kempinski cairo
Egypt,  Travel

Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski: Hotel and Spa Review

With its delectable restaurants and indulgent spa, the Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski is a perfect getaway from the bustling city.

There’s not much that sticks out from the sandy and billboard-cluttered landscape of the Ring Road like an Austrian-palace-inspired behemoth topped with azure cupolas. Although with its sparkling swimming pool and palm trees, the Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski would stand out in old Vienna too.

The hotel is designed around dreams of palatial splendor, starting with the long path at the entrance lined with palms and fountains. And this old-world aesthetic fills the hotel from the heavy drapes at The State, where breakfast is served, to the pre-Raphaelite reproductions that hang at the Resense Spa.

The Royal Maxim opened in November 2015 with a glittering evening that featured ballerinas in tutus and a prestigious guest list. It’s the third Kempinski property in Egypt, along with the Kempinski Nile Hotel on Cairo’s Nile River and the Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay on Egypt’s Red Sea.

The five-star property boasts 245 rooms and suites, a world-class spa and four different restaurants. It also has 11 meeting rooms and an enormous ballroom. Though weddings at the Royal Maxim are held in front of the property and don’t bother guests with the loud celebrations.

royal maxim palace kempinski

royal maxim palace kempinski

The Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski is in the heart of New Cairo, an upscale district with some great shopping malls that’s about an hour’s drive from downtown. It’s also very close to Cairo International Airport, while Cairo Festival City Mall is about a ten-minute ride away.

Rooms at the Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski

royal maxim palace kempinski

royal maxim palace kempinski

kempinski cairo day use

There are five different room types available at the hotel. I opt for the Deluxe Pool Room facing the hotel’s courtyard with gorgeous views of the property.

It’s time to “put your crown on,” says the quote on my magnetic room key packet. When I open the door, the TV set plays violin music (the accompaniment to a video about the Kempinski brand) and there are a few green apples on a glistening table that remind me of Sleeping Beauty.

This fairytale feeling continues when I look out the window. There’s sparkling white, European-style architecture topped with cupolas as blue as the Mediterranean and a vast courtyard with lounge chairs and restaurant tables around a sparkling pool.

The bathroom is filled with marble. It has a spacious bathtub, shower and bidet, while a soft cotton bathrobe hangs ready on the wall.

There’s also a wooden working desk and a Nespresso machine with a stack of capsules, along with a kettle and tea bags.

I sink into my bed for the night. The mattress is very comfortable. But another fluffy layer on top makes you feel like you’re laying on a cotton cloud.

Other rooms at the hotel include the Grand Deluxe Room, which boasts a private greenery-covered patio on the ground floor, and the exclusive Royal Club Room with extra perks like spa discounts and access to the Royal Club lounge. The Deluxe Room is similar to mine, only with city views.

The Cabana Pool Room is on the ground floor with direct access to the courtyard and the shimmering pool. Each cabana room has a spacious terrace for lounging poolside while having your room door nearby.

Kempinski Royal Maxim Restaurants

Classic Italian at Lucca

kempinski royal maxim restaurants

royal maxim palace kempinski restaurants

Lucca is the hotel’s Italian restaurant specializing in home-made Tuscan classics cooked up by its Italian chef. There are some cozy tables inside. But the weather is often perfect in Cairo in the evenings, and there are plenty of outdoor tables too in the courtyard alongside the pool.

Lucca’s decor is rustic and artsy, with murals on the walls depicting rural Italian scenes, red and white checkered tablecloths and vases of wild greenery.

I recommend the Tonno Tonnato, or raw tuna with tuna mayonnaise, celery, sea salt and chili. It melts in your mouth and the creamy mayo plays off the saltiness of the fish.

For the main course, dig into the Branzino in Guazzetto, or sea bass with artichoke, potatoes, cherry tomatoes and olives. The oily, filling and pungent fish is paired perfectly with sweet tomatoes that keep the palate interested.

Breakfast at The State

kempinski cairo restaurants

Breakfast at the Royal Maxim is served at The State and includes anything you could crave in the morning. There are oriental favorites along with cereals, eggs, German breads and Greek salads.

The State is named after the dinning room at Buckingham Palace and it includes all the traditional European breakfast classics, along with some local twists.

I have the Egyptian standard, or bread, halloumi cheese and a side of arugula and tomatoes. Then I add a tall latte and top my plate with some mouthwatering salmon.

When I ask the waitress if there’s any chocolate, I expect her to point out a chocolate chip muffin I’d missed at the bread station. But instead she brings back M&Ms, Maltesers and a strawberry atop some Nutella arranged prettily on a plate.

Other restaurants at the hotel include Romanov, a steakhouse with premium meat cuts, and Bab Al Qasr, an atmospheric restaurant with brick arches and oriental lanterns that serves up Egyptian and Levant classics.

There are also three bars and lounges. Aqua Chill is a pool bar that serves up refreshments and snacks during the day straight to your sun lounger, while 1897 is a wood-lined and leather filled bar and cigar lounge that makes a great martini.

The Vibes Lounge is great for a cappuccino and chocolate in the afternoon. This European-style coffeehouse has incredible pastries and desserts that are a chocolate lover’s dream. And I love the outdoor terrace with its comfy couches and pink bougainvillea.

kempinski royal maxim restaurants

royal maxim palace kempinski

Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski Spa

A lively Strauss waltz plays on the speakers as I follow my massage therapist down the spa’s long hallways towards my treatment room. My eyes scroll past the reproductions of pre-Raphaelite paintings on the walls. The red-haired maidens have flowing hair and dreamy eyes as they enjoy rose gardens and wildflowers.

The hotel’s Resense Spa calls itself the “renaissance of the classical European spa.” And it gives off that old-world European feel as you walk through its doors.

The Journey

kempinski cairo spa

I’m here to immerse myself in The Journey, a two-part treatment that lasts a blissful hour and forty-five minutes. It promises not merely a spa treatment but an experience.

The Journey begins with a 45-minute body scrub using a creamy body exfoliant. Starting from the feet and working slowly upwards in strong, sweeping strokes, the massage therapist works the tiny grains into the skin for deep exfoliation. The ritual feels more like a massage than a body scrub. And the apricot and macadamia oils give off a sweet, delicate fragrance.

The room, with its faux Grecian columns, feels refined yet cozy. It’s a refreshing change from the common minimalist style of spa decor.

Working upwards towards the back, then down to the arms and fingertips, the therapist works each area thoroughly. The forceful strokes get the blood flowing and the skin feeling warm and alive.

The massage therapist finishes off by exfoliating the neck and torso area, then leaves the room so I can shower. I rinse off the granules and prepare for the second part.

The Arabian Massage

kempinski cairo spa

kempinski cairo spa

The second part of The Journey is the Arabian Massage. This is a traditional massage rooted in classical techniques and the deep-tissue work of the Swedish massage.

The spa at the Royal Maxim prides itself on catering to the needs of individual clients. And in my case, as I spend hours hunched over a laptop, this means slightly painful but ultimately rewarding kneading of the upper back and shoulders.

My skin feels baby-soft and deeply moisturized from the scrub. And I look forward to going deeper and getting my muscles to relax.

Strokes in a Swedish massage vary from sweeping and light, to deep, strong and slow. The massage therapist does a splendid job in keeping the pace varied. She mixes the gruelling strokes that get the tension out with strokes that let me relax in between.

With Chopin and Tchaikovsky streaming in the background, it’s easy to drift away and feel your tensions disappear.

The massage features Kempinski’s own blend of oils, including a base of sweet almond oil with marjoram, bergamot and thyme. Light and refreshing, the scent lingers on your skin for the rest of the day. The oils quickly seep in and leave the skin soft and elastic.

When the treatment ends, there is a lounge with tea, cookies and books to relax in. The space is a soothing way to start that transition back to reality.

There’s also a jacuzzi and stunning indoor heated pool, full of mosaic tile work and more paintings. These facilities are open to all spa guests for use before or after your treatment.

Express and beauty treatments

royal maxim palace kempinski

kempinski cairo spa

If you don’t have all afternoon, Resense Spa has shorter services like facials and massages that target specific areas.

The next day I opt for The Brightener, a one-hour facial treatment designed to brighten and illuminate the skin.

Although this treatment isn’t about aromatherapy, there’s a sweet and delicate fragrance from four different teas in the spa’s products. A lingering fragrance greets you at the door too, and feels immediately calming.

The Brightener facial includes a gentle peel of the face to cleanse and increase circulation. Then there’s a mask to restore radiance. And while the mask does its work, a gentle hand and foot massage makes this treatment a treat for the whole body.

I check out with a nutty fragrance still on my skin. I feel relaxed even after a brief treatment and energized to take on the city again.

And while you’re in Cairo, explore some of the city’s hidden gems in 5 Must-See Buildings in Downtown Cairo.

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