I’m not sure what it says about a hotel that has now had a soft opening that has lasted for over a year, but it’s certainly a good excuse for not providing 5 Star service at a 5 Star hotel.

However, the Dusit Thani Lake View in Cairo is certainly well on the way to getting things right.  During my stay there, my only criticisms would be that their service was a little slow, and that their showers are impossible to turn to the right temperature. As I had a bath which was functioning correctly, I wasn’t overly fussed –  I think because I wasn’t expecting a first-world experience in a developing city.

Rooms: You could be anywhere in the world when you step into the Dusit Thani’s rooms, they are utterly generic.  No traces of either Egyptian or Thai styling, which was a bit of a shame. Frequent business travel can be a monotonous schlep, and finding yourself in basically the same hotel room in yet another city, is actually rather soul-destroying. But it’s new, it’s inoffensive.

Rooms are large, beds too soft for my poor old bones, utilities functional, and it’s nice to have a balcony or terrace in each one.

Bathrooms: Far too dim to apply make-up successfully. As previously noted, the showers are almost impossible to get to the right temperature.

Public Areas: Good pool and a nice hot tub.  Huge lobby that is A/C’d to sub-zero temperatures, and there is the rather odd detail of putting the open bar in the lobby, which means that there are small gaggles of people standing aimlessly, cluttering up the thoroughfares hanging onto their glasses.

Food: The buffet breakfast was 5* standard and the food I had during my stay was all more than acceptable (the fresh Egyptian yoghurt was delish).

Service: There is a mix of European top management, Egyptian middle management, Thai/Egyptian operations/reception staff. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to Thai hospitality, but they were hands down more customer service focussed than the locals.

Location: The Dusit Thani is in the middle of what is called New Cairo – a half built mega-town of new huge single residences and the odd office tower, about 45mins away from Cairo proper. It is a building site and a cultural wasteland, so if you are not planning on going into Old Cairo much and just want to hang at a hotel, then the DT is a good option.

It’s also an easy ride into the airport – going both ways we got there within 30mins, which in Cairo is a massive blessing.  Taxi drivers don’t really know the hotel though, so it is worth ordering a hotel pick-up from the airport to cut down on any hassles.

To give some context – it takes a good 45mins-1hour to get to Al Khalili Bazaar from the hotel.

Price: At the moment as it’s still soft opening the prices are under US$200, but that was the best price we could muster from a travel agent – going to the hotel direct was more expensive.

A word of warning – if you are going at the weekend, then make sure to check whether there is a wedding booked during your stay.  The hotel holds them in the central courtyard overlooked by half the rooms – Egyptian weddings are awesome – like MTV awards ceremonies, but that means pyrotechnics, techno DJs and huge sound systems, and parties that carry on until at least 3am at top decibel.  Not a relaxing way to spend a night if you are just looking for a good kip.

*one extra note is that the Spa isn’t opening until 2010.

So would I go again?  If I was just passing through Cairo on the way to somewhere else I would definitely stay at the DT again, but if I wanted to spend a couple of days in the city then I’d look for somewhere closer to the action.

Address: Dusit Thani LakeView Cairo, The LakeView, El-Tesseen Street, City Centre,Fifth Settlement, 11835 New Cairo. Tel +20 2 2614 0000