11 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Excellent position by Nile, let down by indifferent service
"This hotel has stylish halls, stunning pool overlooking the river with great views from its rooms. Pedestrian access to the hotel on is along dirty roughly paved lanes crowded with parked cars. Breakfasts were of a high standard with choice of fresh fruit, breads and cooked foods. Restaurant meals were very expensive and certainly not haute cuisine. Reception staff always appeared busy, stressed and inefficient. Service generally was slow considering the hotel was well below capacity. The concierge was unhelpful and arrogant. One day our room was not serviced until 3.00 pm; not what one would expect from a hotel of this class and cost. Easy access to the Opera, Cairo Tower & Museum."
- Travel date: Fri 13th of February 2009
"A group of us stayed at the Sofitel during the first week in Feb for one night only. We had all wished that we stayed a bit longer but had a fixed itinerary. The rooms are quite large the bathroom however a bit smaller than the other hotels that we saw. Would definitely recommend to others."
- Travel date: Fri 6th of February 2009
Beware, Stay Elsewhere!!!!
"I've waited a month since coming home in which to write this review so that hopefully I'd calm down about the terrible treatment my friend and I received at Sofitel El Gezirah. Let me start out by saying the room was decent enough for a 3rd world country. Pretty clean and modern although the layout of the bathroom wasn't the best. If the room's all you care about then maybe this would be a good hotel to stay at. If, however, you want to avoid constant mistreatment and learing by the staff, then avoid this hotel. The conceirge was terribly, terribly rude. I asked him to dial a local # for me when we hadn't been picked up for our tour. He did after rolling his eyes at me. He said he got no answer and slammed the phone down. I expected him to offer another suggestion to resolve my problem, but he screamed at me: "what do you want me to do", then proceeded to ignore me and sell cigarettes to someone who came up behind me and basically shoved me out of the way. By the way, as a side note, don't book any touring with Elegant Voyage, but that's another story. Just trust me, they won't pick you up. The restaurant has a terrible selection and you'd think they'd be grateful for any business, seeing as how they were empty most of the time, but the staff was incredibly rude. They acted like we had no business eating in their restaurant and the entire staff would stand around talking about us in Arabic, pointing and learing at us the whole time we ate. We expressed our displeasure and basically starved the rest of the trip, because we refused to eat in there again. The evening before our departure and fed up with our treatment I asked to speak with the manager. My request was denied and I was told I need to fill out a comment card. I did so and dropped it off the next morning where it was more than likely thrown away after our departure as I never heard anything from Sofitel addressing my concerns. As a final kiss off, when we were checking out someone came up to the room to get our bags and when we arrived downstairs to collect them and get out of there, they'd put them in a back room and wouldn't let us have them. They accused us of stealing 2 bottles of water out of the mini bar, which we didn't. After a heated arguement, we had to end up paying for them, just so we could get our luggage back. I hope this helps someone not to stay at Sofitel. I have stayed at the Sheraton Towers & Casino before and while the rooms weren't as modern, they were still nice and the treatment was far better!"
- Travel date: Sun 1st of February 2009
The bad outweighed the good
"Stayed there four nights, January 2-6. It was a hotel which left me very good impressions in certain aspects and really really bad ones in some other critical aspects.
The hotel is in a top notch location at the southern tip of Zamalek Island, with awesome views of the Nile and the city of Cairo. The public areas are all very nice and very well kept, with lovely gardens and a promenade by the river. The Buddha Bar, the pastry shop, and the Egyptian restaurant were all very good too, however pricey (particularly by Egyptian standards).
The standard room was big, with nice modern decor and well appointed. Oh, there was a balcony with awesome views of the city and the river. The bathroom was also large, with lots of marble. It was, however, very poorly maintained. The shower drain was clogged, and there were several spots of mold and grime in the corners and on the floor of the shower stall. This is definitely not the kind of thing I'd expect from a Sofitel.
The front desk staff seemed somewhat inexperienced when I checked in. They had some trouble finding my reservation at check-in and somehow "forgot" to register in their system that my reservation included access to the lounge/club level. Surely enough, I was uncerimoniously denied entry to the lounge, and the woman at the entrance couldn't be bothered to call reception to check what the problem was. I had to go back to my room, get my reservation printout and head down to reception myself to convince them to correct the mistake and let me in.
The man at the concierge desk in the morning was all warm and friendly when I approached him asking about how to get to the pyramids on my first day. After declining his oh-so-generous offer of a tour which would have cost me a few hundred euros (just to go to the pyramids and back to the hotel on the same day!!!!!!), he suddenly wasn't so warm and friendly anymore, brushing me off very rudely.
Breakfast in the lounge was very nice, with a good selection of pastries, cheese, cold cuts, juices, cereals, etc. The food was very good, very well presented, and I didn't have any stomach problems afterwards. Service was also very good, polite, and attentive.
I decided to pay the premium to get around in a hotel car, assuming that that would ensure a smooth and worry-free time going from one tourist attraction to the other. Well, I was wrong.
My first trip was to the pyramids. The bell captain, which is a very friendly man who speaks very good English, ensured me he would get me a driver who spoke good English too and that I shouldn't worry about a thing. "Enjoy the pyramids, sir." Thirty seconds after getting in the car, I noticed the driver couldn't really communicate in English at all! Since his job was only to drive us to the pyramids, wait there and drive us back, I figured we would be fine anyway.
Halfway through the trip, he suddenly stops the car at a "papyrus museum" and tries to get us to get off the car and go inside. That really got us scared. I had to repeat to him several times that we didn't want to go there and that he should take us to the pyramids before he started driving again. Later I realized that there are several "papyrus museums" on that very stretch of the road, and then it struck me: he probably had a deal with the shop owner to get a commission out of the suckers he managed to get in there. Goddaaamn!! That was one of the very reasons I hired a hotel car for: to be taken directly to where I wanted without any surprises.
Upon getting to the pyramids, he took us past the main entrance and to a very shady backstreet, where he stopped at a small shop named "tourist information center" and insisted we got in. I decided to play along for a while. If he was going to waste my time, I was going to waste his associate's time too. The guy tried to sell us camel rides which would take us "straight to the pyramids, no lines, no waiting". After showing interest for a while, I declined, we got back into the car and the driver finally drove us back to the main entrance.
After we got back to the hotel, the driver still had the nerve to ask me for a tip!!! I obviously made a complaint about the whole thing to the bell captain, who apologized for the trouble and said he would take the case to his superiors, but didn't seem very surprised at all with what had happened. The issue is that I shouldn't have to go through that kind of thing in a hotel car, with a hotel driver, to begin with. Sofitel must really get their act together concerning their drivers and their attempts to make some extra money on the side, at the expense of the hotel guests.
Oh, internet access (wired or wireless) not only was charged, but at ridiculous rates. Expensive and supposedly classy hotels like this shouldn't nickle and dime guest like this.
At checkout, a very weird thing happened: the clerk mistyped the first digit of the amount owed into the credit card machine, which resulted in an overcharge of 3000 EGP. And he didn't bother to check before giving me the credit card slip to sign. When I pointed out the mistake, he barely apologized and actually gave me attitude, as if I was troubling him for nothing. Now I'm not saying he did that deliberately, but that is a very serious mistake to make, and the fact he didn't bother to even look at the slip before asking for my signature only makes it a more disturbing mistake. On top of that, the attitude after I complained was totally unwarranted and unprofessional.
So that was it: a very nice hotel at first sight, with excellent facilities, rooms, and restaurants, plagued by very poor housekeeping, concierge staff who seem to be more interested in selling pathetically overpriced tour packages than in actually helping guests, erratic front desk staff, and drivers who are all too comfortable to openly disobey their guests and stop the car at will wherever they want to try to squeeze some extra money out of us."
- Travel date: Tue 27th of January 2009
"We spent three nights in this hotel during our Egyptian trip which included a cruise on the Nile after staying in Cairo. This hotel is fabulously located, central in Cairo, and minutes from the Egyptian Antiquities Museum. We found it clean, modern and luxurious (and I have pretty high standards.)
The service was good. Security was fairly tight including checks before cars or vans can get anywhere near the front and a metal detector walking into the lobby as well as obvious security personnel.
The downside to the hotel is the amount of smoking in the lobby. If you are no longer used to this, it will certainly bother you. The second bad thing was the music coming from an event on the ground floor ballroom and outdoor patio. We were on the 7th floor and we could clearly hear it. I used ear plus and my family feel asleep from exhaustion of the day's adventures. I would stay here again and recommend highly."
- Travel date: Mon 19th of January 2009
"My daughter, 4 year old grand-daughter & myself have just returned from a wonderful experience at this hotel.
The management must have read some of the earlier reviews by other guests who I note have commented on the poor service that they received......the service was one of the areas that we noted very favourably. The reception staff were extremely friendly and efficient and the waiters were fabulous (maybe having a beautiful child with us was the key!)
We had a deluxe room that gave panaramic views of the Nile and the actual room was spotless and spacious. The beds were very comfortable with lovely linen and two big, fluffy pillows on each.
We loved the location as we could enjoy a quiet stroll into 'town' and it was easy to reach the Egyptian Museum (must see).
The pool area is very stylish, inviting and immaculate although it was too cold when we were there to take advantage of, but it certainly looked enticing.
The extra dining area on the pontoon was delightful and added another dimension to the hotel. The added appeal at the Sofitel was the varied choices for dining, with many outdoor settings as well as indoors.
I would recommend this hotel for cleanliness, location and service as well as the tasteful decore that was not 'sterile' as a lot a larger hotels can be.....very comfortable indeed."
- Travel date: Tue 13th of January 2009
Great Oasis of Calm in Cairo
"The Sofitel is a welcome break from the craziness of Cairo. Hotel is one of the few truly 5 star properties in the city. Rooms are large and comfortable and the lobby and pool areas are totally swank. Everything is great except for the service. They dont seem to care about service and many of the servers dont really know what is going on. It is a very nice place with a great location."
- Travel date: Sat 27th of December 2008
"truly I did not expect to meet such a great location in the center of cairo, however the location was very good, swimming pool just next to Nile however such a pieceful place so that you forget to be in a hectic environment.
A few words of the hotel itself: it is a round tower. a bit old buliding, however well - maintained. e stayed on the executive Floor, if I am not mistaken, 26th floor and the view from the balcony took me a day t get used to(was panicing wacthing down), however panoramic view was just amazing.
The Executive Lounge was nice and semi-round, delicious choice of freshly squeezed juices and cheese during the whole day. The selection of food was rather poor and every day the same, however for a simple snack good enough. i enjoyed the goat cheese with some jams which appeared to be a wonderful mix, aslo during the day tasty seafoods: prawns and scallops on a small porcelain spoons.
But the most I was amazed with the Villeroy and Boch porcelain in the executive Lounge. Very poshy for a hotel.
They served a-la-carte breakfast in the Lounge, therefor we always were having rich breakfast in the main restaurant.
Servicewise employees were nice but not too attentive. Welcome letter came only on the 2nd day and amenities for the executive room were also coming not on the arrival day, but the next day and so on.
That was the first Sofitel but I indeed enjoyed it. Will see where else I can travel to Sofitel."
- Travel date: Mon 15th of December 2008
Beautiful Hotel, Helpful People, but be wary of the spa
"My fiance and I stayed at the Sofitel El Gezirah from the 15th of October to the 22nd of October. The lobby space was beautiful and functional (people actually spent time there), all of the bars and restaurants were beautiful as well. All of the food we ate at the hotel, which was several meals during our stay, was delicious. Kebabgy was particularly good. Our room was small, but well designed with lots of storage space. The bathroom was also small, and already showing signs of wear in this new hotel. Also, there is not enough room for one person's toiletries to store in the shower, let alone two! We paid the extra amount for club floor access, which I can highly recommend, everyone up (especially Hussam) there was extremely helpful and the breakfasts were very good. The pool area is really lovely, even though the pool is small.
That brings me to Le Spa, the spa at the Sofitel. I love spas, and chose to stay in this hotel because its spa received a ranking as one of the top two in Africa by travel + leisure. I did the traditional treatment, which was great, and then I had a manicure and pedicure booked afterwards. The manicure was so horrible, I was bleeding on two of my fingers and stopped it before we ever got to nail polish. I then cancelled the pedicure as well, as I was planning on doing a lot of walking the next few days and didn't want my feet to be sore as well. I paid for the manicure as the spa manager was not around and I did not want to pick that fight with the employees. I was not charged for the pedicure. Before I left I the spa I asked the spa manager to contact me. Two days later, I stopped down again to see the spa manager, but she was not available, and I was assured she had received my first message. She never contacted me. I emailed her after leaving the hotel, and for a week received no response until I forwarded the email to the hotel manager! She replied that she had tried to call our room three times but we were not there (although she never left a message). It's a shame because this spa has a chance to be really first rate, but then when something like this happens, it makes me not want to use the spa at a sofitel anymore.
Overall, I would recommend this hotel, but be wary of the spa, as it took away from the hotel experience for me."
- Travel date: Sun 9th of November 2008
Splendid Hotel, splendid location. Go there if your rate is good
"What a hotel! This is a real 5-star, with 5-star service. The location is amazing as all rooms have a view on the Nile and Cairo, unless you are unlucky and get a room on the first couple of floors whose view "may be" obstructed. The rooms are nice and well appointed. The hotel is close to all the important sites in downtown Cairo and you do not want to stay near the Pyramids, as it will literally be "hell on wheels" for you to travel downtown. Better take a while to go to the pyramids (once) than going downtown several times. I went there as Group Leader of 55 persons and we stayed only 2 nights. The comment I heard from ALL was: I wish we were here for a week. No one had anything negative to say.
One advice: there is a restaurant just outside the hotel (not affiliated) called "La PLace". A more appropriate name would be "La PLace not to eat". Our group had our first lunch there and it was unimpressive."
- Travel date: Thu 6th of November 2008
I was definitely not impressed with this...
"I was definitely not impressed with this so-called 4 star hotel on the banks of the Nile. The noise from the Nile and other hotels guests was unbearable- be prepared to be woken up at night several times. There was no segregation of smoking and non-smoking areas so you can be eating whilst someone smokes right next to you. Additionally and unexpected hotel tax is added on to the hotel bill on departure which was not particularly helpful. The staff were nice but the constant expectation to tip did get very tiring. The only redeeming feature was the buffet style breakfast- superb!"
- Travel date: Wed 30th of June 2004