Heba Elkayal

171 Articles

Latest by Heba Elkayal


100% Cairo: Novelty t-shirts with a sense of humor

It is often hard to find souvenirs in Egypt that aren’t kitsch or inexpensive. The battle for sourcing souvenirs is a battle waged by both locals seeking gifts for friends abroad and local expatriates hoping to find a little something for family back home. The key is to capture the thrill and madness that is …

Heba Elkayal

Exercise Magic Shoes? Perhaps

Over the past few years, a certain trend began to take form: exercise shoes that are meant to maximize the benefits of your day’s regular walking activities. Designed according to scientific standards, the body of the shoe increases the efficiency of your foot’s movement, affecting the rest of your body’s muscles more positively. The craze …

Heba Elkayal

Lifestyle Highlight: And All that Jazz

I will let my newest secret out of the bag because I am generous and really hope to see this place become alive: The Supper Club at the Fairmont Nile City hotel on the Maspero Corniche is the most charming little place to open up in Cairo recently. In the words of a friend, “It’s …

Heba Elkayal

Azza Fahmy and Preen create sensation on NY catwalk

Mere seconds after the Preen catwalk show was over, updates on Twitter and fashion blogs sprang up: Preen showed a sublime collection at New York’s Fashion Week in early February. Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune applauded it and Cathy Horyn of the New York Times wrote that it was “different in the best …

Heba Elkayal

Art of Form defines the art of living

As if a large showroom at the new furniture mall Designopolis isn’t enough, a new concept store has opened up in Beymen on the second floor. People have been clamoring for pieces from the furniture store since it opened last June, so much so that owner Shaden Abdel Hak opened a second outlet for her …

Heba Elkayal

A ritzy beach affair: Gouna for a weekend

It is a golfer’s paradise, a spa enthusiast’s dream and a surprising delight for foodies who have high expectations when dining. And oh yes, the beach experience isn’t too shabby either. Gouna, approximately 450 kilometers south of Cairo, is situated on the Red Sea en route to Hurghada, an easy four-hour drive from the capital …

Heba Elkayal

A deli you can't forget

It is not just a deli; Le Marché at the Farimont Heliopolis packs a great gastronomic punch for something as simple as sandwiches and salads, in addition to its novel L’Entrecôte lunch concept. Head Chef Hishem Lahreche, a French chef with Spanish and Algerian roots, and considerable experience in the kitchens of Lenôtre in France …

Heba Elkayal

Epitome of decadence? Becoming a chocolate dip

My mother would often tell me as a child never to play with my food; but I think this time around, I would be let off the hook considering I was on assignment – albeit a much appreciated assignment. To find out what’s on offer in Cairo this Valentine’s Day, I visited the Four Season …

Heba Elkayal

Bold yet not so beautiful

I, like most people interested in fashion, flick through a number of fashion magazines every month looking forward to the fashion layouts, the shoots and the very art present in each fashion editorial that has been assembled after hours of creative work. To my amusement, and slight shock, an American magazine by the name of …

Heba Elkayal

Adding spice to oh la la

Once again, the Fairmont Towers Hotel has introduced a new dining concept to Cairo. Last time, it was a re-adaptation of classic American grilled fare. This time, it’s French-Vietnamese cuisine at Saigon Bleu. A history of French colonialism has left a strong influence that is rarely employed Vietnamese cuisine. Previously, the capital Hanoi was referred …

Heba Elkayal

48 hours in Alexandria

Spring in Aleppo, summer in Tripoli and winter in Alexandria, went an adage I recently heard and I must here concur. Winter in Alexandria is a treat for anyone who lives most of the year in a city like Cairo. Alexandria has a particular character during the winter months, brightened by the fact that it …

Heba Elkayal

In the making: Nile Ritz-Carlton

No one was fooled when the iconic Nile Hilton sign above the storied downtown building was changed last year to The Nile Hotel – and the emotions it evoked were surprisingly strong. Once renovation works are complete, the landmark property will debut as the Nile Ritz-Carlton, with the opening expected in 2012. It is the …

Heba Elkayal

Yoga at sunset, stargazing at night: Jaz Little Venice offers a slice of heaven

Just an hour and half’s drive away from my doorstop in Heliopolis, Jaz Little Venice, Ain Sokhna, offers a unique take on the typical resort experience in Egypt. Labeling itself a boutique hotel, it defies the comical stereotypes or pretensions most often associated with the concept. First, the beautiful lobby is visually rewarding. An Islamic …

Heba Elkayal

Japanese fare with a gourmet twist at Haiku

The Fairmont Heliopolis recently opened its second restaurant, Haiku, which serves authentic Japanese food with a slight twist; and the result is simply sumptuous. The menu, littered with ingredients that conjure images of Japan, is adorned with willowy cherry blossom trees and Harajuku girls; calligraphy and serene scenery. Just as Japan today is a fantastic …

Heba Elkayal

Willy Wonka is in the kitchen

Nestled in a discreet corner of the First Mall is La Maison Blanche, the latest offering at the high-end luxury shopping center where the likes of Bulgari and Tiffany’s rub shoulders with Club 35, one of Cairo’s liveliest nightspots. At the helm of the kitchen is Thierry Papillier, a young chef whose extensive experience in …

Heba Elkayal

YEAREND SPECIAL: New gem rises from the rubble

On the road of Muiz li-Din Illah, that famed thoroughfare of Fatimid and Mamluk Cairo, is a new gem of a hotel. A small boutique hotel named Le Riad Hotel de Charme, it shares the same street address as some of the Mamluk era’s greatest examples of architectural and artistic achievements. Landmarks such as the …

Heba Elkayal

YEAREND SPECIAL: Break out brands of the year

Locally inspired and locally driven, three brands have appeared on the local fashion scene in Egypt earlier on in the year, causing heads to turn and people to talk about new talent emerging from Egypt. El Horreya Four friends, one vision: create pieces that are somewhat ethnic, locally produced, reinterpret traditional fabrics and create original …

Heba Elkayal

YEAREND SPECIAL: Trends 2009: The good, the bad and the ugly

Fashion trends this year for both men and women have been very original. Certainly, there was a great departure from the recent trends of over the top fashion statements and overt displays of wealth. Egypt has followed suit with the moods and trends of both Europe and the US by adopting a more refined and …

Heba Elkayal

YEAREND SPECIAL: Aperitivo: A new culinary landmark

Two weeks since its opening and people can’t seem to stop talking about Aperitivo, Bodega’s latest offering to Cairo. It’s a reinterpretation of Italian dining traditions of the 1930s; and the dining room itself too is a reminder of the grand opulence that once was Cairo. It didn’t take too long for La Bodega to …

Heba Elkayal

YEAREND SPECIAL: Top new restaurants of 2009

It has been a good year for food in Egypt. High end restaurants, where dining is a process, and more modest establishments have popped up all over the city. Looking back, the five that have stood out were exceptional because of their service, the quality of their dishes, the novelty of their menus, their dining …

Heba Elkayal

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Matthew Williamson's Greek goddess turns punk

Matthew Williamson’s debut last week had Cairo abuzz, part of the weeklong promotional launch held for SODIC’s new development Forty West. A fashion show was organized in conjunction with HIP Boutique, the lone store in Egypt that carries pieces from his prêt-a-porter and eveningwear collections. Thirty looks were revealed on the catwalk, an amalgamation of …

Heba Elkayal

Move over Hermes: Hipper scarves worth collecting

  They have been spotted around town and they are quite striking: scarves brightly saturated in color with a vivid print of evil eyes by a brand that is growing in popularity both locally and internationally. Their silk is rich and heavy, a thick blend of silk chiffon. Otrera is the brand, and Elle Sakellis …

Heba Elkayal

Fits to a T(riangle): All by N Scarves

Scarf trends last year got a little original: take an ordinary rectangle scarf and fold it into a triangle. Tie behind neck so that an inverted triangle points to your midriff. Very cool with a new twist on things, but also very annoying. It could take a few minutes to adjust the shape, keep it …

Heba Elkayal

Christmas Gift Giving in Cairo

Although Cairo s not the easiest city to find Christmas gifts, I’ve managed to come across a few good items in town that could please some friends. Chocolate The Four Seasons Nile Plaza, as always, can be counted upon when it comes to great food but only now can you take something home with you. …

Heba Elkayal

Novel eatery, funny chef make Napa Grill worth visiting

The Fairmont Nile City hotel opened up last month in the Nile Towers, with contemporary interiors, a young staff and a relaxed vibe in the hotel lobby that seems tailored to young, successful twenty- and thirty-somethings. It’s a little taste of New York hipness and California coolness. Throughout the hotel, dark wood, curlicues of wrought …

Heba Elkayal

Katherine Bakhoum: Dreams of a homeland

Katherine Bakhoum is back once again exhibiting her latest art works in Safar Khan Gallery. Her work is quite popular among ardent art collectors in Egypt who wait patiently each year for her latest collection. Many paintings from the collection were purchased before the exhibit’s opening night earlier this month. And rightfully so; Bakhoum paints …

Heba Elkayal

Maadi's best kept secret

I do quite a bit of eating for my job and never have I come across a small independently run establishment in Cairo that can compete with the big boys running the hotel restaurants most popular with Cairenes. But a chance introduction to Cellar Door Bistro in Maadi has proven me wrong. Ayman Ezzat is …

Heba Elkayal

Red carpet fashion at the CIFF

With Salma Hayek and Lucy Liu in town for the 33rd Cairo International Film Festival, fashion comparisons would be absurd between them and anyone else. It seems whatever these lovely ladies wear, they manage to steal all the lights and photographers’ attentions. Hayek wore a very modest and demure wrap dress with a sophisticated blue …

Heba Elkayal

Lobster and caviar decadence is also an educational experience

Executive Chef Christophe Gillino is again proving that his culinary creativity is also an art form. Launching a lobster and caviar night, to take place on Thursday nights at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza’s Aqua restaurant, Chef Gillino sets out to keep patrons coming to the restaurant by decadent epicurean means. An extensive buffet of …

Heba Elkayal