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Cairo is one of the world’s great cities, and it’s a city of striking contrasts: ancient and modern, wealthy and impoverished, globally-flavored and stalwartly Egyptian. Cairo has been less-heavily touristed since the political revolutionary movements of the past decade, which means that bold travelers can find some of the best hotel bargains in the world right here, not to mention shorter lines at the city’s exquisite museums and amazing archaeological sites.
Best Overall: Kempinski Nile Hotel Garden City Cairo
With a central location in beautiful Garden City, right on the banks of the Nile and near the U.S. Embassy, the Kempinski couldn’t be better-located for both exploring the city and enjoying the view during downtimes. Rooms range from basic options with either Nile or city views to a massive 3,229-square-foot suite complete with a private dining room and a 24-hour butler. All rooms feature flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, bathrooms with separate showers and tubs and a bidet, and elegant, classic Continental-style décor including luxe linens and high-end furniture. The hotel’s rooftop pool and bar is a great place to city-gaze, and a full-service spa, fitness center, executive lounge, meeting spaces, and multiple bars and restaurants cater to your every need.
Best Budget: Osiris Hotel
Though high-end hotels are quite cheap in Cairo these days, many travelers might still prefer an even lower-cost option, and the Osiris Hotel is a great one. It’s a locally owned operation that’s located at the top of a nondescript office building in central Cairo, near the Egyptian Museum, and it’s a fantastic choice. Rooms are decorated sparsely but have bright Egyptian textiles, which give them tons of character. Tiled en-suite bathrooms are simple and clean, and include a handheld shower and a bidet. All rooms have air conditioning (standard in higher-end hotels, but an important thing to check for in budget lodgings). A rooftop terrace allows guests a panoramic view of the city (and a pyramid peeking out beyond). Complimentary continental breakfast includes bread, fruit, cheese and cold cuts. Room service is available, as are staff-arranged tours of the city and surrounding attractions.
Best Boutique: Villa Belle Epoque
Tucked away in a leafy residential suburb called Ma’adi, home to many of Cairo’s wealthiest families and a large expatriate community, the Villa Belle Epoque is a renovated circa 1920s villa. Each of the dozen rooms and suites is uniquely decorated, all in a style that evokes the French and British colonial eras: picture four-poster beds, antique writing desks and settees upholstered in elegant brocade. All rooms have balconies that overlook the lush, landscaped grounds, complete with fruit trees and a swimming pool. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are available at an on-site restaurant, with both indoor and garden seating, and there are a number of additional cafés and restaurants within a few blocks’ walk.
Best for Families: JW Marriott Hotel Cairo
This massive all-inclusive, resort-style property is a great choice for families traveling with kids, who will be immediately drawn to the outdoor waterpark, complete with a huge lagoon-style pool with a manmade sandy beach. A kids’ club with arcade games, on-site babysitting options and a huge variety of restaurants (including one that serves pizza poolside) are just some of the family-friendly amenities, and parents will enjoy the golf course, spa, and in-resort shopping options, as well as a huge shopping mall adjacent to the property.
Rooms are handsomely appointed, if somewhat generically, but all include balconies with views of the pool complex, golf course or city beyond. The JW Marriott is located in the suburb of Heliopolis, near the airport, which means it’s around an hour to the pyramids and thirty minutes or so to the amazing Egypt Museum, a must-visit for kids and grown-ups alike, but the sheer comfort of the resort makes it worth the extra trip.
Best Romance: Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah
French luxury hotel chain Sofitel is known for combining top-quality amenities with a unique style that blends classic French elegance with locally inspired design elements, resulting in beautifully appointed public spaces and guestrooms that are as stylish as they are romantic.
Because of the circular tower-shaped Sofitel Cairo’s location at the southern tip of an island on the Nile, every room has a stunning river view. Book a couples’ massage at the on-site full-service spa or a romantic riverside dinner at one of the six restaurants and lounges, with cuisine ranging from Moroccan to French fusion.
When you’re ready to get out and visit the city, you’ll find yourself within walking distance of all of central Cairo’s attractions and a quick trip out to the pyramids by taxi or via the hotel’s luxury car service.
Best Luxury: Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza
For a once-in-a-lifetime luxury experience, take the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo up on their planned “Extraordinary Experiences” offer: a chef-catered private dinner under the stars in front of the majestic illuminated Sphinx and the Great Pyramid, with a live soundtrack provided just for you by the Cairo Symphony Orchestra. Even if you’re not ready to spring for this decadent experience, the luxurious guestrooms and amenities at this branch of the famous luxury hotel line will make you feel like royalty.
Décor is chic and subtle, with natural wood finishes and neutral-colored upholstery and full marble bathrooms with soaking tubs, and in-room amenities include plush terry bathrobes, down pillows, and L’Occitane toiletries. Each room has a high-tech workspace and high-speed wired and wireless Internet access.
Three rooftop swimming pools, dedicated family activities, a business center, a gym with personal trainers on staff, Cairo’s largest full-service spa, eight restaurants and lounges, and 24-hour gourmet room service are among the extensive guest offerings. While a fabulous central Cairo location, plus an award-winning staff, make it hard to imagine anything the luxury traveler might need that hasn’t already been accounted for.
Best Nightlife: Fairmont Nile City
The sprawling Fairmont Nile City is in a stretch of Cairo with a number of expat-heavy nightclubs, which makes it a good central location if you’re looking to explore the nightlife that the city has to offer. Better yet, though, the Fairmont is home to a popular nightclub of its own, Kash5a, which draws locals and travelers alike for Rai, Khaliji and western dance music every night into the wee hours of the morning. Relax and rejuvenate the next day with a dip in the rooftop pool, a massage at the on-site spa or just a nice sleep-in and room service breakfast in bed between the luxurious crisp sheets in your Art Deco-designed guestroom.
Best Business: Steigenberger Hotel el Tahrir Cairo
Impress your important business associates by holding your meeting at this central Cairo business hotel, which boasts a number of smaller boardrooms, mid-sized meeting rooms, a large ballroom, as well as a dedicated professional meeting planning staff, state-of-the-art technological equipment and on-site catering.
Between meetings, retreat to your stylish, contemporary room, decorated with clean lines, neutral furnishings and bright red throw pillows and bed scarves for a nap or a shower under the waterfall showerhead of your walk-in tiled shower. If you’d rather, you can take a dip in the pool or hot tub, have a meal at one of several on-site restaurants, take a run on a treadmill in the fitness club or get a massage in the spa.
If your non-business time is limited but you’d like to see a bit of the city, the Steigenberger is perfectly located for quick jaunts, including to the Egyptian Museum, located directly across the street.
Best Views: Marriott Mena House
Staying in central Cairo means easy access to most of the city’s attractions, but staying outside of the city at the Marriott Mena House means you can enjoy breakfast with a Seven Wonders of the World-class view: the Pyramids at Giza, rising up in the background behind the courtyard. Many guestrooms also have views of the famous ancient monuments, but some don’t — be sure to request one.
The hotel’s proximity to the pyramid complex obviously makes it easy to explore, and the concierge will happily help you book guided tours with local experts. After a day of exploration, come back and relax in your cool, subtly-appointed classic guestroom or one of the uniquely-decorated suites, complete with local textiles and furniture.
There are fewer options for dining in the Giza area than in Cairo in general, but the three on-site restaurants here (plus room service) are all excellent, so dinner is easy. The hotel also offers a full-service spa, fitness room, outdoor pool and full golf course to fill your downtime between archaeological explorations.