In December, many of our Tour Egypt staff took a tour throughout Egypt. Frankly, we negotiated a good rate to stay at Movenpick facilities in Egypt, which I knew to be very nice, though I had never used them for accommodations on prior visits to Egypt. Movenpick hotels can be found in a number of European countries as well as Egypt, but are not very well known by Americans. The chain does have a new restaurant in Boston, but that is their only facility that we know of in the US. Movenpick Hotels are fairly well known in Europe, usually as reasonable upscale complexes. Of course, the Swiss are recognized as some of the world's best hotel operators.
Movenpick Hotels are spread about Switzerland and Germany, with other hotels in the Netherlands, France, Italy, The Czech Republic, but they also have hotels throughout the Middle East and various locations in Africa. In Egypt, they have three hotels in Cairo, one each in Luxor and Aswan, several in Sharm El-Sheikh, and one each in El Gouna and El Quseir. There is also a very new one near Al-Alemein on Egypt's north coast.
I had taken a tour of the one in Luxor, but even it had been remodeled, so this would give me a chance to review a number of hotels in this Swiss chain. Therefore, upon our arrival in Egypt, we were immediately bussed by Misr Travel over to the Movenpick Pyramid hotel, within sight of the Giza Pyramids on the Alexandria Road. It is located about two kilometers from the , and about fifteen kilometers from Cairo's city center. We had considerable time to get to know this hotel, as we stayed here both on our arrival in Cairo and for several days on our return from southern Egypt.
This is a garden hotel, as many of Movenpick's hotels are, at least in Egypt, with bungalow style units spread over a fairly large and complete complex. While there are certainly newer and more luxurious hotels in Cairo, it is very difficult to beat the value of this five star hotel, which was completely renovated in 2002, for the price.
The facilities of the Movenpick Pyramid Hotel are very nice, with a fine, spacious, well lit open lobby that includes a bar, the main restaurant, the Orangerie restaurant, both of which have a view of the Great Pyramids, an ice cream parlor for which Movenpick hotels are well known, a banking facility and other amenities, such as a small business center with internet connectivity.
Beyond the lobby is the large, well kept swimming pool and the accommodation units spread about lush, manicured gardens. There is a poolside restaurant called the II Giardino, and elsewhere another restaurant known as Le Gourmet with light sandwiches, drinks and takeaway, and a very reasonably priced restaurant serving Thai cuisine. There is also a nightclub known as the Joy Club with daily evening entertainment.
The bungalows units are mostly single story, with some second story suites that have nice terrace balconies that overlook the grounds. Most of the rooms do not have a pyramid view, though some of the suites do. The standard rooms are relatively spacious and there are also Superior Rooms and Deluxe Rooms. All of these have two twin beds with 42 square meters of floor space. In addition, there are Junior suites with two twin beds with 86 square meters of floor space, and full suites with a king bed and twin beds with 126 square meters of floor space.
All of the rooms are air conditioned and have private baths and color cable TV. Each one also has a bathroom phone, direct dial telephones, electrical adapters, hair dryers, a mini bar, radios and a safe, along with a few other amenities. With the Deluxe and Superior rooms, one gets a few more amenities, such as bathrobes and newspapers. Otherwise, the suites simply provide more room and a private balcony, according to the hotel's literature, but in our junior suite, there was also a microwave, a small kitchen sink and a larger refrigerator. Though only my wife and I stayed in this room, it would have made a great room for a small family.
Generally, our staff found their rooms to be comfortable, clean and aesthetically pleasing, though some of our group felt that the beds were just a bit hard. I personally didn't notice.
The Movenpick Pyramids Hotel also provides a number of leisure facilities in addition to its large, heated pool. There is a second pool, an extensive health club that includes weightlifting equipment, a jogging track, a racquetball court, flood-lit tennis courts, a sauna and a children's playground. In addition, the hotel is also equipped with several meeting rooms.
Beyond the physical facilities, Movenpick Hotels have a reputation, which we found to be valid in all of their hotels and including their cruise boats, of having very friendly staffs and excellent food. The staff really seems to go out of their way to be helpful, while at the same time not too aggressive. Ordinary members of the staff seem to make a surprising attempt to get to know each guest. At one point, when I had not called for a porter to help with some baggage, one of the yard attendants dropped what he was doing to help me. I must admit that I was also impressed with the head porter who, rather than blatantly insisting that I take one of the more expensive cabs usually found outside five star hotels, helped me obtain a normal black and white cab and even though I knew how much to pay one for a trip into town, told me the correct amount to pay (rather than hiking up the price). Typically, I wave off porters at five star hotels and walk down the street a bit in order to catch a cab, but I found this to be pleasantly unnecessary at the Movenpick Pyramid Hotel. Really, throughout Egypt, I was very impressed by the staff in each facility in which we stayed.
The food was not only very good at each of the Movenpick Hotels, but also reasonably priced. This was an unusual trip to Egypt for me. I write professionally about Egypt, and on most of my visits, I frankly do not pay for accommodations, though because of the nature of this visit, I did. However, even when the accommodations cost nothing, the food and other services in many of the five star hotels can be a budget breaker for me, but this is not so at the Movenpick Pyramid Hotel. The breakfast buffet was extensive, and included in the price of the room, and even when my wife picked up the tab for a group of us at the very nice Thai Restaurant, it was not so very painful.
The only problem I find with this hotel is the location, but this is more of a personal preference than anything else. I prefer to stay closer to Cairo's city center, which is simply more convenient for me to the culture, restaurants, shops and most of the tourist attractions the city has to offer, other than the Giza Plateau. I like to get out and walk about, but there is not much within walking distance of the Movenpick Pyramid's location. But in all fairness, like I said, this is a personal preference. Many people like the location because of the Pyramid view, and a taxi ride into the city center, though not a short trip, is also not expensive in a black and white taxi, at only about four dollars US. I also know some people, such as Karen Phillips, one of our BBS regulars and a travel consultant in Egypt, who prefer to live in this area. She herself lives just behind the Movenpick. For many tourists who are being picked up by busses for tours to ancient sites, and who are not as interested in the local culture as I am, the location probably does not matter much at all.
So overall, it is not surprising that one last thing Movenpick hotels are known for is satisfied, return customers, and this is probably as true for the Movenpick Pyramids as for their other hotels in Egypt. Its cozy friendliness, comfortable, bright rooms set in a garden atmosphere, extensive leisure facilities, good food and reasonable pricing certainly make it one of the best places to stay in Cairo.
The Movenpick Resort Cairo-Pyramids
Alexandria Rd, Giza Pyramids
P.O. Box 1
1 Cairo, Egypt Phone: +20 2 385 2555
Fax: +20 2 383 5006