Cairo: The First Residence
We asked Karim Raafat, Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence, to gather the savviest sight-seeing suggestions he could find—not just his own, but also those of other local connoisseurs, including some he works with every day at the Hotel. Cairo is at once modern and ancient, juxtaposing gleaming skyscrapers and hopping nightclubs with first-century mosques and awe-inspiring pyramids.
Zamalek is an upscale neighbourhood on Gezira Island in the Nile, and, not surprisingly, it’s home to many of Cairo’s best restaurants. Abou El Sid offers genuine Oriental elegance, with handmade artisan tiled flooring and hand-designed brass tables. For al fresco dining, find Le Pacha 1901 and Blue Nile Boat, boats permanently docked along the Nile that serve a variety of cuisines, including Asian, Italian, Lebanese and Indian.
If you’re looking for Starbucks, you can find it in the shopping mall at Nile City Towers near downtown, or in Heliopolis and Maadi (Cairo has more than 10 Starbucks now). But Simonds, the historic coffee shop and bakery on 26th July Street in Zamalek, where faded movie stars, the intelligentsia and cousins of King Farouk have been known to sip cappuccino, is the place to soak up a little local ambience with your latte or espresso. Cilantro, a local chain, serves up a more contemporary experience just down the street. For a relaxing cup of tea and engaging conversation, Tea Lounge at the Hotel serves a traditional afternoon high tea.
First Mall is Egypt’s shopping destination for luxury brands and high-end shops for women like Hip 1st, which sells Nicole Miller, Lanvin and Zac Posen. First Mall also has Polo, which carries Dolce & Gabbana, Gianni Versace and Armani. A special night out may require a trip to Helene Boutique, where high-end designer bags, sequined shoes and glittery evening dresses catch the eye. For men, there is the Egyptian high-end brand Concrete, which includes casual wear, casual suits and sleepwear made of Egyptian cotton, and Polo Men, which offers Dolce & Gabbana, Armani and Richmond.
Float by Felucca
When in Egypt there are many attractions, much to do and only so much time. However, a quiet cruise on the Nile in a traditional Egyptian felucca is an excellent way to enjoy the cityscape and avoid the hustle and bustle. Let the beauty of the Nile and Egypt’s warm breeze relax you. The Hotel’s concierge team can arrange a private sunset felucca ride for guests that includes a savoury Egyptian feast as you are entertained by belly dancers, a Tanoura dance and an Oriental band. Based on guest preferences, the dinner is prepared and then placed in a romantic picnic basket with your favourite drinks for a truly magical experience.
Dancing Beneath the Stars
No one can leave Cairo without enjoying the ever-entrancing world of Sufi dancing, a folkloric Egyptian tradition. The dancers make formations whirling around a central dancer, visually replicating the movements of the solar system while depicting the transformation of the human body into a divine conduit between Earth and the Creator. The show takes place inside a picturesque open courtyard of the 500-year-old Mamluk-era Al-Ghouri building nestled within the Khan el-Khalili bazaar, one of Cairo’s oldest marketplaces. Prepare for a night of magic!