Windsor Palace Hotel - Alexandria
"An Alex institution (apparently)"
The Windsor Palace Hotel is in a great, central location overlooking the sea. The hotel was built in 1907 but has undergone a huge renovation and I have to say is now looking pretty smart!
The hotel is run by an Egyptian chain and the staff are pretty friendly, however I DO believe that they have a little scam going on to fill their rooms.
When we phoned up to reserve a room we were quoted a price for a double room with Sea view and breakfast which was more competitive than other similar hotels. When we arrived we were told that they did not have our booking, but not too worry as they had another room with sea view but suprise suprise it was much more expensive. We were prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt however, the next day we were stood near reception and overheard a european couple being told the same thing -ie don't have your booking but can offer you a more expensive room! I don't wish to bad mouth the hotel as we had a lovely stay however, if you do book by phone make sure you get an emailed or faxed confirmation.
Despite the bad start, the room was lovely with a huge bedroom and the bath could also be used as a jacuzzi!!
The view of the Sea was out of this world and it was quite interesting watching the mad rush hour traffic every morning!
There is no Foreign Exchange in the Hotel but the nearest is a short distance away at The Cecil Hotel.
There is a nice bar out the front which is great for enjoying a drink and people watching.
The location is great and you are within walking distance of Fort Qaitbey, Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the Mosque of Abu Abbas al Mursi.
The best thing about the hotel is the lift! It is one of those old fasioned ones that has been restored and looks gorgeous. It has a polished wood floor and two wooden doors with brass knobs that open inwards. You then have to open an iron door to get out. It is really lovely and had a distinct smell. If I ever smell that smell again -it will always remind me of my time in Alex!
Along the Corniche
We checked in at the Windsor Palace Hotel but unfortunately our room wasn't yet ready, so we dumped our bags and decided to explore. We had been on the sleeper train all night and hadn't had much sleep so thought some sea air might wake us up!
A walk along the sea front in Alexandria is brilliant. The views of the sea are gorgeous and it is fascinating to see the fishermen at the harbour, sailing out to sea and just watching the local people enjoying paddling in the water. We decided to walk to Fort Qaitbey taking a look at the Mosque of Abu Abbas Al-Mursi on the way.
The fort was apparently built in 1480 and then modernised in the 19th Century. I think this has spoilt the Fort as it has been too modernised and looks a bit like a toy fort. The views of the sea are great from here though and it is quite pleasant to look around. My guide book said there was some sort of Naval museum in side, but when we went inside, there was nothing on display at all! I enjoyed the walk though and just as you approach the fort there are loads of men selling huge shells and other bits and pieces that are interesting to look at. We sat on a bench for half an hour just taking in the view, watching the waves crash against the rocks and breathing in the salty air.
On the walk back from the Hotel we stopped at the 'Grand Cafe' for some lunch. It was lovely, we had a mezze of Stuffed vine leaves with a yoghurt dip and these triangle shaped pastries filled with cheese (can't remember the name of them 'samb...' something). Anyway, they were delicious and we had a couple of orange juices and Adel had a Shisha. Next door is a restaurant called the Fish Market, we had planned to have dinner there but didn't get round to it. We had a look in the entrance and on the wall were loads of photos of famous people that had dined there. The were a couple of Egyptian celebrities that I recognised as well as Yasser Arafat and the Egyptian chap who is the head of the Arab league. After lunch, we continued the walk along the corniche and noticed that a metal jetty had sunk into the sea with just it's rusty corner poking out of the water. There were a couple of divers in Wetsuits there, not sure what they were doing but really hope that nobody was on the jetty when it collapsed.
Lobby at the Windsor Palace Hotel