December 23, 2018
Located on an island in the Nile River in the middle of Cairo, The Cairo Marriott is huge and opulent. Its décor is beautiful with Arabic influences, including some awesome doors. This post combines a history of this magnificent hotel with Norm’s weekly feature, Thursday Doors.
Originally a palace, it was built in 1869 with the vision of its architect, Khedive Ismail, to serve as a guest palace for European monarchs during the inauguration of the Suez Canal.
The hotel is built in neoclassical style, popular with European designers of the time. The interior was designed by German architect Carl von Diebitsch.
The Cairo Palace, as it was called in the early days, hosted several notable ceremonies, including the wedding festivities of Khedive’s son, which lasted 40 days! A boat party in front of the palace was held as part of the wedding celebrations of Egypt’s King Farouk and Queen Nariman.
The palace’s transition to a hotel involved several changes, including a name change to the Gezirah Palace Hotel. In 1879, the state confiscated it due to outstanding debts and the Egyptian Hotels Company took it over. In 1919 it was purchased by a Syrian landlord, Habib Lotfallah, who had settled in Egypt, for 140,000 EGP (Egyptian pounds).
Marriott took over the property in the 1970s. They restored the old palace and added two towers for 1,087 guest rooms. Our group members all stayed in one of these towers, called the “G” tower.
Today, the only thing left of the estate is the palace. Many of its rooms and furniture have been preserved and restored to their historic splendor. The hotel now used some of the palace space for lounges and meeting rooms. There are several restaurants which guests may choose from. Our first night, arriving fairly late, we did not want to eat too much, ending up at an Italian restaurant on the ground floor where we shared lasagna and a salad.
The next morning, we met in one of the dining rooms for breakfast consisting of a large buffet with a large variety of breads, cheeses, fruit, yogurt, etc. to choose from. There was an omelet station where we could choose ingredients for an omelet.
Finally, a shot of Cairo just before sunset taken from G Tower at the Marriott Cairo.
Note: Historical information for this post is from Cairo Marriott Hotel and Omar Khayyam Casino.