Historic Hotels of Egypt

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Re: Historic Hotels of Egypt

Post by A-Four » Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:42 pm

Sometimes it can be rather interesting reading posts about past times in Luxor, especially when comes to the old hotels there, however, we must remember that these places must come up to modern day standards, and taking Luxor Hotel as a fine example, it failed big time.

When Carter initially discovered the Tut tomb, he stayed at the Luxor, instead of his house on the West Bank, and no, it was not that house most people think of today, it was a much more humble place, though hated it because he could not sleep because of dogs barking constantly throughout the night.

When he went to live at the Luxor Hotel, the problem remained, being that there were throughout the 20's and 30's, a large number of houses that backed on to this place. In that period these places became secret dealing houses for the illegal purchase of certain antiquities, believe it or not, one such illegal purchase to Wallis Budge for the world famous Papyri of Ani,............anyhow i digress. When the world's press descended on Luxor, all the hacks stayed at this hotel. Howard Carter one morning went to the mangers office and stated that the reason his hotel was full, was simply because he was there and demanded that his room should be free, or else he would leave. Evidently he was asked if he required a taxi, because the same day he moved out.

My last visit to this place was a few years ago now, as I entered this place on the left hand side hung two pencil drawings one of Lord Canarvon the other being Carter, that years earlier were hung in the main bar also on the extreme left. On the right between the reception desk and stairs hung a framed copy of a 1920's itinerary leaflet, including price of a cruise along the Nile to Asswan. As you walked along in a straight line, one entered the once beautiful dining room, but all that remained were the old ghosts, that obviously frequented the place all those years ago.

Over the last few years the place was used for local weddings, as some on here will know my last few years, I socialised in Hammes, if you needed to use a toilet, one used the old ones in the Luxor, if the wedding reception guests were from the West Bank 'hill people', you would certainly expect to find crap all over the floor in both male and female toilets, simply because back home, toilet facilities were some what rather different from the norm.

In my opinion, for what it's worth, I believe certain old building should be allowed to die with dignity, it is not just the old hotels in Luxor that are lost to us, but other places such as French House (Karnack), Davis House (WB),Administration House (Luxor) and the beautiful, fantastic old Ottoman houses (hidden away on the left hand back streets near the rail statation.),.............all now gone, in the name of progress, but then again if these places are not maintained what can we expect,............ah well.



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Re: Historic Hotels of Egypt

Post by John Landon » Sun Mar 26, 2017 12:27 pm

I do agree with all you say about the Luxor Hotel A-Four, I feel privileged to have been able to wander about all over the place without an escort a couple of times.
Clearly many of the fittings in the room were probably as Howard Carter remembered them .
It does seem that maybe in the late 60's or early 70's a swimming pool had been added out the back. ?

I also agree about letting the Hotel Die with Dignity. Clearly that is going to be its fate anyway given all the failed attempts at resurrection.

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Re: Historic Hotels of Egypt

Post by Who2 » Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:00 pm

I once offered 2000le for that Quink 6' foot thermometer that hung on the wall for years.
Turns out someone paid 5000le for the same...

I really should have 'knocked it off, under cover of darkness...."fortune favours the brave.... 8)
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Re: Historic Hotels of Egypt

Post by A-Four » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:49 pm

John Landon wrote:I I also agree about letting the Hotel Die with Dignity. Clearly that is going to be its fate anyway given all the failed attempts at resurrection.
John, when I wrote the term, 'with dignity', I suppose I really meant that being that it's whole "make-up" including that barometer the Dr mentions here have all gone,......lost to the history of that nation. At the present time, the only interest in Luxor is around the so called great Tutankhamoun. What is equally important is the history of archaeology in Luxor. Davis House was very important, the last time restoration work was carried out there was by John Romer in the 1980's. The last time I was in there was five years ago, believe me, I cried when I saw what had become of that place,...........ah well.

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Re: Historic Hotels of Egypt

Post by A-Four » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:01 pm

Who2 wrote: I really should have 'knocked it off, under cover of darkness...."fortune favours the brave.... 8)
I really do remember that large wooden barometers thing, but after much thought my dear Dr, I can not remember exactly where it lived in the main reception area.

For some reason I am told ithe hotel opened up in the 1880's, though that is not true, in truth, I believe it was a few years before the First World War, as I hold evidence that Lord Carnarvon and the very elusive J.P.Morgan stayed there during that period.

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Re: Historic Hotels of Egypt

Post by newcastle » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:44 pm

The Luxor Hotel was built by John Cook in 1877 and opened shortly thereafter.

"On the Nile in the Golden Age of Travel" is a wonderful book packed with detail of early tourism on the Nile.

It mentions a mixed group staying at the Luxor Hotel in December of 1878....pages 62-63.

From the Egyptian Gazette, of 6 December 1907 :

From Our Own Correspondent

Whatever the weather is elsewhere, no one can have any excuse for grumbling about it in Luxor.......

It is less than a year ago that the Winter Palace Hotel was opened to the public and indeed it seems but yesterday that the workmen were swarming through it night and day to finish it in time for the inauguration. The approach which we remember cumbered with heaps of broken bricks and debris is now adorned with grass and flower beds; the wide waste behind the hotel s now taking shape as an ample garden; and before many weeks are over will be verdant with grass and rich in flowers.

Already there are many guests at the hotel which has been open now for several weeks. Close upon a hundred covers were laid for dinner only yesterday, and many other arrivals are expected shortly. The old Luxor Hotel is to be re-opened shortly....

http://grandhotelsegypt.com/?p=1323

The Luxor Hotel appears to have been operating in the closing years of the 19th century.

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Re: Historic Hotels of Egypt

Post by A-Four » Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:16 pm

A-Four wrote:
Who2 wrote: I really should have 'knocked it off, under cover of darkness...."fortune favours the brave.... 8)
I really do remember that large wooden barometers thing, but after much thought my dear Dr, I can not remember exactly where it lived in the main reception area.

For some reason I am told ithe hotel opened up in the 1880's, though that is not true, in truth, I believe it was a few years before the First World War, as I hold evidence that Lord Carnarvon and the very elusive J.P.Morgan stayed there during that period.
Yes, in fact it was the Winter Palace that opened up just before the First World War, after I wrote the above I did question my myself, being that I knew the likes of J.P.Morgan would never Have stayed at a package tourist hotel.

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Re: Historic Hotels of Egypt

Post by newcastle » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:38 am

J.P.Morgan, along with other grandees of the time, rarely, if ever, stayed at Luxor hotels - "package tourist" or otherwise. They tended to hire, and stay aboard, luxury dahabeyas, or, like Morgan (the Khargah), had their own yacht.

A-Four's confusion over the Luxor Hotel and Winter Palace is understandable.

The Winter Palace and Luxor Hotel: a case of mistaken identity?

Image


The website for the Winter Palace, which I blogged about a couple of posts ago, says the hotel opened in 1886, a date commemorated in the name of the hotel’s high-end French 1886 Restaurant (jacket required, no jeans). What a shame then that the hotel actually opened in 1907. There’s no doubt about it: the Egyptian Gazette of Saturday 19 January 1907 describes the inaugural party that took place with a lunch in the Valley of the Kings followed by congratulatory speeches and the distribution of meat to the gangs of workers who had laboured on the building. The hotel makes its guidebook debut in the 1908 edition of Baedeker’s Egypt (it wasn’t in the previous, 1902, edition).

The remainder of the link contains more information on the history of the Luxor Hotel :

http://grandhotelsegypt.com/?p=549

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Re: Historic Hotels of Egypt

Post by Who2 » Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:10 am

One I have often stayed in is The Windsor in Cairo.
http://www.windsorcairo.com/mainpage.htm
It's a bit of a dump really but I think it has 'character. We started our desert trips from there.

Following such intrepid explorers as Bagnold et al, great bar the barrel bar with a huge history.
The famous Shepherds Hotel was just round the corner till they burnt it down, 'philistines... 8)
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Re: Historic Hotels of Egypt

Post by newcastle » Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:58 am

Who2 wrote:One I have often stayed in is The Windsor in Cairo.
http://www.windsorcairo.com/mainpage.htm
It's a bit of a dump really but I think it has 'character. We started our desert trips from there.

Following such intrepid explorers as Bagnold et al, great bar the barrel bar with a huge history.
The famous Shepherds Hotel was just round the corner till they burnt it down, 'philistines... 8)
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Perhaps in celebration of its history...the launch party of the book "Grand Hotels of Egypt" was at the Windsor in 2012

Image

The book's cover wasn't entirely without controversy :

". A lot of people, in particular, said how much they liked the cover. But the praise wasn’t unanimous. Word was someone had objected to the fact it shows a dark-skinned waiter serving white folk. I thought nothing of this until the following morning when Gadi (the book’s designer) and myself were interviewed by a local journalist. He and I had a straightforward chat about the subject matter of the book but when it came to Gadi’s turn to talk about the design the very first question was, ‘Why did you chose to show a black servant on the cover?’

The cover was chosen because it’s a striking and appropriate image. It’s a genuine poster from the 1930s and the scene is of the terrace at the Mena House, one of the hotels covered at length in the book.

The fancy garb worn by the waiter – or a variant of – is still uniform in plenty of upmarket hotels in Egypt today, where serving staff are still often Upper Egyptians starting careers on the lower rungs of the ladder. Is this racism? I don’t think so, I think most people would just recognise it as tourism."

http://grandhotelsegypt.com/?p=280

There'd probably be even more fuss nowadays....in the new fervour of post-revolutionary Egypt :lol:

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Re: Historic Hotels of Egypt

Post by Zooropa » Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:25 am

Well,
Its a hotel in Egypt, the waiter is very likely (as you would expect) to be of Egyptian pursuasion and a lot of tourists used to come from Europe so no surprise there either.


The reaction to it is a sign of the times though - no doubt.

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Re: Historic Hotels of Egypt

Post by newcastle » Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:46 am

Zooropa wrote:Well,
Its a hotel in Egypt, the waiter is very likely (as you would expect) to be of Egyptian pursuasion and a lot of tourists used to come from Europe so no surprise there either.


The reaction to it is a sign of the times though - no doubt.
No doubt.

Perhaps the 'complainant' didn't know Egyptians are generally dark-skinned :urm:

A white waiter would have a hard time getting a work permit! :lol:

Or we'd have a load of fuss about foreigners illegally pinching Egyptians' jobs :ct

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Re: Historic Hotels of Egypt

Post by Hafiz » Thu Apr 13, 2017 6:02 pm

Hepzibah, thank you. Notably the video is 5 years old and contains more tosh than a pyramid could hold. The following website, and associated book, emojis and tailored tours is a bit more accurate: : http://grandhotelsegypt.com/. The website http://www.egy.com/ is a funny rambling old thing full of nostalgia about the ‘good old days’ but a mine of eccentric detail about the personalities who built the hotel industry (and much else).

The great hotels of Egypt are on their knees because Egypt decided a while ago to go for mass, low margin, package, gated community tourism. It provides lots (not really) of low wage, low skill, remote location,seasonal jobs which seems to meet the expectations that matter. It suits the property developers and builders that still seem to make most of the decisions on tourism. This is one of the reasons why no-one has invested a new penny in Luxor in a long time. It doesn’t fit the policy. Farag's policy of 'cleaning out' any romantic 19th Century buildings fitted in nicely.

The el Luxor mystery. Here is my guess. The el Luxor/Wena to the north of the ferry point on the river, and the ‘oldest’ of the historic hotels was the subject of a very nasty international arbitration where there was sworn evidence of state seizure of assets, thuggery, despoiling, ministerial approval etc. Needless to say the government, which owns the decrepit site, was not to blame. Except the international arbitrators thought otherwise. An identical form of seizure and thuggery also happened at Wena’s state owned Cairo hotel. If you have half an hour and like a laugh about how telling lies gets found out here is the international arbitration: http://www.italaw.com/sites/default/fil ... ta0904.pdf

As far as I know its been closed since – 'pending renovations'. As others have said it was the premier establishment a hundred years ago.

Some never learn and it seems that a similar nasty is the reason for the ‘temporary’ closure of Shepheard’s in Cairo and a variation on this theme for the exit of Oberoi from Aswan and Giza.

The historic hotels of Egypt, all built by Jews, are in the protective custody of : . http://egoth.com.eg/en/
whose mandate is to preserve and protect them.

Besides the el Luxor two other 'historic' state owned hotels have been closed for at least a generation, another has been derelict for three generations and is now to be demolished: http://cairobserver.com/post/1216643425 ... Im7fJLj8fI. Another, the Cosmopolitan, in central Cairo, is little more than a tobacco reeking (and I smoke) brothel under hopeless local management after international management was driven out. The Cecil, in Alex is another of their properties, now under French management after 40 years of international litigation after it was seized, without compensation, from its Jewish owners. The Egyptian state lost the international arbitration. Preposterously, the Egyptian state has retaliated to this loss and now claims (on what basis?) ownership of the other asset owned by the dispossessed owners of the Cecil. The King David Hotel-one of the great historic hotels of the world. Its monty-pythonesque.http://www.timesofisrael.com/egyptian-b ... el-stocks/

Newcastle is right Misr Real Estate Holdings (a government agency with a public purpose) does own a lot of historical buildings (over 180), most falling down, on behalf of the nation. http://www.thenational.ae/business/econ ... rty-market.

With 19th Century building assets, part of which are the great hotels, you would think that Egypt would go for high margin, heritage, 19th Century nostalgia, high skill tourism, but no. Pity, Hollywood has done all the marketing for them and the world is now full of Chinese spending $US800 a day (how could you spend this (legally) in Egypt per day).

There are some misguided fools trying to preserve what remains of 19th Century Cairo and Alex. They do/did walking tours of Cairo and have a database, funded by the Ford Foundation, of Haussman Cairo. : http://www.cairo-dtour.com/page/contact and http://passageways.clustermappinginitia ... superblock and the locals at: http://cairobserver.com/ with their interest in modern Egyptian architecture and urban planning are probably connected, in a good way, with some of the efforts to preserve and develop Downtown. Their lively site, not always in English, shows a keen interest in preserving the best of the past and skepticism for simple solutions. Like a lot of things they seem to have lost steam in the past few years. There were also some community groups in alex trying to preserve this type of thing:
Image

Their chances after the dismissal of the young, can do, clean governor seem close to zero.

The world is now catching up with Egypt. We are now run by a NYC property developer, Egypt has been this way for several generations.

Who2. Shepheards wasn’t near the Windsor, it was on the Corniche in Garden City

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Re: Historic Hotels of Egypt

Post by Who2 » Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:00 pm

Your talking about the new one "The current Shepheard Hotel (now closed) was erected in 1957 by Egyptian Hotels Ltd. in Garden City, Cairo, about 1/2 mile from the site of the original hotel.

The original was down in Opera a skip, hop & a jump from the Windsor in Alfi.... 8)
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Re: Historic Hotels of Egypt

Post by Hafiz » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:09 am

Who2. I'm sorry you are right.

The mother of a friend of mine who was brought up in the middle east before and during the war remembered it fondly. After she knew she was dying she traveled to the Middle East for a last time thinking (not very clearly and on the basis of her idiot daughters recommendations and flawed planning) that the New Shepheard's would be a good place to stay. It was a sad booking.

Remarkably she was with the other British and western women and children in the King David Hotel in 1946 when it was bombed by the future Prime Minister of Israel and lost friends sparking a lifelong pro-Palestinian bias which was odd in a cultured Anglo-French haute bourgeois woman. Unable to stomach staying there again she booked into the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem and found it still one of the great characterful hotels of the world - albeit at a high price.

As regards the el Luxor the mad, bad Benson's stayed there and there is a charming blog by a US ex-Luxor archaeologist (which avoids all the embarrassing bits about their lives) at: http://williamhpeck.org/e_f_benson_in_egypt. John D. Rockefeller's sister also stayed there for extended periods at a time when they were the principal funders of the University of Chicago and therefore of Chicago House. Apparently the large gardens down to the Nile were a great attraction. Its interesting that it went for an Islamic architectural style whereas the Winter Palace opted for Louis-Farouk.

An remarkable old postcard of the hotel and gardens is at:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/8637723@N ... /lightbox/ The normal image posting system doesn't work for this. Probably me.

I think that the bold bright woodcut style tourist posters and advertising of the period were superb designs. Striking and memorable in a way that modern advertising isn't although this postcard isn't an example of this.

With the Savoy very big things are planned: "A real estate partnership contract has been signed with Wadi Degla Estate Development Company with investment cost 1,5 billion EGP to construct a 4 star hotel , spa, 2000 villas and chalets , commercial and entertainment area to the infrastructure required for the project."
https://www.hotac-eg.com/lands/savoy-hotel-land/ Really. The same government agency owns the Savoy Market. The Savoy was more in the style of the Winter Palace: Image

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