Originally built as a hunting lodge for an Egyptian khedive (a noble title akin to a viceroy), Mena House was converted into a grand hotel in 1886, before being used as a garrison and an army hospital during WWI. It has also been the setting for various top-level diplomatic meetings. But, most importantly, it’s one of the finest places to stay in Cairo, as Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Grace Kelly, Omar Sharif, Roger Moore and Charlton Heston can all attest.
Almost within touching distance of the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Although it’s technically in Giza, Cairo’s relentless spread means that Mena House is now considered Greater Cairo. More importantly, it’s an easy half-hour taxi ride to the Egyptian Museum, the mosque of Muhammad Ali in the Citadel and just about anywhere else in downtown Cairo.
Alongside refined travellers, Mena House attracts well-heeled locals who come for an evening out at any of the nine on-site restaurants.
Having the Pyramids as your constant companions is pretty special, as are the beautifully kept 40 acres of grounds that lend a country club feel, all green lawns, giant swimming pool with lounger-side service and a smart main house. Though the heart of the hotel is over 130 years old, regular refreshes, renovations and additions mean it all feels new.
The Mogul Room serves possibly the best Indian food this writer has ever eaten, and the 139 Grill, with Pyramid view, a reflecting pool, cocktails and an international menu is hard to ignore.
Large guest rooms are furnished with modern armchairs, tables, desks, TVs and balconies. However, the main house, where most of the restaurants and bars are housed, is properly old-school opulent.