Sher­a­ton Cairo Ho­tel and Casino; Con­rad Cairo; Royal Savoy Ho­tel & Spa, Lau­sanne; Sch­weiz­er­hof Ho­tel, Bern; New Road Ho­tel, London; Apollo Ho­tel, Am­s­ter­dam

Business Traveller - - CONTENTS - Do­minic El­lis

BACK­GROUND This ho­tel was Star­wood’s first in Africa when it opened in 1971. Now, fol­low­ing a lengthy clo­sure – and Star­wood’s merger with Mar­riott – one tower (con­tain­ing 326 rooms) has been fully re­fur­bished. The sec­ond is due to open by the year end, pro­vid­ing an­other 330 rooms.

Other Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional prop­er­ties in the city in­clude the Cairo Mar­riott, Mar­riott Mena House – next to the pyra­mids – and JW Mar­riott Ho­tel Cairo. I was also given a sneak peek of the sharp-look­ing St Regis Cairo, ex­pected to open in au­tumn this year.

WHERE IS IT? Over­look­ing the River Nile, the ho­tel is a 15-minute walk from Opera metro sta­tion and 25 min­utes’ walk from the Egyp­tian Mu­seum. Cairo’s no­to­ri­ous traf­fic meant the 25km jour­ney from the air­port to the ho­tel took one hour and 15 min­utes.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Af­ter pass­ing tight se­cu­rity and a small lobby, most guests head up to the first-floor re­cep­tion, which links the two tow­ers. How­ever, as a Club guest, I was es­corted to the 26th floor lounge, which af­fords strik­ing 360-de­gree views, serves a fine break­fast and has a nar­row ter­race that is per­fect for en­vi­able pho­tos of the Nile.

If you’re not a Club/suite guest, and un­til the sec­ond tower is fin­ished, you’ll have to head down to the first floor and walk to the sec­ond, where the bulk of food and bev­er­age venues are lo­cated. Most guests are from Saudi Ara­bia, UAE, Kuwait and US.

ROOMS My 17th-floor Club room was com­fort­able with bed, chaise longue, lounge chair and desk (38-44 sqm). The win­dows opened par­tially and of­fered strik­ing Nile views (this stretch looks pop­u­lar with row­ers) and I could just make out the pyra­mids through the hori­zon haze.

The win­dows and bed were framed by wood, a trunk-style ta­ble hosted sweets and fruit, and the desk was sturdy. The bath­room had a stand­alone shower and tub and tight sink area, which didn’t leave much room for toi­letries.

FOOD AND DRINK Dur­ing our stay we were served a set menu at din­ner at Gian­nini’s New York Ital­ian, and dif­fer­ent dishes for lunch (seafood/beef) and din­ner (grills) at the larger Rawi, which af­fords more panoramic views of the Nile.

Other op­tions in­clude the Bridge Café by re­cep­tion and Stu­dio70 bar, which dis­plays black-and-white pho­tos of Arab stars from the 70s (and serves some novel ly­chee cock­tails). El Mawar­dia Depuis 1985 café pro­vides an­other his­tor­i­cal tie-in, but it’s been set back fur­ther from the road and wrapped in a see-through de­sign.

On the last evening we watched a belly dancer per­form in the lounge area of Rawi and more en­ter­tain­ment is avail­able op­po­site Gian­nini’s, along with a pool bar.

MEET­INGS The Ivory ball­room (ca­pac­ity 160 for a ban­quet) was hold­ing a health­care con­fer­ence dur­ing our visit. The larger Salah El Din ball­room has a ca­pac­ity of 350 for a ban­quet. There are 13 meet­ing rooms in to­tal along­side a fully equipped busi­ness cen­tre.

LEISURE The sec­ond floor fea­tures an out­door oval pool – which was freez­ing in April/May, although it caught the late af­ter­noon sun – and a fab­u­lous Sher­a­ton Fit­ness, one of the best gyms I’ve seen, with plen­ti­ful weights and ma­chines and a stu­dio at the far end, where I took part in Zumba and yoga classes.

VER­DICT Star­wood Pre­ferred Guest mem­bers have had to wait pa­tiently, but they should be happy with the re­sults.

It has a fab­u­lous Sher­a­ton Fit­ness, one of the best gyms I’ve seen, with plen­ti­ful weights and ma­chines

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