Sofitel Cairo Maadi Towers and Casino
By Juergen Stryjak
Maadi is the expatriates dormitory town at the southern border of Cairo. The people think Maadi is Cairos green lung, which is not true, since many of the green areas have already been replaced by sterile, gray, concrete high rises. And they think it has no good hotel, which is not true, either. Juergen Stryjak tested the Sofitel Cairo Maadi Towers and was surprised.
Even if a tourist has already visited Cairo once or twice, he probably wont be familiar with the Cairo suburb of Maadi. This neglect of Maadi is quite understandable for tourists, as there are no sights, no nightlife, no decent hotels and Maadi is located far, far, away from the city center. This is, in part of the image of Maadi, but it doesnt reflect the reality completely. Maadi has some advantages, which make it, in my opinion, interesting and convenient for tourists, too.
Among these advantages is the Sofitel Cairo Maadi Towers and Casino, a Five-Star hotel, which surprised me, when I recently settled down there for one night. It belongs to the Accor group, which also operates some of the most famous historical hotels in Egypt, for example the Winter Palace in Luxor, the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan and the Sofitel Alexandria Cecil.
Dont expect an architectural jewel. The Sofitel Cairo Maadi Towers are as plain and austere as many of the concrete piles in the neighborhood. Maadi is legendary as a green suburban oasis, with lots of villas and quiet little streets, therefore making it especially popular among expatriates and the Cairene upper class, but as it is with many legends, it survives because of its glorious past. Today, the big city has swallowed Maadi, and many of the villas have been displaced by gray high-rises. The Sofitel Cairo Maadi Towers and Casino is one of them, definitely not a landmark of architecture.
Its real value which I discovered immediately after entering and then at every turn: a very special friendliness, honest and welcoming, and much more than the usual routine kindness of such places. Before I checked in, I saw meetings and conferences announced at a bulletin board, held here by Daimler Chrysler, CLICK Mobile Network and other big companies. When I left the hotel the next day, I knew I had discovered the reason for this: the hotel exudes its very own warm and personal hospitality, something which I have experienced before only at pensions and little family-operated traveler hotels.
For example, the restaurants. I had lunch at Little Italy, the houses pizzeria at the lobby level. Despite a large number of guests, the waiters talked to me as to a friend, they wanted to know my origin, asked me for my opinion about Cairo, whether I felt comfortable here or uneasy and if I would like to have some Parmesan cheese over my Lasagna. I agreed and the waiter returned with a cheese mill and covered my Lasagna with Parmesan, grated by hand. At the end, he invited me for a free espresso. I sat beneath the shining colored glass ceiling, watched the people passing by in the shopping arcade behind the restaurants arched windows and tried to remember when was the last time I felt so relaxed in a restaurant.
At night I had dinner at El Rancho, the newly opened tex-mex restaurant of the hotel, and I dont want to repeat myself, but here again, I received the same attentiveness. As for the cuisine, I sampled a mixed grill plate, with pieces of strip steak, sirloin steak, t-bone steak, all together for LE 42 ($ 11), and it was mouth-watering. I ordered a non-alcoholic beer, and another guest, already slightly tipsy from his alcoholic beer, asked me, very seriously, if I have adequate health insurance, because non-alcoholic beer would be very harmful. The waiter smiled and kept my plate filled with delicious fresh chips and cheddar sauce. The atmosphere is as cozy as the restaurants leather sofas and wooden saloon chairs.
Next morning at the Maadi Caf (24 hour service), where the breakfast buffet is arranged for the guests, I was hopelessly late, nearly one hour after the buffet closed. The waiter could have charged me for my breakfast la carte, but he offered, instead, to bring me whatever I wanted from the buffet, which was still available in the kitchen.
All rooms at the Sofitel Cairo Maadi Towers and Casino are air-conditioned, tastefully decorated with warm colors, expensive looking wooden furniture, color televisions with satellite reception and other amenities, common to Five-star hotels. Each room has its own balcony, the higher the better, overlooking the Nile, with the pyramid of Saqqara on the horizon, the oldest freestanding man-made structure in the world. Particularly romantic is watching the sunset by the pool on the third floor terrace, above all because you cant see the heavy traffic rushing along the Corniche in front of the hotel. You can watch the sun going down over the Nile, a very peaceful moment.
Beside the above-mentioned restaurants, the hotel features a French restaurant, Le Clovis, also Darna, a typical Egyptian farmhouse restaurant, Ali Baba, which is a romantic open air cafeteria, a Casino as well as the Pullman Bar and not to forget: French Corner, the hotels bakery featuring the best cake in town, if we follow the Egyptian Chefs Organizations recent decision to grant the hotels chef Mourad El Bery a gold medal for Best Pastry Chef. His colleagues Tarek Shaaban and Fathi Mohamed won the bronze medal for the Best Wedding Cake.
Despite Maadis image as a remote neighborhood, the distances to important places are shorter than one may think. Due to the new Moneib Bridge and the Ring Road, it is possible to reach the Pyramids of Giza within only a few minutes, depending on how boldly your taxi driver hits the gas pedal. The metro, a fast, cheap, clean, safe connection between Maadi and the city centre, stops at some important sightseeing places like Coptic Cairo (Station Mar Girgis), the Egyptian Museum at Tahrir Square as well as the downtown shopping area (both Sadat Station), Islamic Cairo (Station Al-Ataba) or the Cairo Opera (Station Opera) the latter two after switching to the second metro line at Sadat Station. Maadi itself is very American, due to thousands of Americans, which live here, among other foreigners. This leads to a large number of Western-style shops, German bakeries, fast-food outlets and modern shopping malls. Just beside the hotel, you will find the multi-story Alfa Market, which offers nearly everything that the tourist may have left at home.
Author Juergen (Hoose) Stryjak looks relaxed, but after a hard
days work, his condition might be described more as comatose.
Sofitel Cairo Maadi Towers and Casino.
Corniche el Nil, Maadi, Cairo, 11431.
Telephone: +202252 60 601 and 252 60 602.
Fax: +202252 61 133 and 252 61 155.
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Last Updated: June 2nd, 2011