A Royal Affair: Authentic Renovation of Cairo Restaurant, Saraya Gallery

SOURCE: Marriott

CAIRO, EGYPT–(Marketwire – September 17, 2010) – It’s a well known fact that the Cairo Marriott hotel in Zamalek now resides in the location of the “Al Gezira” palace. This luxury hotel in Cairo is built around the palace and houses some rooms from the former royal abode. Rumours support the idea that Khedive Ismail, powered by his love for Napoleon III’s wife Eugenie, built this palace to accommodate her during their visit to Egypt for the opening ceremony of the Suez Canal. With that in mind, the 5 star hotel in Cairo, Egypt, decided to resurrect the royal tale through the renovation of one of its old restaurants to its former Ottoman glory.

Gold curtains frame the entrance, giving diners the feeling of seclusion to further enhance the experience of being transported to older times. On the right of the entrance are two huge oil portraits of Napoleon III and Eugenie; replicas of the original paintings by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, a German painter famous for royal portraiture during the 1800s.

During the renovation of Saraya Gallery, designer Sibylle Eberhard of Hirsch Bedner Associates Design, ensured that the style of the Cairo restaurant is authentic to the original palace. Al Gezira palace was carefully designed to relay strong French influences all over the structure; the intent of Khedive Ismail so as to make Empress Eugenie feel at home. Saraya Gallery was renovated to give such notion, carefully mixing European and Ottoman influences to result in an elegant, sophisticated yet comfortable scene. The influence is seen through the Gallery’s high rectangular windows and cornices of the Renaissance period beside Islamic horseshoe arches, which were gilded by local craftsmen, along with carved wood work and gilded mirrors.

Perhaps the Pièce de résistance of the Gallery is the brass chandelier, from the original palace, suspended in the middle of the restaurant. The chandelier is of Islamic style, with intricate carvings and Islamic patterns, housing light inside rather than outside to give a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. The chandelier was replicated locally and the replica was put in the entrance of the gallery. The chandelier took 150 days to be made and weighs a hefty 475 kilos. The chandeliers are only overshadowed by the Zamalek restaurant’s ceiling; the high ceiling is from the original palace, declared a precious artifact by the ministry of antiquities and so was left untouched.

One of the most distinctive features of Saraya Gallery is serving afternoon tea, where guests can enjoy a lavish moment of relaxation midday or have business meetings in an enchanting royal setting. Cairo Marriott hotel renovated Saraya Gallery with the intention of it becoming a comfortable hub for Cairo’s elite, encouraging them to have their business lunches and Friday breakfasts in a luxurious setting, while visiting the Cairo Convention Center. Guests can enjoy their fillet fois gras while admiring Ottoman inspired architecture and enjoying top rate service, making them feel like kings and queens of modern Cairo.


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