After a horrible stay at the Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel & Spa in Cairo (read more here), I decided to switch hotels and made a reservation at the Ramses Hilton using HHonors points.
The Ramses Hilton is a category 2 hotel in the HHonors program, which means that a standard room can be reserved for just 10,000 points. This is quite good value, as a cash reservation would cost over 100 USD once taxes are accounted for.
The property is conveniently located on the bank of the Nile River, just over the bridge from the Zamalek district of Cairo. The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities is also a stone’s throw away, being literally across the (very wide) road.
At check-in, there was a slight confusion with finding my reservation on their system. After providing my Diamond card to help find my reservation, I suggested I would take a look and see if I had made the reservation correctly. I was escorted to the executive lounge to look into this in a more comfortable environment.
Lo and behold, I had made a reservation for the wrong date, so I re-booked with the correct details. Check-in agents at all times were efficient and courteous. Top marks to the Ramses Hilton team. It was a far cry from the horrible service I received at the Pyramids Le Meridien and reminded me of why I continue to stay with Hilton.
While I was not upgraded to a suite, I did not mind as it was just a one night stay. I had instead been assigned an executive king room.
While trying to sort out my reservation issues in the executive lounge, I was able to sample some of the canapes on offer. The selection was fairly extensive and above what I expected from a property in Cairo, which is notorious for sub-par service offerings.
The lounge itself was very comfortable with numerous tables and armchairs for getting work done, or just to relax in a comfortable environment. While the decor is dated, it is perfectly acceptable. The view of the Nile River was also spectacular. There are even balconies which one can use to get a little wind in your hair.
The lounge attendant was also very responsive and open to chatting with guests, teaching me a little of the local beer ‘Sakara’. Alcohol however is on request from the lounge attendant and cannot be freely taken.
Before I get to the actual room, I have to say that the guest room floors have an extremely odd smell about. I cannot pinpoint what it is, but my guess is that there is a bit of funk going on as the hotel is no doubt dated, but a large amount of air freshener is used to cover up the smell. It is extremely unpleasant and one would not want to stick around for any amount of time.
Nevertheless, the room was quite quaint, but visibly dated and in dire need of a refresh. The air conditioning unit looked like something out of the 1980s at best. The bed however was quite comfortable, being your typical Hilton fare which I found to be soft. Some may find it a little too soft for their liking.
There is also a very small balcony from which one can see the Nile River and Egyptian Museum.
There is also a wardrobe with an in-room safe and also an equally dated clothes iron. I found it quite amusing to find a page detailing the rack rate for the room, being $435 USD + 12% in taxes and charges. If I had to pay that much for the room, I would probably jump off the room balcony!
The mini-bar was also not very inspiring, being your standard soft drinks, beers, wines, chocolates and salted peanuts. I did however receive two complimentary bottles of water (yay..?). However, this was not a big issue as I did not facilitate the mini-bar. Prices were very reasonable though.
The bathroom probably provided for one of my most uncomfortable experiences ever in a hotel room. It can probably be summed up by saying ‘dirty and old’.
The toilet itself was very low and had a lovely bidet for one to look at when doing one’s business.
The shower was combined with a bathtub which was also equally dirty with mould everywhere. The handle to turn the shower on was also very confusing and hard to use, being some sort of rotating system to get hot water pumping.
Once one survives the shower experience, the adventures don’t end. Now, I am someone who despises hairdryers attached to wall units. They are usually not very hot and under-powered, so it takes a long time to dry one’s hair. This hairdryer unit was really a piece of work though.
The hot air was pumped through a plastic tube, which overheated the whole unit, which made it very hot to hold. The air which came out however wasn’t that hot and certainly didn’t have much force to help dry hair quicker. An antique collector would probably prefer to smash this with a sledgehammer if it was ever presented to him/her for sale.
One interesting thing about this hotel is that it has an on-site casino. I did not take a look inside, but I believe it is only accessible to foreigners and perhaps non-Muslims.
There is also an outdoor pool with quite a few sunchairs outside. The pool itself however was quite small and not the most exciting offering.
The on-site gym however had a decent offering, but was still quite cardio heavy. One welcome addition was a power rack, which while basic is certainly more useful than many other hotels.
Breakfast is provided for in the hotel’s main restaurant, which is a full hot buffet offering. There are numerous hot offerings comprising of local and Western selections, an egg station and cold cuts.
There was also an Egyptian corner which had ful madames, which is essentially fava beans mashed with some herbs and spices. It was however very bland and was not suitable for my palate. However, definitely worth a try. When in Rome…
The continental selection was also very extensive, with cereals, juices, desserts and copious amounts of pastries.
The highlight of the breakfast for me however was the fresh juice station, which served all sorts of fresh refreshing juices. I probably had around six glasses total. Highly recommended.
I really wanted to love the Hilton Ramses. It is centrally located, great value and the food offerings fantastic. The service was also outstanding which would satisfy the pickiest Hilton and hotel loyalists.
However, I am a firm believer that a successful property must at least minimum requirements of hard and soft products. Where the Hilton Ramses exceeded in its soft product (service), it was in dire need of improvement for its hard product.
The rooms were simply just too dated and probably hadn’t been renovated since the 1980s. The hallways of the floors also smelled extremely bad. To be fair though, these shortcomings are quite common for Cairo hotels.
However, I did recently read that the Ramses Hilton will be undergoing renovations soon. Whether this will actually occur or when that will happen I do not know (a new Egyptian Museum has been slated to open for years and years now, with no actual effect). Until then though, I will not be back.