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Mohandiseen, Cairo, Egypt.
Manuela Thai Spa: Women's Only Spa in Mohandiseen
When the hustle and bustle of Cairo traffic seems too much to bear, and your body is aching with the stress of hard work, long hours of commuting and poor sleeping patterns, get thee to a spa.
In the heart of Mohandiseen on Aswan Square, Manuela Thai Spa is located just round the corner from Kriss hair salon on the second floor of a residential building– you can’t miss its flashing red sign at the entrance.
Once inside, you will find a dimly lit room filled with heavy Thai accents, plants, comfortable wicker couches and a glorious little fountain in the centre of the room, filled with rose petals and tea lights. A small, smiling Thai woman will bring you a pair of flip flops and gently coax you into taking your shoes off as you browse through their large menu book.
The spa offers massages and hydrotherapy, as well as body wraps, facials and scrubs. Prices at Manuela Thai are midrange; not as sky-high expensive as the Four Seasons spas but not dirt cheap either. A 60-minute full-body massage averages at 300LE, and the most expensive massage – Manuela’s Touch – costs 490LE, though you do get a 100 minutes worth of a body massage with an aromatic floral bath.
Cheaper massages are also available: you can try the foot reflexology (190LE for 30 minutes), highly recommended for anyone suffering from strained calf muscles or weary feet: the massage therapist focuses more on the calf and lower leg muscles than the sole of the foot itself, kneading your muscles fluidly with warm massage oil.
Once ushered into a clean and tidy room with wooden shades and soft ambient music playing in the background, you can leave your clothing in a small cupboard, though at the time of this review, no bathrobe was offered to change into. The wooden floor carries one high massage bed, with another mattress on the floor. An oval white bath lies in a corner and all of a sudden, their milk & honey bath (200LE) or sea salt & lavender seeds bath seem very tempting.
The tension relief massage (320LE for 60 minutes) starts with the therapist rubbing scented massage oil onto the backs of your legs. Focusing on one side of your lower body at a time, the therapist kneads, presses, twists and circles her thumbs up your body, relieving any tension and improving blood circulation. Once finished, she then presses a steaming hot cotton herbal compress against your skin.If you’re really stressed, she may have a field day with your upper back and shoulders. She might use her elbow to loosen the knots in your shoulder and neck muscles, which can be painful; so be sure to tell her if she goes too far, however, her resilience in conquering those knots should be admired.
You will leave the spa exhausted but with a looser, lighter feeling in your shoulders that could last for days, as long as you manage to avoid getting stuck in traffic gridlock again.
On the hunt for swimming pool day-use to escape from Cairo’s heat, we knew we were in for a day of luxury when we rocked up at Fairmont Nile City. Its looming towers glisten with an almost Art Deco twinkle – Gatsby, eat your heart out. The glass-fronted elevator whisked us up 24 stories, through the grandiose magnificence of the ballrooms, conference rooms, restaurants and bars contained in the hotel, to the hotel spa where we made our booking. And 24th floor spa means 25th floor pool – and that means rooftop pool!
We prayed for the sun to shine on our day at the pool, and it did us proud. While you’re sure to get a tan that high out of the smog of inner city Cairo, we also caught a nice breeze as we lounged atop the towering building.
The pool is technically part of Willow Stream Spa, where Fairmont’s guests pamper themselves and stay healthy in its gym, pool, massage parlour, hair salon, lounge, and spa. For 550LE, all of this, except for the massages and salon, is available.
In case you missed our hints, the view from this place is out-of-this-world, and is best enjoyed gazing down upon it from the Jacuzzi, with drink in hand. The hotel’s position means that the Nile snakes along below and the vast hulking mass of Cairo sprawls out where ever you look. The magnitude of the city is staggering from this vantage point, and the quiet of the rooftop calls for a moment of reflection.
There are plenty of chairs arranged around the pool and under canopies, so visitors can eat, chat and sunbathe as they wish. Pool attendants are ready with clean, fluffy towels for all and food and drink can be ordered. Although the pool isn’t huge, it’s fine for splashing about in, and there’s a separate toddler and baby pool as well. Although a few families were out enjoying the weather, it was mostly adults swimming, and it would be possible for the keen swimmer to do a few short laps undisturbed. The water stayed cool and refreshing all day, but despite the rooftop setting, it still falls into shadow from about 5pm by a taller building next-door.
The pool can be used between 7AM and sunset each day, and although we arrived around 11AM and there were still spots to sit at, all the seats were filled up by about lunchtime. Overall, though, you cannot go wrong at Fairmont Nile City for a day of relaxing, replenishment and rejuvenation.