Murder on the Cataracts

by Kim Steele

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”

Ernest Hemingway


Sarova Stanley, Nairobi


While in Nairobi this spring, I was convinced by the renowned artist (who will remain nameless but with deep pockets and an ego to match) that we MUST stay at the Stanley Hotel.  Hemingway slept in more places of the world than is physically possible, as did George Washington. This establishment is rich in British history, built at the beginning of the twentieth century with wood in ‘frontier style’, just as the British were first colonizing Africa. This was a stop from the famous railroad that they built from Mombassa to the interior or Kenya, formalizing their colonialization. But its design lacks crispness and historic charm, too weighty on top and small porticos at the base. To exacerbate the poor design, various incongruous expansions have arisen around the interior courtyard.  The worn balustrades and small, shabby rooms do not merit the $500 price tag.


Winter Palace Hotel, Luxor, old


Sofitel Winter Palace Hotel, today


Now The Winter Place Hotel in Luxor,  Egypt  lives up to it’s name.  Beaux Arts design from the later 1800’s, she still inspires awe and elegance.  Dining on the back terrace overlooking a majestic formal garden, you feel you have arrived.  Sitting astride the Nile, at one of the three most prominent cataracts (which means ‘waterfall’ in Latin)  this is what a great hotel should aspire to be! The Pavilion shares many amenities with the Palace, including the gardens, pools, tennis courts, terraces and restaurants. Agatha Christie penned the Poirot detective story, Death on the Nile here. The love intrigue of the novel is well placed here, just below the Luxor Temple, built as a celebration of fertility. You can image the Empire conducting royal business in the chambers here, complete with brandy and cigars. I would love to return there someday.



Dame Agatha Christie


Previous post:

Next post: