Pharaohs Hotel, 12 Lotfi Hassouna St. Dokki. Giza Egypt
This was the view from a window in our hotel the morning after we arrived in Egypt. We’d had a very, very long journey to get there, and were woken unexpectedly at the call to prayer in the early hours of the morning. We were exhausted on that first day. Anyway, it wasn’t until the following afternoon that we started to really appreciate our temporary home, our hotel in Cairo. It was fantastic. At first glance, it may not have appeared so; it was just another building amongst the many, many others in the tightly packed city. As you can see, the view isn’t spectacular. But the rooms were clean and comfortable.There were travellers from all countries and walks of life staying there. And, surprisingly, the hotel restaurant was probably the best I’ve ever been to.
Hotels the world over are notorious for housing sub-standard “restaurants” and travellers often avoid them at all costs. After a day of walking the city streets of Cairo with our guide, I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. Despite the warm weather, I was wearing long pants and a long sleeved top, socks and shoes, and left my long hair out to cover my shoulders and shield my face. Every single one of my tattoos was covered up, and I made certain to stay as close as possible to my husband without physically touching him. I believe that when travelling through parts of the world that have a very different culture to the one you are accumstomed to, it is only right to respect their customs. Despite my best, well-meant intentions, I was essentially a zoo animal let out of her cage for the day. A western woman with no veil, auburn red hair, freckles, and very pale skin, walking around with two men. I was stared at; men actually physically stopped in their tracks, halted mid-step to elbow the buddy walking next to them, to stop and stare at me. Even the women and children stopped to watch me walk past. It was beyond bizarre; it was also very confronting. But back to the point of this post.
After an almost full day of that, I was exhausted. We needed dinner, but there was no way I was going back out onto the streets of Cairo at night, without a local to look after us, and so soon after the riots. We decided to eat at the dreaded hotel restaurant.
We picked out a few dishes from the menu, assuming that for the low prices they’d be small portions. That was our first mistake. We got a LOT of food. The falafels were hands down the best I have EVER had, anywhere – I can still remember how crispy and tasty they were! The pile of rice that came with the skewers was enormous, and the tabbouleh was amazing. So was everything, to be honest! Husband also remembers with particular affection the waiter, a lovely gentleman (and I do mean gentleman) who attended to our every whim, waiting far enough away to give us privacy while we dined, but close enough to come running as soon as he saw us run out of beer, water, bread, napkins. We were fortunate enough to be able to eat there a few more times before our time in Egypt was over, and I truly can’t speak highly enough of this place. If you ever visit Cairo, even if you can’t stay in this hotel, do yourself a favour and at least go to have a meal there! It’s one I’ll certainly never forget, and for all the right reasons 🙂