Located in the middle of Downtown Cairo, surrounded by smoky cafés and baladi bar favourites such as New Arizona, the Windsor is a hidden and almost forgotten gem. Entering the hotel is almost like jumping back to another era; built in 1893 as part of the royal family’s bathhouse complex, it was transformed into the British Officer’s Club during World War I.
The bar has remained almost frozen in time and if Winston Churchill were alive today, this would be one of his favourite Cairo spots. The low lighting, soft music and dark panelling all make for a relaxing atmosphere, while the décor remains true to its British heritage. The walls are adorned with old photos and antler horns obtained in hunts immemorial, while the two waiters were decked out in old-fashioned vests and bowties. The bar’s unique furniture is a definite highlight as it consists of tables and chairs made out of wooden barrels. Though the bar itself is fantastic, there were hardly any people there, and we found the largely empty room slightly disconcerting.
Throwing off our trepidation we made our way to a table by one of the large windows and a waiter quickly came over to hand us drink menus, which had an extensive selection of beers, wines and cocktails. We started off with a round of beers; the Windsor’s options include Luxor (15LE), Stella (17LE) and Heineken (22LE).
However, when we came to order cocktails we were dismayed to learn that the cocktail prices listed in the menu are sometimes very different than the prices actually charged. Though a Manhattan is priced at 37LE on the menu, our waiter told us the actual cost would be over 100LE! We decided to try a few drinks anyway and ended up with a Campari soda (32LE), a Mojito (32LE) and a White Russian (50LE). All the drinks were quite good, though the Mojito had a stronger lemon taste than the traditional minty flavour. The strength of the drinks made up for that though; the Campari soda and the Mojito were prepared at our table, so we could see precisely just how strong our drinks were.
Bar patrons can order food from the hotel restaurant’s menu, which consists of sandwiches, pastas, salads and pizzas, as well as traditional Egyptian foods such as foul. We decided to try the spaghetti Bolognese (20LE) and the vegetarian pizza (28LE). The spaghetti was delicious; the sauce had a nice little kick to it. The pizza, on the other hand, was rather average, though the dough was especially good and tasted homemade.
Despite its drawbacks Windsor Bar is definitely one of our favourite spots. The bar’s vibe is slow and it’s easy to spend hours and hours sitting and relaxing with friends. The lack of patrons detracts from the atmosphere slightly, though you won’t ever have to worry about finding a place to sit. Regardless of other customers the bar still has a timeless, classic feel that anyone looking for a quiet drink and a good time with close friends would enjoy.