Best Shops in Cairo: A Look Back At 2010

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Published: 21st January 2011
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It’s very difficult to rate a shop in Cairo; one shopper’s favourite can be another shopper’s nightmare. We’ve compiled here the best of the shops that we’ve reviewed during 2010, and taken into consideration our readers’ feedback. We’re very proud that all our top picks are Egyptian shops that stand their ground against the international brands operating in Cairo. If your favourite shop is not included, or you’ve heard about a new venue that deserves to be featured, let us know via Twitter, Facebook or email; and we’ll make sure to send out our spies during 2011!

Best Jewellery And Accessory Boutique: Mounaya Gallery

This little gallery on the Zamalek Corniche stocks cabinets full of intricate jewellery pieces such as gold-covered rings, delicate charm bracelets and large stone pendants, as well as bags, clothing, bedding and home accessories such as tea sets, trays, place mats and large candles. The one thing that all these items may have in common is that they are either all locally made or from the Middle East region with an oriental-inspired design. Mounaya Gallery stocks products by popular local designers such as Amina K., Hebz, Mailaka and sought-after regional designers such as Sarah’s Bags. Buy This: Sarah’s Bags come in several sizes from miniature purses to oversized clutches, starting at 800LE. Honourable Mentions: KDS, Nomad

Best Body Care Shop: Nefertari

This local body care range has booths in possibly every mall in Cairo and a shop in Zamalek. Producing 100% natural and handmade body care products with Egyptian-sourced ingredients such as lavender, brown sugar and olive oil, Nefertari offers a cheaper alternative to products by The Body Shop. Choose from their body oils, foot pedicure sets, natural soaps or bath salts, or try their selection of organic towels, robes, slippers and loofahs. Buy This: A small box of three different and prettily moulded soaps (20LE) makes a cheap and perfect home gift, or try their heavenly and very thick body creams (starting 30LE).

Best Cheap Home Shop: Cavalli Corner

This tiny shop in Maadi doesn’t get the exposure that it deserves. Located around the corner from Cellardoor Bistro, Cavalli Corner sells very moderately priced and well-made furniture, focusing mostly on dark wood and ethnic Bedouin accents. The owner purchases his products from all around Egypt, including Siwa and Fayoum, and the end result is comfortable, ethnic-inspired pieces. The shop also sells kheyameya print material, bags, kaftan shirts, framed photographs and brass jewellery with semi-precious stones. Buy This: The dark wooden king-sized bed (2250LE) or the cream linen curtains (starting at 75LE). Honourable Mention: Tao, Down To Earth, La Maison De Mireille

Best Expensive Home Shop: The LOFT Gallery

The LOFT Gallery is one of the reasons why we love shopping in Cairo. Opened in 2002, the first-floor gallery is packed with beautiful light fixtures, old ironwork coffee tables and painted wardrobes, all of which are heavy with a vintage, oriental charm. Some prices are staggeringly high; but it’s worth browsing through the shop for inspiration on how to add an elegant, oriental element to your home. Furthermore, a few consignment items can be found in the shop for as little as 20LE. Buy This: The Turkish-style trays (950LE) are beautiful and can be used as wall decorations or coffee table surfaces. Honourable Mentions: Theodor’s, Razzmatazz

Best Designer Fashion Boutique: HIP

With two small branches in Cairo, this designer clothing boutique stocks edgy designer labels such as Zach Posen, Lanvin and Alexander McQueen with amazing seasonal sales and offers. Steering away from their contemporaries’ tendency to stock over-sequined, flamboyant pieces, HIP’s selection speaks to the trendy, urban woman. Understandably, the items on sale are very expensive, but if you know your designers, you’ll appreciate that the prices here are not much higher than in Europe or the US. Buy This: Anything during their seasonal sales, which reach up to 80% off. Honourable Mentions: Beymen

Best Concept Store: Villa Baboushka

Located on Ismail Mohamed Street in a quiet white-washed villa, Villa Baboushka is an impeccably designed and classy shop that makes you want to curl up on their cream couches for a while and enjoy this boutique experience. Offering designer clothing, costume jewellery, funky bags, art work and lighting pieces as well as flower arrangements and cupcakes, Villa Baboushka is an admittedly pricey but elaborate shop that caters to the chic and trendy Cairo shopper. Buy This: If you can afford them, the art pieces (which have been collected from all around the world) are glamorous additions to any living room. Honourable Mentions: Amuse

Best Ethnic Jewellery and Accessories Shop: Sami Amin

This local designer works with leather, bronze and other metals, and the products have become recognisable staples in many Cairenes’ lives. The leather bags are finely crafted and follow an ethnic oriental design, but their quality and durability make the price tag worth it. Take your time to browse through the Zamalek branch and you’re bound to fall in love with a leather wallet, bronze keychain or a heavy buckled belt. Buy This: Sami Amin’s wallets (between 65LE and 115LE) use thick leather with heavy stitching and brass clasps to close. Honourable Mentions: Ganoob

Best Bargain Shop: Soraya Mostafa’s Optical Store

As much as we love our designer shades, this year’s trend in vintage eyewear has helped us stumble upon this gem of a shop in Downtown Cairo. Located around the corner from El Horreya Bar in Bab El Louk, this hole-in-a-wall shop sells affordable and funky frames from all around the world. Pick out a pair of 1950s shades or vintage aviators, or perhaps you’d like to try their collection of equally ancient reading glasses. Eyewear starts at around 75LE and the most expensive eye glasses may cost you around 250LE, and bargaining is actually possible here. Buy This: Gold-rimmed aviator glasses (75LE). Honourable Mentions: Nile Stock

Best Deli: Voila

Egyptians take their food seriously, which is evident in the number of deli shops that have sprung up around Cairo in the past year alone. We may be a little biased in choosing Voila because it is the first and only outlet to sell Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Egypt. However, the shop also has a wide and very impressive selection of gourmet foods, including smoked meats such as bresaola and smoked salmon, British cheddars, French crackers and a rack of exotic spices that would make any aspiring chef cry. This shop is extremely expensive; so it probably won’t be part of your daily shopping round. Buy This: Ben & Jerry Funky Monkey (20LE) or the Lockfyne smoked salmon (110LE). Honourable Mentions: Oscar, La Fromagerie, Gourmet Egypt, La Bottega Italiana

Best Bookshop: Diwan

Despite healthy competition from its contemporaries, this book chain made the top of our list because of their keen interest in promoting the reading culture around Cairo and helping to expose up-and-coming young writers. With chains all over Cairo, Diwan offers a relaxed reading environment, where you browse through their bestsellers or magazine, search through their used books section and DVDs, and end your day with a coffee and a slice of carrot cake. The book chain regularly features workshops, book signing events and seminars. You can also order any book that you want from anywhere in the world, and they will deliver it to you within weeks. Honourable Mentions: The BookSpot, Books And Books, Lehner & Landrock

Best Stationery Shop: Abd El Zaher Atelier

While many shops around Cairo have caught onto the trend of leather bound notebooks with soft, recycled paper, this shop in Islamic Cairo has a history to it: the shop is a family business with three generations of bookbinders who are passionate about preserving this traditional craft. Their shelves are stocked with handmade leather journals, notebooks, photo albums and address books. Designs vary from leather covered in Arabic calligraphy to covers bound in kheyameya material. You can even customise your notebook to have it engraved with a personal message in golden font. Buy This: A medium leather-bound journal (75LE). Honourable Mentions: Qirtassiyat Diwan, Hallmark

Best DIY/ Art Shop: El Nomrossy

If you know your way around a thimble and sewing needle, then you must have heard of El Nomrossy. This tiny shop in Mohandiseen stocks pretty much everything that you would normally go to Darb El Barabra to buy to customise your clothing with: gems, beads, feather boas, buttons, glue guns and multiple jars of sequins. Prices are very reasonable, starting at 0.25LE for a thimble of sequins, and if you can bypass the nonchalant sales attendants, you can easily spend a few hours rifting through their racks of lace and tulle. Buy This: Flower appliqués (5LE), and embellished diamond buttons (around 15LE). Honourable Mentions: Alwan

Original article at Cairo 360

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