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