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.


COVID-19 lockdown brings out hidden kitchen talents of Saudi men

Updated 10 April 2020

COVID-19 lockdown brings out hidden kitchen talents of Saudi men

  • Curfews have provided opportunity for men to show off their kitchen catering abilities by cooking up some tasty meals

RIYADH: The famed home cooking skills of Saudi women have found a surprise challenger during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown — with men revealing their hidden culinary talents.

Curfews set up to help stop the spread of the virus have provided the opportunity for men to show off their kitchen catering abilities by cooking up some tasty family meals.

Quality auditor Ahmed bin Ibrahim has been staying at his family’s house during quarantine, and told Arab News that he had enjoyed pitching in on kitchen duties.

“I like to help my mother while she is cooking by cutting some vegetables, but I learned how to cook years ago when I was a student in the US,” he said.

His mom and YouTube became his culinary instructors during his time in America and his favorite dishes are kabsah, steaks and quesadillas.

“Lately, my dad has been cooking a lot and grilling in our back yard, so I’ve been helping him,” he added.

Ammar Albarakati, owner of Ammar Restaurant and TV presenter on Sabahcom on SBC. (Supplied)

Faris Al-Harbi, a college student from Tabuk, has been putting lockdown time to good use in the kitchen trying to create new recipes for his family to lighten the mood.

“Since home isolation started, I have cooked five dishes — mandi (a traditional meal with meat and rice), broasted chicken, pizza, grilled dishes, and pasta with pesto sauce.”

He said that it was only since the COVID-19 restriction measures had been put in place that his talent for cooking healthy food had emerged.

“My family really admires my cooking and loves the taste of my dishes.”

Al-Harbi added that he intended to continue cooking once the COVID-19 health crisis was over, but in the meantime had introduced a kitchen challenge for his cousins and family.

“Every day, a member of the family has to cook a dish and is evaluated by experts — my mother and father. This creates a bit of a competition which is nice. Everyone wants to cook something that is delicious and creative, which makes us excited to cook again.”

Abdulrahman bin Kasem, Saudi chef and food blogger. (Supplied)

He pointed out that under the current situation it was sometimes hard to find an alternative for some ingredients not available in the home. “It is also difficult to estimate the right amount of ingredients for the family. Preparing the dough and forming it is also hard.”

Al-Harbi’s brother Abdulrahman, an architect, had been challenged to cook madghout — pressure-cooked chicken and rice — for the first time for his family.

“It was the first time I had cooked, so I couldn’t say whether I was talented or not, but it definitely needed some focus,” he said, adding that his creation was well-received. “YouTube has a lot of cool Saudi chefs and their videos are so simple and easy to execute. It helps anyone who wants to try to cook.”

Al-Harbi’s sister Shahad told Arab News that she was surprised to see her brothers’ talent in the kitchen and would struggle to compete with them.

Speaking about her younger brother Khalid, who is currently studying in the US, she said: “He likes to try international foods and he uses fresh ingredients and different spices. He likes to make avocado toast, steaks, cheesecakes, exotic juices, and risotto.

Although a mess is inevitable in some kitchens as male family members go through a trial-and-error phase, most mothers will undoubtedly be proud and happy with the help they are receiving under the current difficult circumstances.