Whenever friends come to visit me from abroad, we usually head over to the Four Seasons Nile Plaza for some reason or another. How can we resist? The city’s premier luxury brand store Beymen is there, as is a lovely spa filled with all sorts of wonderful treatments, and some of the city’s best dining attractions.
It is also home to an extensive art collection commissioned exclusively for the hotel, a veritable who’s-who of the Egyptian contemporary art world, with works from notable names including Salah Taher, Effat Nagi, Gazbia Sirry and Rana Chalabi dotting the restaurants, lobby, suites and hallways.
When invited to experience a two-day package consisting of a complimentary breakfast at Zeitouni restaurant, a complimentary meal at either Bella or Zeitouni for lunch or dinner, and 25 percent off spa treatments, I felt giddy indeed.
After checking in with a girlfriend, lunch and a stroll through Beymen were in order. The Beymen Café was recently redesigned, out are the heavy velvet and dark colors, replaced with contemporary orange and silver furniture and lighting fixtures. The menu is extensive with colorful salads, classics such as salmon steak and tarte tatin. A new display case housing chocolates of all sorts is also on offer to purchase and take home.
A late afternoon swim and a session in the spa’s steam room slowly but surely wiped the city’s strain away from our eyes and bodies. We later met friends for a sumptuous oriental BBQ dinner around the pool, which at night is an ideal spot for a relaxed and calm evening.
A new dining experience, the all-you-can-eat BBQ includes various mezzas and tapas to share, fresh bread, beef and chicken cuts and succulent lobster, shrimp and seafood barbequed to perfection. Oriental sweets end the meal on a sweet note, all for LE 220++ per person.
Retiring to our bedroom later, the view of the Nile by night and a warm bath with soupy suds in the large bathroom served as the perfect nightcap. With the spacious room and big soft bed, it was too easy to get a good night’s sleep – and to top it off, insulated walls keep the city on mute throughout the night.
Breakfast at Zeitouni, the Lebanese restaurant, is a great start to the day. It’s mango season in Cairo and there are a wide variety of mangos and mango chutneys on offer at the extensive buffet. Oriental or continental, it’s all there. As are the fluffiest of pastries and freshest bread.
Having so indulged, a trip to the gym was necessary, and it’s easy to get in the mood to workout with such a spectacular view of the Nile.
Lunch was served at the hotel’s Italian restaurant Bella as sunlight filled the room through the large windows.
With a choice of an Italian antipasti buffet or the businessmen lunch, we opted for the latter which gave us the choice of an appetizer, main dish and dessert. The eggplant parmigiana with buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes, with yellow pepper coulis and olive sauce was an interesting medley of traditional flavors playing together in an unconventional way.
My roasted Australian beef fillet gratinated with gorgonzola cheese, served with herb grilled vegetables medium rare was perfect. The gorgonzola was made light and perfect for dip.
Although the various pastas and risottos were tempting, (the tagliatelle stuffed with artichoke, majoram flavored roasted prawns, caramelized capers and tomato oil), calories and space were saved for dessert. Mine was a chocolate fondant cake, with chocolate ice cream on the side.
What is so unique about Bella is that the menu defies the typical food labeled as Italian in Egypt. It is as authentic as the food I once ate in Rome. The use of cheeses is light, flavors are intense yet subtle. The plates are a work of art.
After two days and one night, I went back home revived yet slightly disappointed to find that no one left me designer soap in my bathroom.