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It List: The Best New Hotels 2012

Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan

Courtesy of Sofitel

Renovation: Sofitel Legend Old Cataract, Aswan, Egypt

Aswan, a palm-fringed city an hour’s flight south of Cairo, saw glory in the 1950’s, when politicos and bold-faced names arrived to visit the Aswan Dam. But even during Egypt’s recent unrest, the peaceful destination remained out of the fray. That’s why a top-to-bottom revamp of the riverfront landmark hotel, a cinnamon-colored Nubian manse, is well-timed. Tourism is beginning to rebound, and this updated icon is a reason to extend your stay. Of the two buildings, the Nile is more modern, with walls of windows that frame a village square. We prefer the Palace, where Sofitel’s preservation efforts are on display: the public spaces have Egyptian antiques and Oriental rugs. It all whetted our appetite for another bygone-era experience: tea on the hotel’s legendary terrace, which still offers an inimitable view of felucca boats that inspired Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. $$

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