11 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Having stayed at the Old Cataract before...
"Having stayed at the Old Cataract before, in 1991 and 1998, I was rather surprised to see the quality of service go down so much.
For a quality hotel I expected exemplary customer service but found that the staff were overworked and lacked guidance and initiative.
The room service was slow and invariably something was left off the list (for example delivering a beer but waiting another 15 minutes for a glass)
One rather slow night in the 1902 room, we were seated for dinner at 7:30 and the main courses eventually arrived at 9:00. This was due to the restaurant manager taking the order rather than the more competent staff.
I have to complain about holidays, especially in Egypt, but it seemed that there was no middle management present to drive the service up a notch. We eventually had to complain to the manager and he advised that they were aware of the problem and were dealing with it as soon as possible.
We will be staying at the Old Cataract again, in a few years, but will approach the hotel with caution."
- Travel date: Mon 5th of December 2005
A Wonderful Hotel
"In response to earlier negative comments made regarding the Old Cataract Hotel, I would like to put the record straight.
Firstly, my wife and I stayed for 9 nights in September 2005 in a Privilege Nile View Room.
This was superb accomodation, meticuously clean having delightful furnishings and fittings and a view to die for!
The Hotel staff at all levels were eager to please, provide efficient service and are extremely well motivated through the professional direction laid down by the very approachable General Manager - Mr Jan Woltering and his management team.
Any visit to Egypt should include a "must stay" at the Old Cataract for an unforgetable positive Holiday experience.
Would we stay again - definitely !!"
- Travel date: Tue 20th of September 2005
Memorable public areas, basic rooms
"The Old Cataract is the hotel to visit if you want to capture the feel of a century ago, when travel was limited to the rich and famous. The Old Cataract (built around the turn of the century) has some of the most beautiful and character filled public spaces I have seen. With moorish decor, high ceilings and incomporable views just walking into the hotel was an enjoyable experience. High tea on the Terrace overlooking the Nile was memorable, although more for the romantic atmosphere than the food (which was still quite good).
Entering 1902 for breakfast felt like going into a dusty church or mosque, more than visiting a restaurant. Cold and clinical it was not. I liked it. Plus I was more than satisfied with the breakfast choices.
I'm not sure how I would class the rooms. Our room was very basic (two single beds pushed together in the centre of the room topped by shabby green bedspreads, old tv sitting on top of the mini bar fridge). Initially I didn't like the room at all - it remined me of a boarding house - but it did grow on me. There was plenty of space and the balcony made up for the room, to some extent. However I don't think you'd ever class them as 5 * - more like 3*.
I'd stay at the Old Cataract again, but really for the atmosphere more than the rooms. There are little touches that really add to the feel of the place - like the hatstand of fezes, as worn by the staff. I do think that Sofitel are relying upon their reputation and the history of the hotel to keep up business, when a sensitive refit of the rooms would make the resident's stay an all round satisfactory experience."
- Travel date: Mon 19th of September 2005
Old World charm and character
"We stayed at the Old Cataract recently, the second stop in a four centre air tour of Egypt. Having read so many mixed reviews we were a littel anxious about our choice, we need not have been. Check-in was painless and quick and we were shown to our adjoining delux nile view rooms. The rooms are not suitable for putting a rool-away/third bed in so, as we were travelling with our teenage daughter we booked two rooms. They were clean and well appointed. Our bathrooms were very lerge, clean and well appointed - bathrobes and all the other usual amenities. The views from our balconies were wonderful, overlooking King Faoud's corner and offering unsurpassed views of the Nile sunset.
The service we recieved throughout was first class, friendly and efficient. The laundry service was exceptional, our clothes were returned pressed and packed as new. A wonderfully lazy way to spend the late afternoon was on the terrace, having high tea and watching the feluccas sail by. Everything about this hotel is a panacea to the hectic way of life today. A nice touch is the dress-code - no exposed midriffs, skinny shorts, body piercings and tatoos on display in the evenings here, everyone makes the effort - smart casual, shirts, trousers and even cocktail dresses (although we didn't go that far ourselves) are the order of the day.
Our daughter had room service and found the food to be very enjoyable and the service exceptional, as always in this hotel. I have to say that the breakfasts were only adequate, typical French Hotel Chain fare of pastries and cereals with not much else. We ate at the 1902 on one evening nad again experienced exceptional service, wonderful ambience with various live ethnic musicians accompanying the meal. The food itself was pleasant but not outstanding. For a 5 star hotel it was also reasonably priced working out at about Â£17 sterling per head for three courses.
If you like the predictability and sameness afforded by most of the large 4/5 star hotel chains then this is probably not the hotel for you. If however you revel in the atmosphere of a truly historic hotel, with an ethos based firmly in individuality, efficient, friendly but not over-bearing service and romantic teas and sunsets then this hotel is a must. A real step back to a more elegant bygone age."
- Travel date: Tue 23rd of August 2005
"We stayed at the Old Cataract Hotel last November and after leaving the Four Seasons in Cairo a truly gorgeous hotel, we could not believe just how awful the Sofitel Old Cataract was. The food was awful the room tired and shabby. The bathroom was worse than any I have seen with a plastic mouldy shower curtain over the shower, this was supposed to be a delux room. Thanks goodness we were only there 2 nights and arrived so late with such a tight shedule that we were not in the hotel long. This is not a place you would want to linger. You could not even call it shabby chic it is just old and run down with little or no charm. A total rip off, but there are so few decent hotels in the Aswan area possibly because visitors may only stay a short time and move on that it does not encourage investment."
- Travel date: Thu 4th of August 2005
Re-birth on the Nile
"Experiencing the uncomparable view of the Nile at its most beautiest and enjoying the services and atmosphere being offered by the Sofitel Old Caterac, whilst sitting on the hotel's colonial terrace during High tea, we felt ourselves as a younger and revitalised edition of Agatha Christi and Hercule Poirot.
Having visited many countries all over the world, we keep always in mind, that many aspects we are used to find at home, could be not the same in the places we are planning to stay. We don't want to feel at home when we are on holidays. We would like to experience everything what is so typical for the destination where we are spending our time. And that's what we exactly found back in its very best in the Sofitel. They were even able to exceed our expectations; The humbleness and friendly approach of the staff; the 'smell' of more than 100 years rich tradition in every detail; the creative and tastefull combination of local -and international cuisine. This is where we came for and this is what the Old Caterac was able to provide us in an excellent way. We definitely will come back to experience for the second time a "Re-birth on the Nile"."
- Travel date: Thu 19th of May 2005
"Accidentally we saw some reactions of Egypt travelers, who stayed in the Old Cataract Hotel. Much to our surprise some of then were negative.
My husband and I stayed in this hotel last February and for us this journey and our stay in the hotel was an absolute dream. We stayed in one of the beautiful suites with its terrace overlooking the Nile; Elephant Island, King Faoudâs palace and all the wonderful sights around. The authentic atmosphere of this hotel, the friendly service, the unique 1902 restaurant, the afternoon tea at the terrace, we enjoyed every minute of our stay. We already expressed our compliments to the General Manager, a very nice man, who runs his hotel with enthusiasm and experience."
- Travel date: Tue 10th of May 2005
Reliving the past
"I have visited the Old Cataract with my family this year. I was totally surprised with the relaxed atmosphere of this Hotel. I travel a lot and most of the times in modern and well known Hotels. (and to be honest they are almost the same all over the World)
But if you are looking for an authentic first class âcolonial experienceâ. This is the place to be.
It's like you are playing a role in the movie " murder on the Nile, from Agatha Cristi". It's like time stood still when you are having youâre high tea, sitting on the terrace, overlooking the Nile with the picturesque sailboats and the sun chancing colors in the vanilla sky . I also could recommend an evening-diner at the terrace, the dishes they serve is really excellent and the view is priceless. Please ask the reception for nice trips they gave us very good advice for a luxurious boot trip from Aswan to visit the temples on the lake ( this is much better and more quiet than a trip on the Nile to Luxor f.e.).
When you want feel the difference in Paris you stay at the Ritz, when you are in Amsterdam you feel it in The Grand, and when you are in Aswan you feel it in â the Old Catarcacâ. It was an experience I will never forget."
- Travel date: Sun 8th of May 2005
how to calm down from the normal hectic life.
"My husband and I stayed 4 nights in this hystorical hotel. We stayed in the Old Cataract Suite with a private terras overlooking the Nile and enjoyed every minute. Especially all the cute and interesting details in the rooms made us feel at home in this hotel. The majestic atmosphere of this old hotel is fantastic. The peaceful view and the personal service make you relax completely. There are wonderfull private niches where you can have the most romantic dinner of your life.
Of course it's an old hotel, but you can see that the through the new management there's a new wind blowing and investments are made to modernise, without loosing the historic atmosphere. The pool needs a lift up,but the teraces are splendid. We hope to come back soon and enjoy dinner again in the splendid arabic restaurant."
- Travel date: Sun 8th of May 2005
Never again.... Terrible~~
"TERRIBLE and UNBELIEVABLE!! Would not recommend it to anyone! My friends and i (17 of us - 8 rooms) were thoroughly disappointted with this so called 'boutique/heritage hotel'. Rooms were rundown, dark and deary! Mattress and pillows were old and worn out! The rooms on the upper floors had just had their floors varnished and the smell was overwelming. We refused our rooms and was later, after much harrassing, moved to the New Cataract - which was equally awful - chair upholstery were stained, room was unacceptable for this class of hotel. You would think that the GM would at least attend to us unhappy guest but instead he ignored us.
Christmas Eve Dinner was bad. Service appalling, food lousy. For entertainment we had the GM singing which is not the norm. Even the local staff paid more attention to the 'white' guests and was not at all attentive to us Asians!
We all didn't sleep well that night on their worn out beds and was glad that we stayed for only one night! On Christmas day we boarded the Oberoi Philae Cruiser.... thank, God!!!
The GM should be relieved of his duties there - He was unattentive and did not even acknowledge our grievance at HIS HOTEL!! Never will my friends and I step into this hotel again!!!!"
- Travel date: Tue 3rd of May 2005
A must for those with traditional values
"The best located hotel on the Nile. Wonderful old building with many of the original and characterful Victorian fixtures and fittings. Steeped in history,great service, lovely room with a view over the Nile and the sahara desert. Good food, limited choice of alcohol but good for Eqypt. Pleasantly exclusive and smiling happy faces all around. Will return as soon as possible. Dinner at King Fouads dining area is a once in a life time type of experience. This may not suit the traveller expecting standard facilities around the world."
- Travel date: Mon 25th of April 2005