This is not a joke, Egypt has the cheapest hotels I’ve seen. And partly because of that, there are ample opportunities to get free hotels.
$29 for the Sheraton in Luxor (one of the oldest cities on earth). $50 for the Marriotts, Hiltons, and Radisson in Sharm El Sheikh. It’s begging me to come BRG these hotels. Plus, many hotels in the country are category 1 awards for many brands. Begging me to burn my points.
I’m eager to talk about all kinds of strategies for getting free hotels.
And for me, it is the perfect time to go. Tourism is just now recovering. So it’s gotten safer, and yet prices are down and everything is less crowded. I’m looking at flights this week!
Last year there were many reports that Egypt’s tourism revenue dropped 95% due to the Arab Spring revolution.
Now there are reports of tourists trickling back to Egypt, but not to the “full recovery” Egyptian officials [naively] expected. So while they expected 2015 to be back 100%, I can’t imagine these prices will be back to normal for awhile.
Now I’ve added a “No Fear Mongering Policy”.
One thing this world isn’t lacking is fear. Thanks to popular news, paid by page views and therefore motivated by sensationalism… we’ve got plenty of fear. Before you want to point out the bad things happening on the news in another country, why don’t you watch the news happening in the US. Enough said.
What to do in Egypt?
I’m not trying to do a “top things to do” post, but I asked my friend Caleb (who is teaching in Cairo now) for some recommendations and here’s the list he/we (royal “we”) came up with.
Caleb also made this video of Egypt.
- Cairo and the Pyramids
- Sharm El Sheikh, although he says Dahab is nearby but better and less touristy
- Mt. Sinai and St. Catherine’s monastery
- “Valley of the Kings” is supposed to be bangin’
- Most people visit Luxor and Aswan on the nile cruises. Many people have told him that this is their favorite part.
- Siwa Oasis – Looks cool, but way west of anything
When to go to Egypt? I’m not an expert on Egypt, but seems summer is the time to go to the beach, although it gets crazy hot. Although I’d rather be crazy hot on the beach than in the city. But spring/fall seems like a great time to me. Do the beach and then do the cities.
Hotels, Hotels, and Hotels
There are few ways of going about this.
Paid stays for EQMs
Most people aren’t quite as cheap as me and in this community at least, are worried about status.
For you SPG people:
In the beach areas, the prices can vary, but in Sharm El Sheikh, they are probably the lowest.
I want to continue talking about paid hotels, but in the context of knowing the points options.
Sharm El Sheikh has a ton of points options.
- Hilton Sharm Waterfalls Resort – 5,000 Hilton points
- Hilton Sharm Dreams Resort – 5,000 Hilton points
- Hilton Sharm El Sheikh Fayrouz Resort – 10,000 Hilton points
- Hilton Sharks Bay Resort – 20,000 Hilton points
- Sharm El Sheikh Marriott Resort – 7,500 Marriott points
- Renaissance Sharm El Sheikh Golden View Beach Resort – 10,000 Marriott points
- Hyatt Regency Sharm El Sheikh Resort – 8,000 Hyatt points
- Radisson Blu Resort, Sharm El Sheikh – 15,000 Club Carlson points
- Park Inn By Radisson Sharm El Sheikh Resort – 15,000 Club Carlson points
- Sheraton Sharm Hotel, Resort, Villas & Spa – 2,000 to 3,000 SPG points
These are not all the points hotels in Egypt, but just in Sharm El Sheikh. And they are all category 1 or 2 hotels, except for the Hilton Sharks Bay.
The best rating of all the Hilton hotels is the Hilton Sharm Waterfalls Resort, which is convenient because it’s only 5,000 points. That’s pocket change in the Hilton world. As I’ve said many times, there are 15 credit cards that can earn Hilton HHonors points.
To put that in perspective the Virgin Atlantic card has a bonus of 75,000 points, or 93,000 points after the spend requirement. Then Virgin Atlantic miles transfer to Hilton 1:1.5 (in increments of 10,000). So 90,000 Virgin miles become 135,000 Hilton points.
That’s 27 nights from one credit card. Actually, with 5th night free (booking 5 nights in a row you only pay for 4), you could get 33 nights from one credit card!
As I’ll discuss more, 5,000 points is not only the price for the two Hiltons in Sharm El Sheikh, but in Hurghada, Alexandria and Cario.
That’s a tour right there. You’re welcome. :-p
Cash vs Points
While 8,000 Hyatt points isn’t a lot, it’s hard to use my precious Hyatt points when there are hotels for $50. But if you want that quality and have the points it’s probably a steal.
I prefer to use Hilton points because Hilton points are cheaper than water. But at the rates above, everything is tempting.
Although, I get the cash appeal for someone who wants to save points (unless they’re Hilton points, no saving there) and get in elite night credit, Sharm El Sheikh and Luxor are the cheapest places to do so.
Best Rate Guarantees
If you’re looking to maximize a paid stay you could do a best rate guarantee. Sure, save 25% on Marriott. But also, see the Complete Guide to Best Rate Guarantees and you’ll notice that many booking sites have one as well. This could potentially give you a $50 coupon per stay, or more with Orbitz.
If you’re really into the BRGing you could file a BRG with Hilton and get $50 off your stay. So a $55 Hilton (not unrealistic in Sharm) would be $5. I have done this other places and while check out always stumps the front desk charging your card, it’s a legit process.
Luxor has limited points options but at least one good one.
The Sheraton Luxor is 2,000 to 3,000 points. However, on many dates I found the Sheraton for $27 if staying at least 3 nights. That is a steal. I know people that would pay $27 for the EQNs. I know nothing about the quality of the hotel, but I almost don’t care.
Even better if there is a good SPG promotion. If you can BRG the hotel you’d get 2,000 SPG points as well.
The only other points hotel (besides Accor hotels) is the Hilton which goes for 20,000 to 30,000 Hilton points. Compared to the other Hilton options in the country and the price of the other hotels in Luxor, I’m going to pass.
Orbitz points? Expedia points? Bank points?
The hotels are so cheaper in Luxor that I’m considering using points from Orbitz. Unfortunately it’s not letting me use points for the Sheraton, so I may use them for the similarly price Mercure (ex-Sofitel).
Whatever you do, you can hardly have any regrets for $30 worth of points or cash.
Radisson Blu El Quseir
On paper, this is the best deal in Egypt. I try not to fall into the “value” trap, as I’ve said before, but this is one where the points price is particularly low and the cash price is particularly high!
The best flexible rate is $130 (which is a lot in Egypt) and the points rate is 9,000 points.
9,000 points is the lowest award category for Club Carlson points. And to put it in perspective, the Club Carlson credit card has an 85,000 point signup bonus. That’s at least 9 nights. Plus the card earns 5 points per dollar, so you’d earn a free night for every $1,800 you put on the card.
Anyways, the hotel has a very high tripadvisor rating and has peaked my interests.
As someone who lives out of hotels and has a bit of Club Carlson points… I feel obligated to check it out.
Alexandria has a 5,000 point Hilton, actually three, but the Corniche one seems like a better location. It also has a category 2 Sheraton (3,000 to 4,000 SPG points), and a category 2 Radisson (15,000 Club Carlson points) but the Radisson is pretty far out as far as I can tell. Hilton Corniche is the winner in my book.
I’ve been wanting to go to Alexandria for historical interests, but lounging around the city itself doesn’t have any appeal to me. So I’m leaning towards skipping it. Not sure. Thoughts?
Cairo and the Pyramids
Obviously you’re not going to Cairo or even Egypt and not seeing the Pyramids.
Again, there’s a Hilton Pyramids Golf Resort that’s a bit out of Cairo but closer to the Pyramids, and it’s only 5,000 points. There’s a Hilton Ramses which is downtown and 10,000 points.
The other great deals are the Cairo Marriott for 10,000 Marriott points and Sheraton Cairo for 3,000 – 4,000 SPG points. If you’re burning SPG points and would rather be right next to the Pyramids instead of downtown Cairo, there is a Le Meriden as well for 3,000 to 4,000 points.
Although I did think of one tip that’s pretty specific to this corner of Africa that is Egypt- discount airlines from Europe.
I was shocked when I did “Egypt” to “Everywhere” for different whole months and found tickets to Geneva Switzerland for €29 ($32).
I looked and found more cheap flights to and from Switzerland, Italy, Turkey, United Kingdom and Hungary.
In order to find this you can either search Skyscanner.com for “Egypt” to “Everywhere” (or blank), or do specific countries to “Egypt”, and choose whatever timeframe you want but I usually search by the month.
The reason I thought this was worth mentioning is that most of the time miles tickets to Egypt are going to be from 42,500 miles to 47,500 miles.
But flights to Europe are often 30,000 miles or less. Or with AA and Alaska Miles, half the year the miles price is 20,000 miles.
In other words, you could spend 40,000 AA miles to go to Europe, instead of 90,000 AA miles to go to Egypt. Then you pay an extra $100 or so to get a roundtrip from Europe. In this case you’d pay $100 to save 50,000 miles.
Also, you can book two different oneways with your AA miles. So you could fly to Switzerland with AA miles, then Egypt with cash. Then you could fly to Italy on cash, and the return from Italy with AA miles.