Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan
What We Love
- Gorgeous Nile views from pool, terrace, guestrooms and restaurants
- Infinity pool that seems to spill over into the Nile
- Four restaurants to choose from (all offering alfresco dining) and four bars, too
What To Know
- Staff tries hard, but service sometimes falls short of five-star expectations
- Nile Wing, built in 1961, dwarfs the original Old Palace Wing
- Don’t count on using that infinity pool or dining alfresco in midwinter
- Pets are permitted for a fee of $30 per day
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
Built in 1899, in the heyday of luxury travel on the Nile, this grande dame of Egyptian tourism was given a makeover by renowned interior architect Sybille de Margerie before reopening with a classy new look in late 2010. Old motifs, redolent of Khedivial Egypt — such as the red and white arches and gilt and crimson chairs that embellish the fine dining 1902 restaurant — have been retained, but the once-gloomy lobby area sports clean new styling, with pale marble floors and dark leather armchairs that bring it up to date without losing its original flair. Making the most of the Nile Wing’s more minimalist lines, the designer has given this 1960s tower a brighter, more contemporary look, with clean lines and a palette of pale gray, pale lemon, sea-green and blue. Outside, though, both wings retain their original ochre paintwork, echoing the natural sandstone of their setting.
Bed and Bath
In the Old Palace Wing, rose-pink walls enclose slim four-poster beds boasting Sofitel’s signature MyBed mattresses. White Egyptian cotton sheets are augmented with crimson scatter pillows and bedspreads that chime with burgundy plush armchairs and creamy sculpted rugs. Marble bathrooms have separate showers and tubs, with Hermès soaps and shampoos. Other in-room goodies include a Nespresso coffeemaker. Nile Wing rooms and suites have pale cream walls and soft, modern furnishings in dove-gray fabric, brightened by sea-green and blue cushions. In suites, a half-width glass partition divides sleeping and sitting areas, and goodies include Bose sound systems. As in the Old Palace rooms, marble bathrooms offer Hermès toiletries. Best of all, each Nile Wing room and suite has a private balcony overlooking the Nile.
The Nile-side infinity pool, surrounded by palms and gardens, is perfection. Enclosed by glittering mosaic columns, the heated indoor SoSPA pool looks fit for a pharaoh’s princess, offering a haven when the occasional chilly winter day makes outdoor swimming less appealing. Eight treatment rooms offer SoSPA’s signature treatments and therapies, including Maria Berenson’s Soin Sublime “beauty ceremony” and products by Cinq Mondes. The SoFIT gym offers TechnoGym, cross training, and bikes. Four restaurants and the same number of bars cover all the culinary bases, from classic French cuisine at 1902 to poolside snacks at Palms. Saraya serves a Mediterranean menu, and the jewel in the crown is Oriental-Kebabgy, which serves authentic grilled dishes from Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey accompanied by spicy dips and Middle Eastern breads. At teatime or sunset the place to be is the Promenade, a palm-shaded riverside terrace. Lounge on a chaise lounge at Yasmin, choose from the edgy menu at the brasserie-style Terrace, and end the evening in the clubby leather and mahogany surroundings of the Bar.
In the Area
A sunset felucca cruise on the Nile is mandatory. Other musts include a trip to Elephantine Island, home to the ancient Temple of Khnum, and the relic-heavy Aswan Museum. Daytrips take you to the astonishing Kalabsha and Philae temples, relocated to islands in Lake Nasser to save them from the rising waters after the damming of the Nile in the last century. For a grand finale, take the longer trip to see the colossal statues at Abu Simbel — the most amazing sight in Upper Egypt.
How to Get There
The hotel is beautifully maintained, preserving the old world charm with all the modern luxuries. The staff were friendly and very attentive, although there were times when it felt that the busyness of the hotel was somewhat overwhelming them. The outdoor pool and the spa were great too.
The best part was the location, with wonderful views of the Nile and the Nubian museum within walking distance. Most people use it as a rest stop after the Nile cruise but it is well worth a longer stay. I stayed here for three nights and could easily have spent longer.
Huge room with an incredible bathroom and terrace overlooking the Nile and Elphantine Island. Gorgeous swimming pool and excellent spa. Great restaurant by the pool and wonderful terrace for sunset drinks and dinner.
Had a suite here room 2102. Spectacular decor, superb service. The grounds provide one with a beautiful panorama of the Nile and Elphant island. The infinity swimming pool is serene and just had to be tested. The only disappointment was my wife’s meal which was the local specialty of stuffed pigeon. Tasteless.
This is a long overdue review on our stay at the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan. We stayed there for 2 nights so we could visit Abu Simbel, and board the cruise from Aswan to Luxor. Much anticipated since it was a heritage property. Booked 2 rooms via the Singapore call centre for Sofitel, requesting twin beds for both. When we checked in, only got one of such rooms and the second room came with one king bed. Would have been an uncomfortable sleeping arrangement for us in the second room and the front desk was helpless, but thankfully, their Exec Housekeeper Taha sorted something out for us. Room stay was fantastic eventually and we had great views of Elephantine from our balcony. Highly recommended for a long walk there by the way. Meals were good and we also had a nice dinner one evening at the iconic 1902 restaurant as well. Taha also took us on a tour of the hotel showing us the famous Agatha Christie Suite. Down the corridors, looking at the images of famous persons that stayed at the Old Cataract or had something significant to to with Aswan, was mind blowing. When it came to checking out, we agreed it was a great stay and promised to recommend the place to everyone. Little did we know, another incident would make us even more grateful. A friend from the other room had dropped one side of her earring in her room and realised it only when we boarded the boat. Thankfully we were not setting sail immediately. She rang the hotel and the response from Taha was immediate. They had already found the one earring even before she called. Truly exemplary of care and service and beyond, the earring was delivered to the boat. We weren’t even on the boat when the delivery came, I don’t think my friend ever got to thank Taha personally for everything. Least we can do now is to acknowledge our wonderful stay at the Sofitel Old Cataract and to express our gratitude to Taha for all his hospitality and help. It made all the biggest difference for our stay in Aswan! Thank you, Taha!
Great location. Close to Nubian museum & shops along the river bank.
5 stars service for sure. Room is spacious & charming. This hotel has lots of history, there are pictures of celebrities and well known world leaders on the walls along hallways. Bathroom has separate shower and a huge bath tub. Excellent Wifi
Breakfast is amazing. We had dinner there & it’s a bit pricey but food is excellent.