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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Intercontinental Cairo City Stars: Luxury At a Price
What are we Cairenes to do when we need major relaxation but we’re too busy to get away for the weekend? Well, there’s only one good solution– day use– and if you want to do day use in style; we recommend the Intercontinental Cairo City Stars. Day use at the Intercontinental includes a poolside room, up to 150LE per person for food and drink as well as all-day access to the pool, a gym and a health and wellness centre. Spend an afternoon at the Intercontinental; and we guarantee that you will feel fresh and fabulous again.
The large outdoor pool wraps around a gigantic glass pyramid. With sections for children and adults, the pool extends from 3ft to 8ft-deep. It’s not ideal for laps; but it’s perfect for a casual swim. The best part of this pool is the in-pool bar. That’s right, there’s nothing like eating a hot lunch and a cold drink while still sitting in the pool. The burger (60LE) is deliciously juicy, though the veggie pizza (50LE) was mediocre. Note: the pool bar serves alcoholic drinks, including cocktails (50LE to 70LE) and beer (30LE). Fresh juices (20LE to 30LE) are also available.
The poolside lounging area is a great place to sunbathe, with umbrellas available for those who prefer the shade. Mid-afternoon, the staff offers guests complimentary popsicles made of fresh mango, strawberry and guava juices that are delicious in the summer heat.
The health and wellness centre is not to be missed. There’s a state-of-the-art gym that has virtually every machine you’d ever need including pulley machines, treadmills and free weights. There are also rooms for billiards, squash, pilates and boxing. Separate locker rooms for men and women branch into steam rooms, saunas and jacuzzis that will melt all of your body’s tension away. There is also a hydro-pool, which is one of Cairo’s largest hot tubs, and is open for men and women.
Our poolside room was like stepping into heaven: terrycloth robes and slippers, a fully stocked bathroom with complimentary goodies, a shaded balcony overlooking the pool and lounge area, and the most comfortable bed that we’ve ever rested on.
Day use at Intercontinental Cairo City Stars allows you to use the facilities from 10AM to 8PM. A single room costs 830LE, while a double room costs 980LE. While it’s certainly one of the most expensive day use options; we still highly recommend it if you can afford it. We’re definitely going back!
“I was at Tahrir everyday and I was into change,” the veteran historian and owner of Royal Club Mohamed-Aly in Giza said in an interview with Cairo 360. “I was very unhappy with the military rule for 60 years. But now I can tell you I wish the revolution had not happened. A revolution without a leader, without an agenda, without a plan is doomed to destroy not to build.”
On the so-called ‘Friday of Anger’ following the first days of revolution last year, according to Farag, some 600 people carrying machine guns and other weapons stormed the nearly 15-year-old Mohamed-Aly and looted its grounds.
“They stole everything that could be stolen and destroyed everything that they could not carry,” says Farag.
The main clubhouse, which took 12 years to build, was set ablaze and its marble floors, smashed. Just beyond the main entrance, the scorched remains of classic automobiles including a Bentley from Farag’s collection lie as vestiges of the unfortunate day.
But what really sets Mohamed-Aly apart from the rest is its liberal atmosphere and strict policy against harassment.
“This is the only place a woman can walk in by herself in a bikini, jump in the water, and come out, and no one will dare to look. The first look I might let, but the second and I will deal with you. There’s no harassment at my club whatsoever,” says Farag.
If shaabi isn’t your scene, Mohamed-Aly encourages you to cross the bridge onto the club’s private island, BYOB (bring your own bottle), and hang under the quiet, shady tree-lined bank with the water literally at your feet. Here, a carpeted and pillow lounge invites us to a shisha and a beverage - the perfect spot to relax for a sunset view of the Nile.
Otherwise, regular membership at the club is annually renewed, and is 4500LE per person per year, 3500LE for spouse, and 2000LE for children under 18. Single day entry is 150LE and includes two complimentary drinks.
Though the revolution posed an awful setback for the club, Farag is resilient to provide Cairenes with the only spot in the city where we can bare all - almost all - and drink under the sun without the hassle of wide-eyed satyrs and virgins.
Soak up the last rays of summer and get away to a faraway place not too far from home.