Smart Lounge: Homely Cyber Cafe in Heliopolis
With an abundance of overcrowded restaurants and cafés in Cairo, it’s about time the teens of the city were offered something a little different. First opened by college students, Smart Lounge is aimed at fulfilling both the academic and recreational needs of a younger crowd. As a result, the technologically inspired venue is an occupational mash-up of a copy centre, cafe, snack stand and ‘cyber café’ – where one can indulge in a few hours of video games.
Visible from the outside by brightly lit signage, Smart Lounge occupies a spacious ground floor apartment complete with tiled floors and garish red walls; the interior is far from fancy, however a certain charm turns it into a second home for many of their regular customers.
Services provided include black and white printing (1LE per page), plastic folders (1LE or 3LE), scanning (1LE per page), photocopying (0.20LE per page), Playstation (25LE single player or 30LE multiplayer per hour), Xbox (30LE per hour), shisha (15LE), snacks (2LE-8LE), and beverages (4LE-8LE). With the exception of beverages and shisha, everything is self-service and customers are treated more like house guests than patrons. However, the cashier’s desk at the entrance of the shop serves as a subtle reminder of their business status.
The snack and beverage concession stand serves a wide variety of coffee and tea packets, chocolates, snack cakes, instant noodles, chips, cookies, soft drinks, juice boxes and water. Turkish coffee is also available for those late night study sessions.
With six tables – three outside and three inside – twice as many power outlets and free Wi-Fi, at least one group of students are likely to be drowning in lecture notes or presentation slides. Two TV sets are located at each seating area and always have something interesting on; the staff seem to have a knack for knowing when to change the channel.
Shisha is provided by popular brand, Mazaya, and comes in many different flavours, including more unusual types such as rose, grenadine and plum. Although the guy in charge of replenishing the coals isn’t always around when needed, a quick yell usually gets him hurrying back.
For video gaming, there are four fully equipped rooms with widescreen LED TV sets, bean bag chairs and lank leather couches. Most rooms comfortably hold four players and around six onlookers. The most popular console seems to be the Playstation, although the Xbox or Wii can be set up on request. Despite the wide variety of games on offer, the most demanded are Call of Duty, Tekken, FIFA, and PES – only original CDs and gamepads are used.
Although you won’t find anybody over the age of 30 frequenting the café, Smart Lounge is a laid-back, neighbourhood hang-out that provides just about everything necessary for a fun – and sometimes even productive – evening with friends.