Believe it or not, there are those of us who are not fond of lodging in five star hotels, and no it’s not about being finicky.
To the grounded, more down-to-earth of the wealthy human race, the joy of traveling, or treating oneself to a getaway weekend, resides in a certain type of comfort, one that comes without the unnecessary royal treatment.
While some find comfort in constantly being pampered, my camp – and I am certain I am not alone – cherishes some room for a “do it yourself experience, and that’s precisely what I got at Staybridge Suites at Cairo’s CityStars.
Located only minutes away from Cairo International Airport and nestled among the grandiose CityStars hotel complex, this one-year-old estate offers an alternative to conventional hotels.
Between the fifth and 17th floor, and housing a total of 140 suites that vary between studios, one, two, three bedroom and penthouse apartments, Staybridge’s goal is to make you feel at home when you’re far from it.
Think Sinai’s hut-based Basata, and multiply that with 100 times luxury.
The clientele? Well everyone is welcome, but the space seems to best fit those in Cairo for long stays on business projects and anyone who is shuttling between homes.
An overnight stay
I arrived at the Staybridge lobby around noon on a Wednesday. Not having had my morning coffee, and I am quite the addict, all I hoped for was a cappuccino as I waited for my suite to be ready. But my simple desire was quickly topped when I was introduced to coffee-haven: the hub kitchen.
Although its function extends to more than 24/7 freshly brewed coffee that is only a button away, during my overnight stay I had enough coffees enough to keep an entire classroom awake for a whole day.
The hub kitchen is one of the many common spaces at Staybridge designed to bring its guests together, a way of creating a sense of family in a this giant home. A modern bar is set in the middle room, around which are marble counters and wooden cabinets that carry cutlery, plates, cups and the coffee machine. The hub also houses a public fridge.
After a cappuccino, I decided to catch some warm weather out on the terrace while finishing up some work. I picked up my laptop and enjoyed an afternoon of news, breeze, coffee and free internet.
The terrace is a simple arrangement of bamboo chairs and tables capable of hosting a few dozen guests at a time; but on weekdays, while most guests are out and about, it seemed reserved only for a hand full.
Midway through the afternoon my overnight partner joined me for more coffee at the terrace. At around six, we both put down our work to join the rest of our family for an after work reception, a social gathering of food and drinks hosted by the hospitable staff of Staybridge.
The after work reception is hosted in the heart of the hotel, the hub kitchen, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Again, the idea is to bring the guests together for a couple of hours of socializing in line with the hotel’s concept of creating a homey feel.
Wednesday night is barbecue night; we were treated to juicy grills including boneless chicken, red meat chops and kofta. A plethora of oriental dips were also on offer: tahina, labna, baba ghanouch and hummus.
Drinks include a variety of drinks, including water, sodas, beer and wine.
For my second serving, I went straight the vegetables platter, where I treated myself to a baked potato cut in half and wrapped in aluminum foil, alongside a variety of perfectly crunchy greens.
After dinner, we took our luggage and headed to our home for the night, a one-bedroom executive suite overlooking the pool at the InterContinental.
The suite is modernly furnished, with a lot of beiges and browns. The living room is warmed up with a lazy boy, a sofa bed and a huge LCD screen that functions as a full entertainment unit, not just a TV (you can check the weather, set an alarm clock and get a visual tour of the hotel).
The kitchen is equipped with everything you will ever need, from a corkscrew to Tupperware to store leftover food. It also houses a hot plate, a microwave and a dishwasher. But since we were only staying for one night, the first-nighter kit came to our rescue. Geared up with a pack of microwave popcorn, a variety of teas and bottled water, this collection is a perfect welcome package.
At Staybridge, breakfast is served at the hub between 6:30-9:30 am. Don’t think Spanish omelets being flipped fancily; it’s simpler than that. The breakfast menu is neatly displayed along the bar and surrounding the counters as guests individually pick up a plate from the rack and serve themselves.
Items displayed included omelets, sausages, porridge, foul, cereals, different kinds of cheese, a variety of pastries, juice and fresh fruit, and of course, coffee.
After breakfast, we headed out to the pool at the InterContinental, to which all Staybridge guests have free access. It was a little chilly for a swim, but we enjoyed an early breeze while reading the newspaper.
Following a serve-yourself philosophy, Staybridge guests are encouraged to purchase detergent at the pantry, a mini-store located in the lobby, and do their own laundry at ‘Socks ‘n’ Smalls’, a laundry room in the hotel’s basement equipped with nine washing machines and dryers. In the meantime, head over to the gym room next door, dubbed ‘Body Shop’ for a workout while your clothes get a facelift.
No one here is expected to pick up your plate after you, but the service is impeccable, making this place warmer than any of its traditional kinds. And although we only stayed for one night, it didn’t feel like a rush, because it’s almost effortless to get yourself comfortable at Staybridge.
Staybridge Suites Makram Ebeid St.,Citystars, Heliopolis Cairo