The Conrad originally opened in 1998 and is one of seven Hilton-operated hotels in the Egyptian capital.
Where is it?
On the Nile Corniche, next door to the soon-to-open St Regis Cairo and the Hilton Cairo World Trade Centre Residences, and close to Tahrir Square and the Egyptian Museum. It is 13 miles from the airport, but those who know Cairo traffic will be aware that giving an estimate of how long that journey can take is pointless. At 1am it took me 30 minutes from the airport, but it could just as easily take two hours or more in rush hour. The closest metro station is Ramses.
What’s it like?
With its 24-storey tower looking out across at Zemalak Island, the Conrad Cairo is unmissable on the skyline.The hotel is accessed via a sloped driveway, with security and then x-ray machines to clear before going into the hotel. The main lobby is large with a triple-height atrium; during my stay it was always bustling with people having coffee or drinks in the lounge bar.
Though the property is in good health, the last renovation was in 2010 and the design is now slightly outdated. A renovation, including all rooms, public areas and meeting rooms will start at the beginning of 2019 and last three years. Service is generally excellent, though with occasional lapses.
The shape and height of the hotel ensure that all 614 rooms have either a partial or full view of the Nile, and most have balconies. There is complimentary wifi throughout. Entry-level Classic rooms start at 41 sqm. From the 16th floor, rooms become Deluxe by virtue of the better views. Non-smoking floors are 6-10, 15, 18, 20 and 21.
The Executive rooms span floors 20-24, with the Executive Lounge on 22. This offers breakfast and evening drinks, and has a long balcony overlooking the Nile – it’s worth cancelling the final meeting of the day to enjoy a drink and an uninterrupted view across the city.
There are 52 suites; two Royal suites and two Presidential suites, plus 16 Executive suites and 32 Nile suites. Sure, the decoration in the rooms is a little passé, but it somehow seems appropriate. The thick velvet curtains in my room drew across one another so no light could penetrate. Soundproofing is very good, essential when the hotel bar only gets going sometime after midnight, with guests returning to their rooms until four in the morning.
Food and drink
The hotel’s restaurants have been renovated more recently than the rest of the hotel, and there are three excellent choices on the second floor alone. For breakfast and buffet lunch, Solana is a casual restaurant overlooking the Nile. I ate breakfast here and the choice of both regional and international cuisine was very impressive, as were the suggestions of the chef when I started asking for some Arabic bread and ended up eating a particular variety of lovely spicy ful madames (a bean dish). Kamala offers a choice of South East Asian cuisines, while the Oak Grill offers delicious modern Lebanese cuisine. I ate twice at the Oak Grill and didn’t even scratch the surface of what I wanted to try, though the smoked dishes are outstanding, and I had fattoush (a chopped salad dish) with grilled halloumi both nights.
Also on offer are the outdoor Jayda Nile Terrace by the pool and with Nile views, or the Stage One Lounge and Bar with music and cocktails.
The hotel’s meeting spaces are all on the lobby level and total over 3,500 sqm. They include the Conrad Ballroom, one of the largest in the city, holding 750 for a banquet, and the Nile Ballroom, with a capacity of 300 for a banquet as well as a series of smaller meeting rooms on one side including a business centre.
The hotel has a large fitness centre accessed beyond the pool area, which has a good-sized open-air swimming pool. As with many Conrad hotels, there is a series of pre-bookable experiences, from a one-hour Nile cruise through to full-day excursions to the pyramids or more individually curated trips. The ground floor, below the lobby level, has a casino and a nightclub, but I didn’t visit either of those.
This is a very well-located hotel, popular both with Egyptians and international guests. Staff are friendly, ensuring there is a family feel that belies the vast size of the hotel. Regulars will be looking forward to the refurbishment.
The location, the views, and the restaurants, all of which offer meals you remember long after and which remain part of your memories of Cairo.
Dinner at the Oak Grill for some Middle Eastern food and Lebanese specialities.
Internet rates for a twin classic room with partial Nile view start from $140 per night.
1191 Nile Corniche, Cairo, Egypt; +20 2 25808000; conradhotels.com