The weariness of a long Cairo workweek slipped away as I stepped through the door of an Executive Suite at the Renaissance Cairo Mirage City Hotel on a recent Thursday afternoon. I couldn’t help but smile as I dropped my bag, sank into the couch, put my feet up and looked at the tray of welcome sweets on the coffee table.
I had known I was in for a treat when my significant other, who checked in earlier than I did, texted me to ask, “Can we just live here?” Not once over the next two days were we disappointed. (Well, okay, an in-house spa would have been nice. . . .)
Our two-room suite was perfect for a couple’s getaway, and we loved it. The sitting room had ample seating, a flat-screen television, a half bath and a nice desk with wired internet (the entire hotel has free Wi-Fi). There was a wet bar with a well-stocked mini-fridge, kettle with Nescafe and three types of tea with both mugs and to-go cups, a sink and even a Nespresso machine, which of course I had to try.
I’ll admit this was my first time using a Nespresso machine and it took a few minutes to find all the right buttons, but I was most pleased with the perfect espresso it produced— this coming from an Italian who learned to drink coffee in Rome!
In the bedroom, the usual amenities made our stay very comfortable, and the king-size bed made for a wonderful night’s rest. As for the en-suite bathroom, it boasted not only a waterfall shower but also a full-length Jacuzzi bathtub which, complete with complementary bath salts, was a real treat.
In the evening we made our way to the Club Lounge, reserved for executive guests, for Happy Hour, a lovely way to enjoy a light meal and a few glasses of wine—and an adventurous taste of local Egyptian whisky for my significant other.
We were greeted by name, and the spread was reminiscent of an Italian aperitivo: wine, liquor and juices were on offer as well as a collection of finger foods ranging from mini sandwiches to vegetable skewers, Doritos and nuts to various tasty Oriental and western desserts.
Our first morning at the Renaissance, we wandered down to breakfast around 10am. We were again greeted by name, and a friendly waiter pointed out the various breakfast selections after showing us to our table and taking our drink orders. The breakfast buffets offered everything one would expect—and more. From breakfast sushi (surprisingly good!) and various
Indian and Asian dishes to yogurt, fresh fruit, omelets made to order and an entire selection of pastries, there was a bit of everything.
We loved the small signs next to local breakfast staples, such as ful, taameya and karkaday, which were a great way to include options any local would expect while offering visitors a quick “bite” of Egyptian culture.
Around midday we left our room dressed for the pool. Leaving the dimness of the hotel corridor behind we found ourselves bathed in sunshine, and the large green shrubs along the back wall of the pool area, above a second section of rooms, turned the desert beyond the hotel’s walls into a memory.
A pool boy laid out towels for us on two chaise lounges, and for a while we just relaxed in the glory of a lazy Friday afternoon by the pool. Still full from breakfast, we ordered fresh juices and a watermelon-mint shisha, which was served in a bucket of ice and topped with flowers (of course we just had to Instagram it!).
In the evening, we decided to try Chinoix, the hotel’s Chinese restaurant. The ambiance and service were perfect for a quiet dinner for two, and we started by ordering spring rolls, the chef’s selection of dumplings and green tea. The appetizers arrived promptly and were quite tasty (particularly the scallop dumplings), and only whet our appetites for the main course: sweet-and-sour shrimp with a side of egg fried rice for me, and black pepper beef with steamed rice for him. Both were delicious. Finding well-cooked shrimp in Cairo is difficult, but these were perfectly done and the beef was flavorful and tender. We were full by the time dessert was offered but we couldn’t turn down the candied banana toffee! It arrived topped with a web of spun sugar, which made a bit of a mess but was fun to eat.
Later, we wandered over to the Vintage lounge for karaoke night. Neither of us are big karaoke fans, but we both gave it a try and in the end quite enjoyed ourselves. I was perfectly content with sparkling water during the evening, but my significant other wanted a bit of liquid courage before taking on the microphone and was thrilled to find 10 Cane rum on the menu for a surprisingly affordable price.
Our stay this time was purely for pleasure, but the amenities offered by both the room and the hotel would also be perfect for a businessman in town for a few days, with the options of both wired and wireless internet and a large, comfortable desk, as well as a sitting area that can be easily closed off from the bedroom by sliding a pair of doors.
The Renaissance Cairo is also pet-friendly and offers a fitness center and business center. While it doesn’t have an in-house spa, there is one down the street at the J.W. Marriott, and golfers have the option to use either the 18-hole championship golf course or the 9-hole golf course at the Mirage City golf club.
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