From Agatha Christie to Winston Churchill to François Mitterrand, the greatest of the greatest of mankind have, at one point or another, laid their hats at the iconic Sofitel Old Cataract.
Let's disregard the technicality that the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan is already a Sofitel Legend palace – a designation reserved for luxury Sofitel hotels and palaces that have earned their place in history by hosting legendary people and witnessing legendary events. Let's put that aside and imagine waking up in the natural beauty that is Aswan, surrounded by Nubian cultural bliss and, y'know, that long stretch of water that every travel blogger, Instagrammer, and #wanderlust-er has on their never-ending bucket list. That alone makes the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan live up to its namesake.
Now, the iconic hotel is kicking off Hôtels de Légende, a five-piece documentary by national public television channel France 2's, showcasing some the world's most 'remarkable' and 'mythical' hotels. Diving deep and unearthing every hotel's little-known historical significance, there's plenty to be found about Egypt's iconic Cataract.
The Victorian structure boasts some of history's greatest guests, from former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to legendary crime novelist Agatha Christie who both shared an affinity for the Nile-front hotel. The charismatic politician's suite proudly bears his name; Churchill's desk and Nile view terrace – "an impressive wooden platform," says the narrator, where he liked to relax and take a break from world domination - remain intact.
According to hospitality veteran and General Manager Rafic Khairallah, the mastermind currently behind the esteemed fortress and the Sofitel Winter Palace, Lady Mallowan wrote her enigmatic literary masterpiece Death by the Nile in 1937 in the equally fascinating hotel. Khairallah then reveals the hotel's plan to reclaim its glorious past by renovating and refurbishing Christie's room and restoring her old furniture.
Former French president François Mitterrand was also a frequent visitor, staying there at least once a year. A Sofitel Legend Old Cataract barman remembers the astute politician as easygoing and affable, saying he didn't like to be surrounded by guards because he always felt safe there.
Given the recent tourism rates in Egypt following the January 25th revolution, the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan's being honoured as the first of these five pièces de résistance is a breath of fresh air, and what we're hoping to be a huge step in the right direction for Egyptian tourism.