There are places that change you forever – that’s by far the greatest gift a journey can offer to the adventure traveler. Adrère Amellal, an eco-luxury hotel in the depths of the Egyptian desert is the place that changed me forever. Located in the otherworldly Siwa Oasis, at the foot of the White Mountain, in the western Egyptian desert called the Great Sand Sea, the hotel offers a bespoke and unique experience.
The oasis where it is located is an 8 hours drive from Cairo – through flat desert roads, with stops by small towns on the way, including the seaside resort of Marsa Matruh with its turquoise sea and then finally the desert in all its overwhelming glory. There is nothing like that feeling of freedom and exploration that can be reached when one hits that infinite expense of sand.
The labor of love of Egyptian environmentalist Mounir Neamatalla, Adrère Amellal holds eco credentials that are remarkable. All food is sourced locally and its 40 rooms are built in traditional Siwan style – using salt blocks, mud and hay. There is no electricity; mobile phone calls are forbidden outside the rooms, no WiFi, and the only source of energy is the hundred of bees wax candles and oil lamps that create the magical atmosphere during the starry nights of the desert. Minimal impact: Extraordinary fulfillment.
The hotel also hosts regular art events that bring together local and international artists in the fields of performance art, fine art & music.
All food, beverages and experiences are included: sand boarding on the dunes? Check. Fresh black olive & rosemary jam – my favorite by the way – with local organic goat cheese for breakfast? Check. Swimming in a salt lake surrounded by bright pink flamingos? Check. G&T by the salt lake? Check. Dinning at sunset on the dunes? Check.
I will certainly never forget my time at Adrère Amellal – I can still feel the awe of watching those glorious sunsets, the sensation of the fine sand on my toes, the talks and stories of the ancient world by the fire with the local Bedouins, the excellent organic dinners, the fresh water of the soft bubbling Roman built pools. A memory of enchantment and care that only the finest conceived stays can provide. An ode to the art of hosting.
I started a new life at the foot of this mountain.
Photography by François Correia