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
- 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
First of all, Aswan is situated in a beautiful location along the Nile, and this hotel is perched on a cliffside overlooking the river. The views from the hotel are amazing. The grounds are amazing. The interior of the hotel is amazing. The rooms are amazing. The service is amazing. Do you get the theme here? Yes, everything about this hotel is AMAZING! Easily our most favorite place to stay in Egypt. We would love to return someday.
Negative aspects: the bedhead smelled mouldy; the canopy over the bed was grubby ( so why have it there?); the corners of the room were dusty; the bathroom scales were not working ( so why have them there?). Worst of all was the fact that neither handbasin in the bathroom had a stopper/plug. I discovered the basins in the new wing do not have plugs. I cannot credit this hotel in a desert country would manifest such a blatent disregard for the environment, wasting so much water. Shame on Sofitel. We loved the view from our balcony but were generally disappointed with this hotel. Certainly not worth the hefty price we paid.
Our visit to the Old Cataract was a fantastic experience. A 5 star hotel as it should be. The staf was great, the room spacious (prestige suite in the Nile wing) and spotless and the dinner in 1902 a great experience. One of the best hotels in Egypt. From the check in till the check out, everything was warm and welcoming.
When it comes to the booking, I want to say that on the site of Accor it was possible to book a breakfast for € 40,- and a dinner for € 100,- This is far too much. On the spot you pay much less and even in the elegant 1902, you pay not more than € 50,- for a 3 course dinner. But for the rest, it was worth the money and would definately recommend it to others.
Wow, what an excellent hotel. I have only seen this type of hotel in the movies. The rooms were beautiful. The breakfast was included and was much better than other hotels I've stayed at. The eating areas all overlook the Nile and the sunset was amazing! Easy access to the shopping areas and tourist sites.
The building is splendid, the rooms are terrific. In these instances the hotel is beyond comparison. Stay there though and you’ll notice a few (mainly staff related) problems....
Breakfast: staff come into the dining area from the kitchen wearing wellies and take food while guests are eating. They also talk loudly to each other across the room.
Staff: have little grasp of any language other than Egyptian and are also very inattentive. If you’re used to the customer service of the Hilton Luxor or the Kempinski Cairo you are going to be in for a shock.
The hotel is owned by a French company who have put a large model of the Eiffel Tower in the entrance. See photo. Why? It is totally out of place and detracts from the whole ambience.