For Sleeping Or ‘Purposes’


I received an email last week with the above image attached. The sender bought the item in an antiques shop. It measures 137 by 97 mm and appears to be made of brass. The text seems to be advertising the hotel management’s ability to go way beyond the normal expectations of service in providing prostitutes and rent boys for those who should require them. The sender wanted to know if I knew anything about it and whether it was an original item. The short answer is I don’t know, but there was and, indeed, still is a Grand Hotel in Cairo. It’s Downtown, on 26th July Street at the junction with Talaat Harb. It’s not a particularly old establishment, dating back only to the 1940s or ’50s, as you can see in the images below.



Despite the name, I don’t think it was ever a salubrious establishment, not a place that would attract the better class of visitor. It probably, like many, second- and third-tier establishments catered for longer-term visitors – military, civil servants, business types, people that needed temporary lodgings for a few weeks or months. I guess such a sign as the one above might conceivably have hung at a hotel reception in the 1940s when the city was flooded with soldiers, but it is unlikely. It certainly would not have been displayed after the Revolution, when stricter morals prevailed. My feeling is given the generic nature of the hotel name and the design that this is a joke item. Having said that, I could be wrong – a sign in a favourite bar in Alexandria (sadly now closed) used to read ‘No service in pyjamas and no spitting on the floor’, and that was entirely genuine having hung in place since at least the 1960s. Anyway, if anyone knows anything about the plaque that is the subject of this post, do get in touch.


Filed under Grand hotels, Hotels then and now, Travellers' tales

7 Responses to For Sleeping Or ‘Purposes’

  1. Terry Walz

    Used to own one of these, purchased in a flea market New York, I believe, sometime in the 1970s or 80s. Always thought it was a joke, delightful as it is. So happy to see it again.

  2. Andrew Bannister

    We stayed at the Grand Hotel for a week in 2011, a wonderful, comfortable, friendly & cheap hotel in downtown Cairo, so close to so many things, not to mention the excellent café at the rear where we spent most nights drinking tea or coffee with the locals. Essential Cairo.

  3. victorino manalo

    in many countries where english is not a first language signs like this are the result of communication lapses. The sign maker probably had something else in mind. My guess is that the hotel management was making it known that they could arrange for single travelers to share a room with another single traveler so as to be able to share costs.

  4. Richard Norrish

    I also have the same plaque. Found in an antique shop in Portabello Road, London in the early ’70’s. It has been on the wall of every bathroom since then.

  5. Mr J G Smith

    I have the same item, purchased from a flea market as a joke with a liking for the pidgin English and the general sentiment.

  6. Ms Rachel Baddeley

    Amazing what you can find out on the WWW. Delighted to see the complete plaque image, read this article and the accompanying comments. I have just acquired my own piece of history from a Chelmsford, England car boot sale, a whole £1 of pleasure. Regardless of it being a joke or for real, I am now doubly delighted. Unfortunately the script on mine has been partly squashed out or perhaps over zealously polished out and I had to do a pencil rubbing on the back to read the print. All in all, a great find. Thanks for your part in entertaining my curiosity.

  7. Anne Meier

    I have the same item, bought at a market in Jordan in the early 80’s.

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