Cairo's sexiest new boutique hotel comes courtesy of one Nuaman H. Soufraki. We caught up with the hot hotelier for the inside track on his new baby... The Gabriel.
If you haven’t ventured across town to head to The Gabriel Hotel, boy, have you been missing out! The stunning boutique hotel recently launched with a bang. Cairo’s sleekest and swankiest set headed out in full-force to welcome the new, stylish baby to Egypt’s hospitality family. Owned and operated by the pioneering Soufraki family, we catch up with Nuaman H. Soufraki who conceptualised, designed and executed the creation of our favourite new hot spot. Read on as we talk to him about midgets, sex in The Gabriel Hotel and organised crime…
Who’s crazy idea was to open a hotel at this time in Egypt?
We just found an opportunity. The idea came to us just as the revolution kicked off and we ran with it.
Was interior design part of your background?
No, my background was business management, so interior design was purely a hobby. But I did my own design for my London apartment which was featured in a magazine.
Who are you biggest influences in interior design?
I wouldn’t say anyone in particular, I just get a lot inspirations from interior design magazines because, as I said, this is more of a hobby.
When are we invited to see your place?
Anytime you want! I’m in Little Venice, and my neighbours love me. Though sometimes I have to turn off my outdoor speaker system at night!
But you embarked on bigger commercial project. How was that?
I was trying to prove myself and I really enjoyed it. There were moments of stress though and it definitely wasn’t easy since I’ve never worked in Egypt before.
What were the biggest challenges?
Just the Egyptian issue of “bokra inshalla!”
How long did it take you?
About two and a half years.
What was your vision for it?
I wanted to bring something intimate and with a traditionally feel. It’s a mix of modern and classical. I added a lot of warm top woods just to create that feel.
Did you import the materials?
No actually, all the materials were custom made here in Egypt.
You must have a crazy story with the “werash” here…
Well, the craziest is when we had a very famous furniture manufacturer here and it took 18 months to get the work done. It was horrible – they say they’d come in then they’d disappear for month!
How involved are you with the day-to-day operations of the hotel?
I go there every day and check the housekeeping, make sure everything is in place and make sure everyone is alright.
Where did the name come from?
Well it’s pretty persona. It’s mainly because I lost my mother at a pretty young age, but I always felt that kind of protection or connection with her.
Where would you like to open next?
I was thinking Paris.
Are you thinking about opening a Gabriel Hotel in Libya?
Yes, I am, it is my home country. I’m actually half-Turkish half-Libyan, so maybe Istanbul is another option. it’s a beautiful city, but I really don’t have any connections there, so we’ll see!
What is the sexiest thing about the Gabriel’s rooms?
I actually think the lobby is the sexiest. It’s so warm and welcoming.
Have you had sex in the hotel?
Not yet, I haven’t even stayed there yet!
Would you think about making a concept hotel for giants, or very small people?
No, I don’t think so.
What is the best thing about running a hotel?
Knowing that the people like the place and find it warm.
So you had a huge opening! Do you have any more events lined up?
We have something called “The Summer of Love” coming up.
In your family, do you have like a godfather that gets you all to stick together?
I think it’s the elders that keep us together, and my father was my first inspiration to do what I do.
Did your family ever organize a hit against another rival family?
No, I doubt it.