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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah: Lush Swimming Pool Day-Use in Zamalek
So, it's hot and sunny outside, but you're stuck in Cairo; listen very closely, because this is not necessarily a bad thing (gasp!). What could we possibly mean? Well, the truth is, the city is full of fresh and jolly options to spend the day by a pool – in this case, we're talking specifically about the Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah in Zamalek.
The hotel, in our opinion, is often overlooked as one of the nicer ones around town. Located on an almost secluded nook on the island of Zamalek, walking onto the premises instantly offers a feeling of relaxation and ease. Gliding past the spacious and polished reception, we made our way to the spa for a much needed day of lounging by the pool.
At 300LE* for weekdays, and 400LE* for weekends, visitors are afforded access to the spa and a place by the pool for as long as they please. Unfortunately, this price does not include any food or drink, so yes, in a sense, this is a splurge – but one that's worth it.
The pool itself is not that large, but its location and positioning within the hotel are more than ideal. With a choice of regular sun-beds – though these come cushioned with a head rest – one can also choose to sit in more private, shared quarters; what we shall refer to as a 'sun-couch'. Placed directly along the Nile, the serenity of the view, matched with the openness of it, are divine; a section of the pool overflows, looking directly onto the water, making for a perfect spot to doze in.
Unlike many other hotels, the pool at the Sofitel stayed sunlit late into the day, which when you've only got one day, is important.
The service was very pleasant and staff were quick to meet our requests. We sampled a few things on their menu, starting with a 'banana blast' smoothie (54LE) – banana, raspberry, strawberry and orange juice – which proved to be a good choice; fresh, cold and, of course, nice and healthy.
After a few hours of lounging and occasionally dipping, we moved onto having some lunch. The choices of a pizza margherita (58LE) and whole wheat pasta with gorgonzola sauce (56LE) were also satisfying, though we failed to understand how the former stood at a higher price. We also ordered a bottle of Omar Khayyam white wine (170LE), which came on ice and was a great addition to our day of relaxing in the lovely sun.
The pool was pleasantly full, without being overwhelmingly packed, and the crowd of people varied between young couples, some tourists and a single family with a couple of children. The atmosphere was comfortable; no stares or awkward glances given – worth noting in this city.
There is no doubt the Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah will provide you with a satisfying, wholesome day out by the pool, but just be prepared to spend a little.
*These were the prices at the time of the review and are subject to change.