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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
El Hammam: Inconspicuous Home Accessory Shop in Zamalek
In Cairo, great things come in small packages. On Taha Hussein Street in Zamalek, El Hammam is one such tiny shop filled with gifts and home accessories.
El Hammam (bathroom in Arabic) carries mostly high-end bathroom products like handmade soaps and plush towels, but a surprisingly wide array of non-bathroom home accessories are on display on the mossy green shelves. Everything from wall art to knick-knacks are found at El Hammam, but the shop is even smaller than it looks from the street; so take care inside.
Towel sets come in a variety of colours, mostly pastels and earth tones. For 300LE, a set of towels includes a bath towel, two hand towels, and two wash cloths. Thick, soft bathrobes are also available here. El Hammam carries both liquid and bar soap, including hand-poured glycerine-based and olive oil soaps; both are lightly scented and especially useful for sensitive skin. Many of these hand soaps range from 25LE to 40LE and can be bought as part of gift sets that include dark pumice stones.
A few large but simple candles are on display, such as a cream-coloured candle shaped like a massive bowl for 120LE. Other home accessories include weighty metal coasters for 30LE and hand-painted ceramic light switch plates for 45LE.
While the sales staff at El Hammam are friendly and happy to answer your questions; it is rather annoying to inquire about prices and a good number of El Hammam’s items are unmarked. This is especially the case for larger items such as the gorgeous green jewellery box, hand-painted with a floral design; as well as a number of painted glass shisha bottoms, some of which have been converted to lamps, and an opulent red and gold-painted metal table top.
Despite the tiny space and unmarked prices, El Hammam stands out as one of Zamalek’s finest home accessories shops. El Hammam is great for tasteful gifts and a little self-pampering.
The abundance of international brands on the Cairo shopping scene really does leave us spoilt for choice. Unless we’re mistaken, if there are two things most ladies love, it’s shopping and pampering; combine the two and it’s sure to be a recipe for success. Since its opening in 1990, American chain, Bath & Body Works, have set up shop in several of Cairo’s busiest malls.
Before we even saw the shop, we were drawn in by a wave of deliciously fruity fragrances. Following our noses, we wandered into the perfectly organised, perfumed haven. The displays were clearly labelled and organised by product, smell, and as a result, colour too. This, combined with an abundance of testers and a friendly shop assistant, made for pleasant, stress-free browsing.
Everywhere we looked we found pampering products with exotic names; a delicious smelling Midnight Pomegranate was available as a shower gel (175LE), body mist (195LE), lotion (150LE) and a heavy, creamy body butter (145LE), which worked miracles on our skin. At the time of our visit, a buy three, get one free promotion was running.
A range of aromatic perfumes were also available; from a full-bodied, sensuous Black Raspberry (295LE) or a sweet Warm Vanilla Sugar, to a rich and woody smelling Twilight Woods (295LE). These smells aren’t just limited to body mists though; we found many of the same 'flavours' in candle form, ranging from 60LE to 280LE depending on their size – our favourite was the Wild Strawberry Savage candle, which smelt exactly as you would imagine. Pretty oil warmers were available and we also spotted some decorative metal candle sleeves priced from 70LE to 95LE.
The products at Bath & Body Works aren’t just for personal pampering; attractive gift boxes are ready-made to help make the difficult decision of what to pick that bit easier. For 520LE, shower gel, body lotion, mist, moisturising cream and a small candle all come as a package, wrapped in clear cellophane, complete with a big pink bow.
Alongside all of these bath, body and fragrance must-haves, Bath & Body Works also stock travel-sized toiletries, bath accessories such as exfoliating sponges, foot care and beauty goods, as well as several shower and body products for men.
Unfortunately, Bath & Body Works doesn’t distinguish itself massively from other, comparable international brands, although they do offer a massive variety of sweet-smelling products of similar high quality. We can almost guarantee that if you walk into Bath & Body Works, you’ll feel compelled to come out smelling just as good as the shop itself, even if it is a little expensive.