Hola Hostel is located on the 4th floor of a once grand, early 20th century apartment building that like much of the downtown area has long since lost its grandeur. The building’s communal entry was shabby and hard to discover for a first time visitor so take up the free pickup offer. While a central lift from the 1920s, making it almost an antique, looked dubious but worked fine. The surrounding area contained a metro stop that was couple of hundred metres walk and a number of local-style restaurants and cheap-eats.
Inside, the hostel was compact with only a limited number of beds. All rooms had massive ceilings of 4 to 5 metres in height that give it a greater sense of space. There were two clean communal wet rooms which did not require queuing. When I stayed though, one of the shower head fittings was broken which left it unusable unless you washed with only one hand free.
The small common-room was basically useless as it amounted to a couple of cane table sets, a pay-as-you-go computer, a bookshelf and a tiny-TV connected to NileSat. The common-room fed onto an outdoor balcony that overlooked a Parisian-style cafe-lined but very rundown laneway.
Breakfast was the lightest I experienced during my travels through the Middle East. It involved three pieces of tasty, short-soft white baguettes, jam+butter, coffee or tea and a piece of fruit or a boiled egg. Breakfast technically would only be served after 8.30am which was a bit late if you wanted to make an early start. Though reasonably priced refrigerated bottles of water could be purchased at any time.
I stayed in a private single which was actually a twin that contained a double-bed as well as a single. The dark wood furnishings were nice while the beds were comfortable and large. The choice of a pink feature wall and mock leopard print bed covers were unusual. The only issue I had with the room was the front door that had problems staying closed without the deadlock enabled.
Despite the mostly comfortable amenities I would not return to Hola Hostel. I organised an in-house tour to visit Giza and Saqqara. It went fine except for the final Saqqara leg where the hostel employed driver was adamant in saying that there was no reason to pay 65LE to drive past a checkpoint to get closer to the step-pyramid. He had insisted that post-revolution everything within the Saqqara site was closed and that the pyramid under the scaffolding was not worth a lookup-close. Instead we stopped at a vantage point 1km or 2 away for a couple of distant photo opportunities. On his insistence we skipped the checkpoint and returned to the hostel.
That night I looked at the Tripadvisor’s forums, browsed through some Egypt blogs and discovered that he was incorrect. There were plenty of sites within Saqqara that had remained open. So I bought the issue up with the staff member who organised the trip as I didn’t agree with the driver second-guessing the itinerary. After a heated conversation he eventually agreed to talk to the driver and stated he would get back to me.
The following morning the driver pulled me up on my way to breakfast and grilled me with numerous questions. The staff member also threw questions my way and the whole situation got quite heated. I had never asked for a refund or compensation but both men were at times very defensive and loud. The drawn out experience left a bitter taste in my mouth and I decided against the eventual offer of a heavily discounted day trip to Djoser and Saqqara.
As a guest at any hotel or hostel I would never expect to be treated in such a verbally aggressive manner. Some of the staff need to remember that they work in hospitality, that their guests are on holidays, have probably travelled a long way and are not there to be on the receiving end of their berates!
There is plenty of competition for the supply of excellent, affordable accommodation in downtown Cairo.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A place to chill out and relax with friends is always welcome. That's what we offer at Hola Cairo Hostel, Cairo and we offer it in a prime location - easily accessible from the airport, and within easy striking distance of the city's biggest attractions. At Hola Cairo you can feel at home in our Common Rooms (1 with Balcony) and Guest Kitchen. For your entertainment we have a library, Games to play, Internet and Free WIFI. The Rooms have modern furniture and are all Airconditioned. With High Ceilings, wooden floors and Large windows you will have a comfortable stay in our spacious rooms. The staff at the Hola Cairo Hostel are fluent in English and Spanish and will be happy to assist with any enquirers customers have regarding transport and tours around Egypt. ... more less
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