From palatial splendor and Nile views to leafy hidden gems, here’s my list of the best hotels in Cairo – as told by a local who’s been to them all.
Cairo has some spectacular hotels and some real hidden gems – whether you’re looking for history, a quiet oasis in the city or incredible Nile and pyramid views.
I’ve lived here for years as an expat and I’m a former travel editor who’s stayed at dozens of hotels across the city.
Here’s my list of absolute favorites – and what you shouldn’t miss!
The best hotels in Cairo:
1. Marriott Mena House
With its spectacular pyramid views, regal history and oriental flourishes, the Mena House is one of the most stunning hotels in Cairo.
This historic hotel is within walking distance of the Giza pyramids – they’re literally right across the street. And you get breathtaking pyramid views right from your balcony.
Enjoy these magnificent views at sunrise with your morning coffee. Or take in the landscape at night when the illuminated pyramids loom over the manicured gardens.
The hotel grounds are lush and green with water features, fragrant frangipani and grassy lawns. Rooms are comfortable with spacious balconies, a sofa bed, dining table and chairs.
Marriott Mena House was originally a hunting lodge built in 1869 for Khedive Ismail Pasha. It was later sold to an English couple who transformed the lodge into a hotel.
And you can still see the hotel’s historic elements from the woodwork to the ornate terraces and windows. Although Mena House has a pool, fitness center and all the modern amenities, parts of the hotel look straight out of Arabian Nights.
There are three restaurants for both casual meals and more upscale dining. Sit back for a leisurely breakfast – or an evening cocktail and shisha – at 139 Restaurant with pyramid views right at your feet. For dinner, try the Italian or Indian restaurant and the oriental Sultan Bar for drinks.
If you’re heading to the pyramids, exit the hotel and it’s just a 5-minute walk to one of the two entrances into the Giza pyramid complex (the other entrance is just across from the Sphinx).
2. Cairo Marriott Hotel (Zamalek)
The Cairo Marriott has gorgeous Nile views and a sumptuous palace perfect for taking in some Egyptian history.
And if the lavish decor at the lounge and gardens reminds you of a belle epoque palace, that’s because it is.
The Gezirah Palace, built to entertain visiting dignitaries during the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, makes up the hotel’s centerpiece. The palace is nestled between the hotel’s twin towers that contain all the rooms.
The Cairo Marriott is right in the heart of Zamalek, across the river from downtown Cairo. This leafy, affluent district is great for browsing trendy boutiques and unwinding in picture-perfect cafes.
Another selling point are the views. Not all Nile views are created equal – some overlook the city’s noisy, car-honking streets. But at the Cairo Marriott, you get vast stretches of green (the Gezirah Sporting Club,) and the tree-lined streets of Zamalek. During the few hours when the air is clear, you can spot the peak of a pyramid in the distance.
At night the black waters of the Nile sparkle, illuminated by neon signs and passing party boats.
Cairo Marriott restaurants
At Ristorante Tuscany, on the ground floor, you can dine indoors or eat outside in the gorgeous promenade and gardens.
The Garden Promenade Cafe has a great outdoor barbecue buffet in the glowing Egyptian sun. You sit surrounded by ornate oriental arches, sculptures and greenery.
It’s here you’ll feel that unique “magic” of the palace and its atmosphere. You’ll understand why one woman told me she’s been coming here every weekend for the past 20 years.
There’s a jazz band on weekends and a buffet with everything you could crave.
3. InterContinental Cairo Semiramis
With magnificent Nile views and some of the best restaurants in Cairo, the Semiramis is a luxurious oasis in the heart of downtown.
Just off Tahrir Square, the InterContinental Cairo Semiramis is steps away from the Egyptian Museum and right across from the Nile corniche.
Stay here and enjoy sweeping views of the river right from your balcony – and watch the Nile come alive at night with glittering party boats and feluccas.
Inside, the Semiramis is opulent with an oud-scented reception and live piano music at night. There’s also a classic Egyptian-style cafe on the ground floor with oriental sweets and the airy Night & Day buffet (where breakfast is served) that overlooks the gardens and the Nile.
Don’t miss the restaurants at the Semiramis – they’re some of my favorites and rank as the best dining in the city. I’ve tried them all and I’ve never been disappointed.
Head to Pane Vino for casual Italian fare and a breezy terrace with Nile views. With Napoli-style pizza and tiramisu on the menu, this is a perfect spot for a leisurely lunch overlooking the river and the city traffic.
For some incredible Thai food, head to The Birdcage – it’s my favorite restaurant in the city. The award-winning chef invented the shrimp konafa – Cairo’s trendy finger food that fuses sweetness with savory seafood.
Semiramis spa and swimming pool
The Semiramis also has a luxurious spa and outdoor swimming pool with views of the Nile and the Cairo Tower. It’s an oasis of calm right in downtown.
4. Villa Belle Epoque
The Villa Belle Epoque is a lush and leafy boutique hotel inside a 1920s restored villa.
It pays homage to Cairo’s bygone era of belle epoque decadence with rooms full of Egyptian antiques and old-world charm.
There’s also a swimming pool surrounded by greenery and palms that’s perfect for lounging on a sunny day amid the leafy garden. The hotel grounds are dotted with lawn chairs and lemon, mango, olive and guava trees.
Villa Belle Epoque has 13 period-style rooms with private balconies overlooking the garden. Every room is named after an Egyptian city. And each has its own character – from floral printed wallpaper to canopy beds and modern Egyptian art.
Head to the hotel’s elegant Acacia restaurant for international cuisine served in a conservatory dining room. Try the Alexandrian shrimp and the signature Acacia cheesecake with berries.
Nestled in the quiet (and expat favorite) suburb of Maadi, Villa Belle Epoque is a lush oasis from Cairo’s traffic and noise.
Maadi is known for its leafy trees, historic villas and great shopping along Road 9. There’s lots to explore right at your doorstep – and tons of great boutiques, cafes and bookshops.
5. Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski (New Cairo)
With its delectable restaurants and indulgent spa, the Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski is a true getaway from the noise of the city.
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 five-star property has a world-class spa and four different restaurants.
It’s 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.
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.
Kempinski Royal Maxim 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.
Bab Al Qasr, an atmospheric restaurant with brick arches and oriental lanterns that serves up Egyptian and Levant classics. And don’t miss 1897 – a wood-lined and leather filled bar and cigar lounge that makes a great martini.
The Resense Spa
There’s also a jacuzzi and stunning indoor heated pool, full of mosaic tile work. They’re open for all spa guests for use before and after treatments.
Resense Spa also offers shorter services like facials and massages that target specific areas.
6. Westin Cairo (New Cairo)
With its golf course and spa, the Westin Cairo is perfect for a weekend getaway – or if you’re looking for a quiet place to stay in the Cairo suburbs.
The hotel is tucked inside the upscale district of New Cairo. And it’s far removed from downtown’s traffic and city noise.
There are jogging routes through the leafy hotel grounds. The grounds at the Westin Cairo are sweeping and green with the laid-back vibe of a seaside resort.
You’ll quickly forget that you’re in the city and that the Ring Road is nearby. The air is fragrant with jasmine bushes and hoopoe birds – with striking black and white wings – graze on a grassy lawn.
The massive grounds boast a 27-hole championship golf course with verdant fairways and meandering lagoons.
The state-of-the-art fitness studio rents out running shoes and other gear. And you can play a round of golf with the hotel’s instructors.
Westin Cairo restaurants
The hotel’s breakfast buffet is smaller compared to high-rise hotels – but it’s focused on quality.
There are superfoods like salmon and quinoa, and an array of freshly squeezed juices and foods prepared with healthy cooking methods. There are also pastries and more decadent options.
The Heavenly Spa
The 3,000-square-meter Heavenly Spa boasts 10 therapy rooms in a sleek, minimalist setting.
As you lay on the massage table, a therapist rubs away the knots. And there’s a bowl of fresh white flowers underneath. The room is airy with light coming in from a window that overlooks a small garden. Your thoughts wander and it feels miles away from the city.
Afterwards, the spa and lounge areas showcase the open-air feel and bright lights that fill the spa. Even in the jacuzzi there are tall windows and a door into a small garden filled with palm trees and sunshine.
It’s a breezy space to relax after your treatment.