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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Coiffeur Sofitel: Quality Salon at Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah
A trip to the Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah is an experience in itself; the tube-shaped structure stands as a figurehead on the southern-most tip of Zamalek. There are plenty of reasons to attend, even if you're not staying the night; an afternoon lounging by the pool or an evening of wining and dining at Nile-side restaurants, Le Deck, El Kababgy or La Palmeraie, provide great opportunities to view Cairo at its best. Another good reason to go is the hotel's hair salon.
The salon is open every day between 9AM and 9PM, even during national holidays. The coiffeur is on the hotel's second floor and has signs throughout the hotel. We rang ahead to book, but were told that an appointment would not be necessary and to come whenever we liked. When we arrived, the salon was empty, though the place was well staffed; this is not unusual for the salon, meaning that if you're in a rush – or it's a national holiday – you can rely on the Sofitel for unwavering service.
The salon is clean and neat, without any ostentatious displays of girliness or posters of grimacing models – this is a place befitting of the Sofitel name. We were greeted at the till and told to immediately take a seat in the hair-washing chair. The salon has room for four-to-five clients to be seen at a time, and although it's only a small space, it's well laid-out and doesn't feel cramped. The attendant took her time with washing our hair, giving it a good amount of time to soak and even giving us a soothing head massage in the process. The products used smelt delicious and we can now confirm that our hair felt soft and clean for days after the visit.
After our hair was professionally wrapped and brushed, the stylist came out to meet us and consult us on what we wanted. He nodded in assurance at our instructions and sure enough, after much snipping and measuring, came up with the desired result and was happy to make any adjustments we asked for.
After the hair was cut, so began the styling process, which involved at a blow dry, followed by some a heavy-handed application with straighteners. To our dismay, the stylist curled our hair into tight ringlets so that the cut itself was completely overshadowed - although to his credit, the curls were very professional and stayed in place for the entire day.
A wash and blow-dry cost 250LE, and the salon is also equipped to do dyes, extensions and offers a selection of products for customers to use at home. We were truly pleased with the results of our styling and the swift, professional service, which made a Sunday afternoon maybe-I-should-get-a-fringe whim, a reality.
New Cairo is currently booming with new shops, restaurants, lounges and spas, with Ahmed & Abdou being the latest chain of beauty salons to jump on the bandwagon. We can never say no to some pampering and so, amidst shopping around the growing Cairo Festival City Mall, we found ourselves heading towards the beauty parlour for some much needed relaxation.
Located on the 2nd floor of the still pristine mall, Ahmed & Abdou gives a rather luxurious high-end vibe with its grey and white colour scheme and modern furnishings. Much to our relief, there were no stereotypical, tacky decorations, or cheap and cheesy pictures of dolled up celebrities in sight.The overall design of the place was quite classy and the coveted salon offers all kinds of hair and nail treatments.
Upon entrance, we were greeted by the cashier and receptionist who asked what treatments we wanted. Upon requesting a trim and blow-dry (200LE altogether), he typed in our names and mobile numbers and escorted us inside. The place was, much to our surprise, smaller than we thought it would be and packed to the brim with customers. We were seated on the rather uncomfortable couches and remained so for about 20 minutes before we were taken to the hair sinks.
The quick and efficient staff massaged and washed our hair with top-notch shampoos and conditioners and skilfully untangled our hair without yanking almost any strands out. Our hairdresser immediately came by and patiently listened to our requests; no-fuss trims that kept the length of our hair pretty much intact. He began to snip away with our demands in mind and, shockingly, used quite unusual trimming methods - but our gut instincts told us to remain silent and trust him.
He finished cutting away, massaged some serum into our strands and began blow-drying them. Much to our dismay, we started smelling some burned hair and the heat immediately began stinging our faces; he was using extremely high heat. The finished look was not quite how we expected it would be. The trim was on-point and he definitely listened to pleads for our hair to remain lengthy but the blow-drying was nothing special, with our hair lacking the anticipated volume.
All in all, our experience at Ahmed & Abdou was satisfactory but lacked any wow factors; we were pleased with the trim, yet unamused by the overall styling. The fact that the place was crowded also meant that it was noisy and did not allow us to unwind and relax at all. We, however, thought it’s a nice staple salon to hit during beauty emergencies.