Just back from a great (but very hot!) week in Luxor. Here's some of the latest.
We stayed at the Mercure (now El Luxor & under the management of Misr travel) - no disruption from the building works, a very friendly hotel, maybe not the flashiest but perfect for our needs. We only had to ask & they brought us a kettle & cups, so we could make tea & coffee in the room - we spent a lot of time drinking tea on the balcony listening to the birds & the muezzins. We had garden rooms overlooking the pool, which were bigger & brighter than some we saw in the main hotel building - no Nile view, but no road noise either. One of our rooms did have the obligatory iron mark on the carpet though, which made me think of this forum!
We bought water (2LE for a big bottle of local brand) from the nearest shop in the Savoy centre, & weren't checked bringing it back into the hotel (we weren't overt about it, although some people were).
We made most trips with the help of a excellent driver recommended by KV explorer, who really looked after us well & for a very good price (pm me if you want his details, & any more information about what we did with him, as I can't put them on an open forum). We did 2 trips to the West Bank, in VoK we did Tutmosis III (KV34), Rameses 1 (KV16), Tausert & Setnakht (KV14), Rameses IX (KV6) & Tut (KV62), sorry can't remember which others were open. We also did a couple of the Nobles tombs, Nakht & Senna.
We went camel riding organised by our driver - picked up from the hotel by car, boat across the river, then camels to meet us on the bank & an hour trek around the fields & villages, all for 50LE each. I'd really recommend this as a fun way of seeing village life.
We used caleches to get around the town for short distances - the usual mixed experience, some were great, happy not to stop anywhere & took us through the local market (eg. no 23), but another all he wanted was to go to some tourist shop & was very unhappy when we wouldn't get out there (he was even less pleased when he said our tip wasn't enough, so we took it back!) We paid 10LE for short trips, 40-50LE for an hour or so around the town.
We did the S&L at Karnak, which was a bit cheesy, but very atmospheric. The only warning is that it's a lot of walking & hard for anyone with any walking difficulty - our driver took us as close as he could, but it's still a longish walk to the entrance.
We went to Luxor temple in the evening when it was floodlit - we went at this time mainly to escape the heat, but it really was magical.
We also went across to the west bank on the local ferry (1LE each way - the motor boats also seemed to match this price, even for 2 people, which was quicker than the ferry) & just walked around the village on that side, which is really interesting & much less hassly than the East Bank.
By the way, all the sights we visited on the WB needed an ISIC card to get student discount, but at Luxor & Karnak they didn't ask.
We wandered into the Winter Palace gardens a couple of times via the Pavillon entrance, and weren't charged for entry. The gardens are beautifully lit at night with fairy lights & candles - worth popping in if you are passing.
We ate at the hotel several times, the food prices were pretty reasonable there (eg 30-40LE for omelette & chips or a big sandwich & chips, I think about 85LE for the 3 course buffet), but drinks were more expensive. We ate also at the Amoun cafe in the Savoy shopping centre - nice food but a rather stark atmosphere, at the SIndbad behind the temple - good food but a bit annoying to be dragged into their gift shop, our favourite was Hamees behind the temple - very cheap & very friendly, and nice to be in the open air when it was so hot. About 5LE for juice, soft drinks & hot drinks, 10 LE for a big beer, soups & starters 10LE, main courses 20-30+LE. Just try & plan not to use the toilets there - they are in a now closed hotel, which is interesting to go into, but not to use the toilets (or go next door to the SIndbad). One evening we took the ferry over to the WB and had a meal at the Nile Valley hotel rooftop restaurant, which was excellent food, very good value & a fantastic view.
I must acknowledge the help & advice of many people on this forum, especially the DEs - KV explorer, divadarling & ourluxorflat were an invaluable & extremely reliable source of up to date information when I was planning the trip. Please trust what they say!