El Tonsy (which means “The Tunisian” in Arabic) is a small hotel, set in an unusual way: all the rooms are on the 16th floor (the lower floors are apartments and offices unrelated to the hotel) and the restaurant is on the 18th floor; an elevator serves only the first, 16th and 18th floors.
I happened to stay two times at this hotel during the same trip to Egypt, separated by a three night cruise on the Nile from Aswan to Luxor. On my first stay, I had asked for an early check-in (which was granted), because I was coming from a month long stay in Thailand, and my plane from Bangkok was landing at 5:40. I was quite welcomed then, and temporarily given a three-single-bed room because my room was not ready. Eventually, I kept that room for my two nights, overlooking the city roofs, nicely equipped with a small refrigerator, air conditioning, a bathroom with a bathtub and shower, and breakfast included. The next day, the man at the reception was most helpful too, and tried very hard to get me a bank where I could get Egyptian pounds out of my Canadian credit card, using my passport as an identifier because my card had no pin (therefore no ATM was suitable). After my second night, he also helped me find a taxi to get me to the airport and negotiated the fare for me. I could also leave there my big suitcase, unneeded for the Nile cruise, in the baggage storage.
My second stay, one night long, was quite different. I checked in at 22:40, later than expected because of a 80 minute flight delay from Luxor. The same nice guy was at the reception, and greeted me with a cup of mint tea that was meant for his colleague. The room charge was 30 USD, but the hotel would not accept credit cards. He said he would send the bellman to deliver my big suitcase into my room. That room turned out to be quite different from the one I had known before (it is true that I had been accidentally “upgraded”): very small (unsuitable for two persons even if there were two single beds), no closet or even a coat hanger to hang my jacket (I used the second bed as a repository for my belongings), refrigerator out of order, and I had to wait until 1:30 to get my suitcase after three reminders. On the next morning, I wanted to pay for my room half in Egyptian pounds (I wanted to get rid of the ones I had because I was to leave the country) and half in USD, i.e. 15 USD. I had only $20 and $50 bills, so I expected to receive a $5 bill back. But... the receptionist had no US dollars: he could take a $20 bill and give me the change in Egyptian pounds!
As a conclusion, as my title indicates, at El Tonsy you can find the better or the worse. The improvements needed, which I reported to the nice receptionist (not concerned by my complains), are:
- if the hotel prices its rooms in USD, it should accept credit cards and have change in USD;
- verify that all equipment is in working condition before renting a room;
- verify the room suitability for the number of persons advertised.
I might return there if I am to return to Cairo, but I will then make sure that all these expectations are met, or that I can deal with their absence.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- EL Tonsy Hotel is newly renovated. The hotel is located right in the center of Cairo 10 minutes walk to the Egyptian museum, 2 minutes to the River Nile, 15 minutes drive to the Giza Pyramids, 10 minutes drive to Khan El Khalili Market. The hotel has 25 rooms with A/C, Bathroom, Satellite TV, telephone, and some of which overlook the river Nile. Food is freshly prepared by or chefs. Relax in the bar or on the roof terrace with stunning views of the city and the river Nile. Free airport pick up. ... more less
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