NOTE: The hotel scene in Egypt can change drastically within a few years as some hotels improve, others decline, and some close unexpectedly for renovations. The Egypt Travel Blog has an updated and more current review of this property in our Best Hotels of Egypt for 2019 feature, which can be found here.
The Kempinski is one of the newest hotel properties in Cairo. Although the chain – which is unfamiliar to many Americans but widely known for its sophisticated style and elegant opulence throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and increasingly Africa – normally operates larger capacity properties, Cairo’s Kempinski borders on boutique. It’s main competitor is the new Four Seasons, just a block away at Nile Plaza, if that tells you anything about the league in which it comfortably rests. Because of its central location overlooking the Nile and within walking distance of Tahrir Square, and because of its boutique character crossed with typical posh Kempinski style, the Nile Kempinski is by far my favorite hotel property in Cairo.
Once you walk in the door, you know you’re in a true 5-star hotel – and I would even argue for 6 stars here. Every member of the staff from the doorman to the receptionists to the butlers (yes, butlers) to the restaurant servers are either well trained or naturally gifted at first-class hospitality. The lobby is small compared to many other hotels in its class in Cairo, but then again the whole hotel is compact but comfortable.
The first time I ever checked into this hotel, I was a bit early and the receptionist won my heart instantly with a sentence I’ll never forget: “Would you care to relax for a few moments in the Chocolate Lounge while we finish preparing your room for you, sir?” Why yes I would indeed! The Chocolate Lounge is a fabulous desert café located just off the lobby, and it definitely lives up to the culinary opulence that its name implies.
The hotel’s two main restaurants, Blue and Osmanly, are located on the second floor. Expect to be pleased with the subdued elegance of both. The service is terrific and the food is even better. The third floor gives access to an outdoor patio/courtyard that plays host to a shisha café, which often screens movies at night that are projected onto a large side wall. There’s also an amazing bar/lounge on the 10th floor, and the hotel’s pool, spa, and fitness center are located on the top (11th) floor.
The spa is a decent size, with all of the normal offerings and treatments you would expect to find available at an upscale Western establishment. The fitness room is pretty basic, but all of the equipment is new and it affords cardio-goers a nice view of the Nile while working it out. However, for a really great workout in a larger Western-style gym, do hit up the Nile Gold’s Gym just across the river. For one of the best swims in Cairo, however, you can stay right where you are. The Kempinski’s modern rooftop pool is striking not only for its elegance but also for its view. You have to check it out at night, even if you aren’t planning to take a dip.
The guest rooms in the Kempinski definitely do not disappoint. Although the standard rooms are a bit small, they’re decadently apportioned with beautiful décor, plush beds, nice bathrooms, free and fast wi-fi, free in-room movies, free soft drinks from the mini-bar, complimentary tea and coffee service, 24-hour butler service, and much more. The suites are quite a bit larger and even nicer, and all of the rooms are extremely affordable, especially when compared to other hotels around Cairo that are much less posh charge the same for their rooms.
You’ll really be comfortable and spoiled staying at the Nile Kempinski in Cairo, and unlike its only rival in quality down the road, the Four Seasons, a stay here won’t break the bank. What this boutique hotel lacks in terms of in-house shopping and dining options can easily be had just a block or two away at the Four Seasons or the InterContinental. But the Kempinski more than makes up for any alleged defects with its newness, it’s niceness, and its overall awesomeness.