Sybille de Margerie, famous for the interior design of the Mandarin Oriental, Paris, has breathed new life into the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan (Egypt) after a three-year closure.
The hotel lies in the Nubian Desert on the banks of the Nile River across from Elephantine Island.
De Margerie was asked to conserve the original beauty of the Victorian building, while combining Middle Eastern and French styles.
‘My personal guideline was to remain humble and respect the soul of this historical hotel while introducing contemporary twists, especially in the Nile wing,’ she said.
‘Every part of this hotel has been demolished and rebuilt, apart from the restuarant ‘1902’ and the lobby. I gained inspiration from three main influences that were part of the existing hotel, Victorian, French and Oriental.
‘There is also a mixture of Egyptian historical colours, where some textures and patterns were chosen, while others were revisited, to unite that culture of the country where this hotel stands.’
The hotel includes The Palace, which has 76 rooms and 45 suites, The Nile wing containing 62 rooms, 37 of which are suites, all with a balcony and a view of the famous river and a brand new 1200m² So SPA with eight treatment booths, a three-room hammam and indoor pool.
De Margerie said the main challenges were the Egyptian revolution, getting the local contractors to understand what she required in terms of quality, getting the Egyptian government to understand what is luxury and value engineering to meet the budget on time.