Many young travelers, in special bellydancers like me, dream to visit Egypt one day. I see many of them struggling with trip details, doubts, fears, and whatnot... so may this post help you check something off your list: LODGING!
I introduce you to... MARTINE CairoBellyRoom
Martine is a kind French lady who has been living in Zamalek, Cairo, for over 7 years now. She opens the doors to her beautiful apartment to any traveler (alone or in group) for as long as needed.
I arrived into the apartment VERY early in the day and Martine was already waiting for me. She made sure someone helped me carry the luggage up the stairs. She showed me into my room, showed me the basics (bathroom, kitchen, wifi connection) and offered me home-made breakfast (Martine's experience with her previous restaurant + her French cooking skills = DELICIOUS food!). The room was very spacious, had AC available, and a clean towel and sheets waiting for me. She is a delight to talk to, always sharing beautiful stories and great advices about Cairo. She made sure I felt as comfortable as possible the whole time, taking care of all minor details (hot coffee, shampoo if needed, etc) and facilitating the payment process. The room prices are really great, and the service you will receive is by far one of the greatest I have experienced in a home stay lodging. I decided to spread the word around because I honestly felt at home every second I spent at Martine's apartment, and because I know there are many people out there having trouble finding a safe and comfortable place to stay at in Egypt. I can't wait to go back to Cairo, and I don't hesitate when I say I know I will be staying at Martine's again!
1. Dear Martine, when and why did you decided to move to Cairo?
Egypt has been my favorite destination for many years, I was often leaving on vacation to visit this country. Over time I met people and my "habibi" too, which certainly helped me make the decision to move. In November 2006, after giving it much thought, I decided I wanted a change of scenery, life, country, and to learn about another culture so I sold my property in France, I quit my job, I said "bye bye" to my friends, my family, and finally grabbed my two cats and flew to the land of the pharaons.
2. Is Cairo safe as many travelers say or dangerous as CNN portrays?
During the 2011 revolution, it never crossed my mind to leave Egypt. Neither did it during the turbulent times that followed the removal of President Mubarak and the removal of President Morsi after that. Ever since those times, travel agencies are very cautious and careful about Egypt, and some foreign ministries still do not recommend it as a travel destination. What a shame because the Egyptians really need tourists. Tourism is the second source of income of the country and from the age of 3, about 13% of the population lives indirectly from tourism. Therefore, they suffer the lack of travelers nowadays. Many people have contacted me before making their decision whether to come or not, and many have chosen not to after being persuaded by the media. The people that do decide to come never regret it since they are able to enjoy the sights, tours, nightlife, shopping, etc. They never felt threatened. Neither do the women traveling alone and staying in my place.
3. What is there to do around Zamalek?
I live in the residential area and beautiful island of Zamalek. Thirty embassies are located in this district promoting safety. Therefore, many expatriates and women living in the area can dress normally. We can go shopping, to the gym, swim in the hotel swimming pools, lounging and smoking a shisha in a cafe beside the Nile. There are many restaurants here in Zamalek. You can eat "local food" but also Lebanese, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, etc, etc... not to mention the many small typical Egyptian grocery stores that everybody that comes to visit loves.
4. What do you love most about Cairo?
Although it may sound as a clichè, I never get tired of visiting the Pyramids of Giza... But I prefer the ones in Dahshur. The calm that surrounds these two pyramids, desert path that connects them, sooths me, replenishes me and makes me forget about the tumult of the city. I love this place, it inspires my spirituality! This site is not really frequented by tourists. And also I love Cairo by night!
5. What would you say to someone who is interested in lodging at your apartment?
The apartment is located in a quiet street near the city center. With my hosts, I try to create a warm joyful atmosphere. Many people tell me they feel at home and for me it is a huge compliment. We enjoy breakfast to talk, I give them advice for sightseeing. And when I get dancers, I'm even happier because we share the same passion. I sometimes host small groups who come with their teacher. I have a program that allows to combine dance, culture and discovery. So come to Egypt, you will be welcomed here!
To learn more about Martine's lodging,
or find her in FB as "Martine CairoBellyRoom"