I found myself roped into quasi-bridesmaid duties last May when a friend was getting married. She was having guests from out of town stay at the Fairmont Nile City hotel and I, in a (naïvely blithe) spirit of cheerful goodwill, volunteered to also stay there that weekend to help coordinate activities and show them around the city.
The wedding (in another location) was fantastic, and the bridal guests thoroughly enjoyed their weekend in Cairo, most of which they spent inside the hotel when they could. It was hard not to. Cairo’s most anticipated party of the season was being thrown a day before on the rooftop around the pool and wrangling invites for us all was a feat for the bride. The theme was “Manhattan Glamour” and when we all reached the roof, it was hard not to feel as glamorous as Carrie Bradshaw and friends.
The (roughly) 270 degree view of Cairo from the hotel’s rooftop is stunning: views of old villas on the banks of the Zamalek island peer at the hotel across the water. Great portions of Cairo often hidden from the usual vantage points of Garden City or Giza based hotels are revealed. Shanty towns, industrial zones, wide expanses of green and the city’s skyscrapers are all part of the panorama on the 25th floor.
The pool offers a sense of peace and tranquility far from the maddening crowds of the Maspero corniche below. Comfortable large lounge beds and bright sunshine were enough for the bridal couple and their guests to unwind during the early afternoon with some post-wedding gossip and poolside beverages of assorted flavored granitas.
A great lunch menu is also set for poolside dining, and convenient considering that one spends their entire day until sunset bathing and tanning. During the World Cup, guests watch matches on large screens as the sun sets on Cairo.
As part of the Nile Towers complex of office buildings, malls and restaurants, the hotel is intended to serve as a meeting point for businessmen and serve the numerous companies around. But in addition, with several interesting food outlets and interiors that are so cool and muted, the hotel is slowly becoming a meeting point for both business and pleasure by locals.
The warm interiors of the hotel and the various concepts for the hotel’s dining outlets are novel in the city. A seasonal menu at Napa Grill is great for lunches and dinners, a great brunch buffet hosted on Fridays stretches from the Vietnamese restaurant Saigon Blu to Napa Grill replete with seafood, Asian fare and local specialties.
The hotel’s lobby area is kept simple with a few works of art by notable Egyptian artists, and beautiful large white vases by the elevators are always arranged with bouquets of fresh flowers.
Elements of feng shui have been incorporated into the interiors with water features, stone and wood being used throughout the lobby. Contemporary and cool without being obnoxious, there’s something quite inviting about it all.
My Nile-view room was on the 18th floor, and I would argue the Fairmont Nile City has the most comfortable beds in town. The linens were soft and silky, pillows just right in thickness. With a flat screen TV and delicious artisanal chocolates prepared in house by my bedside, it was fun to simply laze about in bed for a while before getting up to attend to the duties assigned by the bride.
The hotel’s bathrooms are also in line with contemporary cool without compromising on intimacy and comfort. Toiletries by Miller Harris of London, marble tiled in soft shades of beiges. A rainfall showerhead and a bathtub big enough for two would make for ideal romantic getaways should anyone have the inclination, but do slide shut the shutters that screen the bathroom from the bedroom. If alone, a clear view of outside is offered to take in whilst in the bathroom through the bathroom’s clear glass wall. A mood killer or mood enhancer, however you want to see it.
The hotel’s central location is ideal should you need to run an errand in the city or wish to venture out for awhile. The laundry service was prompt and efficient as tested by the groomsman who required a suit to be laundered in mere hours. Taking into account the harried orders and demands the bridal party required in the build up to the wedding, staff were always courteous and helpful.
Breakfast is not to be missed at any cost: a great buffet of continental and local breakfast items are on offer, take up the suggestion of blueberry pancakes, and you’ll order a second round. Perfect pancakes.
Since its soft launch last fall, the Fairmont Nile City hotel has been hosting quite a few celebrity guests: Salma Hayek and hubby Francois-Henri Renault stayed there as did Lucy Liu last November during the International Cairo Film Festival. Gordan Ramsay too was snapped at the hotel in chef whites amusingly standing in the kitchens.
But to Cairo’s residents, there’s something perceptible about this new hotel: it’s as cool as the young guests who are now favoring this hotel versus Cairo’s stuffier alternatives. It’s practically located, food and service are top notch and seeing as there’s always something going on, there’s always a reason to head over or even stay for a night or two to unwind.
With comfortable beds, soft linens and a flat screen TV, it’s fun to simply laze about in your room.