InterContinental Cairo Citystars

After our four hour wait at Aswan airport (see previous post) it was such a relief to be delivered safely to the sparkling oasis of the InterContinental Cairo Citystars late in the evening.

We began our check in process in the lobby, but when the receptionist realised that our room was on the Club Floor, we were asked if we would like to continue check in in the lobby or on the 15th floor where we would receive a welcome drink. No brainer. Off we trotted to the lift. And this where the list of new experiences began – we have never seen such a lift before, to summon an elevator you punched in the number of the floor you desired and a backlit panel told you which of the lifts to get in.

Our speedy ascent was also a rarely experienced phenomenon in busy hotels, and we alighted the fancy lift in the Executive Club Reception, greeted by the warm and smiling Noha. She realised that it was right on 9pm (when the complimentary happy hour finishes) and she told us she would take care of everything to do with check in and for us to “get in there” and get our drinks and snacks. Yes, ma’am! So our smiling waiter, Mostafa, poured us two glasses of sparkling rose Le Baron and allowed us to pilfer the canapés and snacks before clearing them. At about 9:15pm when I asked for clarification of the label of what I had been sipping (it was most pleasing), I was offered another. Excellent service.

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After refreshments, we headed straight to our room. Without a doubt, this was a perfect hotel room for us – classy, but with a bit of bling. And was so high tech that it was simple – and it is very rare for that to be the case. Often the effort to be impressive and ultra modern, results in the guest wanting to throw remotes across the room and sit in the dark! The range of lighting choices on offer catered for all situations and moods, including the often overlooked ‘I want to read so give me some decent light’ choice!

The full-length mirror was of an excellent quality so that it didn’t distort – flattered, even. The bathroom was ceiling to floor flashy, mosaic tiles in swirling patterns of pewter, gold and silver, creating another level of luxury and decadence in a very modern way. There was a glass wall between the bathroom and bedroom, which is not always appealing to modest guests, so privacy could be achieved by drawing the luxurious gold and maroon drapes. The frosted glass door to the bathroom area also achieved this, without sacrificing the light show supplied by the hidden downlights beneath the bathroom sink – the colour changing function added to the atmosphere in the rest of the hotel room.

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Even the InterContinental Cairo Citystars’ classic rooms make you feel pampered and glamorous. Our room was a Club Signature room (entry level for the executive rooms), and it was so opulant and well-designed that I struggled to think of a better functioning and aesthetically pleasing hotel room that we have experienced. Even the office chair wheeled well on the carpet. This may seem like a small thing, but for someone who uses a hotel room desk often, it’s not!

The music aficionados will have a love affair with the Bose sound system and port for their device, a relationship that they will want to continue when they get home by purchasing their own! The detail of providing a gloriously deep and functional safe was also much appreciated – plenty of room for laptops, devices and other valuables. Both sets of drapes (block out and diaphanous) were operated via remote control, which really is the ultimate form of decadence – opening the blinds without having to get out of bed! The final feature of an outstanding hotel room is excellent soundproofing, and this room ticked that box as well. Told you it was perfect!

The ornate ceiling of our room was a lovely touch in a traditional pattern in a dark ecru, which contrasted beautifully with a contemporary cornice detail in silver rectangles of varying sizes. The sense of style in the room and throughout the hotel was impeccable, which was reflected in the guests you saw gliding through the foyer. The character of the room, thankfully, was not generic; there was clearly a sense of Egypt in all aspects of the design, especially in the patterned doors and glass of the bathroom. The modern rooms had modern twists on authentic elements (such as the ceilings), while the traditional rooms evoked a time long gone, but with every feature of convenience you could desire.

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Thanks to Mariam (Snr PR Executive) we were lucky enough to have a tour of a one bedroom executive suite (also of modern décor), as well as the Luxor Suite, a royal suite. This one was a classic décor, with many elements of art deco to the design. This was a two bedroom suite that also had a direct private lift to its own helipad!! Fady was the butler on duty and helped Mariam in the showing of the suites. He was very happy to be able to open these masterpieces to people who clearly appreciated their beauty.

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The Executive Club Lounge was a spacious area, also with a contemporary/traditional combo feel to it. The lime green club chairs with a velvet embossed pattern in the material were accented with dark wood, which was reflected in the three seater lounges. There was a small business meeting area with a coffee table, lounge and two chairs, that while it was in the middle of the space, had the capacity to be screened off with gossamer curtains to complete the ‘room’ started by the wall covered in striped golden wall paper. There was also plenty of natural light, which made any of the areas a relaxing place to read or chat.

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Breakfast was a filling affair. Our waiter, Ahmed, and the front of house staff were charming and chatty. Amr seemed to be the maître d’ who oversaw Ahmed’s work and plied us with freshly cooked felafel, homus, Egyptian bread and foul (pronounced ‘fool’). We were so full of foul that we didn’t need any lunch. After our tour with Mariam, we headed back to the lounge for some fresh strawberry juice and sparkling water, but even at 3pm, we still weren’t ready for snacks!

We finally started to get peckish around 5:30pm and caught the end of the afternoon tea in the lounge (which finished at 6pm!). That gave them an hour for change over before canapés and drinks started at 7pm. In the meantime we explored more areas of the hotel and wished that we were staying longer than two nights!

By the time happy hour rolled on, we were back in the lounge. One of our waiters from the previous night (Meel, pronounced Mael) remembered my order of the night before, the le Baron blush sparkling, which is always a smooth and delightful touch. Mostafa took me through all the canapés on offer to ensure I found something to my liking, which of course I did. Snuggled in our little corner of lounge chairs, we decided to finish the evening in canapé mode rather than strike out to find something else for dinner. The only moving I did was on to an Egyptian red, a Jardin du Nile Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

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Being close to Christmas, we headed down to the appropriately decorated lobby, the usually ornate surfaces further enhanced with tinselled tree and poinsettia adorned sphinxes. The lobby was both a happening place, but also provided intimacy in its various areas. We settled ourselves in the extension of The Esplanade Café that was in the centre of lobby area of the hotel. Its raised island of marble terrace was filled with easy armchairs and lounges, with a varied drinks list, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. We enjoyed the live music nearby – a piano, a cut down double bass and singer, which added simultaneously to both the liveliness and the intimacy, as the general hubbub covered personal conversations.

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There is no doubt that this will be my first choice of hotel if returning to Cairo. Unable to fault service or facility, I am eager to try the many restaurants on offer with their wide range of cuisines to suit all tastes. The precision in every aspect of design married perfectly with beauty of aesthetic, as well as staff knowing your name and remembering your drinks orders, made every aspect of staying here a sheer pleasure. If only real life could be like this!

Our adventures continue in Jordan

Accommodation: InterContinental Cairo Citystars

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About bontaks

Nic is the the ‘Bon’ part of ‘Bontaks.’ Together we are Nic and John – two travel-addicted teachers who enjoy every opportunity to go places, meet people and experience life.

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