Today, the idea of travel has changed extensively. From just lazing around in island resorts, the concept of travel has metamorphosed into something more experiential in nature. The travellers of today want to experience local cultures that would enrich their intellect. And when one needs to do this within a short period, the most important thing is to stay at a place that gives you easy access to all that a country has to offer. We pick out a few hotels in the land of pharaohs that embody the spirit of the country.
Hotels listed here are based on reviews on TripAdvisor and given in no particular order, and
the price given is at the time of writing. It may change based on demand.
Sofitel Legend Old Cataract
Closest airport: Aswan International Airport, 18 kilometres from Sofitel Legend Old Cataract
Price per room: $200 per night
Located in the Nubian Desert on the banks of the Nile, Sofitel Legend Old Cataract is a Victorian building with modern rooms and suites decorated with wooden furniture. The hotel offers four restaurants with international and oriental dishes and is equipped with indoor and outdoor pools.
Since the ancient times, Aswan is popular for its environmental therapy, with people believing that its sand had healing properties for ailments such as rheumatism, arthritis, and other joint troubles. There are still places in Aswan where one might enjoy therapeutic treatments.
The rich culture of Nubians, with their music and dance performances is held at the Culture Centre for tourists. For those of interested in bird watching, the two islands of Salouga and Ghazal in the River Nile are about three kilometres north of Aswan Dam and is home to 60 kinds of rare birds. Other popular historical sites like the Nubian Museum, the Unfinished Obelisk, Tombs of the Nobles, and the Temple of Philae are only at a distance of 5kms from the hotel, making the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract an ideal place to stay in Aswan.
Closest airport: Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport, 90 kilometres from Dahab Paradise
Price per room: $50 per night
Dahab is the ultimate laid-back, low-key, budget-friendly town compared to its counterparts like Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada coastal towns. Dahab Paradise is set between the Red Sea Mountains and the Gulf of Aqaba and offers panoramic views of the Sinai Mountain. The rooms feature traditional architecture with ornate furniture and have private balconies overlooking the
A 10 minutes’ drive will take you to the Dahab town centre. Dahab is popular for having the world’s most deadly diving spot, Blue Hole, a 120-metre-deep sinkhole. Experienced and well-prepared divers should only undertake this signature dive, as there are more chances of nitrogen narcosis to get hold of the divers at depths more than 30metres.
For the amateur diver among us, Dahab’s Eel Garden is another spot popular for snorkelling. Barracudas and rare sea grass ghost pipefishes are also spotted here.
From Dahab, there are hiking tours that will take tourists to Mount Sinai, the second highest mountain in Sinai. This place is historically relevant as it is the site where Moses received the Ten Commandments. St. Catherine, the oldest working monastery, is also located nearby. Few kilometres from there lies the Blue Desert, where rock formations were painted in blue by Jean Verame, the Belgian artist in 1980, to commemorate the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
In recent times, Dahab has become popular for adventure sports like windsurfing, kite surfing, wakeboarding, sand boarding, mountain-biking, and rock-climbing.
Four Seasons Hotel
Alexandria at San Stefano
Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Four Seasons Hotel is set on an architectural landmark. A full-service spa, outdoor pool and nine restaurants with terraces serving options from Lebanese and Italian fine-dining to contemporary Mediterranean favourites, and a Shisha bar are available.
Alexandria is the most influenced by the Greco Roman period in Egypt.
After the fall of the Ancient Egyptian Empire in the 4th century BC, foreign and native powers tried to gain control over the area, but eventually, in 332 BCE it was Alexander the Great that was able to free Egyptians from the Persians who were in control then. Alexander accepted the Egyptian religion associating it with the Gods of the Greek Pantheon, and though leaving Egypt in 334 BC, the impact he had was permanent.
The Ptolemaic Dynasty, established by one of his generals after Alexander’s death, would rule Egypt for three hundred years and the influence of Hellenism influenced the area and its people for much longer. A famous example of this influence are the catacombs of Kom El Shuqafa, the largest and most important burial site dating back to the Greco Roman period in Egypt, which is located east of Pompey’s Pillar, the biggest memorial column in Egypt. Another sight to watch out for is the Roman Amphitheatre.
If adventure still baits your mind, a must visit location is the Siwa Oasis. A seven-hour journey into the Western desert from Alexandria, it is only 50 kilometres away from the Libyan border.
The inhabitants of Siwa Oasis are ethnically Berber, and their mother tongue is the Berber language called Siwi, though nearly all Siwis speak Arabic as a second language and many can also speak some English.
With 23,000 people only, it is the most isolated place in the country. Temple of the Oracle, about four kilometres east of Siwa Town is where the coronation of Alexander the Great supposedly took place.
There is also Cleopatra’s Bath on the way to the Oracle Temple, a popular bathing spot for locals and tourists alike.
To be isolated from the outside world, Adrere Amellal is the best place to stay for the night, a lodge built completely out of mud and is solely candle-lit, overlooking an oasis.