TRAVEL THERE: MY FAVORITE THING AT THE FAIRMONT HELIOPOLIS
My favorite thing at the Fairmont wasn’t a thing at all. It was Ahmed, the waiter in the Le Marche Cafe. Le Marche was my favorite place for breakfast during the whole trip. Having to face down a buffet every morning actually gets pretty old. Le Marche was a little a la carte cafe and while the food was good, Ahmed was marvelous!
Breakfast Not Included
Breakfast-included is kind of an Egyptian thing, but since the Fairmont is so Americanized, you could make breakfast-excluded reservations. And this is a good place to tell you, it is very Americanized. Except for a few decor items and the over-abundance of Arab-looking staff you could be in a hotel in Middle America for all you could tell from the interior surroundings.
For some folks that’s a recommendation, but not so much for me. I love my American creature comforts, but I also like them to come in an exotic package if at all possible. Our next hotel will do just that, but let’s get back to breakfast.
Before we headed downstairs, I dutifully perused one of those huge leather-covered tomes I’d hidden away from us the night before. With it I got a feel for breakfast possibilities. Here’s a rundown from the hotel’s website:
Dining choices at Fairmont Heliopolis are truly endless that varies from Lebanese favorites at Al Dabké, genuine Egyptian cuisine at Egyptian Night, authentic Thai delicacies at Lan Tania, modern Chinese specialties at Noble House, authentic Mexican cuisine and fantastic margarita’s at Maria’s, classic Italian cuisine with a modern twist at Leonardo, All-day dining at My Kind of Place, the freshest sushi and sashimi at Saki Sushi Lounge, Indian cuisine at Raj, chill-out outdoor venue at Pizza bar, contemporary international cuisine at Aqua E Luce, French patisserie at Le Marché, fast dining style at Marilyn and pool bar serving light snacks at Blue Lagoon Bar.
My reading told me we’d end up at Le Marche, but we were having a lazy, late morning, so I wasn’t opposed to browsing the lobby. We walked past Le Marche and saw My Kind of Place, which had a sign announcing, “Breakfast Performing Here.” I certainly wasn’t looking for dancing eggs and the sight of a buffet didn’t seem tempting. Price being one barrier and the number of upcoming breakfast buffets being the next.
Marilyn’s was a Marilyn-Monroe-Themed cafe, but it looked closed right then. We saw the Thai restaurant, the Mexican Restaurant, the Italian Place and some of the others, all waiting for dinner time. Continuing through the lobby we happened on Aqua E Luce on the Towers side of the hotel. They didn’t have a sign telling us breakfast was performing, but there was a buffet, which by the way did seem a little more inviting than the one over in My Kind of Place, if you are ever interested.
We kept on walking and found the Towers Pool. It had a Pizza Bar and lots of hookah equipment. Before I left Egypt, I also discovered it was the location for their Egyptian Night, but that story is for another day. We began to re-trace our steps and found our way to Le Marche, just as I had anticipated, but I hadn’t imagined there would be an Ahmed!
Le Marche Cafe
Le Marche has a pastry counter filled with delectable treats and we were salivating over them when we were approached by Ahmed. We confessed to be overwhelmed by our breakfast choices and Bill asked him if there was a menu. Ahmed and Bill were soon swapping stories in Arabic as I drooled on my own. Ahmed ushered us to a seat and continued his banter with Bill.
Bill suggested we share one of the croissant sandwiches with turkey and while I really wanted one of those humongous pastries, I acquiesced and asked for the bonus of a Coke Zero. Bill isn’t much of buying beverages in restaurants, but we had come down without our water bottle, so I got my Coke Zero. This was treat, not only because it was a splurge to get a restaurant soda, but because most of Egypt has Diet Coke, not Coke Zero and while I’d prefer a Diet Dr Pepper, I prefer Coke Zero to Diet Coke.
Ahmed was polite, solicitous and not at all inappropriate, but he should have just set down at our table. He and Bill became fast friends in about two minutes. The two of them chatted throughout the meal. When we got the croissant sandwich it was delicious and plenty for two. The conversation was so friendly I was concerned that I might be sitting most of the day.
The Rest of the Hotel
When breakfast was over, we headed out to check out the balance of the hotel. We found the gift shop, laundry and offices. Then we found out way out to the primary pool complex, which was extensive. There were a number of pools, a hookah cafe, indoor squash court and clay tennis courts. We found a pretty nice playground and gave the fitness center and spa a thorough inspection. High marks on all counts, including the friendly staff.
We looked at our watches and realized time was flying. Bill contacted the groom, who was in the salon getting a mani/pedi. He was about to head over to his bride’s home to transport her to the hotel, but he offered to drop us off at his sister’s place. That sounded good to me, because I was ready to quit carrying around gifts and start delivering them.
Come back next week for the fun!