• Sweet treats just footsteps from your guest room
  • Experience culture and arts at a traditional bookshop and musical performance center

Egyptian treats include basbousa, a grainy semolina cake topped with almonds and soaked in sugar syrup and sometimes flavored with orange-flower water or rose water; kunafeh, semolina dough rolled and fried in crunchy fine threads and stuffed with a sweetened white soft cheese; and qatayef, honey-drizzled dumplings filled with cheese or nuts. Shops sell individual pieces, which you can enjoy with tea or coffee on your hotel room balcony. Once you settle on your favorites, you can order whole trays, typically sold by the pound and wrapped in leakproof paper, perfect for taking home or aboard a Nile cruise. We love the sweets at Mandarine Kouider on Gezira Island, just across the river from the hotel. There’s good coffee, indoor seating, and an ice cream parlor (try the mango during mango season), in addition to trays of traditional Arabic pastries, permutations of phyllo dough, honey or sugar syrup, nuts, and dates, along with clotted cream, raisins, coconut, or rose water. Afterward, walk down 26th of July Street to the Diwan bookstore, which stocks multicultural and multi-ethnic works, or the El Sawy Culture Wheel, a community arts center with musical performances and photography exhibits. Bloudan Sweets, just off Tahrir Square and a few minutes walk from the Egyptian Museum, has no place to sit, but ahwa etiquette permits you to bring sweets to any nearby casual café without a food menu. The friendly Syrian manager happily explains his recipes, including warbat, the Damascene version of baklava.

Mandarine Kouider is on the corner of Shagaret Al Dor Street and Hassan Assem Street. Diwan is on 26th of July St. close by. The El Sawy Culture wheel is further down the street, under the May 15th bridge. Bloudan Sweets is just off Tahir Square, towards the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities.

​​MANDARINE KOUIDER: 17 Shagaret Al Dor St.; 20-2-2735-5010

DIWAN: 159 26th of July St.; 20-2-2736-2582;

​​EL SAWY CULTURE WHEEL: Western end of 26th of July St. under the May 15 Bridge; 20-2-2736-8881;

BLOUDAN SWEETS: 26 Mahmoud Bassiouny St.; 20-10-0141-0944