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, I thought it almost looked too good to be true: 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 that overlooked the River Nile and we could be there in a mere three weeks time. A couple of hours later and we had the trip booked.
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 (and, to be completely honest, obsessed is probably putting it lightly). Despite the fact I have never actually studied the country itself, I am still fascinated by it. Now, I was beyond excited to finally be going and I was not going to be disappointed.
My holiday to Egypt was easily one of the best trips I have ever been on but not just for the reasons I expected, i.e. the ruins. The hotel also made my trip what it was.
July in Egypt is unpleasantly hot – my holiday buddy almost passed out trying to walk around Karnak Temple complex and I wasn’t far behind. In that heat, you can only really 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 (chicken wings and spring rolls to be precise) which were delivered to our room before we went to bed. When we awoke the next morning, we found we could see a bit of the Nile from our window – 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 since we weren’t in one of the main Nile-view rooms. Admittedly, not all of the fixtures and fittings in our room were pristine but they were clean and tidy and functional, and that’s what matters.
Outside our hotel, we were hassled endlessly by taxi drivers, horse and cart drivers, tour guides, market sellers and staff working at the cultural sites but inside the hotel it was like our own little sanctuary. On the website, we’d seen that there were two pools. One was the circular one overlooking the river and the other felt like a little lagoon, complete with a whirlpool (i.e. a hot tub), and it 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 where we made our home. We practically spent 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 the hotel to be full 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 slight 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 really 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 that were quite cold but you could get custom-filled omelettes on request and the pastry selection was worth getting up for – as was the view of the Nile from the restaurant’s terrace. 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 am aware that these aren’t exactly cultural food options but don’t worry, I did branch out at other times!)
I wasn’t travelling on the tightest of budgets during this trip but, having just finished being a student at the time, I was still on a budgets of sorts and, I have to say, this trip was worth every penny.
Click here to see my review of the Sheraton Hotel in Brussels