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Downtown, Cairo, Egypt.
Kings Bar: Hotel Bar with Baladi Vibes in Downtown Cairo
The borsa area is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful areas in Downtown Cairo. It's clean with even pavements, the buildings are well-preserved and the area is rarely crowded. Exactly how we like it. One of the landmark buildings in this area is the Cosmopolitan Hotel. It was designed by Baehler, the architect of the La Bodega and Aperitivo building in Zamalek.
The Cosmopolitan Hotel is one of those former Cairo landmarks once famous for their grandeur and glory. Nowadays, not much of that grandeur remains. Kings Bar is located on the ground floor right after the reception. The reception is actually pretty nice and the library next to the bar looks quite tempting for an afternoon read.
At the time of this reviewer’s visit (weeks before Christmas) the hotel was wrapped up in tacky, shiny Christmas decor including a Santa doll in the beak of an eagle. If we were children we'd probably have recurring nightmares about Santa being devoured by an eagle. Speaking of nightmares, the Kings Bar's interior is a little disturbing with its brown yellowish decor and guns hanging on the wall next to extremely dark paintings in desperate need of cleaning.
Kings Bar is easily comparable to a baladi bar but then located in a hotel, which means it’s not as crowded but prices are still very reasonable. Unfortunately, they only offer beer, whiskey and vodka - all local. A bottle of Heineken, served with an ice-cold glass, costs only 15LE.
Excited about the low prices, we decided to go all out and order a vodka and apple. Never in this town have we received less vodka than in this bar. It was a measly drip and not worth the 12LE we had to pay for it. The apple juice was served on the side in a Juhayna carton, which we squeezed out into our drink through the straw. Because we are people with a great sense of humour, we saw the fun in all of this and actually enjoyed our stay. As soon as we sat down we were presented with a bowl of termis. The more drinks we ordered; the more food arrived at the table such as cucumbers and cheese.
However, we didn’t enjoy our trip to the toilet. The staff seems to believe that flooding the toilet with water and then not drying it up will keep it clean for more time. If this were an actual baladi bar, a toilet like this would have been great, but we expected more from a hotel.
If you’re in the area and crave a cheap, low-key and hassle-free drink, then Kings Bar at the Cosmopolitan Hotel is a perfect spot. However, if you want something more sophisticated, or something more baladi, then lots of other options are available in the area.
On Gezira El Wosta Street in Zamalek, Jazz Mate offers the full package. With jazz music playing throughout the day, you are welcome to feast your ears as well as your appetite on their food and beverage menu. Next to the Flamenco hotel, the place is small and is primarily adorned in deep black and brown finishes.
Welcomed with the slogan ‘Put a Little Jazz in Your Life’, the space is divided into two floors. The lower level has a few tables, a counter overlooking the street, the kitchen and a television that plays old black and white videos of old jazz musicians. A small flight of stairs takes you to the upper floor which is where live performances take place every weekend. A few tables fill the space as well as a piano, speakers, microphone and other musical equipment. This area stretches to carry some more tables as well as sofa seating. Black and white photographs cover the walls with images of famous jazz musicians to complete the overall look.
The food menu at Jazz Mate offers breakfast, sandwiches, salads, soups, main course and a range of beverages, as well as sweet options such as waffles, cheesecake and brownies. We tried the country fried chicken (49LE) and deep fried fish (49LE) which come with two side dishes of your choice. We also ordered a vanilla milkshake (20LE) which came first. With the right amount of sugar, it was a little watery but good nonetheless.