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