Things to know before Booking hotels in Egypt.

Things were weird while we were booking hotels in Egypt. Prices were higher, and quality seemed poorer when we read the reviews. The starless hotel rooms in Thailand were better than these 3* ones in Egypt. Wondering why it was so, we decided to switch to BnBs, and many folks suggested it isn’t a good idea. There were many incidents where hosts cancelled online bookings at the last moment, and hotel rooms charged them more. This was the first-ever time we found booking a hotel room difficult. 

Later, Ms Mona Hamdi from  Your Egypt tours came to our rescue. She wrote: “The hotel star ratings in Egypt are different from those in the US or Canada. For example, a 5-star standard hotel in Egypt would be more like a 4-star hotel in the US or Canada.”

Does Egypt have good tourism?

I can’t claim Egypt to have the richest history in the world. But I am sure it is the top five contenders. So exotic landscapes to Before Christ history, there is a lot to experience in Egypt. So Egyptians are used to receiving travellers.

How does Egypt treat tourists?

Egyptians welcome tourists warm-heartedly. They are proud of their heritage and want the world to know about it. So tourism is booming in this developing country. However, to know why booking hotels in Egypt is tricky, you must know a bit of tourism history in the nation.

When did tourism in Egypt start?

The tourism trade dates back to the 18th century. Then, it was mainly Egyptologists and Treasure hunters (and looters) who arrived in Egypt. After the 2011 revolution, democratic Egypt saw tourism potential for commoners beyond researchers. So Egypt may be richest in its heritage, but tourism is taking baby steps – But the baby is making progress exponentially.

Once we began to travel around Egypt, it didn’t take long to realise why travellers were confused about booking a hotel in Egypt. Accommodation in Egypt with Hygiene, safety and views at a lower price is something you have to hunt for. Though we were reluctant to book even those 3* hotels, we did so. We are glad that we didn’t settle for anything less. The stay would have been terrible otherwise in the game of saving money.

So here is a complete guide for booking hotels in Egypt without hassles.

Index

Why choosing accommodation a big deal in Egypt?

Mannequins on a balcony of a cafe in Old Cairo's old building

The only pedestrian-friendly street we found was beautifully ancient Old Cairo

Most cities in Egypt are not pedestrian-friendly. A random evening stroll at the end of your day or roaming around the alleys in search of a good cafe is not easy in Egypt ( Except in Old Cairo). The streets are dingy, not so clean and unsafe late in the evenings. We did not find street-side cafes where you can laze around for hours together like Santorini, Istanbul, Bruges or Isfahan. So at the end of the day, you will only have to spend your time in the room after you finish visiting the places.

When we went in the winter, the afternoons were warmer. Evenings used to be 8C & nights were as cold as 3C to 5C in Giza. Even if you don’t mind walking in the dingy streets of Giza, the cold may kill you. In summer temperature will be as high as 35C. Spending an afternoon under the pricking heat will drain your energy. You will be waiting to crash in your AC room at the end of your day.

With all this, a decent room in a good location and the best views at a lower price may seem like a task. But trust me; It matters more than you think. The standard of Egyptian hotels is not comparable to similar ones in other western countries. For example, three* hotel in India is better than Egypt’s four* hotels. The hostel might be a good option to save money, but I doubt their hygiene.

Cemnted plastered unfinished building with NUbian vault at NUbian village

The Nubian village is still making its way into tourism

Tourism is one of the main of income in Egypt. But safety and hygiene maintenance aren’t on the nation’s priority list. We have never researched where to stay as much as we did for Egypt. That was useful.

How to choose hotels in Egypt, then?

Most likely, while booking rooms anywhere, we always book rooms in the neighbourhood where more locals live than tourists—we look out for some cafes or eateries to hang out in the evening stroll. For Egypt, Keeping your budget in mind, pick a hotel where you can spend your evenings or afternoons in the room enjoying a view.

Should you stay in Cairo or Giza?

Cairo's tower made of concrete and glass

The Cairo tower area is considered the area where wealthy people live.

Most tourists get confused if they should stay in Cairo or Giza. Cairo is on the east bank, and Giza is on the west bank of the river Nile. The Mummy museum was in Cairo (shifted to Giza in 2021), while the Pyramids are in Giza. Cairo being the country’s capital is a cosmopolitan city. So it has many restaurants, cafes, malls, Belly dance clubs, and casinos with a happening nightlife. Compared to Cairo, Giza is a smaller town with limited restaurant options. In Giza, you have neither fancy cruise dinners nor a nightlife vibe. But it is where the mighty Pyramids stand. So do you want to stay comfortably in the cosmopolitan city of Cairo overlooking the river or in the small town of Giza overlooking the breathtaking Pyramids?

clear view of giza pyramid with sphinx  compared with blurred view of the same after sandstorm

For us, the only thing that mattered was “The Pyramids.” You can stay in a lovely city in any part of the world. Having a view of the ancient Pyramids, every minute possible matters most. Hence we chose Giza. We ate, slept, walked and talked with the Pyramids right in front of us. We witnessed a bad sandstorm hiding the pyramids and revealing them slowly as if someone had slid the curtain aside magically.

PICTURE SHOWING PYRAMIDS BEFORE AND AFTER SANDSTORM ON THE SAME DAY

Where to stay in Giza

Egypt Pyramid inn hotel. ( Not a star hotel). However, I recommend it as it was worth every rupee we paid. It had the view we longed for; the rent was cheap, the breakfast was good, and the staff were friendly. The room was clean and comfortable, with an out-of-the-world view from the balcony. We have seen the pyramids at all possible times of the day. At 12 at the night, I could see Sphinx when I got up from sleep to use the loo. While having the Aish bread with Humus, I admired the pyramids from the terrace cafe. We watched the sun setting behind the Pyramids from our very own balcony. We watched the Pyramid Light show sitting on our hotel room bed. I could see the tip of the Pyramid from the tiny toilet ventilator! 

Egypt hotel balcony view with three pyramids and sphinx in the evening
Egypt hotel balcony view with three pyramids and sphinx in the morning
Egypt hotel balcony view with three pyramids and sphinx in the night

Dusk to Dawn – we have seen them all.

In Egypt Pyramid inn hotel, there is a rooftop breakfast area to soak yourself in the sun on a chilly winter morning ( Summers might be hard). The pyramid complex and Giza’s most famous Abou Shakra Restaurant are within walking distance from this hotel. If you are a Pizza hut fan, it is next to Abou Shakra restaurant.

Heads up: This Ground + 4-floor building is not handicap friendly as it did not have a lift back then. The hotel is not appealing from the outside. The route to the hotel may be filled with the thrash and stinks of Camel Dung. But the immediate hotel surrounding is better than the streets.

Indian traveller standing in Giza's hotel looking at the pyramids

Suppose you are fine with paying more money. In that case, the options for Giza-star hotels are –Marriott Mena House (5 *) &.Cairo Pyramids Steigenberger Hotel (5*).

Is it good to stay in Cairo?

Colossal statue of a pharoah with glass cladded ritz carlton hotel at Cairo

The pure contrast of ancient & modern in one picture

If we had to stay in Cairo, I would have opted for Tahrir Plaza Suites – Museum View. – Again, a budget-friendly hotel we saw near the Museum overlooking the river Nile. We were surprised to see The Nile Ritz Carlton almost attached to the compound wall of the old Museum. This is the best option if you want a luxurious stay overlooking the Nile within walking distance of the Museum.

Night camping in Egypt’s white desert or not?

White lime formation on the brown sand with traveller's tent beside

Sahana & Mamdouh waiting for fire in the morning – This is the best accommodation in Egypt.

Yes, you should, because it is epic!

Camping next to an enigmatic white lime formation on brown sand is a gripping experience. The night barbecue, traditional folk songs by your driver and guide ( who were more like our friends), and morning sunset that turns the white lime formations into soft honey is an experience everyone must-have.

White lime formation on brown sand in Egypt

This was the most thrilling part of our Egypt trip. Unless you can’t poop outdoors and are not ready to sleep in a tent, go camping in the white desert. Trust me; you won’t regret it.

If you aren’t ready for this and need a more sophisticated stay near the white desert-

Multiple small villages surround the western white desert. The one where we had lunch was called Bawiti. Date farms, Olive gardens fill this tiny village. With villagers on donkey carts, white brick houses, and date trees peeping out of the roofs – it is charming, less touched by tourism & underdeveloped in terms of basic facilities. Most tourists camp in the desert overnight like we did. If you want to return to the village to stay, you have limited options. The village’s famous lodge (or the only lodge) is Safari Camp, Bahariya Oasis. Before heading to the desert, you can stay in the village if you can talk to any villagers whom your driver or camp organiser recommends. 

Where to stay in Luxor

Bell shaped Egyptian columns with clerestory stone lattice at Luxor

Luxor spreads on the East and west bank of the Nile. Most important archaeological sites like the valley of kings with Tut’sTut’s Mummy + Seti’s tomb are on the west bank. That is where the hot air balloon ride starts too. But due to its Archeological significance, any building establishment is regulated on the west bank. So you have to stay on the East Bank or choose out of limited options at the edge of the west bank of Luxor.

Luxor isn’t a boring city, but different. The small town is famous among tourists, but most hotels/restaurant workers attend to customers weirdly. They weren’t mean but clueless about anything you asked for! Our guide asked them if there was a boat to the other bank in Arabic, and they arranged for a cab! Later they asked if we asked for a cruise! Our local guide Mahmoud said Luxor might receive lakhs of tourists, but they aren’t used to the tourism crowd.

View of nile from Luxor's hotel balcony
NOT SO IMPRESSIVE VIEW

Don’t consider the”view of Nile” as a criterion to choose the hotel in Luxor – because most star hotels get the Nile view. Luxor is different from Cairo. It is more like a large village than a town. Keep the proximity and location in mind. Look for hotels with bigger rooms in 4*. Before agreeing on the Lotus Luxor, we thought of confirming  Nefertiti Hotel closer to the Luxor temple. This could have been cheaper and better than the Lotus Luxor hotel.

WHERE DID WE STAY  Lotus Luxor hotel (3*). I do not recommend it. Neither bitter nor comfortable experience had. While we saw the photos on the internet, they looked excellent, with a good view of the Nile. In reality, it was not as good as the photos. The amenities were nowhere equal to a 3* hotel—compact rooms, tiny bathrooms, not so tasty breakfast; It was not worth the money.

Where to stay in Aswan

View of Nile from Aswan dam

Aswan is a city where you can make many days trips like the Nubian village, Abu Simbel, Edfu+Kom Ombo, and Philae. The main criteria for choosing the hotel are the locality. If you want to be away from the city, choose Nubian Village. The perks of staying in a Nubian village are that the rooms here are cheaper than Aswan’s. You get to stay in the colourful African Arabic village on the bank of the Nile. The disadvantage of staying in a Nubian village is that you are too far from town. You either have to take 10 min boat ride every time you want to go somewhere or take a long route of 30min car journey to the town. If you are on a tight schedule in Aswan, choose hotels on the Corniche. 

a woman Indian traveller sitting on a bench below below Colourcul arches making nubian vault

WHERE DID WE STAY– Basma Aswan,4* I recommend the hotel. But make sure to choose the rooms that look over the river, not the town. We forgot to do so and ended up having the “Not so impressive “view of the town from the balcony. However, the hotel felt like a 4* with excellent amenities, good views from the breakfast area, and an in-house gift shop.

Bad view of Aswan city from hotel balcony

If your budget allows you, go for Sofitel Legend Old Cataract. This is one of the oldest * expensive hotels in Aswan. Built by Britsh in the 1900s. Winston Churchill, Princess Diana and many other famous personalities stayed there. Agatha Christie wrote a portion of” Death on the Nile” here.

 Sofitel Legend Old Cataract hotel by the river nile side

Got more recommendations for better hotels in these cities? Let us know in the comment section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: