When I looked down at my phone over the summer to find a string of messages from my over-excited soon-to-be holiday buddy, squealing about a deal she’d found online. It almost looked too good: flights to Egypt, seven nights at the Sheraton Hotel, transfers and breakfast thrown in for less than £500. The photos of the resort looked amazing, with its big, circular pool, overlooking the River Nile and we could be there in a mere three weeks time. A couple of hours later, we were booked in.
Egypt is somewhere I’ve wanted to go since the age of about 10. As an ancient history student, I am obsessed with all things really, really old- obsessed is probably putting it lightly- and despite the fact I had not been able to study the country itself, I was still fascinated by it. I was beyond excited.
My holiday to Egypt was easily one of the best I have ever been on, but not just for the reasons I expected- the ruins. One of those reasons was the hotel. July in Egypt is unpleasantly hot; my holiday buddy almost past out trying to walk around the complex that is Karnak Temple and I wasn’t far behind. In that heat, you should be out for a few hours in the morning or the afternoon in order to see the sites of the ancient world and then the rest of the time you need to be somewhere cool. Thankfully, the Sheraton provided that.
As we entered our room for the first time, in one of the ‘bungalows’ outside of the main building, we were thrilled. Our twin room had two double beds and there was a sofa at the end of the room, under an arch, below the window. As it was about midnight by the time we had checked in, we ordered some late night room service (i.e. chicken wings and spring rolls) which were delivered to our room and went to bed. When we awoke the next morning, we found that our window overlooked the Nile itself- if you stood on the sofa and craned your head over the building in front. Still, a view is a view, and we hadn’t expected one in our bungalow. Admittedly, in the room, not all of the fixtures and fittings were pristine but they were clean and tidy and functional, and that’s what matters.
Outside the gates of the hotel, we were hassled endlessly, from taxi drivers, horse cart drivers, tour guides, market sellers and staff working at the cultural sites, but the hotel was our little sanctuary. On the website, we’d seen that there were two pools. One was the circular one overlooking the river and the other was lagoon-esque, complete with a whirlpool (aka a hot tub) and was right next to our bedroom door. We’d thought we’d spend our time by the Nile but it was in the latter pool in which we made our home. We spend days in there. When we came back from our excursions, we’d transform into our bikinis- under our delightful air-con- and launch ourselves into the cool water. I never wanted to leave.
I had expected crowds of holidaymakers but it was actually much quieter than I had anticipated. It therefore felt like we almost had the run of the place. We never had to worry about reserving a sun-lounger, in fact all the guests seemed to have their own regular beds. As we got into a routine, the place started to feel more homely. We also received excellent service from the friendly staff, who brought us food and cocktails by the poolside, served us drinks even when we got in after a long day and the bar was closing, taught us Arabic words each morning and made us Egyptian tea for breakfast. My only complaint was that wifi came at an extra charge- and not a cheap one at that- but on the other hand, we did get a free 45 minutes per room in the lobby every day and it was actually quite nice to be forced away from my phone and the outside world.
Generally, the food was great. I didn’t sample all of the breakfast options and I did end up with some pancakes which were cold but you could get custom-filled omelettes on request and the pastry selection was worth getting up for. My pizza was a bit disappointing on one occasion but on another my spaghetti bolognese was the perfect comfort food after we’d had a bit of a tough evening in the city. My chicken and cheese sandwich was also the perfect last meal before we had to go. (Note: I know these aren’t all cultural food options but don’t worry, I did branch out at other times!)
I know that on this trip I wasn’t travelling on the tightest budget but, being a student, I’m always on a budget of sorts and, on this occasion, I thought it was worth every penny.
Click here to see my review of the Sheraton Hotel in Brussels