About

As a new arrival in Cairo in 1988, Andrew Humphreys found the city’s hotels an appealing mix of the practical and the peculiar. An appreciation of contemporary hotel life led to a fascination with the hotel life of the past, and to the book Grand Hotels of Egypt and its follow-up On the Nile. Andrew, a journalist, editor and publisher, now lives in London but remains a frequent visitor to Egypt and an avid frequenter of its grand (and not so grand) hotels.

Andrew’s previous books include National Geographic Egypt, as well as guidebooks to Egypt and Cairo for Lonely Planet and Dorling Kindersley. In 1996 he co-founded and was editor-in-chief of the Cairo Times, which, while it lasted, was Egypt’s finest English-language newspaper. His journalism has also appeared in The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Financial Times, Time Out, Canvas, Condé Nast Traveller (UK) and National Geographic Traveler (US). He is the founder of Paradise Road, a publishing house specialising in non-fiction books about London.

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This blog is a repository for unused research for Grand Hotels of Egypt and On the Nile, and off-cuts and oddments related to travel in Egypt from around the mid-19th to mid-20th century. That’s the idea, anyway – things may well change as we go along. I welcome correspondence and would love to hear from anyone with knowledge or memories of the places and times I write about; you can contact me at andrewhumphreys@btinternet.com

37 Responses to About

  1. Pingback: Grand Hotels of Egypt « Quite Alone

  2. Dear Andrew Humphreys,

    Thanks for your kind words about my Lee Miller (you might enjoy my most recent book, No Regrets, The Life of Edith Piaf, though I’m not sure where
    Piaf stayed when in Cairo).

    I’m working on a piece about the Baroness Empain aka Goldie. If you run across anything of interest concerning her, her husband, and their grand dwelling, Heliopolis, I’d greatly appreciate your letting me know. Are you in Cairo?

    All the best,
    Carolyn Burke

  3. Peter Lacovara

    Dear Mr. Humphreys-

    I’m doing an exhibit on a businessman who stayed in the Eden Palace Hotel in Cairo and was wondering if you had any or knew of anyone who had memorabilia from the hotel. I’ve only been able to find postcards.

    Many thanks,

    Peter Lacovara

    • gran8512

      Peter
      I’m going to put up a post on the Eden Palace in the next few days. I don’t have too much on the place, just some letters with beautiful illustrated letter heads, a few postcards and a luggage label. The problem is the hotel was only open to paying guests for around 20 years. I’ll put up everything I have shortly.
      Best,
      Andrew

  4. Admiring the time and energy you put into your site and detailed information you provide.
    It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed material.
    Excellent read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my
    Google account.

    My weblog :: local seo services [Anton]

  5. Paul Geday

    Mabrouk ya Andrew for the website
    Paul

  6. Marta Taddei von Culin

    My name is Marta Taddei von Culin, I am writing you because my grand mother Carla Battigelli, born in Cairo, was the Daughter of Francesco Battigelli and Victorine Friedmann. Victorine , I think, was the sister of Signor E. Friedmann, from the Hotel du Nil.
    If you can confirm me this, I would like to know if you have some more informations about this family, I am retracing the genealogy of my family and any tidbits would greatly help me.
    Regards,
    MVC

  7. Frank Bird

    Dear Andrew Humphreys

    Having visited Cairo’s Ezbekiyya Square on a trip several years ago,
    I find the theme of your book very appealing. I wonder if you are aware of a passage in chapter 10 of Michael Asher’s book, “Lawrence The Uncrowned King of Arabia”, where he describes a visit through the lobby of the Grand Continental Hotel and later, through what was, in better days, either the ballroom or the dining room of the hotel. It’s a fascinating description, although Asher’s visit was some time ago, ’97 or ’98 I believe.

    Regards
    Frank

  8. Currently researching biographical information on 19th and early 20th century travel writers for books in the collection of an open access library that are being digitised. Have been brought to your site looking for information on R. Talbot Kelly.
    As you write that you’re gathering unused research on Grand Hotels, you may like to read, “A fortnight in Egypt at the opening of the Suez Canal” by Sir Frederick Arrow. He attended the lavish opening of the Suez Canal and special ceremonies, Nov., 1869 and details his accommodations in Egypt. One of the events, Sir Frederick attended was the presentation of Verdi’s “Rigoletto” at Cairo’s glittering Opera House, a substitute for “Aida” which the composer had agreed to write for the opening but failed to complete on time. The Khedive was disappointed, but not nearly as much as Sir Frederick to learn that there were two classes of invitations for the opening: one for Royalty and one for the likes of Sir Frederick. He became an informal chronicler of these events and in this work relates his reactions to one of the great events of the 19th century.
    Have many others to recommend that may contain anecdotes about the Grand Hotels.

    Sandra

  9. Julie M

    Dear Andrew Humphreys,

    I am looking for the name of a hotel in Alexandria, starting with ‘Clar’ which existed during the 1930s. The painter Paul Klee mentions it in his travel diary on the 9th of January, 1929. After a quick search I only stumbled upon Hotel Claridge´s. I am hoping that you, being an expert, could and are willing to help me further.

    Best regards,

    Julie

  10. Mira Leibstein

    Hi Andrew- I’ve stumbled across your website while researching some family photos of Helwan in the 1930’s. Our family owned the Villa Wanda, but there are extensive photos of another building that I’m trying to identify. Please reach out if you’ld like a crack at it!

    • AndrewH

      Send them over and if I can;t help with the identification I can always post the pics on the site here and I’m sure someone else will be able to tell you what the building is.
      Andrew

  11. John Bosch

    Dear Mr. Humphreys,

    Through my contact with Nigel Flechter-Jones I was informed about your new book ‘on the Nile in the golden age of travel’. I am really looking forward to it. I don’t know when it will be available in the Netherlands. Btw, I really really like the cover. It’s astonishing !!
    Greetings,
    John Bosch

    • Antoinette

      Hello,

      Last Friday I happened to meet mr. Ayman Simman in Cairo who had the book “On the Nile” In the golden age of travel, on him. I was allowed to read it in the plane to Holland and I was flabbergasted.
      I am looking forward too to be able to buy it in Holland. I could not find it yet on the website Amazone.com.
      Can anybody let me know when it is available in The Netherlands?

      Antoinette Kool

  12. Eric Cook

    Dear Mr. Humphreys,

    What a fascinating and lovely website and books. Thank you for the work you’ve done here. I am coming to this site on an odd quest, I am interested in the life (and cultural context) of Hamad Hassah/Hassab survivor of the RMS Titanic, and enjoyed seeing his actual business card on your site. What secondary and primary sources would you recommend for studying the context of the dragoman in Egypt and do you think there would be any possibility of tracing the actual biography of Hamad Hassab? If not I’d like to reconstruct the milieu of such a person if possible.

    Many thanks for any suggestions you can give.
    Respectfully yours,
    Eric Cook

  13. Kevin Morrow

    Good evening, Mr. Humphreys.

    My name is Kevin Morrow, and I am writing a book about espionage operations in the Middle East during World War I. A German spy stayed at the Hotel Majestic in early 1915, and I saw what you wrote about that hotel on one of your pages here. Did you find secondary source info on the Majestic that I could refer to to write a description of the place?

    Regards,
    Kevin

    • AndrewH

      Hello Kevin
      I’m afraid that is as much information as I have on teh Majestic. You might try contacting one of the people that left comments beneath my post, maybe they have more descriptions.
      Andrew

  14. Mosleh El Wakeel

    Dear Andrew ,
    A great book with great efforts behind it. You also keep updating. Thank you very much

    Mosleh

  15. Alexander Hed

    Dear Mr.Humphreys…I simply love you site..I myself have a love story with Cairo which started in 1999…..my mother came to Cairo in 1948 to work for an export/import company..she had tea at Mena house….last time she returned to Cairo was in 1963 when she had tea at the then New Nile Hilton that is now closed for renovation.
    Sorry to see that so many classic buildings and hotels have been demolished or are in decay..
    Thank you for enriching our world..will try to get my hand on your facinating book.
    Alexander

  16. Tamara Lasakow

    I am unable to locate a book, which I am wanting to acquire, if possible. It is called Queen of the Nile: A Historical Tribute to a Landmark Hotel. This book was written by Adel Sabet and is a history of the Semiramis hotel in Cairo. I would think that it is in English, but I know almost nothing about it and I am turning to you in hope that you can help. I have tried the usual searches, but coming up with nothing. I visited Cairo in November 2014. Touring the in Mena House in Giza and the Palace Al Gezirah (now the Marriott) was a thrill. I would welcome recommendations on any good reading on historic luxury hotels. Thanks!

    • AndrewH

      Hi Tamara
      The book was privately printed by the Semiramis Hotel and was never made available for sale. You might be able to get a copy if the you email the marketing department at the Semiramis, which may still be headed by a very helpful lady by the name of Nabila Samak (I got my copy from her).
      Best,
      Andrew

  17. Tamara Lasakow

    Thanks! That makes sense, because I got a nice book from Mena House about their hotel, although it is a small one. Still, it is filled with fun stories of the guests, etc.

  18. Margot Gordon

    Hello Andrew
    I just recently cleared out a closet and found all sorts of items, some from Africa,….. and a ashtray from the Intercontinental-Savoy Hotel Cairo.
    It is in excellent condition no chips or cracks etc, it has a transfer picture of the Sphinx in the foreground and the Pyramids in the background, with the hotel name below it.
    It is square shaped with each corner scooped out to place a cigarette.
    On the back, shows a stamp mark of the manufacturer Bosshardt & Co Lucerne, with the date 1930.
    If you would like a photograph of it I will send one.
    Do you know of any collector who might be interested in purchasing this item from me ? If so, Please put them in touch with me.
    I am thinking of putting it on Ebay , but not sure of its value ?
    Many Thanks
    Margot Gordon

  19. Margot Gordon

    Hello Andrew
    I am not sure if you recieved my message about the ashtray I have that i was from The Continental -Savoy Hotel Cairo. Please confirm ! If you did not receiveit I can resend info.
    Many Thanks
    Margot Gordon

  20. Tamara Lasakow

    I would be elated to have this ashtray! Please let me know if it is still available and provide the information on how to obtain it. I am not a dealer or collector, but a lover of beautiful, classic, fabulous hotels. I have two fat coffee table books on grand hotels. I also toured several of the remaining older hotels when I visited Cairo! It was much better than the pyramids! I was in heaven!
    I hope you will contact me soon.

    Thank you so much!
    Tamara Lasakow

  21. Hi Andrew

    Was trying to find a ‘search box’ for information on your site?

  22. Hi Andrew. Just came across your excellent site while researching the Semiramis Hotel for a book I’m writing based on a collection of letters I inherited from my grandmother. Her closest friend, Ethel North, was lady’s maid and companion to Lady Winifred Burghclere who was the sister of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Ethel wrote over 80 letters and postcards to my grandmother describing her time travelling round the world with Lady B including the section I’m working on now where they visit Egypt to meet up with Howard Carter and see all the Tutankhamun relics. They stay at the Semiramis Hotel and also the Luxor Winter Palace in early 1928 and I have headed note paper from both these hotels that Ethel’s letters from the trip are written on. If you or any of your followers would like to know more about the letters I have a website which is https://ladyburghclereandethel.com Good luck with your book. It sounds fascinating.

  23. Terry Sofian

    I’d like to use some of your images for a Victorian Science Fiction role playing game book. I’m interested in Victorian era bills, menus and similar items. Please let me know if this is possible. Thanks!

    Love you pages

    Terry Sofian

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