Shepheard's Hotel was the leading hotel in Cairo and one of the most celebrated hotels in the world from the middle of the 19th century until it was burned down in 1952 in the Cairo Fire. Five years after the original hotel was destroyed, a new one was built nearby and was named the Shepheard Hotel.
The hotel was originally established in 1841 by Samuel Shepheard under the name "Hotel des Anglais" (English Hotel), and was later renamed "Shepheard's Hotel". Shepheard, an Englishman who was once described as "an undistinguished apprentice pastry chef", came from Preston Capes, Northamptonshire. He co-owned the hotel with Mr. Hill, Mohammed Ali Pasha's head coachman, and proved to be a successful entrepreneur and businessman. On one occasion, when soldiers staying at the hotel were suddenly moved to Crimea, leaving unpaid bills, Shepheard travelled personally to Sevastopol in order to collect payment.
In 1845, Hill relinquished his interest in the hotel, and Shepheard became the sole owner. Shepheard sold the hotel in 1861 for £10,000 and retired to Eathorpe Hall, Eathorpe, Warwickshire, England. Richard Burton, a close friend of Shepheard, left a detailed description of his generous character and successful career, describing him as "a remarkable man in many points, and in all things the model John Bull".
Shepheard's Hotel was famed for its grandeur, for its guests, and as a base for the military. It was renowned for its opulence, with stained glass, Persian carpets, gardens, terraces, and great granite pillars resembling those of the Ancient Egyptian temples. Its American Bar was frequented not only by Americans but also by French and British officers . There were nightly dances at which men appeared in military uniform and women in evening gowns. Tourist shops faced the hotel from across the street, and there was a storeroom where officers could check their excess luggage. Reviews of the hotel's cuisine varied over time. At an early stage, its food was said to leave "much to be desired" but, by the middle of the 20th century, others were describing the food as "as good as anything at Paris' Ritz, or Berlin's Adlon, or Rome's Grand".
The current Shepheard Hotel was erected in 1957 by Egyptian Hotels Ltd. in Garden City, Cairo, about 1/2 mile from the site of the original hotel. The new hotel, and the land on which it sits, is owned by E.G.O.T.H. (The Egyptian General Company for Tourism & Hotels). The hotel was managed by Helnan International Hotels and known as the Helnan Shepheard Hotel until September 29, 2009, when the Rocco Forte Company was chosen as the hotel's management company. In 2014 they closed it for renovations.
In popular culture
The hotel has had many notable guests, both real and fictional. Among them were Aga Khan, the Maharajah of Jodhpur and Winston Churchill. It was portrayed in the 1934 British film The Camels are Coming. The hotel is the setting for a number of scenes in the 1996 film The English Patient but actual filming of the scenes happened at The Grand Hotel des Bains in Venice Lido, Italy. The hotel is used as a base of operations in The Race Colonization series by Harry Turtledove, as a location in Agatha Christie's Crooked House, and is mentioned in Anthony Trollope's short-story, An Unprotected Female at the Pyramids (1861). It also features regularly in Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody novels.
- Denby, Elaine (March 27, 2002). Grand Hotels: Reality and Illusion. Reaktion Books. p. 186. ISBN 9781861891211. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- Elaine Denby - Grand Hotels: Reality & Illusion (New York: McGraw-Hill; London: Reaktion Books, 1998)
- Michael Bird - Samuel Shepheard of Cairo: A Portrait (London: Michael Joseph, 1957)
- Wharton, Annabel Jane (July 1, 2001). Building the Cold War: Hilton International Hotels and Modern Architecture. University of Chicago Press. pp. 43, 211–220. ISBN 9780226894195. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- Sattin, Anthony. Lifting the Veil: Two Centuries of Travellers, Traders and Tourists in Egypt. Tauris Parke Paperbacks. ISBN 9780857719966. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- Richard F. Burton, The Gold-Mines of Midian (C.Kegan Paul & Co, London, 1878), pp. 43-46
- Sir John Gardner Wilkinson - A Handbook for Travellers in Egypt (London: John Murray, 1858)
- "Shepheard's Hotel: British Base in Cairo". LIFE Magazine. December 14, 1942.
- Woodward, David R. (December 1, 2006). Hell in the Holy Land: World War I in the Middle East. University Press of Kentucky. p. 25. ISBN 9780813171449. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- Nina Nelson - Helnan Shepheard Hotel Cairo-Egypt (Cairo: Al Ahram, 1992)
- "Shepheard Hotel". E.G.O.T.H. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- Beattie, Andrew (2005). Cairo: A Cultural and Literary History. Signal Books. ISBN 9781902669779. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- "The Camels Are Coming (1934) Movie on Youtube". Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- "The English Patient film locations". Movie Locations. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- Turtledove, Harry. "Down to Earth - Colonization Book 2". e reading club. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- Christie, Agatha (August 19, 2002). Crooked House. William Morrow Paperbacks. p. 1. ISBN 978-0062073532.
- Trollope, Anthony (1861). An Unprotected Female at the Pyramids. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
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