Thursday, April 9, 2020
On the other end of the Sofitel Spectrum
Couple days ago I posted about Sofitel Winter Palace in Luxor. Today, I'll talk about Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan. The difference between these two Sofitels is night and day. My understanding is that Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan was already deep into renovation when 2011 revolution started in Egypt. The government then decided to go forward and finish with the renovation. The result was a jewel on the Nile that any Egyptians would be proud of.
The claim to fame for this particular Sofitel is this is where Agatha Christie wrote her novel Death on the Nile. In fact, the desk she used is prominently displayed in the lobby. This hotel, built in 1899, has hosted who's who of the world: Tsar Nicholas II, Jimmy Carter, Winston Churchill, Francois Mitterrand to name a few. Dr Henry Kissinger stayed here while negotiating to end the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
It is of no surprise that who's who have stayed at this Sofitel as the architecture is simply gorgeous. I stayed at the Palace Opera Suite with Nile View. I would highly recommend this suite as it really has a stunning view of the Nile compare to any other suite including Sir Winston Churchill Suite and Agatha Christie's Suite. The reason being both of those name suites have balcony views including the new structure. The suite I was in, from my balcony I can see the new structure but it's less in the direct line of eye sight. One thing to remember is that when you book, the ones that says Palace means that it is in the older structure. If you prefer newly built wing, then pick the rooms without the world Palace. I prefer the old structure better because it has history and higher ceiling to say the least. The new wing has an easier access to gym, spa and swimming pool.
My suite is quite lovely. There is a quarter bath right by entry hall. Then there is a large dining table or breakfast in the room. Then the sunny living room has gorgeous view of the Nile. It also includes a small balcony for one to step out and take in the stunning view. Next to the living room is the bedroom with a huge flat screen TV which I promptly had it taken out of the room. I'm here to see the Nile and temples. Last thing I want to do is watch TV. The master bathroom is large with separate shower and tub. I like layout as bedroom is tucked away inside away from main doorway which ensures good slight at night even if someone is talking in hallways or closing doors.
Unlike Sofitel Winter Palace, food at Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan was good. Their French restaurant is at bib Gourmand level which is all I can ask for! Their Egyptian restaurant is equally as good. Even their International restaurant/ cafe was quite competent. Overall I was pleasantly surprised with the quality and taste of the food here.
Service standard is quite high as well although not as high as Sofitel Winter Palace. The reason being my suite didn't come with a butler in Aswan whereas in Luxor, my suite did. With that said, everyone was helpful and on friendly. I would say the service standard is as high as any other Four Seasons I've been to around the world.
Few miscellaneous things to mention about the property. First, at the car drop off area in front of the property, there are two structures. One is security and the other has two ATM machines. So it's a good place to get cash if you need it. Secondly, there is a dock at the property so you can rent a felucca and have it sail to the hotel dock to pick you up. Lastly, for some odd reason, it feels like Egyptian hotels laundered my clothes with lots of detergent. I feel this is a local thing. So if you are particularly allergic to detergent, I would do your laundry outside of Egypt.
Overall this Sofitel is a 180 from the one in Luxor which made me rather sad as I know how beautiful the Sofitel in Luxor could be. If I were to return to Aswan again, there is no doubt in my mind where I will be staying. This hotel has a perfect combination of historical charm, clean and modern facility, good service and tasty food. What's there not to love?