By Brooke Comer
After walking around Cairo to see the sights and spending endless hours in traffic in the dusty, polluted city you may feel the need for some pampering and tranquility. After all, if you are on vacation, taking some time to relax should be a priority. You do not have to escape to one of Egypt’s beautiful beaches to find some piece of mind, several Cairo hotels offer all you could want to recharge and replenish.
You do not have to be a guest in one of Cairo’s five star hotels to enjoy the benefits of swimming a few laps, working out in a state of the art gym or indulging in everything the luxurious spas have to offer. Many properties offer access to their pools and spas for a day fee, and in some cases the cost of a massage in the spa will entitle the visitor to use the pool or the rest of the spa.
You can tailor a day of relaxation or exercise to meet your needs, your budget, and your location. Most establishments have separate facilities for men and women though you can usually get a couples’ massage together. We have made a selection of those we like best out of the many sumptuous possibilities out there. Enjoy your day!
The Four Seasons Nile Plaza
A day spa package costs EGP 750, which includes use of the gym, the indoor pool, and the spa. The Nile Plaza’s outdoor pool is a luxury reserved for hotel guests only, but in downtown Cairo an open air pool is not always ideal.
In the enormous indoor pool, complete with a spacious jacuzzi, and over-sized lounge chairs, natural light passes through a wall of glass that protects you from the elements. You can also order lunch by the pool from a special spa menu that features such healthy delicacies as grilled salmon, organic salads and lobster tartare.
The Nile Plaza day spa package is best suited for spa-lovers. If you can afford the treatments, there is the Cleopatra, a milk bath with honey and fresh rose petals, the Nile Journey, a body wrap with Egyptian clay, or the Moroccan Indulgence, two hours of body scrub, exfoliation and full massage.
But even if you only enjoy the amenities included in the price, you get a lot of options—gym, swim, or soak. Just stepping into the spa’s waiting room gives you that “I am in a five-star hotel feeling,” thanks to the scent of lemongrass, and the complimentary ginger tea, cucumber-infused ice water and green apples.
Both men and women’s spas feature a hot Jacuzzi, cold plunge pool, sauna and steam room, for before or after a swim, treatment or workout. One of the spa’s unique features is the relaxation room (also gender-specific). White leather Italian lounges face windows overlooking the Nile. Opening hours are from 6 am to 10 pm.
The Sofitel Gezira
This pool is one of the most enticing in Cairo. It sits almost directly on the Nile and gets the benefit of a cool breeze even on the hottest days. The lounges have white canopies that billow in this gentle wind, making the poolside area look like something on a magazine cover. The infinity pool is not exactly a serious lap swimmer’s dream, but it is big enough and you cannot beat the view.
On a weekend, EGP 400 gets you into the pool, spa, and gym, and on weekdays the charge is EGP 300. The Sofitel’s cylindrical shape ensures Nile views from almost every room, and the gym is no exception. SPA, as it is called, has a Jacuzzi, steam-room and a hammam with in-water chaises for ultimate relaxation and relief for sore muscles, while looking out over a pool-and-Nile view.
SPA offers a selection of body treatments that include a chocolate massage or a chocolate body wrap (a seasonal specialty, winter only), and a Japanese anti-wrinkling technique known as Ko Bi Do Youthfulness Facial Massage. Opening hours are from 7 am to 10 pm.
The Grand Nile Tower
A visit to the two-level gym with Nile views, a spacious pool with a mosaic design, and a full spa, can be yours for EGP 400. If you just want to go for a swim, access is only EGP 200. The advantage of the pool is its vast size and the fact that there is a separate kids’ pool, so you can swim your laps in peace. If you stay in Garden City or Manial this hotel is easy to reach and for EGP 200 it is one of the more affordable places in Cairo to enjoy a day at the pool.
The Grand Nile Tower’s spa, The Royal Club, is more ornate in its décor and atmosphere, with a formal, traditional elegance. There is a jacuzzi, steam room and sauna, and a list of treatments that reads like a health food menu, such as cucumber and apple, and fresh fruit and yogurt scrubs. The gym is bigger than most hotel workout centres and offers more equipment, appealing to serious workout enthusiasts.
But recreational users can take advantage of the fact that Grand Nile Tower is attached to a mall with shops and a movie theatre—after a day of exercise, entertainment awaits right next door. Opening hours are from 6 am to midnight.
The Semiramis Intercontinental
From Downtown you have easy access to a spacious pool area, spa and gym. This property has a unique ambience, inspired by the international clientele. This multiculturalism provides colour and a lively energy.
The recreation area where the pool, spa and gym are located, occupies a large terrace overlooking the Nile and the corniche. The pool, shaped like a four-leafed clover, is not the place for swimming laps, but the space is ideal for sunning and socialising, or working on a laptop while lounging.
If you just want to get a tan and splash around in the water, the day rate is EGP 200 for pool only. Add on the health club for another EGP 300 for a full day of pampering. There are more options for women, who can use the larger mixed gym on the same floor as the pool, or a smaller women-only gym, which includes a relaxation room with lounges.
Both include the option of a sauna, steam bath, jacuzzi and plunge pool. If you are going to be in Cairo for ten days or more, you can choose the ten-visit package, which allows you to choose between gym and spa or pool, for EGP 1300 per person, or EGP 2000 per couple.
The Intercontinental features several in-house restaurants, the poolside grill being just one option. The Birdcage, an Asian fusion restaurant of local renown, occupies the mezzanine. And the ground floor offers a bank, a pharmacy, a florist and several boutiques, including New Man, where you can always pick up an Egyptian cotton shirt or dress, or bathing trunks (men only) in case you had forgotten to bring them along. Opening hours are from 7 am to 10 pm.
The Conrad Hotel
Just north of downtown this hotel caters to business travellers and offers a fitness centre and pool tailored to relieve fatigue and stress. The state of the art gym, with ten cardio machines, five treadmills, five bikes and a cross trainer and stepper, also offers an abundance of free weights. Trained fitness professionals are on hand to offer advice and help you get the workout you need. The spa includes a sauna and steam room and offers Swedish or Thai massages.
The Conrad pool, on a terrace over the Nile, serves serious swimmers and recreation seekers alike, with space for lounging next to the 17-metre pool. The corporate ambience of this property keeps the average age over 21, meaning there are few distractions from children as you swim your laps or soak up the sun. Arguably the proximity to the World Trade Centre makes the hotel a good location for business clientele, and this keeps the overall atmosphere civilised and refined. It is truly an escape from the chaos of the city. The price for a day of pool, gym and spa access is EGP 300 and the opening hours are from 8 am to 11 pm.
The Pyramisa Hotel
Located in Dokki, just over the bridge from Zamalek, this hotel offers one of the most affordable pool and gym deals in town. You can get a workout in this large property, which often caters to tour groups, for EGP 150 and an extra EGP 50 will also let you use the pool. Back when tourism was booming these reasonable prices would mean the pool was likely to be crowded. But with the decrease in package tours and tourism in Egypt in general, this is less likely to be a problem. The pool is also protected from the noise of the city, positioned within the hotel’s courtyard.
The Pyramisa’s fitness centre has a broader vision in addition to offering the usual steam, sauna and gym equipment. Karlovy Vary, the hotel’s health centre features a team of specialists who can help visitors who want to lose weight. They offer a water cure, electrotherapy, and can test the metabolism and other reasons for weight gain. The Facial Beauty Centre offers skin regeneration, scrubbing and lifting, muscle toning and lymph draining. Opening hours are from 8 am to 7 pm.
Le Meredien Pyramids
This hotel offers one of the most spectacular swimming experiences in Cairo, float and splash around in full view of the nearby Giza Pyramids. The pool is also one of the best in town and includes a pool bar, a waterfall, sun beds, a children’s pool, a wave-runner, and underwater massage jets. The large pool is designed for recreation, but it is long enough to enjoy a serious swim. Fortunately there is also plenty of lounging space, which is important because lounging in sight of the pyramids is an unforgettable experience.
Pool access only costs EGP 200, but for EGP 300 the Explore Spa and Chill Out Zone is included. Sleekly renovated in a European style, the spa offers a steam bath and jacuzzi, tanning beds and a world-class gym. One can easily spend an entire day going back and forth from a workout, to a swim, to a spa treatment, to an hour on the treadmill or cross trainer.
Spa treatments include an Arabic Coffee Scrub, a 25 minute Power Facial, to revitalise the skin, an Indian-style head and face massage, a Red Sea Buff, involving scented salts, and a detox and slimming treatment, which stimulates the lymphatic system using algae and other marine essences, to remove cellulite-causing toxins.
All the options to relax and/or work out offered by Le Meredien Pyramids are guaranteed to let you enjoy a wonderful day. We recommend you end the day at sunset, when you can watch the last rays of the sun disappear behind the Great Pyramid. This is a property with a pool and day spa that is worth coming out of the city to explore. Opening hours are from 8 am to 7 pm.