The Old Cataract hotel (owned by Sofitel) is arguably the most iconic hotel in Egypt.
The luxurious hotel, founded by Thomas Cook at the end of the nineteenth century, is built on a small cliff overlooking the Nile in Aswan. An outside bar faces the southern end of Elephantine Island and is a perfect place to enjoy a sunset cocktail.
The timelessness of the river, the softening light, the freshening breeze and the slap of the wind against the sails of the feluccas all combine to shape an experience that is relaxing yet invigorating, and seems like something out of a colonial-era novel.
Which is not that far from the truth: Agatha Christie stayed at the Old Cataract whilst working on Death on the Nile, and other famous guests include Howard Carter, Winston Churchill, Czar Nicholas II, and the Shah of Iran.
Even if you aren't lucky enough to be staying at the hotel, you should have a wander round. The Moorish opulence—even decadence—is heavy with history; somber photographs of past luminaries are scattered amongst the rich wood panelling, chandeliers, and endless corridors of a time long gone.
A word of caution: the drinks are at least as expensive as you would guess, and the staff—though mostly wonderful—can sometimes be a little snooty. But don't let this put you off an opportunity to drink in history.