…away from the tourist crowds

For modern travellers, Egypt is a country of two halves. There's the glittering sun-soaked coast with its amber beaches and red-carpet glamour. Then there's the 'travel back in time' adventures: desert escapes, starlit dinners and, of course, ancient landmarks. Whichever side you see, take your pick from two luxury away-from-the-crowds hotels, each inspired by Egypt's history but boasting thoroughly modern comforts.

FIT FOR A PHAROAH

Lazibb Inn Resort and Spa

Though Egypt is synonymous with pyramids, Tutankhamun and its snaking Nile, there are plenty of other historic wonders waiting to be discovered. From Lazib Inn Resort and Spa, you can visit the spiralling minarets and grand mosques in bustling Cairo – without staying right in the thick of things. Then again, if it feels a little 'been there, done that', you're also wonderfully close to the ancient town and Pharaonic temples of Medinet Madi. For a truly astounding sight, make time for the Whale Valley in Wadi Al-Hitan, where the fossilised remains of enormous whales lie in the desert.

If you're thinking of a coastal escape, but still want to pencil in some historical sights, El Gouna on the Red Sea is ideal. From La Maison Bleue, you can take an exclusive tour into the Eastern Desert to see the remote Christian monasteries of St. Anthony and St. Paul – before taking tea with Bedouins under a star-studded sky.

La Maison Bleue

THE NATURAL WONDER OF WATER

When surrounded by a vast and wild desert, nothing refreshes body and soul quite like life's essential element. Luckily, both El Fayoum and El Gouna are sprinkled with peaceful pools, lagoons, lakes and desert oases.

The clear turquoise waters off the Red Sea coast in El Gouna are spectacular for diving or just floating the day away on a yacht. In El Fayoum, trot through the shallows of Lake Quran on the back of an Arabian horse – or sail across it on a felucca. This part of Egypt is also renowned for being a bird- and wildlife-watcher's paradise. Take a day trip over the sand dunes of Wadi-El-Rayan before cooling your brow near its lakes and waterfalls. You may be able to spot migrating birds and rare animals, like slender-horned gazelles.

Wadi El Rayan Water Falls

GOOD SPORTS

If you like birdies of a different kind, head to El Gouna's championship-designed golf course to tee off in the sun. The calm blue waters and secluded beaches of this coastal resort also make it ideal for water sports such as kayaking, snorkelling, wind surfing and wakeboarding. At the other end of the spectrum are the spectacular sand dunes in El Fayoum. Get your adrenaline kicks with a quadbike ride in the desert – or test your surfing skills with a day out sandboarding in Wadi El-Rayan.

EAT, PLAY, LOVE

Though you could spend your days in Egypt venturing far and wide, revitalising your senses can mean staying close to home – or your luxury hotel. Savour the aromatic spice-laced flavours of Middle Eastern cuisine, from mahshi (rice and spiced lamb-stuffed peppers) to the sweet roz bel laban (rice pudding). Relish a leisurely stroll around El Gouna's famous Abu Tig marina before refreshing with a mint tea in one of its chic cafés. The boutique shops peppered around El Gouna are ideal for picking up special souvenirs of your stay – everything from incense to gloriously-patterned rugs, if there's room in your suitcase. Tunis Village, in El Fayoum, is also home to pottery workshops run by local artisans, where you can make your connection hands-on with a specially tailored class.