Hurghada, Egypt

Casa Cook El Gouna

Price per night from$155.87

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD155.87), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Desert block party

Setting

Between Sahara and Red Sea

Casa Cook El Gouna is a mirage as witnessed by a champion of Brutalism who’s been wandering the desert, bereft of Architectural Digest, for weeks. But, luckily for those thirsting for a dreamy modernist hideaway in Egypt, it’s very real indeed. This series of polished monoliths, spread out by the beachy Red Sea coast and the lunar landscape and mountains of the Sahara, is a locus of laidback hedonism surrounded by a rugged natural playground. One day might be a pool party buoyed by DJ beats and spritzes with Egyptian wine; another might be self care with sun-splashed yoga and a massage using millennia-old techniques; and another might be riding through mountain passes, wreck diving and kitesurfing along the blustery shore. Much like a mirage, it’s what you desire, but well within reach. 

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Facilities

Photos Casa Cook El Gouna facilities

Need to know

Rooms

100.

Check–Out

9am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Prices

Double rooms from £158.37 ($201), including tax at 28.82 per cent.

More details

Rates usually include the buffet breakfast (served by staff), with eggs, a dedicated healthy corner, fruit, bread, yoghurt, cereals and Egyptian specialities.

Also

Your home might not be well-suited to reliefs of people walking like Egyptians, sphinx statuettes and walls of hieroglyphics, but Casa Cook’s subtler, more organic style is actually quite accessible. So much so, that you can buy some of the earthenware pots, hammocks, cushions, lamps and more that you’ll find in your room in the lobby boutique. It also sells stylish linen clothing, wraps for after-dark, hand-engraved necklaces and comfy leather mules in partnership with artisanal shopping brand Mix and Match.

At the hotel

Private beach, spa with hammam and steam room, gym, yoga shala, desert gardens, alfresco terraces, lobby boutique, free WiFi. In rooms: Private terrace, flatscreen TV, Nespresso coffee machine, kettle and teas, individually controlled air-conditioning, minibar with free bottled water, bathrobes and slippers, Areej bath products.

Our favourite rooms

There’s such an easy naturality to the style in rooms, that it looks like they might have evolved out of the desert over the years and been simply dusted off before guests check in. The hues that echo sand and stone; furnishings’ organic shapes; and materials such as weathered wood, untreated plaster, rattan, hammered brass and linen make spaces tactile, cosy and cool (in all senses), so the choice you need to make is: swim or sunbathe? Swimmers will want the Villa, the only room kind with a private pool, or they can share a larger pool, with a fabulous view, with fellow guests while staying in a Junior Suite. Sun worshippers should book the Premium Room with a roof terrace.

Poolside

The beach club’s sparkling blue rectangle of pool (open 9am to sunset and heated during the winter months) acts as a siren song to the hotel’s glamorous denizens. It’s set by the sand, surrounded by shaded pairs of day-beds and the DJ booth – plus, the bar is within server-signalling distance; they’ll happily whisk over a cocktail or two. The deck is designed for languid look-at-mes (in the best possible taste) who could easily spend all day in repose, so bring your swimwear A-game. Some suites also share a more private pool (with up to three suites), with palm-tree sentries and Red Sea views, and the spa has a peaceful indoor pool too.

Spa

The spa expertly deals in mindful minimalism, with walls in shades that whisper, pop-of-green plants and wood and rattan accents. Breeze in past the lobby and you’ll come across a shaded yoga shala (for group or one-on-one sessions), where you can downward dog and warrior pose to the sound of birdsong. A relaxation room with bean-bag day-beds begs you to jump on them. The gym is equipped with stylish Scandi NOHrD equipment, with sleek rowing machines, treadmills, water grinders, slim beams and more, plus personal trainers; and a steam room, hammam and sauna harnesses heat for its time-tested pore-cleansing powers. There are five treatment rooms, including couples’ suites, and treatments draw on Eastern practices and ancient Egyptian techniques – so expect pampering on a pharaonic level.

Packing tips

Take note of how speedy those kitesurfing boards are going – this is a blustier stretch of coast, so it’s cooler than other resorts and a cover-up may be required. It’s all relative though, temperatures may still creep to 40 degrees or more. If the latter happens you’ll need seductive swimwear to strip down to.

Also

The ‘Gounies’, as El Gouna’s residents are charmingly known, are a glam lot – keep up appearances with in-room beauty treatments.

Children

This grown-up stay is strictly over-16s.

Sustainability efforts

The hotel takes efforts to recycle and reduce plastic usage, and the restaurant promotes local produce.

Food and Drink

Photos Casa Cook El Gouna food and drink

Top Table

The long communal tables lend themselves best to the share and share alike concept. But, if it’s romance you’re after, or you simply want a bigger slice of the feast, take a table for two in the restaurant’s shaded terrace.

Dress Code

Kohl, kaftans and gilding to rival King Tut’s tomb.

Hotel restaurant

Everyone is encouraged to dig in at the Kitchen Club, the heart-of-the-hotel eatery where dishes are designed to be shared around. Behind a bank of dark countertops you can see the chefs busily creating away in the open kitchen; head chef Edwin Gomez hails from India and he’s added a few home comforts to the menu, such as tandoori and butter chicken curry. Otherwise, he’s cherry-picked from Egyptian, Arabic and Mediterranean favourites and more international dishes for good measure. Try locally loved hawawshi (pitta with minced meat, vegetables and herbs), mahshi (stuffed aubergine, peppers and courgette) or barbecued Red Sea mullet, alongside tomahawk steaks and filet mignon, pastas, burgers and mezze. The dining room is as stylish as the hotel’s other spaces, with wicker lighting and a wooden roof, but we like the terrace, which has squishy sofas in the shade of a bamboo pergola. 

Hotel bar

Where you drink in the hotel depends on what kind of night you’re planning. The lobby bar with its row of stools and comfy couches – amid the boutique wares – suits a quick catch up over a glass of local wine or perhaps a barrel-aged negroni before hitting the marina bars. The restaurant’s terrace will serve you well as a spot for drinking into the starlight hours, complementing regional dishes with cocktails such as African Aviation, where local tamarind-infused rum is muddled with potent arak, homemade peach liquor and hibiscus water; or maybe a Red Sea espresso martini with fig-infused vodka and a hand-tremblingly strong local brew. And, the beach club is the Red Sea’s option for going ‘out out’, where a DJ plays positive beats, and there really is no reason to rise from your day-bed or banquette aside from dainty frolicking in the pool. Sit, lie, relax... why, here’s the waiter with a trayful of G&Ts; a Mint Smash; a rum-, vermouth- and curaçao-blitzed El Presidente; a bottle of Omar Khayyam cab sav from Nile-side Gianaclis vineyard, and a pitcher of mojitos – will that be all?  

Last orders

At the Kitchen Club, breakfast runs from 6.30am to 11am, dinner from 6.30pm to 11pm. At the Beach Club, food is from noon to 6pm, drinks till 11pm.

Room service

Breakfast in-room from 7am to 11am. And an all-day menu is available round-the-clock.

Location

Photos Casa Cook El Gouna location
Address
Casa Cook El Gouna
Casa Cook El Gouna
Hurghada
Egypt

The hotel sits due north of Hurghada, a popular long-weekend spot on the beach-lined Red Sea coast. It’s set in El Gouna, a glamorous resort town that gives way to unbridled Sahara desert wilds.

Planes

Hurghada International is the closest, a 45-minute drive from the hotel, during which you’ll be introduced to ochre mountains, the desert moonscape and the deep blue of the Red Sea. Transfers can be arranged on request (must be booked 24 hours in advance). Prices vary depending on the number of people and the vehicle used.

Automobiles

Car hire is possible, and useful if you want to explore Hurghada to the south, but driving in Egypt can be a rattling experience, with drivers for whom a speedometer is a mere car accessory and uneven desert roads to navigate. The ease with which you can hire a driver for the day in these parts makes it all the more advisable. You can acquire wheels at the airport if you decide to take the plunge and there’s parking at the hotel.

Worth getting out of bed for

Before 1989, El Gouna – just north of popular resort stretch Hurghada – was a humble fishing hub on the western Red Sea coast; then billionaire Samih Sawiris stumbled upon it in his search for a picturesque location for his new coastal residence. It’s certainly gone up in the world since then, with a glitzy marina lined with restaurants and bars by land, and yachts with extravagant price tags by water, and a stylish downtown area, notably Tamr Henna Square, with elegant cafes for gathering and gossiping. While development came hard and fast here, efforts have been taken to accentuate its natural beauty – leaving the backdrop of sawtooth mountains rising from the Saharan desert, azure lagoons and turmeric-hued beaches as they are – and preserve some local flavour, with many buildings (including Casa Cook’s) evoking the simple sculptural style of traditional Nubian dwellings. You’re all set for sunbathing here, with the rows of shaded loungers on the hotel’s private beach, although swimming at low tide can be tricky, and the coast can be blustery too, making El Gouna a kitesurfing hotspot (and windsurfing, waterskiing, parasailing…anything requiring a little natural propulsion). The hotel has one of the most upmarket kitesurfing centres on the coast, with top-of-the-line boards and equipment, thanks to a collab with Duotone, and very au fait instructors. Wrecks (Sha’ab Abu Nuhas graveyard has the best of barnacle-encrusted ships), coral gardens and playful dolphins and turtles make this a magical scuba-diving spot too. Once you’ve stepped out of the wetsuit, you can play volleyball on the sand; hit the spa for steaming, scrubbing and rubbing; salute the sun from the yoga shala; or keep an eye out for billionaires on itty-bitty carts at the championship Steigenberger golf course. Or, come October, turn your eyes to something all the more sparklier, when Egyptian A-listers arrive in town for the El Gouna Film Festival. But, it’s also a wonder to see where all this grew from and go dune-busting on a desert safari, deep into the golden folds of the Sahara.

Local restaurants

For the well-rested, the hotel’s eatery has a menu you could easily return to, but there’s a cascade of diverse restaurants down the coast if you want to shake things up. At the marina, Vietnamese restaurant Saigon enjoys a sterling reputation for its zingy soups, lemongrass beef and shrimp in peanut-coconut sauce, all to be lingered over on its convivial terrace. Set at the elegant El Gouna yacht club, the Smokery excels at fishier dishes, say sushi, shrimp tempura or platters of their famous smoked salmon. For authentic Egyptian food with a home-cooked feel, take a day trip into Hurghada to visit Om Yassin (4 Airport Road) and get a taste for fattah (pitta loaded with rice, meat and other toppings), stuffed pigeon and mahshi (stuffed vegetables) in the cosiest of surrounds.

 

Local cafés

If you’re a fan of food in sandwich form, Le Garage has more than 20 kinds of burgers, including high-end choices such as chicken in tarragon sauce, salmon with rosti and caviar, or fillet steak with Café de Paris butter.

Local bars

La Playa in downtown El Gouna has tables set in landlubber-ed boats, swing chairs and silver bean bags, all with a view out over the water. Their classic cocktail list will see you well into the night too.

Reviews

Photos Casa Cook El Gouna reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this starkly beautiful hotel by the Red Sea and unpacked their kitesurfing gear and locally made earthenware pots, a full account of their queen-of-the-desert break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Casa Cook El Gouna in Egypt…

Building on sand isn’t the unrewarding concept you’ve been led to believe; in fact the Egyptians have been doing it to great effect for millennia. And, near the resort town of Hurghada, by the Red Sea waters that sparkle like a scarab shell, they’ve once again created something of substance among the shifting dunes of the Sahara. Casa Cook El Gouna is a collection of finely chiselled Brutalist blocks, which nod to traditional Nubian village architecture and the trusty geometric shapes that have kept pharaohs' tombs standing strong to this day. And, nature has collaborated in the design process alongside South Africa’s Common Architecture studio: the earthy hues throughout are swatches of colour directly lifted from the Red Sea mountains that rise solemnly in the background, and ephemeral decoration comes and goes as the sun shines striations of light through rattan awnings, water reflects playful patterns onto walls, and palms and cacti cast sculptural shadows. 

Within its cool – and refreshingly cooling (temperatures can soar in these parts) – minimalism there’s plenty of warmth to be found, be it in the tactile linens, timber and rattan that cosy up spacious suites; well-oiled service, whether you’re craving a G&T by the pool or a private yoga session in the spa’s shala; or maybe in the beach club, where DJs set the mood and glamorous guests up the mood. Heed the call of the desert by day with a hike, bonfire under the stars or canter through otherworldly scenes; plunge down to wrecked ships and frilly coral gardens, or speed along the waterfront on a squall; then end your night with lashings of Egyptian rum and gin: when it comes to adventures – and superlative bang-up-to-date style – there’s no line in the sand here.

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Price per night from $155.87