• Local's Guide To Egypt

11 Historical Hotels in Egypt That You Can Still Stay At Today

Updated: Jan 18, 2021


Listen, Egypt is a country with a 7,000 year old civilization, 5,000+ year old modern cities, 1,000+ year old mosques, and some of the oldest functional monasteries in the world. And while our hotels might not be quite that old, they bear witness to many decades of modern Egyptian history -- and are still around to tell the tale.



1. Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino


11 Historical Hotels in Egypt That You Can Still Stay At Today

Location: Zamalek, Cairo

Established: 1869

Original name: Palace Al Gezirah


This modern-day Zamalek favorite was built by Khedive Ismail over 150 years ago to be a guest palace for foreign royalty and other VIPs visiting during the Suez Canal’s inauguration celebrations.


11 Historical Hotels in Egypt That You Can Still Stay At Today

Khedive Ismail decided to design the palace in the neoclassical style which was popular in Europe at the time. He signed on Austrian architect Julius Franz (later known as Franz Bey) and French architect De Curel Del Rosso, who had also designed the Abdeen Palace (for more awesome Cairo museums you need to check out, read our article here). The interiors were done by German architect Carl von Diebitsch.


Interesting story: the building’s own architect, Franz Bey, a man apparently not known for his modesty, said the Palace Al Gezirah was “the most beautiful building of modern Arabic style in its category”. Its first royal guests, the Prince and Princess of Wales, called the palace “uselessly extravagant” (lol).


11 Historical Hotels in Egypt That You Can Still Stay At Today

The palace operated as the exclusive Gezirah Palace Hotel until it was seized by the government in 1879 for unpaid debt and acquired by the Egyptian Hotels Company. It was later nationalized in 1969 during the time of Gamal Abdel Nasser, and became the Omar Khayyam hotel, later to be taken over by Marriott International in the 1970s. They were the ones who undertook the project of adding two large Nile-facing towers to the palace.


11 Historical Hotels in Egypt That You Can Still Stay At Today
The Cairo Marriott today

The Cairo Marriott that stands today is still the same palace that housed Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, and hosted the wedding of Khedive Ismail’s son which lasted for 40 days; many of the original artwork and furniture can be found in the hotel’s reception rooms and lounges.


Cairo Marriott's website.




2. Marriott Mena House


11 Historical Hotels in Egypt That You Can Still Stay At Today
From a Mena House advertising booklet, circa 1900. Photo credit: grandhotelsegypt.com

Location: Giza Plateau, Greater Cairo

Established: 1869

Original name: Mena House Family Hotel


1869 must have been a busy year for Khedive Ismail, because not only did he build the Gezirah Palace we spoke about above, but he also created the hunting lodge at the foot of the Pyramids which would later become the famous Mena House hotel.


11 Historical Hotels in Egypt That You Can Still Stay At Today
A drawing room, from a Mena House advertising booklet, circa 1900. Photo credit: grandhotelsegypt.com

When Empress Eugenie came to Cairo for the Suez Canal inauguration, it wasn’t enough that Khedive Ismail built a whole guest palace for her and other royalty to stay at; he also built a road that led from Cairo to the Great Pyramids of Giza, and built a royal hunting lodge for her to rest and have lunch at during her Pyramids trip.


11 Historical Hotels in Egypt That You Can Still Stay At Today
The dining hall, from a Mena House advertising booklet, circa 1900. Photo credit: grandhotelsegypt.com

The hunting lodge was then bought by a wealthy English couple on their honeymoon, Frederick and Jessie Head, because Frederick thought the air there to be beneficial (one living in modern-day Cairo can only laugh and/or cry at the irony). The couple enlarged the lodge into an estate and named it Mena House, after the first pharaoh of Egypt.


11 Historical Hotels in Egypt That You Can Still Stay At Today
Egypt's first swimming pool, from a Mena House advertising booklet, circa 1900. Photo credit: grandhotelsegypt.com

After Frederick died, the house was bought by another English couple and turned into a hotel in 1887 --- the “Mena House Family Hotel”. A swimming pool was added a few years later, becoming the first swimming pool in Egypt. The hotel changed hands several times throughout the years before its management was acquired by the Marriott.


11 Historical Hotels in Egypt That You Can Still Stay At Today
Mariott Mena House today

Interesting story: tons of famous politicians, celebrities and royalty stayed at the Mena House over the years, including Frank Sinatra, who performed at a charity event at the Pyramids in 1979 and sang “Strangers on the Nile”.


Marriott Mena House's website.



3. Sofitel Winter Palace


11 Historical Hotels in Egypt That You Can Still Stay At Today
Winter Palace, circa 1910. Photo credit: hotelphotoarchive.com

Location: Luxor

Established: 1886/1907

Original name: Winter Palace Hotel


Interesting story: so, the official hotel website for the Sofitel Winter Palace states that the hotel opened in 1886, and they went so far as to literally name one of their restaurants ‘1886’ -- talk about doubling down. But apparently, according to historians, that’s false -- the hotel actually opened its doors in 1907, according to, among other things, the announcement of its opening in the Egyptian Gazette newspaper in 1907. Today’s modern management might have gotten its founding date confused with the Luxor Hotel, another historic hotel that used to be right next to the Winter Palace. Oops.


11 Historical Hotels in Egypt That You Can Still Stay At Today
An S-23 Empire class flying boat delivering mail to the Winter Palace. Photo credit: grandhotelsegypt.com / Gaddis Collection

The Winter Palace Hotel was created by Cairo hoteliers in collaboration with Thomas Cook and Sons, and its construction was done by an Italian company. In January 19