Certainly the most expensive hotel in the oases—and the most unusual—it has been watched by eco-travelers with great interest. The hotel's name means "White Mountain," and it has been built entirely from local materials incorporating desert stones and bricks. Its stunning design has won wide acclaim. Everything is natural, from the nummalites (small coin-like fossils) on bathroom walls to the furniture made of gypsum blocks. There's no electrical power at the lodge: the chef cooks on a wood-burning stove, and beeswax candles and oil lamps illuminate the lodge after sunset. This also means there are no fans, heaters, or air-conditioning—a drawback to some—but the architecture is designed to keep the rooms warm in winter and cool in summer. The lodge's pool is a natural spring. Local and imported alcohol is served.
At Sidi al-Ja'afar, 17 km (11 mi) west of town, Siwa, Egypt
046-460–1395; 02-2736–7879-in Cairo for reservations only