Old Cataract Hotel Aswan by Holly Macro

View from Old Cataract Hotel Aswan

The Old Cataract Hotel Aswan

Our stay by Holly Macro

 The Old Cataract Hotel Aswan just could be our new favourite hotel! The hotel takes its name from the meeting of the river with the granite barrier which creates the first cataract of the Nile. It is beautifully located on the east bank of the Nile overlooking Elephantine Island, Aswan’s oldest settlement, and the ruins of a temple dedicated to Khnum, god of the Nile floods.  Sitting and imaging what the original temple looked like, while watching the swan-like feluccas sailing by, is absolute heaven!

 The hotel was originally built by Thomas Cook in 1899 to encourage tourism to Egypt.  The Victorian facade with its balconies and terraces conjures pictures of the aristocratic grand Tour period and the early 20th Century retreat for the rich and famous, heads of state, archaeologists and explorers. The hotel was completely restored and reopened for business in 2011 (one of the Sofitel Legend hotels).  The renovation has been artfully done so that one can still imagine Howard Carter, who stayed here after discovering the tomb of Tutankhamen, Winston Churchill smoking a cigar in the bar, or Agatha Christie roaming the hotel and relaxing for high tea on the famous Terrace.  The hotel’s fame was revived in 1978 with the filming of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile, starring Peter Ustinov.

Nile View from old cataract hotel TerraceNile View from Old Cataract Hotel Terrace

There is a very large swimming pool (also overlooking the Nile) which was wonderfully warm when we visited in January.  There are three restaurants (Continental, French and Oriental), so lots of variety and the quality of the food and presentation was lovely.  The high tea, including scones and cream, served on the terrace is a meal in itself, so one afternoon we had that in lieu of dinner.

 The staff are charming and very well trained.  There are also Customer Service Representatives that solicit suggestions for improvement.  The Nubian Museum is just a 10 minute walk from the Old Cataract and is well worth a visit. You can also visit the temples of Abu-Simbel from here as well as explore the exciting spice market in Aswan.

Our junior suite was absolutely palatial, and we would have been happy to live there for months!    We had two balconies overlooking the Nile, a living room, bar area, dressing room, bed room and the best bathroom!

With great weather and such comfortable surroundings, we really recommend a multi-night stay for a lot of luxury and a haven of peace in the vast desert.

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What our clients have to say

What a unique experience this was for my husband and I and a group of friends ( 5 other couples). I felt like we were going back in time and living the life that a well to do 19th century family would have while they were sojourning down the Nile River. The decor of the living spaces on the second level upstairs on the upper deck looked like pieces you would see in a palace of royalty. The bedrooms on the first level that had windows that opened up just above the water level were spacious and comfortable. The bed was comfy as can be!!
The staff on the boat, and there were many, were so very attentive and tried their hardest to meet our every need and also surprised us with daily unexpected niceties and full on entertainment. The food was all homemade and delicious. Our chef was quite talented and the meals were never repeated( except for breakfast which was made to order eggs and an assortment of breads/muffins/croissants and fruit etc. Coffee and tea always available.
The tours that were scheduled for us were so well run and our Egyptologist, Ahmed , was obtaining his Ph.D in Egyptology and was so very interesting and knowledgeable. We had the opportunity to go on a hot air balloon ride and also a trip to Abu Simbel which were both amazing and unforgettable. After every tour we arrived back on the boat and were greeted by Tito and Adam with specialty cold lovely drinks and cold lemon scented wet towels to refresh ourselves with.
Tito took us shopping in the Luxor Market for a couple of hours the day before we left. He helped us negotiate the goods we purchased which was a huge help.
Lastly I have to mention our Dahabiya Cruise Captain, Mahmoud . This guy was amazing! He made sure we had everything we needed and kept us entertained with his humour and incredible dancing skills. Our group learned so much about the Egyptian culture from him during our dinner conversations.
Our group all agreed that we would miss these wonderful, thoughtful people that we spent a week with and hope they all knew how much we appreciated each one of them.

Joan Mancini
Travel date Sept 2021

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