The Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence is undoubtedly one of the city's most luxurious establishments. Opened in May 2000, the neoclassical structure is a wonder amid the city's endless hustle and bustle.
Adjacent to the Cairo Zoo, the 269-room hotel overlooks the Nile, with most of the rooms and suites offering impressive views of the famous river, and being in one of Cairo's most upmarket areas, the Four Seasons counts the French and Turkish embassy as its neighbours.
The Great Pyramids of Giza are a 20-minute taxi ride away and the uptown district of Zamelek is close enough to take in the dynamic arts scene. Tahrir square lies just 10 minutes away and is worth a peek to get a sense of its recent importance in Egyptian.
Once inside the elaborate interiors of the hotel, the endless noise and manic traffic of Cairo seem a world away. The First Residence is a haven, and also has an entire floor dedicated to female travellers. Where possible, female staff will attend to these rooms.
The rooms are spacious with large, comfortable beds and quality Egyptian cotton. Local artefacts are dotted around the room to remind you that, despite the French-inspired décor, you're still in Cairo. Complimentary bowls of fruit and petite-fours welcome your arrival.
The all-marble bathrooms are spacious with separate showers, baths and amenities from high-end designer Bulgari.
Linked to the First Mall, visitors have access to a wide variety of shops, cafés and services, just a few steps away. Like the hotel, the mall is a luxury offering. This is not a place to experience 'authentic' Egypt.
The in-house fitness and beauty centre contains a sauna, steam-room and outdoor pool. Guests can enjoy 24-hour access to a well-equipped, yet modestly sized, gym. The treatments offered at the spa are on the pricier side, especially when compared to the mall's beauty salon.
For the business traveller, the hotel has a dedicated and well-resourced business centre as well as eight meeting and networking spaces. While the hotel offers a strong Wi-Fi connection, guests are required to pay, depending on preferred speed and usage time.
The recently opened Syrian restaurant, Aura, by the newly-renovated pool, offers typical Middle East fare with a sophisticated twist. The place is ideal for an evening drink and sheesha by the lit pool.
Breakfast is served at Seasons restaurant, a buffet-style with an extensive range of foods to appease a wide range of tastes, including local Egyptian specialities such as fava beans and falafel.
While afternoon cakes and teas from across the world are the highlights of the Tea Lounge, the light lunch offerings are just as impressive. The shrimp rolls served in the quaint surroundings are nothing short of exquisite and possibly the best available in Cairo.
The Library Bar and Lai Thai restaurant provide guests with sumptuous atmosphere and food to match and the staff are meticulously well-trained, polite and attentive.