Hotel Of The Week: Adrère Amellal Oasis

On the shores of Lake Siwa, at the edge of the Sahara, stands Adrère Amellal Oasis. Its awesome setting should be enough to please, but the interiors are pretty special too

Once we had turned off the coast road to head inland to Siwa, on the nine-hour journey from Cairo, our driver Atif warned us there would be nothing for the next 250 miles. He wasn't joking - the monotony of flat desert was broken only by a few camels, an occasional military base or a roadside café. But then we arrived at Adrère Amellal, at the edge of the tranquil, milky expanse of Lake Siwa. Stepping out of the car, we were struck by the silence: we had been transported to another world.

Fed by a network of underground springs, Siwa is the largest and most remote of Egypt's desert oases.The local Berber people, who speak a dialect called Siwi, continue to harvest dates and olives and get about by donkey and cart.

The lodge - the idea of Cairo-based environmentalist Mounir Neamatallah - has been designed to rely on solar and alternative energy and recycles all its waste and water. There is no electricity, so at night the atmosphere is magical, with oil lamps, candles, fires - and moonlight.

Adrère Amellal offers a type of pared-back luxury that is more about the experience and less about having rose petals scattered over your bed. This is a place to forget about the outside world, relax and explore some truly unique surroundings.

The location

Adrère Amellal is the Siwi Berber translation for White Mountain. The hotel sits at the edge of the lake, in the shadow of this dramatic monolith of windsculpted limestone, and is surrounded by 75 acres of palm and olive trees.

The comfort factor

There are 39 rooms and an annex containing a further seven. Adrère Amellal proves that being sensitive to the environment and providing stylish surroundings are not mutually exclusive. Simple furnishings are carved from date palm trunks and stone floors are scattered with locally woven rugs - World of Interiors meets The Flintstones. The pool is fed by an underground spring first discovered by the Romans.

The bathroom

If Bulgari toiletries are important, this is not the place for you. There's a shower, loo and basin with Pears soap and beeswax candles.

The food and drink

Most of the mainly organic food is grown in the grounds or sourced locally, so vegetables and fruit are bursting with flavour. Lunch is served by the pool. Dinner is somewhere different every day - one night we dined at a lone table in a grotto studded with salt crystals and candles.

The people

Cairenes, French, Belgians and some British. Prince Charles and Camilla spent two nights here in March.

The area

Visit the remains of the Temple of Amun, the oracle reputedly consulted by Alexander the Great. Wander through the crumbling ruins of the Shali or old town, the Cleopatra Baths and the Mountain of the Dead. The highlight is a 4x4 trip into the desert with the charismatic desert guide Abdullah. Take a dip in a hot spring, career down near-vertical sand slopes and see the sun set over Libya.

The access

There are lots of steps, although some rooms are accessible.

The damage

Doubles cost $400 (£205) per night including all meals and drinks. To get here, hire a car and driver, which costs around $550 (£285) return.

The address

Adrère Amellal Oasis, Sidi al-Ja' afar, Siwa, Egypt (00 20 2 738 1327; adrereamellal .net). Abercrombie & Kent (0845-0700 614; abercrom biekent.co.uk) can include a stay at the hotel as part of an itinerary in Egypt.

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all