Volume I, Number 5 October 1st, 2000
The Hussein Hotel
By Juergen Stryjak
It looks old, and the people, even locals sometimes, believe it belongs to the epoch of the whole neighborhood that of A Thousand and One Nights. But compared to most of the other buildings and establishments, coffeehouses, shops and workshops, all with a history that dates back generations if not centuries, the Hussein Hotel is rather young, very young. It was built 35 years ago, imitating an ancient oriental or ottoman style, and officially inaugurated in the Seventies.
No sooner had the time started for the Hussein Hotel than it was brought to a standstill looking as though it has stood there from time immemorial, in front of its namesake, the Hussein Mosque and beside Cairos most famous teahouse, the El-Fishawi, in the heart of the legendary Arabian bazaar Khan El-Khalili. There is no hotel better suited for enjoying the unique atmosphere of what tourists consider to be authentic mediaeval Islamic Cairo. She or he will love it, with its milling crowds, the swirl of color, the exotic scents, the brightly illuminated narrow alleys between worn out buildings. Therefore, it is unimportant, that the area isnt very authentic anymore.
Although heavily tourist oriented, the Khan El-Khalili bazaar still takes you on a fascinating trip through the time, and the Hussein Hotel is the perfect base for this little journey. Almost all travel books divide Cairos old Islamic city center into a Northern and a Southern part. Centrally located, the Hussein Hotel is right in the middle between the two neighborhoods. Next to the Hussein Hotel entrance, you will find the famous El-Fishawi, which claims to be the oldest continuously operating caf in town. A few minutes walk from here, you will find the romantic Khan El-Khalili Restaurant. Again five minutes, we stroll along Bain al-Qasrain, between the two palaces, the street which gives the first book of Naguib Mahfouz Cairo Trilogy its title. Qasr al-Shauq and the Sukkariyya, the other two volumes and corresponding alleys, are nearby. For these and other books Naguib Mahfouz got the Nobel Prize for literature 1988, and if you want to explore the Midaq Alley, another of his famous novels, just ask the porter of the Hussein Hotel for its location.
The room rates of the Hussein Hotel are reasonable. They start with LE 44 ($ 12) for a single room, with communal bath across the floor, including breakfast, ceiling fan and noise, which comes from outside, from one of the numerous little kebab-restaurants, spice vendors, music shops and coffeehouses.
The noise of the city is a main ingredient of the enchanting atmosphere around the Hussein Hotel, and you wont tire of listening to the street vendors and caf guests, to the ever-changing voices and melodious tunes. The 56 rooms are simply furnished and clean. Twenty-four of them feature a private bath and are air-conditioned. Some have balconies, which is a priceless treat, a place where you can relax and watch life in the Khan unfold around you, as though you had reserved balcony seats to a first-class theatre production of Aladdin or another oriental drama. Relaxing and observing life from this vantage point is indeed captivating.
Ninety percent of the guests are travelers from all over the world, many of them returning again and again. Especially during the Islamic holidays of Ramadan, the prophet Muhammads birthday and on occasion of the Moulid of Hussein, the prophets grandson, the hotel is filled with Egyptians and other Arab pilgrims. The two restaurants and cafeterias on the rooftop offer an overwhelming view of large parts of the neighborhood, but are, most of the time, empty and quiet. Obviously, hotel guests prefer to be among the crowds, strolling the alleys or sitting in the little cafs at street level.
Hussein Hotel Manager
Hussein Hotel. Hussein Square, Khan Al-Khalili. Cairo. Telephone: 25918089 or 25918664 or 25918479. Rates: Double with private bathroom LE 75 ($ 20); Single with private bathroom LE 65 ($ 17.50); Double without private bathroom LE 55 ($ 15); Single without private bathroom LE 44 ($ 12). Rates are per night and include breakfast. Add LE 15 ($ 4) per night for the use of AC during summertime! Communal bathrooms, separated for men and women, are located across the floor.
Welcome to the Ancient Egyptian Home By Ilene Springer
Historical Hotels in Egypt - Part IV By Jimmy Dunn
Editor's Commentary By Jimmy Dunn
Ancient Beauty Secrets By Judith Illes
Book Reviews Various Editors
Kid's Corner By Margo Wayman
Cooking with Tour Egypt By Mary K Radnich
Hotel Reviews By Juergen Stryjak
Egyptian Exhibitions By deTraci Regula
Nightlife Various Editors
Restaurant Reviews Various Editors
Shopping Around By Juergen Stryjak
Egyptian View-Point By Adel Murad
Web Reviews By Siri Bezdicek
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Last Updated: June 2nd, 2011