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Castle Zaman

Listed under Restaurants in Egypt.

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Time slows down in this custom-built ruin perching on a cliff overlooking the Gulf of Aqaba. Built of stones handpicked from the Sinai desert and fitted with furniture made of reclaimed wood, this castle comes with swimming pool, koi fish pond, yoga platform, massage alcove, WiFi, bar, multi-tiered dining rooms and terraces, and even its own dungeon to explore. The latter’s most fascinating feature is made up of a hole in the wall in which a glass lens is set. On April 22 and August 20 the angle of the sun is such that its rays pierce the hole and are magnified by the lens to light a candle on the other side, replicating the trick for which the Ramses Temple at Abu Simbel is famous.

While there is more to Castle Zaman than physical nourishment, the “slow castle food” on offer is in keeping with the spirit of the place; portions are generous, and the food is well worth your wait. Castle victuals include a whole beef leg for a minimum of three persons, veal and turkey legs for one, a quarter sheep feeding three, or single portions of lamb, all cooked with whole vegetables and served with molokheya soup, rice, and salads. Fish fillets and seafood “cooked whole as God made them” are also available and are served with rice and wheat germ. Vegetarian options are on offer upon request. Castle food is prepared and presented in clay pots handmade in Upper Egypt and glazed with molasses and olive oil. Our dinner was cooked at 300 degrees for half an hour, and then for six more hours at 100 degrees. “Last-minute” orders by walk-in guests take three and a half hours in the oven.

Cutlery is optional and finger licking is encouraged, say the staff at Castle Zaman, and I was more than happy to oblige. We feasted on juicy meat and tasty gravy that combined the flavours of all ingredients but without overcooking them to a mush. My veal was so tender it fell off the bone, and my companion declared her lamb “absolutely beautiful and cooked to perfection.” Our meal reminded me of the cartoons of my childhood, which featured Obelix feasting heartily on roasted animal limbs. When asked, waitress Laura recalled that a guest finishing his plate is an event that “may have happened once or twice.” The portions aren’t the only oversized feature of Castle Zaman: everything, from wooden slab tables to huge pottery jars on the terrace to the massive straw roof plunging low over the bar, is on the macro level. This unique setting was used for numerous fashion photo shoots.

Castle Zaman, located on the Sinai peninsula between Nuweiba and Taba, is open daily from noon until the last guest leaves. The castle is not child-friendly and high heels are not recommended. Pricing is hassle-free with a single fee covering entrance, pool use with shower and towel, meal, and taxes (drinks are extra). Food must be pre-ordered in the morning. 

Written by  Francoise Ohayon.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

i want to work in castle zaman to escape from english life and get to a peaceful yet working place where i can relax but work to get an old castle up to a working state when it can sustain its self. i ahev sent a couple of emails to the people who say there are jobs going there but have had no luck with a reply. is there any way for me to contact them to ask about the positions? help me please

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