The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt


Otium: Mellow, Dance-Inducing Club in Zamalek

reviewed by
Christine Clark
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Otium: Mellow, Dance-Inducing Club in Zamalek

Located on the Blue Nile Boat in Zamalek, Otium is an open-air lounge, restaurant and club, whose website describes the venue as fresh, funky and floating. Otium is actually an old club with a new name; in a previous life this hot spot was called ‘Opium’, but that changed when a wealthy Saudi bought the boat and objected to the drug reference. The new name is slightly more esoteric, since ‘otium’ is actually a rather abstract Latin term referring to leisure time, though, ironically, it also sometimes refers to retirement.

Luckily for us, none of Otium’s patrons seemed anywhere close to retirement.  After paying the cover (150LE), which changes based on the  night’s event, we walked into the club’s main area, which is located on one of the Blue Nile’s many decks. The long tables and tall bar stools in the lounge area are all sleekly modern, while the low-slung couches that line the edges of the boat near the dance floor offer comfortable resting spots.

In general, Otium’s décor is fairly bland and not particularly memorable, but the view from the deck more than makes up for that.  Revellers can easily see Cairo Tower on one side and the burned-out National Democratic Headquarters on the other; however, the Nile sparkling in the background is the club’s best feature.

The dance floor is slightly smaller than one would like and we were either pushed up against other patrons or knocking over ice buckets; it is also on a different level than the rest of the floor, causing several people to trip. However, while the dancing started off as fairly tame,  Otium proved to be a good spot to go out for just that as the night wore on.

Music at Otium depends on the theme of the night, and for our R&B Night it was great, with the DJ well in tune with the crowd.  Our entrance fee afforded us one drink and we decided on a gin and tonic and a rum and Coke; the former was not the best we’ve ever had, but thankfully the bartender didn’t skimp on the alcohol in either. Next, we got several tequila shots (80LE); however, we weren’t as pleased with these since the bar was already out of limes, even though the night was fairly young.

Though there are several drawbacks to Otium, not least of which are the prices and the size of the dance floor, we found that the atmosphere, which is enhanced by the fantastic view of the Nile, makes dancing here a blast and is great for anyone looking to bust a move.

360 Tip

Check out the Cairo 360 events calendar for the weird and wonderful nights at Otium.

Best Bit

Strong drinks and good dancing if you pick the right night.

Worst Bit

Drinks are expensive.

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