Every hotel in Aswan was either full, exorbitantly priced, or a dump. A number of people told us about fantastic walk-in prices you could get at some of these hotels. We hadn’t quite realised this meant USD200/night, down from a cool USD400. We did manage to get a better price walking into the hotel, but the hunt was way more difficult than it should have been.
Hotel number 1:
Turned out to be along a road completely blocked by the police, along with four large armoured trucks, men with machine guns and a group of riot police. This was to protect a government building following the bomb in Cairo on January 24th. Should we feel safer within the barricade, or was it a place expected to come under attack?
Either way, the hotel was far more expensive than expected, so we moved on to hotel number 2, about 10 minutes walk away.
Hotel number 2:
Closed for renovations.
We turned back the way we came to check out two other places we saw from across the street.
Hotel number 3:
At full capacity (from Egyptian school holidays)
Hotel number 4:
We kept walking.
Hotel number 5:
The last one before we were going to give up and return to the first, more expensive, militarily barricaded place. Let’s be blunt: This hotel did not immediately seem ideal.
Firstly, the name of the hotel is on a big building overlooking the Nile. We followed the signs to ‘reception’ and discovered that the hotel is in a totally different building, a block or two back from the Nile. Okay.
Luckily, though, the hotel had a room, a basic level of cleanliness, and the staff were very friendly. So we had a winner, several hours later.
The police, soldiers, security guards and locals who watched us repeatedly lug our bags up and down the street must have had a good chuckle at our expense. Community service for the day: accomplished.
But it didn’t end there.
Finally free of our bags, we headed to a restaurant recommended by the Lonely Planet. We were exhausted and hungry, having been up at six and not eating since breakfast – by now it was about 4pm. Found the restaurant. YAY! Restaurant closed. Owner on holiday. During peak season. Good.
We did eventually eat. And we even managed to pay local prices (the English menu had higher prices than the Arabic menu!). And Aswan turned out to be great.
When we come back though, we will be staying at the guesthouses we discovered while on Elephantine Island. No idea how to find them online, but we have their numbers.
The art of… Anger management: Not all travel is smooth, so when you get to that point when you want to hulk smash your way into a closed hotel just remember that in Egypt the police have machine guns and are very bored.
(28 January 2014)