Con­rad Cairo

Business Traveller - - TRIED AND TESTED CAIRO HOTEL - Tom Ot­ley

BACK­GROUND The Con­rad opened in 1998 and is one of seven Hil­ton-owned ho­tels in the Egyp­tian cap­i­tal.

WHERE IS IT? On the Nile Cor­niche, next door to the soon-to-open St Regis Cairo and the Hil­ton Cairo World Trade Cen­tre Res­i­dences, and close to Tahrir Square and the Egyp­tian Mu­seum. It is 21km from the air­port, but those who know Cairo traf­fic will be aware that giv­ing an es­ti­mate of the jour­ney time would be point­less. At 1am it took me 30 min­utes from the air­port, but it could take two hours or more in rush hour. The clos­est metro sta­tion is Ram­ses.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? With its 24-storey tower look­ing out to­wards Ze­malak Island, the Con­rad Cairo is un­miss­able on the sky­line. The ho­tel is ac­cessed via a sloped drive­way, with se­cu­rity and then x-ray ma­chines to clear be­fore go­ing into the ho­tel. The main lobby is large with a triple-height atrium; dur­ing my stay it was al­ways bustling with peo­ple hav­ing drinks in the lounge bar.

Though the prop­erty is in good health, the last re­vamp was in 2010. A ren­o­va­tion, in­clud­ing all bed­rooms, pub­lic ar­eas and meet­ing spa­ces, will start at the be­gin­ning of 2019 and last three years. Ser­vice was gen­er­ally ex­cel­lent, though there were oc­ca­sional lapses.

ROOMS The shape and height of the ho­tel en­sure that all 614 rooms have ei­ther a par­tial or full view of the Nile, and most have bal­conies. En­try-level Clas­sic rooms on the lower floors start at 41 sqm. From the 16th floor up, rooms be­come Deluxe by virtue of the bet­ter views. The Ex­ec­u­tive rooms then span floors 20-24, with the Ex­ec­u­tive lounge on 22. This of­fers break­fast and evening drinks, and has a long bal­cony over­look­ing the Nile – it’s worth can­celling the fi­nal meet­ing of the day to en­joy a drink and an un­in­ter­rupted view across the city.

There are 52 suites: two Royal, two Pres­i­den­tial, 16 Ex­ec­u­tive and 32 Nile suites. Sure, the dec­o­ra­tion in the rooms is a lit­tle passé, but it some­how seems ap­pro­pri­ate. The thick vel­vet cur­tains in my room drew across one an­other so no light could pen­e­trate. Sound­proof­ing is very good, es­sen­tial when the ho­tel bar only gets go­ing af­ter mid­night, with guests re­turn­ing to their rooms un­til four in the morn­ing.

FOOD AND DRINK The ho­tel’s restau­rants were ren­o­vated more re­cently than the rest of the ho­tel, and there are three ex­cel­lent choices on the sec­ond floor alone. For break­fast and buf­fet lunch, Solana is a ca­sual restau­rant over­look­ing the Nile. I ate break­fast here and the choice of both re­gional and in­ter­na­tional cui­sine was very im­pres­sive, as were the chef’s sug­ges­tions. When I asked for some Ara­bic bread, I was in­stead guided to­wards a par­tic­u­lar va­ri­ety of lovely, spicy ful madames (a bean dish). Ka­mala of­fers a choice of South East Asian cuisines, while the Oak Grill serves de­li­cious modern Le­banese cui­sine. I ate twice at the Oak Grill and didn’t even scratch the sur­face of what I wanted to try, though the smoked dishes are out­stand­ing, and I had fat­toush (a chopped salad dish) with grilled hal­loumi both nights.

Other op­tions are the out­door Jayda Nile Ter­race by the pool and with Nile views, or the Stage One Lounge and Bar with mu­sic and cock­tails. MEET­INGS The ho­tel’s meet­ing spa­ces are all on the lobby level and to­tal more than 3,500 sqm. They in­clude the Con­rad ball­room, one of the largest in the city, hold­ing 750 for a ban­quet; and the Nile ball­room, with a ca­pac­ity of 300 for a ban­quet, as well as a se­ries of smaller meet­ing rooms on one side to­gether with a busi­ness cen­tre. There’s com­pli­men­tary wifi through­out the ho­tel.

LEISURE The ho­tel has a large fit­ness cen­tre and a good-sized open-air swim­ming pool. As with many Con­rad ho­tels, there is a se­ries of pre-book­able ex­pe­ri­ences, from a one-hour Nile cruise through to full-day ex­cur­sions to the pyra­mids or more in­di­vid­u­ally cu­rated trips. The ground floor has a casino and a nightclub.

VER­DICT This is a very well-lo­cated ho­tel, pop­u­lar both with Egyp­tians and in­ter­na­tional guests. Staff are friendly, en­sur­ing there is a fam­ily feel that be­lies the vast size of the ho­tel. The de­val­u­a­tion of the Egyp­tian pound also makes it re­mark­ably good value for over­seas vis­i­tors, while reg­u­lars will be look­ing for­ward to the forth­com­ing re­fur­bish­ment.

The de­val­u­a­tion of the Egyp­tian pound makes it re­mark­ably good value

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