A rest in Aswan at the Old Cataract Hotel.

Yes, Dear Reader, our hectic life in Luxor has driven us to take refuge and a rest in Aswan, where we aren't generally known and would pretend to be just tourists.
We've stayed at the Old Cataract before, but that was in 1997, when the hotel, like Egypt (and indeed, the rest of the world) was a very different place. Back then, the Cataract was classed, along with the Winter Palace in Luxor and the Mena House in Cairo, as one of the three best hotels in Egypt. We also stayed, on that occasion, at the Winter Palace and we visited the Mena House, where we had a guided tour of the hotel in order to check it out. All three were wonderful. Time doesn't stand still in the world of tourism, though, and the Cataract was closed for about 3 years for a complete renovation. I cannot imagine any other hotel in Egypt now topping this one, honestly!
The tower block which had been the New Cataract (not unlike the New Winter Palace, a cheap "pack 'em in" place) has been upgraded to "fabulous", whereas the New Winter Palace was just demolished! We'd asked to have a tour of the rooms there when we went to the Cataract for tea while on out last Nile cruise, but every room was booked out, so we couldn't.
Never mind, though, Freda spent three weeks emailing and cajoling the booking lady at the Cataract, and ended up with a great three for two deal, a seasonal discount and a celebratory upgrade (her birthday) and booked a beautiful Nile view suite in the old building. Job done!
We travelled down to Aswan by train, it was the new VIP train and the tickets were 60le for 2nd class. It was very nice, not too many people and very comfortable, and clean as well! The journey was only 2 hours and 55 minutes, and very picturesque being through the day.

The suite was fabulous, here are a few pics for you to drool over, Dear Reader. Firstly, a view from outside. That's our balcony, it has a table with two chairs and a sun lounger:

Strangely enough, the suite was right next door to the room we had on our first visit 19 years ago!

Next, the view from the entrance into the living area:

The entrance hall leads straight into the living area, and there are also doors from it into the bath/shower room and separate W.C.

Here's a shot from the bedroom end:

The desk was a handy touch, although the (free) WiFi didn't work at all on our laptop. (We'd taken our Etisalat dongle thingy, just in case.) There was a coffee making machine and a kettle with tea and coffee provided, and topped up every day along with daily bottles of mineral water. (Just like Our Luxor, then!) The large TV was augmented by a second TV for watching whilst in bed, that's it on the right, on a wheeled stand. 
Here's another couple of pictures of the room, for good measure:

The bath/shower room was great too, with an enormous bath, twin hand basins, and a very good shower with a rainfall head and a hand held one also. (Again, just like Our Luxor!)

The Hermes shower gel, which I squeezed under the running bath tap, was a bit more potent than I had imagined:

I felt like Doris Day!

The floor space of suite number 1122 was a little over 70 square metres, it being the largest (or so I was led to believe) of the Palace Cataract Suites. 

As you can see, the "Rack Rate" for our suite, including breakfasts and taxes amounts to a very reasonable $1255.83 per night. (At $33 each, we might have had to make do with just one breakfast between us!)

To give you an indication of just how much we enjoyed out stay at the Old Cataract, I can tell you that we extended our little three night holiday to five nights, and we only left the hotel once during that time. It was a real treat!

Although the hotel was busy, we did manage to sneak a peek at a couple of the suites in the drastically re-arranged "Nile Wing". WOW! What a surprise. The quality of the accommodation is reflected in the prices which are shown on the tariff picture above. ("Palace" refers to suites in the old building and "Nile" to those in the Nile Wing.) The view is even better than the views from the old building. I was amazed.

Another point worth mentioning, is that the large Nile Wing balconies are out of the direct sun during the afternoons, the hottest part of the day. Which makes them ideal for lazing around and reading, or whatever.

We were royally looked after by Mr Hossam at Front of House, but, actually all the staff we encountered couldn't have been more professional or helpful. Their reply to our, sometimes awkward, requests was always the same, that they aimed to do exactly as we required; and they meant it!

We took our meals inside, outside, on the Terrace and in our suite. In every case the food was delivered in a timely fashion and cooked and presented to perfection. What more could anyone want? The breakfast buffet was the most comprehensive I've ever seen, simply wonderful!

This has become my very favourite hotel! 



  1. Do you find Aswan easier going than Luxor?

  2. Hi Anon,
    Thanks for your comment, and I have to say that Aswan might be "easier going" than Luxor, but you would be comparing apples with oranges, in my opinion.
    Thankfully, Freda and I have never been subjected to the level of "Luxor hassle" which we've seen reported here, there and everywhere; even when we were fairly new tourists, which goes to prove that not everyone becomes a victim of this behaviour.
    Nevertheless, Aswan is an entirely different place to Luxor. For a start, the Aswan people haven't had the same exposure to the mass tourism clientèle which (to a point) has engendered the easy-money culture among Luxor's traders and gigolos. Although it has to be said that Egypt as a whole has had a reputation for rapacious avarice since the times of the Romans, at least!

  3. Edward, thanks for replying. I have always preferred Aswan to Luxor but have never stayed at the Cataract. Nice to see that the standards are still as high as always. Did you see many tourists there or is it quiet? The Nubian people are a delight, aren't they? :-)

  4. As we only left the hotel on one occasion, we didn't really have much of an opportunity to see many tourists, other than those in the hotel, which was quite busy.
    There were quite a few visitors who had only come to see around the hotel and have a quick drink and snap some photographs, but they were vastly outnumbered by bona-fide guests. There were also a goodly number of (obvious) regulars staying too.
    I did notice that there were many motor-boats and feluccas (with full loads) making their way about the river, but whether these were foreign tourists or Egyptians, I wouldn't like to say. I didn't take that much notice.
    As for the Nubians, watch out for those fabled "Nubian Pounds"! We used to visit a lovely Nubian chap on Sehel Island, what an experience. He and his mother were very generous towards us when we knew them, and they had so little to share. This was just after the killings at Hatshepsut, when we were the only foreign tourists in Aswan! Happy days.

  5. How strange! We also knew a delightful Nubian and his mother who came from Sehel Island! I think he lived in quite a few places though, and his mother was staying in a village near the dam when we were last there. What do you mean by the 'Nubian Pound'? :-) We have enjoyed so much local hospitality there and in the villages and I have never been asked for anything in return. It's a funny world where those who have very little or nothing are the most generous of all, while those who have it always want more!

  6. What's the Nubian Pound? I cannot believe that you haven't come across that scam!
    "Oh no madame, that price is in Nubian Pounds!" There are 3 or 4, or however many Egyptian pounds he fancies, to the Nubian Pound.
    Our Nubian friend was Abdul Rahim Mohamed, and he was the captain of the felucca "Lord", with a Lord razor blade on the sail.
    As for very poor people being the most generous, I think it's a universal fact. Remember the "widow's mite" from the Bible?

  7. No, Edward, definitely haven't come across that one! :-) In fact, thinking about it, we've come across very few scams in Aswan - unlike Luxor!