BEIT EL KEREM
This is an update to my review of spring 2011. We stayed...our fourth time... for 9 days at Beit el Kerem in January, 2013. We returned to Egypt for this trip because of Beit el Kerem and a trip they organized for us to Sudan (I’ll post another review about that trip by March 2013). The guest house remains a place you cannot miss on your trip to Egypt. Rooms that are spotlessly clean, great food, a location perfect for exploring the desert, the neighboring Nubian village, the shores of the Nile and Aswan are only the surface. You will be greeted and treated like family.
Here are some practical hints:
If coming by train, walk straight out of the train station until you come to the Corniche, the road that runs along the Nile. It’s a 3-5 minute walk. Turn left (or south) and walk along the Corniche for a few dozen yards until you come to an unmarked gate. Stairs lead down to the riverbank to the ferry. You will see people down below. There is only one ferry from this spot and it takes you across the Nile to the West Bank. The fare is 1 Egyptian pound for tourists. Climb onto the ferry. Women sit to one side, men on the other. The trip takes a few minutes. When you dock on the west bank, follow the crowd up the stairs. You’ll go west, passing a few stalls, and in a minute or two will be at the edge of the desert. There may be camels there, but there will certainly be local trucks and vehicles to carry people into the many villages that stretch northward. To get your bearings, look west at about 11 o’clock and you’ll see the hill topped by the Tomb of the Nobles. Look at about 2 o’clock and you’ll see the southern end of the line of villages, and Beit el Kerem. Beit el Kerem is painted a bright blue. It’s a 3 minute walk to the gate. And you’re home.
All of the rooms are great. The one on the right as you enter the second floor from the stairwell does not have much natural light, if that is a concern. All rooms have a wash basin. Some have private ensuite bathrooms. The shared facilities are spotless...or as my mother used to say in her inimitable New Yawk accent: ‘you could eat off the flaws’ (that’s ‘floors’).
And then there is the roof deck, which is where you will spend most of your time. It’s where the delicious meals appear, where the cooks whip up omelets or crepes for breakfast, where you meet travelers from all over the world, where you can watch feluccas sail on the Nile, sunset and sunrise over the desert, and just relax just a short ferry trip from Aswan. At night the Tomb of the Noble is softly floodlit and gorgeous against the dark desert sky.
You could also hang out in the garden. I can’t promise there will always be a litter of puppies to play with.
It’s the guys who run the place who make this a very special experience. They are truly welcoming, charming, helpful, easy-going…well, you get the picture.
The staff can arrange for laundry, or you can wash things out yourself and hang them in the garden.
Beit el Kerem offers all sorts of experiences, from village tours to felucca trips. All are good value, hassle-free and memorable. We wandered on our own through the villages. The Tomb of the Nobles (see my review from 2011) is on the doorstep and well worth a morning trip. Late afternoons could give you wonderful sunsets from the top of that hill. We also walked to the Monastery of St. Simeon (see my review, due by March 2013). It took us about 1.5 hours in a slow walk across the desert to get there and the same amount of time atop a sandy ridge along the Nile to get back. It is well worth the trip, and you can do it by camel one or both ways. Animalia (see my review, due by March 2013), a small museum run by the charming and informative Muhammed is a must on Elephantine island (see my review, due by March 2013). A boat ride southward to the first cataract area at sunset is unforgettable.
Aswan is just a ferry ride away. The guy at the ferry might try to charge you 5 pounds, but just tell him you’re at Beit el Kerem and he’ll take one pound. You can walk from there to the Nubia Museum (it and the Luxor Museum are not to be missed, see my reviews, due by March 2013). Going or returning you can walk the whole length of the Aswan ‘tourist bazaar’. Walking northward from the museum and before you get to the entrance to the bazaar look for Hanafi Bazaar on the right (east) side (see my review, due by March 2013) a tiny shop that is a totally no-hassle antidote to the Aswan souk.
If you’re looking for other great places to stay elsewhere in Egypt , see my 2013 reviews of Nefertiti Hotel (Luxor east bank) and Dina’s Hostel (Cairo), my 2011 and 2013 reviews of the villa provided by ‘SomewhereDifferent’ in Siwa and my 2011 review of Beit Sabee (Luxor west bank). All the 2013 reviews should be in Trip Advisor by March 2013.
If you have any questions, please get in touch. And, once again, let me say that you should not miss Beit El Kerem.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The only guesthouse in Aswan on the West bank. Top location near the Nile, the desert and the Nubian villages; beautiful view. Private chef services healthy meals. Peaceful atmosphere, friendly, hospitable staff. “Feels like staying with family”; “a home away from home”.2 floors, 8 double rooms, 1 family room, beautiful garden, roof garden with restaurant; marvellous view. The local ferry - within walking distance from the guesthouse - brings you in 10 min. in Aswan centre. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Bet El Kerem Hotel Aswan