The Pyramid Bar, Nile Hilton, Cairo, Egypt, 00 20 2 2578 0444

A popular story told by residents of Edinburgh relates how an American tourist arrived in the city and exclaimed, without irony, "How smart of them to have built the castle so close to the station." It's true, those early settlers showed remarkable foresight. A similar act of kindness has occurred in downtown Cairo, where the pyramids were thoughtfully constructed just a stone's throw from the main hotel district, and the antiquities museum conveniently located for the best cold beer in town.

This is very important, because there is nothing in the world more guaranteed to bring on a thirst than the Egyptian antiquities museum. The stride required for admiring thousands of caskets of teeny jewels puts untold strain on the knees. The air, swarming with the skin particles of the thousand-year dead, aggravates the throat. The echoing rooms of endless gold dazzle the eyes of the modern traveller. Thank Ramses the bar is only next door.

A brief stagger away across Cairo's crazy, honking streets is the air-conditioned oasis of the Nile Hilton, whose roof terrace is the perfect place from which to view the city. Perfect for being so loftily removed from it. Under a huge neon "Hilton" sign, the traditional mezze are deceptively cheap, the beer is crisp, cold and desperately welcome. No wonder the pharaohs insisted on having their permanent resting places constructed just around the corner.

The Pyramid Bar, Nile Hilton, Cairo, Egypt (00 20 2 2578 0444)