Dine | Cairo
 
For comfort and peace of mind in light of current and recent world events, we decided at the start of our planning process to stay at more upscale accommodations in Egypt than we typically would when we travel eslewhere.  That turned out to be a good call in the end.  It made the acclimation to a drastically different environment a bit easier and gave a sense of added security, to us and to our loved ones back home, when the situation did turn bad.
 
Back to Sleep | Cairo
 
 
Four Baguettes
   
Mena House Oberoi *****
Pyramids Road, Giza
+20.2.3377.3222

 
Euro - 17 to 24
For its proximity to the Great Pyramids of Giza alone, this hotel is a sure bet for any visitor.  For our one-week trip to Egypt, we went with the tried-and-true accommodation routine: the Mena House by the pyramids for a few days and a central Cairo hotel for the rest of the trip (for us, the latter was the Cairo Marriott in Zamalek).  We were very pleased with this arrangement and found this place to be an excellent way to begin our exploration of Cairo.

Entering the Mena House compound is to take a night-and-day step away from the reality of modern-day Egypt.  One minute you are in a cab mired in the hopeless traffic of Cairenes and their vehicles, the next you are in an oasis of calm and old-world beauty.  The high fence and visible presence of a large contingent guards and tourist police do their job to keep the hotel guests secured and comfortable in their fantasy world.
 
 
 
 
 
  Themed down to the last details:  The table and chair set that saw no use and the plate of oranges that wilted day by day.
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
  Large bed and high ceiling:  We truly appreciated the king size bed and king size room considering what we have back in Paris.
 
 
 
 
 
  Due for a bit of touch up:  The spacious but no-frill bathroom showed the wear and tear of time.
 
 
 
 
We stayed in the Palace part of the complex from February 17-20, 2009.  The Palace dates back to the middle 1800s and the management does its best to highlight this history with faded photographs adorning the hallways and even elevators of past European tourists cavorting around the pharaonic sights and on the hotel grounds.  While we did not shell out more for the pyramid-view rooms, which appear worthwhile if you have the cash, we did catch a glimpse of the pyramids themselves through the hallway windows to and from our room.  There are also accommodation options in the low-flung Garden Annexes but from the look of it alone, we probably would still prefer the rooms in the Palace.  Our spacious room – No. 1205 (L.E. 1281/$229 a night) – came with an unexpectedly high ceiling and had its requisite array of themed furnitures and textile patterns.  The balcony allowed us a view, albeit only of a sand dune and smoggy Cairo from a distance.  Daily bottles of water were left on our night stands although the same plate of oranges sat in increasing state of wilting throughout our stay.
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Looking back at the door:  A handy small TV set to see us off to our dreams and a useful closet safe to keep our minds on the more important matters.
 
 
 
 
 
  Blue and amber:  The pool served as a backdrop for sunbathers with a book by day and a serene setting for a nice, post-dinner stroll by night.
 
 
 
 
Overall, it was a comfortable enough place to rest our tired bodies after a long day of sightseeing or lazily hanging out at the pool.  People who come looking for their vision of five-star luxuries will be disappointed (as they probably would be at most so-called high-star establishments in the world).  The price for all the comfort and security that this compound offers is the likelihood that its guests will remain onsite for most, if not all, of their meals and their non-touring time.  As for the former, high prices aside, following this path of least resistance will result in mostly uninspiring dining choices, among, to be sure, a few eminently tasty ones (for example, see our review of The Moghul Room).  As for the latter, succumbing to the compound mentality will result in depriving oneself of the other reason for traveling to Egypt today:  to experience the modern Egyptian culture up close, in one’s face.
 
 
 
Back to Sleep | Cairo  
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