A Victorian grand hotel on the banks of the Nile
Enter the large high-ceiling lobby and note the blend of Victorian elegance and eastern arabesques. Keep straight on until you reach the terrace. Gaze out at the Egyptian sailing boats called feluccas gliding over the waters of the Nile on either side of Elephantine Island. Feel the warm breeze as you sit down and notice the long-robed porters quietly scuffing down the wide halls. Survey this confluence of the past and the present, of East and West and as the waiter hands you your icy martini or cold lemonade, and contemplate the peacefulness and tranquility of it all. This is the Old Cataract Hotel who has been welcoming guests to its calming interiors since 1899 and is considered one of the finest hotels in all of Egypt.
Perched atop a granite outcrop at the Nile river’s edge in Aswan, Egypt, the hotel takes its name from the rivers First Cataract (rapids). The large spacious guest rooms feature antiques, fine Egyptian linens, high ceilings, and most have achingly beautiful Nile views.
The grand restaurant, “1902”, one of several at the hotel, was inaugurated for the opening of the first Aswan dam, with Winston Churchill, assorted royalty and dignitaries in attendance. French Continental cuisine is served in a grand colorful Moorish interior (above). There is also a freshwater swimming pool with terraces overlooking the Nile. The langorous beauty of the Nile will capture you at the Old Cataract, an experience not to be missed.
Sofitel Old Cataract Hotel
Location: Abtal El Tahrir Street, Aswan, Egypt; arrival is more likely by train or coach; airport one half hour by taxi.
Luxury style: Adventurers who love the whiffs of the Old Cataract’s colonial past; dreamers who want nothing more than to watch feluccas drift lazily across the Nile; historians who wish to walk in the shoes of Howard Carter; Agatha Christie fans who wish to glimpse shadows of “Death on the Nile”; actually just about everyone who has had the thought that they would like to see the tombs of the ancient pharohs as one of their lifetime list accomplishments.
What we’ve heard: If there was to be a contest for most beguiling spot in the world to while away the hours, the terrace at the Old Cataract hotel would surely be a contender.