Sometimes, it’s easy to forget the numerous hotels in Cairo and their large array of restaurants, bars and nightclubs. With the current economic situation in Egypt, many of these dining venues are empty after having been popular destinations for years. One such venue is Rithmo, located inside the Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel on the Garden City Corniche.

Rithmo is hidden inside the hotel, with a discreet side entrance that you reach via the lobby; turn left and then right near the toilets. There is a bouncer, yes a bouncer, who will ask you if you have a reservation. We had no reservation because we expected the nightclub to be empty. If it would have been full, it would probably be Cairo’s best-kept secret.

After walking through an unfinished corridor, you enter a large room with a high ceiling and dim, red-hued lighting. At the time of this reviewer’s visit, the venue was, as we expected, empty. In the middle of the room is an oval bar. Benches with cushions line the walls, and low tables with comfortable chairs are arranged in the centre of the room. The decor could be described as modern/kinky with chains, yes chains, hanging from walls and sometimes between tables, functioning as a division. There is a small stage and a balustrade above it with a weird-looking man-sized puppet, yes a puppet.

The drinks menu consists of your usual cocktails such as margaritas and daiquiris. There is an extensive wine collection listing wines from Italy, Australia, America, Argentina and Thailand, in addition to local and Lebanese wines. Local wines cost 35LE a glass, while most imported wines are only available by the bottle and not by the glass. We were presented with a selection of nuts and sliced apple pieces by the attentive and friendly staff. We love free stuff, especially when it is healthy free stuff. Whiskey is available at 55LE a glass, cognac at 75LE and above, and aperitifs like Tia Maria cost around 45LE.

We decided to try Rithmo’s hand at cocktails by sampling the mojito (45LE) and the Long Island ice tea (60LE). Expecting the worst, we were actually pleasantly surprised. The mojito and the long island were perfectly mixed and served within five minutes. Yes, we were the only customers, but five minutes for two cocktails is still pretty fast. The drinks came in big glasses and were filled to the top, unlike other bars where you get a tiny glass that is half empty, making you wonder if the waiter lost half of the contents on his way.

The music was perfect, and r&b lovers will love Rithmo. Other venues around Cairo might be famous for their r&b nights, but the music at Rithmo was actually noticeably better.

The waiter informed us that Thursdays are usually quite busy. We were there on a Friday night and in the end, there were perhaps no more than twenty customers. However, if you are an r&b and cocktail fan, then give Rithmo a chance; just for a change of scene at least.