suite for more feeling at better ease), with king-size beds, ritzy bathrooms, and furnished terrace, they are all equipped with Sat TV, IDD telephone, minibar, and in-room safe (few hotels get this facility in Egypt). Executive guests receive access to a cozy private lounge. 

Another great advantage at the SHERATON ROYAL GARDENS is its Health Club. Sauna, Jacuzzi, Hammam (steam bath) are part of its basic facilities: extended to massages, fitness & beauty treatments.  

Among the restaurants located in the premise, we were delighted to discover the presence of a licensed TRADER VIC’S: very popular round the world, this chain of smart though relaxed restaurants serves a decent Pacific Rim food, with a glamorous cocktail bar featuring live Caribbean music. This is not so expensive, and allows guests to smoke a fresh Cohiba at the Cigar Bar. The Al Capone Night-Club is packed with tourists, and highly entertaining. 

SHERATON ROYAL GARDENS: Helmeiat Al-Ahram Street, P.O.B 22, Al Ahram, 
Giza, Cairo 
PHONE: (202) 781.2211 – 3311        FACSIMILE: (202) 781-1441 

SOFITEL LE SPHINX (****L): With a splendid location, flanked by the Pyramids of Gizeh, this is the hotel where we actually enjoyed our best stay in Cairo. The hustle and bustle of downtown are only a twenty minute ride by taxi. It taxes ten minutes to reach the nearest metro station (Gizeh), and then navigate quickly to any destination in the largest city of the continent. Many of the 276 rooms and suites, large and comfortable, with king-size beds, individual AC, minibar filled with complimentary mineral water and soft drinks, offer a Pyramids view. But maybe would you prefer, like us, moreover when on a family stay, using the remarkable Duplex Suites: with a living room, equipped kitchen/dinning room on the ground floor (with a terrace opening on the gardens), plus two large bedrooms on the first floor. No view, but an upgraded comfort.  

The hotel is actually a spacious resort: a real luxury in the overcrowded Cairo. Composed by two-floor immaculate buildings, amidst landscaped garden and large outdoor swimming pool with separate children’s pool, it allows a perfect relaxation. You can swim contemplating the Pyramids. Close to the pool stands the very well equipped “Calypso” Health Club and Fitness Center: featuring a brand new gymnasium, sauna, hammam (steam-bath) and whirlpool.  

Managed by French group ACCOR, the SOFITEL LE SPHINX goes with a touch of French style: easy to distinguish through the efficient service and remarkable F&B. Great value for money, moreover when selecting the thematic buffet dinner reviewed on a daily basis, the restaurants are among the best in town. The Alexandria is the place for those renowned buffets, with live music many times a week (Arabic, Latino…). We enjoyed also the Romeo & Juliette, with a well balanced and tasty Italian cuisine. For cocktails and snacks, you will use the Philae (at poolside), La Pyramide bar, El Tekya, or the Pullman bar. Those feeling able to wait until 3am to enjoy the highest peak of Cairo nightlife (this is when Egyptian night-clubers start the real action!), will love at first sight the hotel’s night club (Le Mirage): it is ranked among the top 5 in town, with excellent music, beautiful girls, and a fauna of local playboys wearing Cerruti and Zegna silk suits matching their pure gold Rolex. 

An excellent place to enjoy Cairo. 

SOFITEL LE SPHINX: Alexandria Desert road, Giza, Cairo  
PHONE : (202) 383.7444     FACSIMILE: 383.4930 

SOFITEL MAADI TOWERS (****L): Located along the River Nile, in Maadi middle-upper class residential area. The Pyramids of Giza are visible, miles away, from the rooms with a river view. It takes about 20 minutes to reach them, by car. The metro is a few minutes walk, with quick connection to Coptic Cairo, Islamic Cairo, the Egyptian Museum and downtown. There is a complimentary scheduled hotel minibus connection to Tahrir (city center).  

The 174 rooms and suites are air-conditioned and soundproofed, equipped with sat TV, IDD telephone and radio. Some of them have been recently redesigned, with warm colours, rich fabrics and smart wooden furniture. The uppermost two floors offer the Maadi Exclusive Tower service. 24-hour room service, laundry and baby sitting upon request.  

Small though nice swimming pool, located on the second floor terrace: ideal to relax and watch the sun going down over the Nile. Further hotel facilities provided include the health club, business center, travel agency, shopping arcade, bank & hairdresser. An underground parking lot is available.  

The SOFITEL MAADI TOWERS features a renowned French restaurant: “Le Clovis”, member of the “Chaine des Rotisseurs”. We had a delicious lunch at “El Rancho”: the best –and may be unique- Mexican restaurant in town. “Darna” is a typical Egyptian farmhouse restaurant. Quick lunch and dinner can be enjoyed at “Ali Baba” pleasant open air cafeteria. Like in the sister hotel SOFITEL LE SPHINX, you will find great “viennoiseries” and cakes at the “French Corner”.  

A very convenient top comfortable hotel, with a friendly service. 

SOFITEL MAADI TOWERS: Corniche El Nil, Maadi, P.O Box 217, 11431 Cairo  
PHONE: (20-2) 5260601    FACSIMILE: 5261133  


WINTER PALACE (*****L): This is, with the OLD CATARACT in Aswan, the most authentic and prestigious palace hotel in Egypt. Built in 1886 to attract the nobility of Europe, this landmark, seen in many movies, is more Victorian in atmosphere than its sister hotel. One feels like much more in the Old England than in the country of the Pharaohs; though most of the most illustrious Egyptologists made it for decades their home away from home. Sir Howard Carter, who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamon, made the WINTER PALACE his second residence. Since, there never has been other place to stay in Luxor for King Farouk, George Clemenceau, Sadate, Mubarak, as well as many princes, statesmen, tycoons, world famous singers and Hollywood stars. 

The hotel was somehow run down in the 60-70’s. But, since French group ACCOR took its management over, the WINTER PALACE is sparkling again with its original glamour. Everything stands now in the best imaginable order: with five star deluxe comfort coexisting alongside antiques, rich wood panels, and Bohemian crystals. 

With its ironworks and grand chandeliers, the lobby is the most impressive we have ever seen in Egypt. Except in the blend modern annexe (“New Winter Palace”), all guestrooms are originally designed: most are palatial, with high ceilings, ritzy bathrooms, rich fabrics and fine decorative items. The highest standard of modern comfort is provided: with air-conditioning, Sat TV, IDD telephone, fax/modem port, minibar and safe. Rooms (in fact most are suites) with a view on the River Nile are an absolute must; though those with a garden view are also more than pleasant. 

The WINTER PALACES gets five restaurants (we recommend the lavish “1886”, where food is the finest in Luxor, and elegance rises at highest peak), five bars, a lovely swimming pool, two tennis courts, a squash court and a well equipped fitness club. 

Managed by SOFITEL. 

A legendary hotel for a legendary stay. 

WINTER PALACE: Cornish El Nile, Luxor 
TELEPHONE: (20-95) 380.422        FACSIMILE: 384.087 


OLD CATARACT (*****L): Since 1899, Tsar Nicolas II, Winston Churchill, Agatha Christie, the Aga Khan III, King Farouk of Egypt, the Shah of Iran, Margaret Thatcher, Jimmy Carter, Helmut Kohl, and Lady Diana are part of the happy few who could enjoy the unmatched luxury, comfort and extraordinary charm of this hotel. Perched atop a granite hill at the River Nile’s edge, this is from far our favourite hotel in Egypt.  

As much a landmark as an palace hotel, the OLD CATARACT took its name from the rivers First Cataract (rapids) at the traditional northern border of Nubia. Build by Thomas Cook, mostly for the tourists that his company was escorting down the Nile at the end of the 19th century, it has, unlike many historical hotels in Egypt, never been a royal palace or lodge; but a grand hotel 100% custom made for the highest level of comfort of its distinguished guests.  

Home away from home for the British elite and colonials, the hotel was a source of inspiration for Agatha Christie. “Death on the Nile” is a result of one of her stays at the OLD CATARACT, where she observed with a crude though objective eyes the customs of a then brand new tribe: the tourists. Movie director Anthony Shaffer’s screen adaptation of the novel, by the end of the 70’s, brought to the slightly run off hotel a grand revival of interest. It was then refurbished by French group ACCOR, with a breathtaking splendour. 

“Staying at the OLD CATARACT is like walking into a painting, or a colonial post card”, says the hotel “Livre d’Or”. Which is simply true: days are maybe gone, but not the atmosphere. With the WINTER PALACE, there is no place in Egypt where the Victorian colonial Egypt survives that well. High ceilings, endless corridors, Moorish décor and enchanting gardens, are transporting.  

The rooms offer same comfort like the WINTER PALACE. The Presidential Suite, on the first floor, despite of two or three tasteless pieces of furniture, is one of the most beautiful hotel apartment in the world: easy, when it opens on the best view on the River Nile one would ever expect. The Elephantine Island stands at your feet, with white “feluccas” sailing around. Take the suite if you can afford; and you will live on the terrace! This is truly a privilege staying here; François Mitterrand almost died in this suite, where he loved to stay at least one a year on a most private holiday. 

We also love the large swimming pool, surrounded by lush gardens with precious flowers and luxuriant trees. A fitness club, with tennis and volleyball courts, is part of the facilities of the OLD CATARACT. 

Winston Churchill attended the grand opening of the "1902" restaurant: still one of the top 10 in Egypt. Certainly the most elegantly picturesque: designed like a domed Moorish hall, it features four red and white traditional door-key arches, and is decorated with fine mashrabiya and stained glass. 

Expensive on the Egyptian standard, this remains quite affordable when considering making one’s trip to Egypt unforgettable. 

Managed by SOFITEL. 

A key to Heaven. 

OLD CATARACT: Abtal El Tahrir Street, Aswan 
PHONE: (20-97) 316.000 FACSIMILE: 316.011 

Copyright © FIRST CLASS AROUND THE WORLD, Gilles Malaisé, 1995-2013
Design © FIRST CLASS AROUND THE WORLD Studio, 1995-2013