If you’ve ever stumbled upon travel photos of tourists in Egypt, you’ve had to have seen the iconic hot tub photo. I’m referring to the girls in the hot tub with their backs facing the camera, usually with a champagne glass or mug in one hand, and the large window directly in front of them, with a clear view of the Giza Pyramids. It’s iconic.
I did my research. I searched long and hard to locate the accommodation. Unfortunately, as this room has gained popularity, being able to book it is nearly impossible unless done in advance. Me? I’m an avid procrastinator. This meant that the room was reserved for the entirety of our stay in Cairo, except for one night. That single night was more expensive than our stay in the area. Common sense opted us out.
I used my favorite accommodation application, Booking, to find us something more reasonable with the same views we’ve been dying for. I came across Gardenia Inn just a few days before our flight. According to the app, photos, and cost, we could not have selected anything better. On top of the low price, my savings from constantly using this app cut the cost more. I researched more about the location and confirmed the reservation shortly after.
This accommodation is a great option. I wasn’t expecting a grand hotel. But I also didn’t realize that this inn was on the top floors of a residential building. As a result, it offered amazing views and reasonable prices, giving the best bang for your buck. With that said, let’s review Gardenia’s service, location, space, and cost.
Service + Hospitality
If I had to review the service this accommodation provided, I’d give it a solid 7.75/10. Although I requested an early check-in, we arrived much earlier than the time provided. The staff was very understanding and flexible. Our room would not be ready for a few more hours, so they provided a complimentary breakfast even though it was not included that day. Also, they held our luggage, so it didn’t have to be hauled up and down. With a very young team, the gaps in the organization made sense. But they were kind, and this didn’t hinder our experience.
Here’s where we ran into an issue: We’re in our room, up and about around 1 am, while our bodies adjusted to the new time zone. We hear a knock on the door and decide not to open it after the first round of knocking. It’s 1 am, and we would be alerted in another way if it was an emergency. We were uncomfortable, and the knocking continued. I don’t recall if my sister or I opened the door. They made us aware that someone would be in to fix the AC, which we were unaware was broken (as it was working fine), later in the day. Considering this was not staff, and we would not be in the room while our belongings were, we expressed that we were uncomfortable and proposed a time when we would be in. The worker expressed annoyance but seemed to take no for an answer. We thought this conversation was over until we left our room later that day.
Many hours later, we stepped out of our room to what felt like an overwhelming push to have them enter our room in our absence. Though we went back and forth, we stood our ground. This resulted in a complimentary upgrade to a room with a balcony. Though the result worked in our favor, getting there was frustrating. Between a culture of men being forceful towards women and our privacy and security at stake, it was the least they could do to ensure that both parties mutually benefitted.
The staff continued to make up for this when my sister and I booked two additional nights at this accommodation. We left the night of and before my birthday free to be able to travel to Siwa. That didn’t work out, so I booked the additional nights through the app. The employees allowed us to remain in the upgraded room for no extra cost, and the process was a breeze. Overall, they were kind and attentive, with few hiccups.
Location is everything. Pulling up with the jerk of a cab driver after our airport frenzy, he did everything in his power to get us to stay elsewhere. He warned us that two women alone shouldn’t be in the area and implied how dangerous this location is for visitors. It was to the extent that he begged us not to leave his taxi. This was a tactic. I’m sure he had some deal with hotels for when he brings in tourists. He wasn’t getting away with this with my sister and me. Not at all.
The one word I knew in Arabic before this trip was “haram.” Was it a coincidence that the apartment was located in Al Haram? I’m not sure, but it didn’t give me the best feeling. As the driver spoke, this came to mind. We knew better and continued because we thought it was a chance worth taking.
The location was ideal for us. We were surrounded by locals and local prices but minutes away from tourist sites and downtown Cairo. The small streets had us slightly unsteady, but we quickly became comfortable. Drivers found it hard to locate, but after a few rides, we knew our way and could direct them. If you’re a luxury traveler, this spot isn’t for you. But if you travel to focus on experiences over where you sleep, you’ll enjoy it.
The views from the balcony facing the pyramids were to die for. It felt as if I was living a dream. I have no words to describe how stunning it is, so just take a look for yourself. ⇩
Herein lies a bit of a catfish situation. The rooms were livable, temporarily. It’s not quite that they did not resemble what was pictured on the application. I mean, you could tell it was supposed to be the room. Kind of like a heavy Instagram filter versus a natural, unfiltered photo.
The rooms could have been more satisfactory and more comfortable as they made them appear. But most importantly, more cleanly. We survived. And for a short-term visit, I’d do it again to enjoy the pyramids, eat breakfast, and leave. Returning in time to go to sleep.
This affordable accommodation came to around $22/night for a room with a view of the pyramids and two twin beds. This figure includes both the standard and city taxes. Take into consideration that my history with Booking provides me with additional discounts. Without the added deals, it remains inexpensive.
Not as grand as a hotel, with more privacy than a hostel, affordable, with a decent location and incredible views. I would recommend these apartment units to a budget traveler and someone spending their time engaging in activities. Gardenia Inn is an outstanding choice. It’s kind of a hidden gem.