With Egypt being arguably the number one bucket-list tourism destination in the world, there are literally thousands of hotels in the country to choose from when booking a stay there. Perhaps surprisingly, however, true five-star luxury properties are hard to find in Egypt. Outside of Cairo, the search becomes even harder. But within Egypt’s sprawling capital metropolis, one truly five-star property stands out above the rest as a self-contained luxurious haven for rest, relaxation, dining, business, shopping, and just about anything else a traveler might need.
On my most recent trip back to Egypt, the InterContinental Cairo Citystars truly blew me away with its understated elegance and the sheer scope of possibilities at your doorstep when making this property your home on a visit to Cairo. The property’s most obvious asset is that it is attached to Cairo’s gigantic Citystars commercial complex, which includes over 700 shops, four cinemas, 26 cafes, 29 fast food establishments, and more than 50 other restaurants and eateries.
In addition to this mind-blowing number of options for retail, entertainment, and dining accessible from the hotel without even going outdoors, the hotel itself has 10 more restaurants, lounges, and cafes to satisfy any craving or culinary mood, including 24-hour dining. Of these, three of the hotel’s restaurants stand out as exceptional and worth a visit, even for those who might be staying at another hotel in another part of the city.
First, Japanese food is really hard to find in Egypt, and good authentic Japanese cuisine is virtually impossible. However, the InterContinental Citystars has a Japanese restaurant called Shogun that is mouth-wateringly fantastic, and its Japanese chef is a one-of-a-kind on the Cairo food scene. This is also the only place I’ve ever seen in Egypt with a full hibachi-style grill, which makes the experience all the more entertaining and fun.
Second, I had heard about the InterContinental Citystars’ Lebanese restaurant Fayruz long before I ever stayed in the hotel. The typical Mediterranean cuisine is delicious, of course, but this place is famous in Egypt for having the best belly dancing show in all of Cairo. Most belly dancing shows in Egypt just feature a belly dancer dancing to music played over a sound system. However, at Fayruz the show features multiple live Arabic singers and a huge live orchestra of traditional Arabic musicians who are integrated into the show and who artistically complement the nation’s top belly dancing performers.
Third, the hotel’s local Egyptian restaurant is one of the finest traditional dining experiences in Cairo. The dining room is situated under a semi-open outdoor terrace draped on all sides with flowing, locally produced curtains imprinted with historic scenes from the famous 1809 book Description de l’Égypte, which lends the space somewhat of a desert dining ambiance in the heart of metropolitan Cairo. This is a place where visitors can try and savor authentic local Egyptian cuisine in an environment where you know it’s going to be clean, sanitary, and made with the freshest local ingredients.
I have literally tried Egyptian dishes in all sorts of establishments in all corners of the country, and I found the food here to be truly top quality and superb. This is also the only place in Egypt that I’ve ever seen make one of Egypt’s most beloved local dishes, molokheya, from scratch right in front of you. The tastes, the atmosphere, and the service all make this one of my top recommended places to experience local Egyptian food in a comfortable environment with high standards all around.
Beyond the incredible food and sheer number of options available – a feature that is seriously unmatched by any other hotel in Egypt – the InterContinental Citystars also ranks among the top hotels in Egypt in terms of the luxuriousness of its rooms, facilities, and amenities.
The gym and spa alone are three floors and reside in their own separate pyramid-shaped building, complete with a glass apex that is beautifully lit up at night along with the enormous courtyard and pool that winds around the three sides of the pyramid gym. I only know of two hotels in Cairo that have year-round heated outdoor pools, and this is one of them. However, unlike the other not-to-be-named property, the InterContinental Citystars has an indoor pool on the top floor of the gym and spa as well.
Inside of the hotel’s actual guest rooms, I found them to be spacious, well-lit with lots of natural sunlight, and very elegantly furnished and decorated. I was pleasantly surprised to find even the standard rooms to be quite large, a luxury that is often reserved only for executive rooms and suites at most properties.
Speaking of executive rooms, the InterContinental Citystars has the most exclusive executive level and lounge that I have seen at any property in Egypt. The concept of an executive level in most properties is simply a dedicated floor, often with key-restricted access, whose room occupants have access to a special club lounge with modest food and beverage options. I quickly discovered that the executive level at the InterContinental Citystars, however, is more of a separate exclusive hotel within a hotel.
The executive club “hotel” here covers two whole floors, with a dedicated lobby complete with its own sweeping grand staircase in the middle of each floor so that guests can roam freely within the “private hotel” without having to leave the exclusive area. The private hotel has its own check-in desk, its own guest services operation, and a plethora of waitstaff and service staff seemingly at times on a one-to-one ratio with executive-level guests.
Each morning an enormous breakfast buffet spread is laid out in the lounge area of the main executive club floor, with a dedicated chef on standby to also whip up anything additional that guests might want. Custom omelets, eggs benedict, French toast prepared a certain way – you basically have a private chef at your service throughout your stay.
And it’s not just breakfast where the executive club staff spoil you with delicious food. There is a daily happy hour in the evening and a light dinner buffet spread laid out with unique new creations each day. Then, three to four additional savory dishes are created daily and served either as dinner itself or as a pre-dinner appetizer if you plan to dine later in a restaurant. There’s also a full self-serve bar not only with wine and beer, but also Western liquor, which is a hard to come by in Egypt, especially for free.
When traveling to trip-of-a-lifetime and bucket-list destinations such as Egypt, especially for those coming from North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, I always strongly advise travelers to look at their trip and its components as investments, with each choice yielding either a positive or a negative dividend for you during the experience. Therefore, investing a little more in upgrading to the executive club level for the few days or week that you are staying in Cairo on your trip will truly pay exponential dividends in terms of the quality of your experience, the memories you will have, and the value you get from the stay.
After all, an executive club level investment also comes with breakfast, dinner, and drinks for relaxing after a long day of exploring, the combined value of which alone is often more than the cost of the upgrade. You’re going to spend the money in the end anyway, so why not think strategically about your travel spend and go with the smarter option that will get you significant extra perks, quality, and value and make your trip all that more memorable and special?
This combination of modern luxury and style, affordability and value, the range of options just outside your door, and true five-star quality are all why the InterContinental Citystars has become one of my absolute favorite hotel properties and one of my top recommended hotels in Cairo for anyone embarking on an adventure to Egypt.
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