By Jimmy Dunn
Staying at a Sonesta facility is rarely a wrong decision in Egypt. Throughout Egypt, Sonesta provides well done, modern and luxurious accommodations. The Sonesta Hotel in Cairo is no exception. For some, its only drawback may be the location, in Heliopolis, which is some distance from the downtown hub of Cairo. Yet for others, particularly on organized tours, it is a quieter, more laid back location. Perhaps the location isn't even a problem, as a free shuttle bus is offered, to the downtown area of Cairo.
Like its relative, the Sonesta St. George in Luxor, the Cairo Sonesta combines a wonderful mix of the modern and pharaonic, an expression that this hotel company does very well. Unlike some western style chain hotels in Egypt ,while at a Sonesta, one really does feel that they are in Egypt.
The Sonesta in Heliopolis is not really a resort hotel as such, but rather a great stopping off place for tours, and certainly a good residence for visiting business people to this area of Cairo. It is comfortable, and self sufficient for the average tourist who needs a nice room, good restaurants with some evening entertainment. And so like many, I stayed in the hotel for one night prior to departing on a classical tour of Egypt.
Rooms are large, and there is a good ranges of choices according to budget. My room came equipped with a small steam sauna that I enjoyed immensely after the long flight from the US. All 254 rooms include air conditioning, satellite color television, in-room movies, radio, mini bar, hair dryers and direct dial telephones.
Other hotel services include 24-hour room service, free weekly sightseeing tours, a business center with Internet access, safety deposit boxes, babysitting arrangements and a doctor on call. However, another small problem for some will be the expense of using the business center for Internet access. While the hotel charges for Internet access are not unusual for five star hotels, it is considerably more expensive than most local Internet cafes. Unfortunately, in this area I found few Internet cafes nearby, so I was forced to use the more expensive business center.
The hotel also has a very complete fitness center, which offers massage treatment, hydrotherapy, jacuzzi, sauna and a Turkish steambath, along with aerobics classes and a gymnasium. Other facilities include an outdoor swimming pool and a billiards room.
There are no less then six places to eat in the hotel. The Italian La Gondola serves great food along with live entertainment, a small band which was very impressive. Other restaurants include Le Menage, with French cuisine and piano entertainment, Baalbak with traditional Lebanese specialties and nightly entertainment, the Tea Garden, an outside restaurant serving light fare, and Liali Zaman, only open during the summers with dancing and live entertainment and monthly specials. There is also Fauchon, with French pastries, confections and groceries.
Along with the poolside bar, Bohio, there is the Arabic lounge that is quiet and cozy, and Speke's English pub bar. For more robust entertainment at night, Sindbads Discotheque offers live shows nightly.
I have stayed at a number of Sonesta Hotels in Egypt, have always been comfortable, and the Cairo Sonesta is no exception. With the hotel expansion in Egypt, one may not say that it is the nicest of the five star hotels in Cairo, but then again, I would rank its comfort above many of the better known luxury hotels and I believe its pricing is quite in line with the accommodations.
4 El Tayaran St., Nasr City, Cairo
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Last Updated: June 22nd, 2011