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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Nillens: Top Quality Egyptian Cotton Products in Zamalek
Located on the ground floor of the Degla Center on Hassan Sabry Street, Nillens first captivated us with the lovely aroma scent sticks that greet you as you walk in. The shop is relatively small, but very well kept; with smooth colouring and orderly merchandise, welcoming is an understatement.
Owner and designer, Nayla Tahan, has worked hard to revive Egyptian handiwork and uses textiles from local manufacturer, El Hesn Textiles, providing dependable products made by Egyptians, for Egyptians.
The most common items in Nillens are the bedding accessories. A variety of patterns, colours, sizes and fittings are all available; floral designs, bright colours, as well as more demure palettes, are all in stock. The prices largely depend on bed size, specific sets and thread count – you have the options of 400 and 300 thread count. The most expensive examples teeter the 1000LE price tag, while you can also find sheets for a single bed priced at 250LE; everything else falls in between.
Nillens also supplies other items such as pillows (190LE for large) in a range of colours, comfy loungewear trousers (100LE-135LE), t-shirts (80LE) and fetching pyjamas (120LE) – which come in a lovely cotton pouch in the same pattern. There are also several sizes of ‘kileem’ (60LE-150LE), which are typically lightweight, hand-knotted rugs that come in vibrant colours and are quintessentially Egyptian.
The shop offers various other items such as handmade children’s toys that are available either as a stuffed camel or a cat – a small one costs 20LE and a large one 35LE – whose proceeds go to charity. Other miscellaneous items include laundry bags, cosy blankets (450LE) and a few small hand towels available in several colours.
The shop's packaging deserves a mention, too, on account of its quality, aesthetics and most importantly, functionality. We can’t get over the pyjama cases.
Nillens provides a neat, efficient experience. The whole shop, along with the products, has evidently been put together with a lot of care. The range of prices vary quite widely, but if there's something that Nillens proves, it's that you can find something at a budget without sacrificing quality.
As a street that encompassses the beauty and authenticity of Islamic Cairo with all its architectural treasures, a walk down El Muez Street in Khan El Khalili always leaves you inspired. With hundreds of handicrafts shops and bazaars selling a variety of gifts and souvenirs in the area, it it's hard not to stop by and shop.
Our last visit to the busy and vibrant street left us particularly drawn to a small boutique in El Muez Street selling colorful and beautifully crafted mosaic lighting called Bazaar Al Shaaban.
Inside Bazaar Al Shaaban, hundreds of colorful mosaic lamps sit along the shelves, while colourful brass lamps in different designs dangle from the ceiling, and look nothing short of stunning.
Most of the lanterns exhibited in the bazaar are inspired by different cultural aesthetics; lanterns inspired by Islamic architecture - some of which are shaped to resemble the dome of the mosque - and lamps derived from the Ottoman style, made from brass and mosaic stones, as well as Indian lanterns with colorful mosaic-carved roses stand out in particular.
Among our favourite pieces, however, the oval shaped, scattered-mosaic lamps colored in blue, red, white and green; create gorgeous reflections and light patterns in the dark.
Other interesting mosaic lamps include vase-shaped lanterns, mosaic lamps which resemble an upside-down drum and square shaped lanterns. We were particularly amused to see small mosaic balls with mystical lighting which looked like a gypsy’s crystal ball.
Prices of the lamps vary according to size, shape and style; small lamps sell for 70LE to 250LE and larger ones - with intricate copper and brass carvings - cost betwwen 400LE to 2500LE.
The pieces at Bazaar Al Shaaban are 100% handmade by Egyptian craftsmen, which the owners take great pride in. The lamps are perfect for adding a colorful touch to any room and also make for excellent gift ideas.