Egypt is a timeless destination – one in which the scenery and sites, in many ways, have remained unchanged for thousands of years. But for a place with such staying power and permanence, Egypt’s hotel scene is quite the opposite — ever-changing and ever-evolving. In Egypt, new properties are springing up and opening up every year, and previous stand-out hotels sometimes allow the dust to collect as standards slip over time.
The land of the pharaohs and the pyramids is also a land of mirages on the hospitality scene, and a reputable international brand name is never a guarantee of the quality and value to be expected. On the flip side, Egypt is also a land of many surprises, where a hotel property that you may have never heard of or considered can end up being one of the most memorable highlights of a visit here.
Because of Egypt’s unique position as a global hub for business, politics, and tourism, some hotels in the country attract and cater to a clientele that can throw down the corporate or government credit card on which overly inflated travel expenses go unnoticed in the grand scheme of things. These types of properties, despite their brands, make for poor choices for touristic visitors to Egypt.
Instead, those coming to Egypt to behold its bucket list sites and monuments and experience its unique local culture need to look for a different set of qualities in their choice of hotels for their visit to Egypt. A hotel that caters to diplomats and loathes tourists is as bad a fit as a glamorous hotel brand that is poorly managed or a familiar brand that is located in an inaccessible or undesirable area.
Enter the master curators of Egypt’s hotel and hospitality scene
In 2019, EgyptTravelBlog – the world’s leading independent information and recommendation website on travel to and around Egypt – curated and released its first “Best Hotels of Egypt” list using a custom set of practical criteria that ranked the top touristic hotels across Egypt based on quality, value, service, management, and location. The list raised eyebrows and ruffled a few feathers in the local hospitality industry, but EgyptTravelBlog firmly held to the position that a few bruised egos were well worth finally pulling back the curtain on Egypt’s hotel scene to reveal what those of us who are experts on foreign tourism to Egypt have known for years — a famous international brand is no guarantee of a property being the best in Egypt, and often times foreign visitors are much better off and much more comfortable at a property they may have never otherwise considered or even heard of before.
Relaunch of the “Best Hotels of Egypt” in 2022
The pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 not only halted tourism around the world, including to Egypt, but it also hampered the consecutive continuation of the new “Best Hotels of Egypt” list as well as its expansion to a multi-industry “Best of Egypt” series. However, as the world continues to push past the challenges of the last several years within the framework of a new reality for travel, tourism, and hospitality, EgyptTravelBlog is now partnering with Middle East Travel & Tourism to relaunch and expand the annual “Best Hotels of Egypt” list for 2022 and beyond.
The regional travel media duo will also be expanding the theme into a series of “Best of Egypt” lists to cover other sectors of the hospitality and tourism industry in Egypt as well, with an eye towards curating recommendations for restaurants, bars, spas, and more.
Redesign of the ranking and award concept
As with most hotel and other industry ranking concepts, the 2019 “Best Hotels of Egypt” list utilized a star system to rank properties according to the unique criteria and formula that was developed to specifically serve the tastes, interests, and needs of foreign visitors to Egypt for touristic purposes. In addition to being very common (perhaps even cliche), we felt that this traditional ranking system could not effectively capture the nuance that should go into a truly quality industry ranking concept.
Furthermore, because of the traditional star ranking system’s all-too-frequent conflation with price – and often price alone – the continued use of this system had the potential to lead to confusion amid a list like ours that does not automatically equate price with quality and which places a greater value on the true quality of the product, service, and convenience a hotel offers versus an over-reliance on international brand reputation without the on-the-ground operation to live up to visitors’ expectations.
In order to help build and improve upon our ranking concept for the “Best Hotels of Egypt” list, as well as all subsequent “Best of Egypt” lists that will come out of the new partnership between EgyptTravelBlog and Middle East Travel & Tourism, beginning this year in 2022 we are changing to a Michelin-style ranking system in which we will assign an alternate token of quality, diamonds, to hotel properties based on our independent judgment of the number of diamonds each one merits when factoring in our extensive experience over two decades with the evolving hotel scene in Egypt, in-depth knowledge of each of these properties and their histories, our and our clients’ ongoing experiences with the consistency of service actually being delivered at these hotels throughout the year, all combined with our existing criteria of quality, value, service, management, and location.
The result, just as when Michelin rates a restaurant, will be that a hotel’s diamond rating on the “Best Hotels of Egypt” list will be even further divorced from either the brand it carries or the price it charges. Instead, individual properties in Egypt will be awarded diamonds only if they are truly deserving of your consideration and patronage.
In this vein, a placement on the “Best Hotels of Egypt” list at all, regardless of the number of diamonds a property is awarded, is still an affirmation that the hotel is a solid choice and is recommended by our team. Of course, the decision to award a higher number of diamonds to a particular property should absolutely be construed as a significantly greater endorsement of the quality of the experience of staying at that property as a tourist in Egypt. As such, you will find both expensive and moderately priced, as well as well-known and obscure, properties within the four- and five-diamond categories, and you will likewise find famous and high-priced brands that offer less value to their patrons among our two and three-diamond properties.
Remarks on Categorization
While the two, three, four, and five diamond categories indicate, as expected, our recommendations for increasing value and quality of experience to be had when staying at these hotels during a trip to Egypt, there are two additional categories that merit further explanation and elaboration.
First, the one-diamond category is reserved not for hotels that rank slightly lower than two-diamond properties. Instead, our new one-diamond designation is specifically designed as a reward for budget properties that merit attention from – and our recommendation for – more budget-minded travelers who are looking for an inexpensive lodging option in Egypt that still offers a unique value. In each of our one-diamond recommendations, there is a unique story as to why that property was awarded a coveted diamond on the “Best Hotels of Egypt” list, on which we will elaborate further in the annual Egypt Travel Podcast podcast episode dedicated to unveiling and discussing that year’s list.
Second, we are carrying over the practice from our inaugural 2019 list of simultaneously publishing a shortlist of hotels that we recommend that tourists avoid. The reasons for our “steer clear” warnings on each of those properties are nuanced and varied, but a common theme is that they are overpriced, inconvenient, and/or they simply do not live up to their hype in reality.
However, instead of just calling these our “not recommended” hotels, we’re getting a little more creative while also sticking with the diamond-esque theme of the relaunched list. As such, we’re bestowing a new “Cubic Zirconia” award on these hotels which we believe tourists should not consider or book in Egypt. The specific reasons for these “stay away” recommendations will also be elaborated upon annually in the Egypt Travel Podcast episode dedicated to the release of the new annual list. But suffice it to say that we consider these properties to be “fake diamonds” that may sparkle and shine from afar, but which the experts know are anything but real gems.
And the Winners Are…
You can see the full list of winners of the Best Hotels of Egypt 2022 here at Middle East Travel & Tourism.