‘My Favourite Hotel’ review – Marriott Mena House, Giza, Egypt

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Today, our ‘My Favourite Hotel’ review is from the pyramids of Egypt!

We are currently running this reader-written feature to provide some positivity and inspiration to Head for PointsYou can find all of the ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reviews so far by clicking here.  This was scheduled to be a series of about 25 hotels, but a good response from readers means that we have commissioned another batch and are continuing the series.

Today’s hotel is the Marriott Mena House near Cairo where you can wake up looking at the pyramids.  It is reader Clotilde’s favourite hotel and here is her review:

Overview

Around 1880 Egypt become a destination for long winter holidays for European travellers. Many preferred staying close to the pyramids given the more favourable climate than Cairo. In 1883 a young English couple saw an opportunity in this and bought an old royal lodge located just in front of the pyramids and built a magnificent oriental palace next to it which they opened in 1886 and called Mena House. Thus, began the history of this enchanting hotel which to this day takes you back in time, maintaining a subtle ancient charm.

Review Marriott Mena House Giza Cairo Egypt

Where is Marriott Mena House?

Marriott Mena House is located in Giza about 45 minutes by car from Cairo.  The position is absolutely, unquestionably enviable. Ideally you’d want to arrive in the evening without looking around before entering this oasis of peace.  Then in the morning you open your curtains and see the pyramids in front of you – it is amazing!

Review Marriott Mena House Giza Cairo Egypt

Certainly you could suggest that the hotel’s location is not practical as it requires long journeys to go back into Cairo, but in my opinion it all depends on the length of your stay. We chose to stay at Mena House for three nights, arriving late in the evening on the first day and spending the first full day visiting the pyramids. The second day we dedicated entirely to Cairo.  On the last day we took a guided food tour in Cairo, which also allowed us to store our luggage safely before heading to the airport.

If you do not want to continuously barter with taxi drivers, it’s worth mentioning that it’s very easy to move around using Uber at a fair price.

Arrival and check-in

Getting to the Mena House from the airport takes just under an hour. The distance itself is modest but the traffic seems congested at any time of the day.

After the clashes in 2011 and subsequent terrorist attacks, Egypt saw a significant decline in tourism and despite having carefully researched the current political situation, I was still a little nervous. I must say that it was very reassuring, even if a little unnerving, to arrive at the entrance of the hotel and find several armed men and even a very handsome guard dog. The guards monitored every car and taxi that came in, searching for possible explosives, weapons, etc, but after the initial surprise I definitely felt safe!

Check in was very fast, probably because only two other guests arrived late at night, and we were whisked away to our building on one of the golf carts.  The complex wasn’t necessarily large, but the golf carts were certainly welcome under the scorching midday sun.

Rooms

The complex has been enlarged and renovated several times over the years, especially the new wing where most of the rooms are located.

This new building appears quite spartan, but I must say that it integrates very well into its environment. The old building was under renovation during my stay, but I had the opportunity to visit one of the newly refurbished rooms:

Review Marriott Mena House Giza Cairo Egypt

The new rooms have modern amenities but keep their charm with handcrafted furniture, carvings, textiles and magnificent antiques that speak well of luxury without being ostentatious.

The rooms in the new wing are all very similar except for the views: you either get the pyramids or the garden / pool. We stayed in a simple deluxe pyramid view room.  The room itself was sufficiently large, but I wouldn’t say stylish. We asked for two cots for our two-and-a-half-year-old children which they managed to arrange without compromising the relaxation area with sofa and table.

Review Marriott Mena House Giza Cairo Egypt

The large window opened onto a balcony overlooking the gardens towards the old wing with the pyramids clearly visible behind it. The bathroom was large and functional although certainly not a designer model!

Review Marriott Mena House Giza Cairo Egypt

Facilities

The Mena House was the first hotel in Egypt to introduce a swimming pool back in 1886.  Fortunately it is no longer the original one, but is now a modern space to relax. It is located behind the new area, so it doesn’t impact the nice feeling you get when you arrive in the main front gardens. In October, even though the hotel was almost full, I saw very few people using the swimming pool, keeping it a quiet and relaxing place for a stop after the exhausting visit to the pyramids. There was also a swimming pool for children, perfect up to 3-4 years but a little small for older children

The spa and small gym were in the area between the old building and the new wing. Having not tried the gym I can only say that it seemed to offer the minimum of equipment. The spa, on the other hand, was the only negative note of the complex. It was small and when I visited, it was not perfectly clean. To be fair the website no longer mentions the spa, so it may be under renovation.

Eating and drinking

The main restaurant offered a mix of international and oriental favourites. We tried it for breakfast, which was extensive and varied. It included everything from traditional continental options to Egyptian dishes and desserts. The restaurant was open all day with an extended buffet.

The other hotel restaurant was Indian. We dined here once a la carte. In both restaurants the food was very good, but especially when we dined a la carte the service was very slow and disorganized, the focus seemed to be on the buffet.

Fortunately, sitting at the outside tables while admiring the pyramids made up for the shortcomings.

Review Marriott Mena House Giza Cairo Egypt

One morning we asked for room service for breakfast which was tasty and efficient. It was a great option to save some time while organizing the children.

You can also get a drink by the pool or at the lovely lobby bar if you want to get a rest from the heat.

Booking

I believe I was at Mena House just before it went up to Category 4 (20,000 to 30,000 points per night, depending on season) in the Marriott Bonvoy redemption chart, which meant it only cost me 15,000 points per night. Normally the cost of one night in a room with a view of the pyramids is around $200. My reservation was for a garden view room, but as a Bonvoy Gold member I was offered one with a pyramid view.

Conclusion

Mena House was our first stop during a 12-day trip in Egypt. Not everything was perfect, but the people were super welcoming, and the ambience was a refreshing contrast to the chaos and dust of Cairo, a perfect respite from our daily adventures!  If we go back to Egypt I will stay there again for sure.

Here is the hotel’s website if you want to find out more.

Clotilde has her own travel blog which focuses on travel with kids. You can find her blog ‘A Princess Travelling With Twins’ here.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points via UK credit cards

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and Melia Rewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Marriott Bonvoy points.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Erico1875 says:

    Clotilde’s blog is quite an interesting read too

  2. At last – one I have been too ! It is worth it for the novelty of laying the pool and looking at the pyramids

  3. Seem to recall staying here in 96 when it was an Oberoi hotel.
    The view of the pyramids was impressive, more so was erecting a court in the pyramids to play sport.
    Hotel was nice fir Egypt back then unfortunately got ill after a meal in the Indian restaurant so spoilt my stay……

    • Polly says:

      My friends andl stayed there in 1982, and still have very fond memories of our stay. Loved the old worldliness of it. All changed now it seems. Recommended it to many traveller friends down through the years.

  4. old bob says:

    Pity its a Marriott and not a Hilton with my status.

    • Lady London says:

      isn’t there a nice Hilton on an island there? unsure if it is located with a view of the pyramids though.

  5. memesweeper says:

    Category 4? that means I can spend my SPG Amex free night voucher there? that would be a result!

  6. Richmond_Surrey says:

    It was mentioned in one of the books I read and I want to stay there at some point.

  7. coldrdgd says:

    I was there in 2011. Tank at the gate unable to leave the hotel for the two days we were there.Great view of the pyramids, but never got to visit!

  8. Nice, are there any other chained-brand hotels with “Pyramid’s View” other than Marriott? In case I overlooked …

    Did some research … only saw Hayat, a Hyatt’s wannabe.

    • ankomonkey says:

      There is a Le Meridien (obviously also Marriott group) very close to Mena House. I think it has some Pyramid views, but not sure how good they are.

      • In the back of my mind I was assuming the Meridien became the Marriott? Or are they different? I popped in for a coffee about 15 years ago when visiting the pyramids.

        • Karim says:

          Two different hotels, Marriott was the Oberoi; it has the best views. The Méridien may have been, an Accor brand, I think! Staying close to the pyramid is worth it but definitely at the expense of your travel time to visit other parts of Cairo. Cairo Traffic is a, I’d use the B word but will stick to C in this instance, a challenge 😉

          • Bagoly says:

            One trick I used to beat the traffic years ago which may still work: especially when going from the hotel into the centre, ask the taxi/Uber to take you to an easily pronounceable metro station.
            The traffic problem was more acute in the very centre, and the metro is clean and fast – just note that some carriages are reserved for women only.
            I used Old Cairo station, but that seems to have been renamed, and a new line built, so Cairo University would be better?

  9. Peter North says:

    If I stayed at the Hilton Pyramids golf, would that make me a Diamond Giza!

  10. TGLoyalty says:

    Looks great. But in other news I notice theres a new St Regis just opened up

    It’s even received it’s Covid health certificates

    • TGLoyalty says:

      *meant to say the new.

      Thought it’d be on ice forever due to Qatari ownership and the current “blockade”

  11. Jon Arnold says:

    The history of this place is truly impressive. As is the view from the restaurant terrace at breakfast. My favourite hotel in Egypt. Do try and get a Pyramid view room though. Looking at the pyramids as you fall asleep is awesome. And also ask about their airport transfers – the driver can meet you airside and help you through customs. Wonderful way to arrive in the country.

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