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The Bar: Expensive Drinks at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza
There comes a time in your life when you decide to live dangerously for one night, and in Cairo, there are plenty of ways to do just that. Eager to find the most expensive drinks in Cairo, we opted for the Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza in Garden City. The Four Seasons is synonymous with upscale luxury and way-out-of-our-budget prices; so the Bar was an easy choice for a quiet, expensive drink.
Located between Zitouni and Bella on the third floor, the bar talks up a dimly lit corner of the hotel with a killer Nile-front view. Although this reviewer visited on an early evening, the bar filled up pretty quickly and the comfortable Louis XIV chairs and oak tables facing the Nile were always occupied. The plush carpeting and floral art deco lighting make an intimate, refined atmosphere, while a pianist plays away through the evenings, adding to the elegant but still hotel-like atmosphere.
The bar’s menu is extensive and features black-and-white portraits of Samia Gamal and other Egyptian icons next to the drinks list. Why these portraits were chosen remains unclear; neither the menu nor the interior decor is particularly Egyptian-centric. Nonetheless, we were happy to locate a few pricey drinks, including the sake wine at 380LE per glass, champagne cocktails at 240LE per glass, and a glass of Johnny Walker Blue Label blend for 400LE.
Even cocktail shots are exaggeratedly expensive at 90LE. This reviewer tried the Tahrir Square shot (90LE), which consisted of Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Passion. The shot was served in a paltry portion for such a price, and was far too thick and sweet for our liking. You can also opt for a martini (80LE) including the intriguing cigar lovers martini. Our order of spiced watermelon martini, which is served with chilli vodka, was promptly returned to the bar as it lacked any watermelon flavour and was overpowered by the face-punch of the chilli.
Service at the Bar was great, as is expected from a five-star luxury hotel. Our waiter swiftly exchanged our drink without any argument, and apologised profusely when our order of Absolute Vodka (75LE) with cranberry juice (24LE) came with bland and sugary cranberry syrup instead. Additionally, the fact that we were charged for the cocktail's two ingredients irked us.
After munching on their complimentary bowls of pickled olives and nuts, we ordered two dishes off their snack menu for 150LE. Our order of spicy shrimp fritters arrived mild as per our request. The breaded and fried shrimp balls were served on a sea of lettuce with barely a drizzle of an indiscernible sauce. Our companion’s order of foie gras was served on crunchy toast with a side of jam, but its fried texture overpowered its rich flavour, killing the foie gras experience.
Our companion’s order of a glass of merlot wine was sent back to the bar, as the wine tasted like it had been open for a while. Our waiter acknowledged this and served a freshly opened glass of Terre De Soleil Merlot wine (120LE) instead. Our glasses of 12-year Glenfiddich single malt scotch whiskey (300LE) and Chivas Regal 18-year blend (150LE) were accompanied by ice pitchers, and our waiter complied with our request to match the servings, as one was less generous than the other.
Overall, this was an enjoyable though excruciatingly expensive night out, as we relaxed by the Nile view, took in the piano music and fantasized about the cigar collection (a Coheba will cost you 210LE while a Montechristo will set you back 180LE).
Nestled in the heart of Downtown Cairo, located just a few minutes’ walk from the Naguib Metro stop, Happy City rooftop bar – of the Happy City Hotel – offers a chill, relaxed place to spend a night out with friends.
Walking into the lobby of the hotel we were somewhat worried we’d be in for a disappointing night, with fake flower door curtains and the 70s style décor of the rest of the lobby, but stepping out on the seventh floor rooftop bar, we were pleasantly surprised.
Happy City is spacious, with large tables and comfortable chairs scattered around; there were already several groups enjoying the open air, even though we had arrived rather early in the evening. Plastic covers protected patrons from the chill of the night, but a comfortable breeze was still blowing through and the plastic didn’t detract too much from the overall experience. In warmer months the rooftop would have a fantastic view.
Happy City’s décor is nothing particularly special, but it is comfortable and laidback – encouraging patrons to stay for hours and hours. The music mostly consists of Arab pop, but it largely faded into the background, allowing us to concentrate on our conversation. The other patrons were a mixed bag; a collection of tourists and ex-pats to locals. This isn’t really a place to meet new people though, since most people were concentrated on their own group and the tables are widely spaced apart.
On a side note, we found that the bathrooms were not kept in stock or particularly clean.
We settled in and called for the waiter, who explained that there weren’t any menus for us to look at. Deciding to go with Cairo staples, we ordered a round of Stellas (15LE) and Heinekens (20LE). After taking our orders the waiter quickly returned, drinks and complementary table snacks in tow. We found that the snacks at Happy City are a step up from those usually offered in bars, with a selection of chickpeas, tirmis, carrots and cucumbers. We saw other tables with fresh bread and dips, and at our request, our server was happy to provide us with those treats as well.
However, we weren’t as impressed with service; the Stellas weren’t as cold as they could have been and we had to really work to flag down the waiter when we wanted to order another round.
We ordered both the apple and peach flavoured shisha (5LE) to find that the shisha is a definite highlight at Happy City. Though it took quite a while to arrive at our table, it was definitely much better than other shisha we’ve had around Cairo, and the price absolutely can’t be beat. The shisha attendant also did a great job keeping the coals hot all night.
We quite enjoyed our time at Happy City and are planning to make it a constant in our routine. Though the service wasn’t great that night, the prices are good, the atmosphere is relaxing, and the people are chill. Happy City is the perfect place to whittle away the hours with a couple of friends over some good conversation.