Before i booked this hotel, I went through the reviews very carefully to make sure we were aware of possible tourist traps and pitfalls.
Novotel El Borg was a pleasant surprise from some of the other Novotel's I have stayed at.
The hotel has a great location, very close to Tahrir Square (10 minute walk across the Nile bridge). The bridge i had to cross to get to Tahrir was very crowded, at almost all times in the day or night! Would recommend if you are walking with a group or with small children, it is better to just take a cab as the traffic darts in and out on the bridge.
The staff were very friendly and helpful, language was a bit of a barrier but we had someone in our group who spoke Arabic so it made things a lot easier. However, i don't think it would be a major problem even if we didn't have an Arabic speaker with us, the staff always had one individual at the front desk who spoke fluent English.
The hotel and its rooms were clean, and a decent size (for 2 persons), with the basic amenities. The internet was a bit expensive, i purchased a wireless prepaid card for EGP 140 (roughly USD 23) for a period of 24 hours BUT this card was valid for 7 days i.e. you need to use up 24 hours split up over 7 days, which is quite a lot, especially if you're on vacation.
In the Nile view rooms, it is true that you can hear the noise drifting up from the Nile boats cruising along until the early hours of the morning, but the noise was mostly muffled and didn't really bother us as it lent a special flavor to the whole experience of staying in a city as busy and exotic as Cairo. It's hard to keep quiet in a city with 23 million people!
There are small kiosk's at the corner of the same street the hotel is on, where you can buy water, snacks, soda's, phone cards, etc if you don't want to spend extra money in the hotel buying basic amenities. There are no other malls or shopping centers in walking distance, so if you need something extra like toiletries or need to goto a pharmacy, you will need to take a cab. DO NOT take the cabs right in front of the hotel, they will rob you blind, especially because they try to charge a fixed rate instead of going by the meter, which is what they are supposed to do. You can either tell them to switch on the meter or just walk a few feet away from the hotel and take a cab from the street.
Restaurants: The hotel's restaurants and in-room dining was nothing to write home about, the food was just palatable, but the restaurant on the roof has a spectacular view in the evening, and the food was better than the restaurant in the lobby.
Tour guides: I didn't see much of a difference between the tour guides/services provided by different vendors in Cairo, almost all of them had the same rates/features so its not a big deal to use the tour company located in the hotel lobby. It is very important to use a tour guide though as most of the major sights (pyramids, citadel, Khan Khalili bazaar, etc) are 45 mins - 1 hour away from the hotel (especially due to traffic) and you will need an English speaking guide and an air conditioned car/van to transport you back and forth. Taking cabs from the hotel for sightseeing everyday is not a good idea, the cabs are really old and don't look very comfortable. The closest tourist attraction to the hotel is the Museum which is quite large, would take at least half a day to see it in detail.
Yes, the hotel does not serve alcohol :-) But its not a big deal, you can just buy your own and bring it back if you want to drink. We were more interested in sightseeing so if we wanted to drink, we could go out to a restaurant elsewhere. I can say that we were out for dinner almost every evening, so if we wanted to drink , it wasn't an issue.
All in all, it was a good stay at the Novotel El Borg, if i had to point out any inefficiencies on their part it would be that the quality of food at the lobby restaurant needs to be improved and perhaps they need to setup a shuttle service from the hotel to some of the major tourist locations to help the tourists move around easier.
Most of the hotels along the Nile had similar views to the Novotel El Borg, if I went back to Cairo , i might try another hotel just to experience a different brand/location.
Good job done by Novotel El Borg's staff and management, keep up the good work.
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- Also Known As:
- Novotel Cairo El Borg Hotel Cairo