You really should go. Mainly for your own sake but also for the sake of a country that really, really need you and deserve your visit. Let me recommend two very different hotels, both great value: The Golden Hotel (homepage / Trip Advisor) downtown in Talaat Harb Street and The Hotel El Hussein (Trip Advisor -entertaining reviews...) in Midan Hussein.
|Midan Hussein, hotel in the middle, mosque to the right|
I suggest these two cool places in a deliberate order. My personal advice is to give your Kairo-visit a boost by spending two or three nights in Hussein before settling in the much nicer Golden for the rest of your stay.
There are obviously many other possibilities, also in the price range in between these two, but generally you get what you pay for.
|Best balcony in town, because of ...|
|... best balcony view in Cairo!|
Hussein HotelThis old hotel could be so much better if it was renovated. It looks pretty graaceful from outside, but turns out to be everything but, inside... It certainly is cheap, and for being that cheap it also seems safe.
The pro's: Has the best location in Egypt. Right on the square of Midan Hussein, skirting the amazing maze of a market called Khan Il Khalili. You will be entertained around the clock in this place, as you have two of Cairos biggest mosques on either side of you, the grand Hussein Mosque and the elegant Al-Azahr. Having the mighty call for prayor in stereo on your private balcony is a near must when you visit Egypt.
|Ash in the ashtray!|
It is also somewhat unclear how to pay how much tips to who, as the staff in the restaurant indicate that they get nothing if you pay the boss and tell him to share... but I will try to deal with the tip-subject later.
|Golden Hotel has clean and good bathrooms.|
|13. Talaat Harb Street!|
Golden HotelMoving upmarket to find a truly comfortable atmosphere as a safe haven in a hectic city, I can think of nothing better than Golden Hotel. Still a lot cheaper than the expensive ones, offering all you need, really!
the pro's: This is everything that Hussein is not. It is spotlessly clean, newly renovated with beautiful blue tiles in the bathrooms, great beds, Wi-Fi and a very central location. It is run by the lovely and helpful Sophia, which may end up mothering you with knowledge and advice. She is Swiss and a part-owner of the establishment.
|... clean ...|
The rate of the room is nearly the triple of that in Hussein Hotel, but you will quickly understand why, if you spend one night in each place. You here have a clean fridge, new air condition and a flatscreen with the channels you need.
|Huge rooftop area, sit inside our outside as you like.|
|A memorable breakfast.|
For hot days, or just if you need some time away from everything, the roof terrace is great for getting away from it all. You will be surprised by how nice it is up there, even with some flowers that managed to survive the last dust-storm that tormented the city...
Need a guide or a long distance taxi? Sophia is good friends with taxi-Ali, who also became my friend, and now also with Amira, who was first my guide and is a wonderful person. More of that later. The Egyptian Museum is practically next door, by the way.
|A lovely staff keeps everything spotless!|
(You might find these photos on their homepage, they got them from me in exchange for a couple of nights...)
|Suvenirs in Tahrir...|
Safety:I have never experienced, nor heard of, any kind of theft or trickery in any of these hotels. Egypt is in general a very safe country to travel in, thanks to culture and religion. Stealing is simply not an option.
I left Cairo just a few days before rioting started in January. During my month in town I hardly saw police on the streets, as they were laying low not to provoke. Street vendors jammed road lanes in the centre, the main Square was all blocked off and things simply did not run as smoothly as before - but I never ever experienced, saw or heard of a pickpocket. Egypt is indeed a remarkable country. Go there!
Welcome to Egypt!