Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria: Seaside seclusion on Egyptian shores

The luxury five-star hotel has been around for over a decade. (Supplied)
Updated 07 October 2019

Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria: Seaside seclusion on Egyptian shores

  • We test out the new beachfront suites at Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano

CAIRO: Many a property development commercial has used the cliched statement of offering “city within a city” living, but at the new beachfront accommodation at the Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano, this statement couldn’t ring truer.

The luxury five-star hotel has been around for over a decade, and the building is considered something of an iconic landmark in the Egyptian port city. And when it comes to service and hospitality, it remains unrivalled — just ask any seasoned traveller to Alexandria. Reviews across the broad spectrum of hotel sites online also back this up.

Over the years, the property has acquired a loyal fanbase of local ‘staycationers,’ Egyptians living abroad, and GCC and Western visitors. The sea-view rooms are a big draw, while the private beach is the only one in the city that’s on par with international seaside resorts. Some of the best beaches in Alexandria are on the North Coast, but they are at least an hour’s drive — possibly two — away from the main city, and difficult to get to if you’re not with family or friends who know the area.




Over the years, the property has acquired a loyal fanbase of local ‘staycationers.’ (Supplied)

But who needs the North Coast, really? With its new accommodation offering, we have a feeling that the Four Seasons’ fanbase will only get bigger.

Earlier this year, the hotel launched 16 beach suites in a new extension. In fact, a complete revamp of the private beach area has taken place. Gone is the old seafood restaurant (imaginatively named ‘Fish’), replaced by a new eatery, called (equally creatively) Beach Restaurant and Lounge. An infinity pool has been added — a seawater pool located directly on the beach and overlooking the Mediterranean — with private cabanas. Kids get their own pool as well, plus a new larger play area.

But it’s the rooms that are the main attraction of this overhaul. With its own beachside area for check-in — separate from the main reception in the hotel across the road — we were quickly transported to our suite on a golf cart, and at the very moment we arrived it felt like we were no longer in Alexandria. The incessant traffic noise was replaced by the calming sounds of the sea’s waves. The chaotic streets replaced by views of greenery and well-maintained flowers. Each beach suite has a mini garden, tended by a dedicated team of gardeners.




Earlier this year, the hotel launched 16 beach suites in a new extension. (Supplied)

Available in either one-bedroom or two-bedroom, The beach suites — available with one- or two-bedrooms — feature a living room with sofa bed, widescreen TV, minibar, and Nespresso machine, plus a double bedroom (or two) and two bathrooms. Some nice add-ons are included, such as flip-flops in addition to the usual slippers.

All rooms open directly to the beach, giving you the option to either enjoy the sea, or lounge around in the garden (there are loungers and a table with chairs outside). There’s not much else you’ll need, really. In fact, during our stay we did not bother walking to the main property, despite the fact we could use all of its offerings too, including the spa, gym and additional outdoor pool.




Each beach suite has a mini garden, tended by a dedicated team of gardeners. (Supplied)

We also had the option to visit the main hotel for food. If you reserve a beach suite with breakfast, then you can have your morning meal by the beach at, er, Beach, or at the all-day dining restaurant, Kala. While Kala offers a breakfast buffet — and a very good one at that — we couldn’t resist the fresh air. The only drawback to Beach Restaurant’s breakfast is that it’s a set menu, and they don’t seem to take into account the number of people dining. For example, there were two of us, yet they brought us easily enough food for four. The next day, now knowing what to expect, we indicated what we wanted off the menu and asked them to halve the portions.

In case you aren’t aware, hotels in many countries are not allowed, by law, to donate food, so anything left over — even if you haven’t touched it — goes into the wastebin. Thankfully, the staff were able to pack our leftovers to go, but we think they should advise guests of the amount of food so they can decide for themselves how much to order. Sure, it’s ‘free’ and part of the package, but it’s still food.

Breakfast blunder aside, our stay was relaxing and enjoyable, and definitely one that we’d like to repeat in the future. Go ahead, treat yourself.


‘It Must Be Heaven’: Elia Suleiman’s sardonic take on the world

Suleiman, who plays the lead role as himself, explores identity, nationality and belonging. (Supplied)
Updated 23 October 2019

‘It Must Be Heaven’: Elia Suleiman’s sardonic take on the world

MUMBAI: Elia Suleiman’s “It Must Be Heaven,” which was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival, is pure cinema. Like his earlier works, here too the Palestinian director uses wit, sarcasm and minimalism, this time to present a series of vignettes that are funny but also a powerful lambast of the world we live in. Suleiman, who plays the lead role as himself, explores identity, nationality and belonging.

He says people worldwide now live in fear amid global geopolitical tensions. Today, checkpoints are just about everywhere: In airports, shopping malls, cinemas, highways — the list is endless.

“It Must Be Heaven” was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival. (Supplied) 

Suleiman’s earlier features, such as “Chronicle of a Disappearance” and “Divine Intervention,” showed us everyday life in the occupied Palestinian territories. This time, it is Paris and New York. 

The first scene is hilarious, with a bishop trying to enter a church with his followers. The gatekeeper on the other side of the heavy wooden door is probably too intoxicated and refuses to let the priest in, leading to a comical situation. Suleiman’s life in Nazareth is filled with such incidents — snippets that have been strung together to tell us of tension in society. Neighbors turn out to be selfish, and only generous when they know they are being watched. 

The Palestinian director uses wit, sarcasm and minimalism, to present a series of vignettes that are funny but also a powerful lambast of the world we live in. (Supplied)

In Paris, the cafes along the grand boulevards, and the young women who pass by, are typical of France’s capital. But a cut to Bastille Day, with tanks rolling by in a show of strength, jolts us back to harsh reality. In New York, Suleiman’s cab driver is excited at driving a Palestinian. 

The film has an interesting way of storytelling. The scenes begin as observational shots, but the camera quickly changes positions to show Suleiman watching from the other side of the room or a street. The camera then returns to where it first stood, and this back-and-forth movement is delightfully engaging.

The framing is so perfect, and the colors so bright and beautiful, that each scene looks magical. And as the director looks on at all this with his usual deadpan expression, a sardonic twitch at the corner of his mouth, we know all this is but illusion. There is bitter truth ahead!