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The Old Cataract, Aswan

The Old Cataract

The Old Cataract is an exceptionally pretty hotel with one of the most stunning locations in Egypt. Seemingly cut off from the town of Aswan itself, it faces out over the Nile to Elephantine Island and the sands of the Sahara beyond. The Aga Khan's mausoleum faces the hotel, and the waters of the Nile are perpetually graced with white felucca sails. Built in the late 19th century, the hotel has welcomed many famous guests over the years, including Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill and King Farouk of Egypt. Today, the property retains its elegant Victorian character, with its interiors mixing Egyptian and French styles. Spacious accommodation is split between the original wing and a newer wing, separated by a large indoor pool surrounded by colourful pillars. Meanwhile, the spa encourages relaxation after a day of exploring the wonders of the Nile.

Our rating: First Class

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Rooms

Spread between the original Palace Wing and the newer Nile Wing, the rooms and suites provide characterful and modern spaces offering both Oriental and Arabian-influenced interiors. Amenities in each room include a TV and DVD player, internet access, individually-controlled air conditioning and a minibar. Many have terraces with views over the Nile, and all have a marble en suite bathroom with both a shower and a bath tub.

The Nile Wing houses four room and suite categories, which range between 36 and 67 square metres in size and also differ in the quality of their view, with the two suite categories benefiting from a butler service. The Palace Wing houses two room types and three suite types, all with high ceilings and rich furnishings that hark back to the hotel's early years. Some of the rooms have views of the property's gardens, while others look out to the Nile from a private terrace. The largest Palace Opera Suite spans 90 square metres, giving the feeling of a luxurious apartment. There are also several Legendary Suites, each named after famous guests who once slept here, featuring private Jacuzzis, chandeliers and extra-large king size beds.

Location

Situated a short walk away from Aswan's corniche, the hotel avoids the city centre noise but is still close enough to all the action. There are a few floating restaurants moored up along the river, however, please be aware that the food served will be simple fare.

Food and drink

Breakfast is served on the terrace (weather permitting) overlooking the Nile, which is the perfect way to start any day. It's also possible to sit a little further along the terrace later in the day to enjoy afternoon tea and the stunning sunset. In the evening, you can choose between four different restaurants serving local, Mediterranean, French or Oriental cuisine. There are also four different bars to choose from should you wish to enjoy a refreshing drink before or after your meal.

Honeymooners

For a special occasion, the hotel can serve a traditional Egyptian dinner in the pavilion at King Farouk's look-out - a beautiful spot overlooking the Nile.

Facilities and activities

A rather luxurious spa is situated in the Nile Wing, offering a range of treatments along with the beautiful, adult-only indoor pool, hamman and Jacuzzi. Guests can also make use of the well-equipped gym and the cosy library.

Our opinion

The Old Cataract is one of our favourite hotels in Egypt. The combination of its wonderful location and historic architecture is hard to resist, and staying at the Old Cataract is sure to be a highlight of your trip.

Aswan tour ideas

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    Alternative places to stay nearby

    Where possible, we like to offer a range of accommodation for each stop of your trip, chosen by our specialists as some of their favourite places to stay. To help you make the right choice, we give each property a rating based on its facilities and service, but we also look for hotels with distinct character or a location that can’t be bettered.

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    Experiences while staying here

    The following activities are designed to give you the most authentic experiences of the area where you’re staying. We work with local guides, who use their knowledge and often a resident’s eye to show you the main sights and more out-of-the-way attractions. Our specialists can also suggest outdoor pursuits and activities, such as cooking classes, that will introduce you to the traditions of the area’s inhabitants.

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      The great Sun Temple of Abu Simbel epitomises the monumentalism of the New Kingdom during its imperial heyday, when Ramses II waged colonial wars from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon to the Fourth Cataract.

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      Take a short boat ride before disembarking into a colonnaded courtyard, which will lead you into Philae Temple itself, flanked by wonderfully carved pylons.

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      Philae Temple Sound & Light Show

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      The highlight of this excursion is crossing the Nile in a boat and being greeted by sights of the floodlit Philae Temple silhouetted against the rocks and surrounding water.