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


Palmyra: Classic Cabaret Fun in Downtown Cairo

reviewed by
Anne de Groot
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Palmyra: Classic Cabaret Fun in Downtown Cairo

For a
night of good old fashioned fun, Downtown Cairo is always a safe bet. With all
the old bars and cabarets tucked away in tiny alleys, Downtown offers a surprise
at every corner. Palmyra is located in Scarabee Alley just off 26th of July
Street and across from Chemla Mall. It’s located right next to another
conspicuous bar, Miami.

being tucked away in an alley, Palmyra is quite big inside. The walls are red
and gold and lined with mirrors; all adding to the peculiarity of the venue.
You are welcomed by the very friendly Tom Jones look-a-like owner who will
immediately hand you over to wenches who will fill up your glass for the whole
night and shell your peanuts. In the meantime they will also eat from your food
and smoke from your shisha. Apparently, it’s not unusual.

visited in a mixed group of foreigners and Egyptians and were therefore subject
to a lot of attention by the staff, to say the least. We repeatedly got mentioned
by the singers and received lap dances from all the belly dancers.
can request your own songs too; simply give a shout to the owner or the singer

He is
also the one to speak to if you are in dire need of five pound notes to
serenade the belly dancer with, as an on stage band produces an insane amount
of decibels throughout the room. At the times of our visit, singers changed
about every hour between an older man and a younger bloke. Also, every
half-an-hour a new belly dancer showed up. It seemed that the later it got the
more scantily dressed they became.

To help
you look back fondly on your visit, an old man with an even older camera takes
your pictures, then walks to the photo shop to get them developed and delivers
them back to you in an envelope within an hour. This reviewer had an encounter
with two cockroaches in the otherwise clean bathroom, and we were surprised
that there was actually a women’s only toilet, which is pretty unique in

If you
can handle all of the aforementioned shenanigans then you will absolutely have
an awesome time just like we did. However, be warned; trouble starts when you
ask for the bill. An army of girls will surround you led on by the Tom Jones
look-a-like, and present you with the bill. A bottle of Stella is 25LE and we
were charged for ten, even though we were pretty sure it was just eight. We
were also charged 140LE for two apples, 120LE for nuts and 140LE for cheese.
All of this added up to a bill of 650LE which is outrageous. We managed to negotiate
the sum down, but he was still very determined to get his money.

In the
end, Palmyra is lots of fun as long as you don’t take food and make some
arrangements beforehand about the prices. This is Downtown after all, and
everything is negotiable.


360 Tip

Bring money to throw at the belly dancer

Best Bit

It's brilliant that places like this still exist.

Worst Bit

The very high bill we were presented with.

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