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“Comfortable and welcoming”
Review of Mara House

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Mara House
Ranked #8 of 54 Hotels in Luxor
Certificate of Excellence
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
124 reviews
101 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 152 helpful votes
“Comfortable and welcoming”
Reviewed 3 January 2013

The location of Mara House, in a residential street on the "wrong side" of the tracks, might not suit everyone, but we really appreciated being away from the constant hassle of the town. It's only a ten-minute walk to the railway station, and a further 10 minutes or so from there to the river.

The street is a bit shabby and quite noisy but Mara House itself is an oasis of calm, decorated stylishly and spotlessly clean throughout. Our room was comfortable, with a separate sitting room and a simple bathroom. Breakfast is served in very pleasant surroundings.

The staff were wonderful, unfailingly helpful and polite throughout our stay. Mara should be proud to have such attentive staff working for her.

There is free wi-fi, with a reasonable signal in the bedrooms. This is a huge benefit, as some of the tourist hotels in Luxor charge $25 per day or even more for wi-fi.

The tour we arranged with Mara, to the temples at Dendera and Abydos was excellent, and good value for money. We travelled in an air-conditioned minibus with a very knowledgeable guide who really helped us appreciate what we were seeing.

The "Egyptian Banquet" dinner was excellent and is highly recommended.

We did have a few minor issues, not all of which are within the control of Mara or her staff:

No matter how soundly you sleep, you will be woken at 5am every morning by the call to prayer from the nearby mosque, which is so loud that it sounds as though they have set up a loudspeaker at the foot of your bed. (And then they repeat the call 15 minutes later, just to make sure you haven't gone back to sleep.)

Power cuts are a frequent occurrence - we experienced three during the four evenings we stayed at the hotel. They usually only last between 30 minutes and an hour, and the staff are very quick to provide candles, but they did tend to occur as we were getting ready to go out for dinner, which was a little inconvenient.

The water tank in the bathroom is not large enough to provide more than one hot shower and so if there are two of you you will have to shower at different times of day (or together!).

The breakfast is uninspired and a little mean - bread, jam, processed cheese spread, a yogurt, a boiled egg, a small carton of juice drink (10% fruit juice, according to the label) and a cup of instant coffee, served on a tray. Fresh coffee and fresh juice or some fresh fruit would have made such a difference. (We were given a small bowl of fresh fruit salad one morning, but that was instead of the egg and juice drink).

Overall, however, we felt we had made a good choice of accommodation and would recommend Mara House.

  • Stayed December 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank Michael S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (28)
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English first
Lanzarote, Spain
Level Contributor
13 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 January 2013

I stayed at mara house mainly as a consequence of the trip advisor reviews. It proved to be a great decision and is a wonderful base for exploring Luxor and beyond. The rooms are in fact apartments which was a nice surprise as lack of space is normally my biggest bugbear with most hotels. I booked a few tours through mara house and thought them great value and efficiently organised. Both guides I experienced were enthusiastic and well versed in their subject. Maras staff are exceptional . They couldn't have been more welcoming or helpful. Special thanks to the GM Sahry and Amr the 'master chef" who were beyond terrific. Do not miss the banquet ! I'm not sure how the bad reviews came about however all the people who were staying when I was there were loving it. Note- this is not a holiday inn type experience....if that's what you are looking for I'd look elsewhere. If you would like to experience genuine Egyptian hospitality and the beautiful environment that has been created by Mara and her team do not hesitate to book. By the way Luxor and Aswan felt extremely chilled out and safe. Not even a hint of tension. I am already planning my next trip to this amazing part of the world. Final note - the surrounding area is simply a typical Egyptian street. No better or worse than others in Luxor.

  • Stayed January 2013, travelled solo
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Helpful?
Thank Alan D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
121 reviews
38 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 November 2012

Wonderful room and hotel
The service is super friendly
They will arrange anything you need to feel good there
So much better staying here then on the other side of the station where you will be driven next to insane by the aggressive people, sales men, cabbies etc...
The walking map needs updating but google maps will get you into town and back safely
Olympic drawback is it feels like re local mosque as installed their speakers in the rooms
You will not miss the am call to prayer at 4:45am even with ear plugs

  • Stayed November 2012, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank rogerz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Northbrook, Illinois
Level Contributor
15 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 November 2012

My wife and I stayed at Mara's house for 5 nights. The house and location was exactly as described on Mara's website, so there was no surprise. We made all our tour arrangements through someone else. Mara herself was not present during our stay, but then again if you have good personal working for you, it's not necessary to be there all the time. My first complaint is that after arriving from Amman, Jordan (getting up at 3AM), the first thing Amr asked us to settle our bill for the 5 days. Amr told us that breakfast will be served at 7AM, but we made arrangements with our private tour operator to pick us up every morning at 7AM. We really had to beg him to serve breakfast at 6:30 AM. Breakfast is very basic food on a large tray put on small table. Very inconvenient serving yourself. I haven't had instant Nescafe coffee in 30 years, but I had to get used to it for the next few days. On the last day we asked Sahny to call a Taxi to bring us to a Restaurant. After a few minutes I looked outside, and there was a Taxi waiting. My wife and I got into the Taxi when Amr and Sahny came out and told us to get out of the Taxi because this is not the Taxi they called. Well, we didn't get out and they were not happy.
The neighborhood itself looks like a construction zone, dusty and dirty, I don't know why anybody would waste time walking through these neighborhoods with so many interesting things to see in Luxor and vicinity.

  • Stayed October 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank Harald S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mara_House, Owner at Mara House, responded to this review, 22 November 2012
I am sorry you were not impressed and am sad if your stay at Mara House was less than you expected. However you do say that Mara House was as described on my website so I thank you for your confirming I make no false claims to be something we are not.

Yes, you are 100% right in saying the neighbourhood is like a construction zone and you got an experience of what it is like to live here. The dust and dirt from the streets drive me crazy. It is one of the things that has got worse since the revolution despite President Morsi's promise to clean up Egypt. The street cleaners only pick up the papers etc (when they even do that).

Everyone is taking advantage of the lack of enforcement of building regulations from the City Council and while there was a revolution happening in Tahrir there has been an ongoing building boom in Luxor. At one stage my staff used to clean the street from each end of the block with water hose and the big squeegies but our neighbours objected so we had to stop.

Repeated visits on my behalf to the Governor's office and calls to the cleaning dept have been to no avail. It is one of the things I have to accept for the moment because cracking up about it has gotten me nothing except indigestion :-) We can only keep our own small area in front of the house clean for now. Once the neighbours have finished their construction I have no problem hiring men and a truck to clean it as I have repeatedly done in the past. The only area of Luxor being properly cleaned by the council is the tourist strip along the Nile and the road to Karnak Temple and around Luxor temple. So sorry it annoyed you.

I do think you may misremember a couple of things - Amr did not ask you for the bill payment on arrival at 10am - you saw it the request in my information book and came downstairs to pay the bill. You came on a flight from Cairo so they did not know you were up since 3am. Quite apart from that all guests are requested in our terms and conditions, read prior to booking and repeated in the letter of confirmation, to pay on arrival in cash in any currency. It is therefore agreed by the guest that they will do so, why would you object then even if he did ask you to pay on arrival? Mara House is not a big hotel, we are a small operation and we have to pay in cash daily for our expenses therefore predicting our daily cash flow is important.

Breakfast is bread rolls, eggs, butter, jam, cheese, yogurt, fruit juice, tea/coffee or herbal teas - yes simple and basic. Served on a large tray - Egyptian style. Sorry our coffee is only nescafe - but every cup you had was free hospitality :-) Breakfast is served from 7am onwards because of our staffing hours and we are rarely asked for breakfast earlier. It is our policy to provide breakfast boxes for guests before that time, which they can take with them.

Amr simply told you our policy and Zahry had no problem coming early to serve you breakfast at 6.30am

Hmmm yes, the taxi on your last night. It usually takes about 10 - 15 minutes for a taxi to come after we call them and we tell our guests this so they are not waiting. The taxi you took, as Amr and Zahry pointed out to you, had been booked for that specific time by two other guests, so yes again Amr and Zahry were not happy to have to tell the other guests that you took their car instead of waiting for yours to arrive. Would you be happy if your taxi was taken by someone else?

I understand also that not getting a free lunch box for your trip to Abydos/Dendera and the request that you pay for the broken bedside lamp brought forth the comments that you were going to review us badly on the net, not nice!

We, as hotel owners/managers, are fortunate to be allowed address comments by our guests. It is unfortunate that the replies have to come from a defensive side on occasion. It might be an idea for TripAdvisor to open a section where we could review our guests - another provider is doing so at the moment and seeing those reviews give us the opportunity to accept or reject bookings based on others experiences. I think it would level the playing field and remove the threats we are occasionally subject to as service providers.

Again, I am sorry that these details detracted from your Mara House experience.
Best regards,
Mara
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
East of England
Level Contributor
163 reviews
89 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 182 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 November 2012

Completely different from all the big hotels with their corporate beige interiors. Mara House is a genuinely attractive Egyptian house off the tourist track in the centre of Luxor. Bursting with colour and style, clean, bright and with a friendly welcome.

We stayed in an attractively decorated large double room. Good quality Egyptian cotton sheets and very effective air conditioning. The en suite shower room was large and clean.

Dinner was honestly fantastic - lots of different small dishes and the best soup we tasted during our three week holiday in Egypt. Breakfast comprised tasty fresh bread, cheese, yoghurt and fruit juice.

It is difficult to `star rate` Mara House. We arrived there having just come from the Oberoi Mena House rated the best 5* hotel in Cairo (it was excellent, see my separate review) and so you may wonder why I have also given Mara House 5* rating when its facilities are so obviously different. Well, Mara House is a taste of the real Egypt; something often missing from even the best big hotels. A real travel experience. Something authentically different from the norm. It is also amazing good value for money and I recommend it whole heartedly.

Mara also helped me book internal flights with Egypt Air. She was able to access flights considerably cheaper than I could - and without seeming boastful, I reckon I know my way round airline booking engines!! We also booked a private tour guide though Mara for our three day stay in Cairo. Again, I cannot recommend Mara`s service highly enough. Our guide spoke good English, the car provided for us was clean, air conditioned and fairly new and the driver expertly negotiated the horrendous Cairo traffic.

Do try staying at Mara House in Luxor if you can, you won`t regret it!

  • Stayed November 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank supermummy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mara_House, Owner at Mara House, responded to this review, 20 November 2012
Thank you! It was a pleasure to help you with the tickets etc. and delighted you enjoyed our Cairo tours also. You know when I open emails where people are asking for general or specific information to help them plan their trip - a kind of warm feeling comes over me and I really, really want them to experience the best so I give the best advice I can. It can be a bit hair-raising at times like our race to get the best price tickets in the email triangle between you, me and the booking agent! But the feeling when it comes off it brilliant! Adrenaline! Then the real pay-off comes when people like you take the time to recommend my efforts :-)

So very happy that you enjoyed our Egyptian Feast at the Salahadeen - providing good-feeling food is important to me and also to Amr who spends hours with the Chef on the days we have the Feast. Both of us can tell the difference between food that is cooked by someone who loves their ingredients and the process of providing an experience for those eating the food as opposed to just feeding them.

Getting a 5* rating from a person as well-traveled as yourself, who is also used to 5* hotels such as the Mena Oberoi is priceless. Thank you again for taking the time to write and catalogue our aspects, you are wonderful!

Mara
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
hong kong
Level Contributor
71 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 November 2012

Ok, i will be fair here and I am sure Mara herself will rebuff all my comments as she is that sort of type and very defensive. Actually this place is overrated by the reviewers on TA. It is local yes and the neighborhood is interesting if you really want to go local. Mara herself is misleading in quite a few ways- she was in Cairo so anytime we had a request we had to call her as the mgr couldonly speak egyptian, the private tour arranged through her was not private even though she confirmed to other group and us - the other couple said oh well while Mara outright lied to both of us, tour guide had his own ideas where to go and would not take any input ( Muhammed) , Mara could not provide a receipt even though i requested to send by email afterwards- said the computer was down ( on the phone ) when we were checking out but the gentleman taking care of the place in her absence had no problem internet surfing, it was a bit creepy everytime we would leave the room for 5 minutes someone from hotel would come in and turn off he aircon, no water pressure on top floors so go for a lower floor- i am sure they are better options in Luxor and Mara is overpriced and bordering on a scheister!

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  • Stayed August 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
10 Thank nellieHongKong
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mara_House, Owner at Mara House, responded to this review, 18 November 2012
Hmmmm defensive? I think when somebody punches you in the face it is fair to say one offers a defensive response.....so here goes. I am genuinely very sorry for your unhappiness but given your overall approach to the trip I can't say that I am that surprised. You might remember that it was I who repeatedly contacted you to try to tie down your itinerary and arrangements, which were altered several times.

The only private excursion requested by you or your husband was a fellucca trip for his birthday - per your email June 14. You did not book a private tour and the only tour you did share was the one to Abydos and Dendera. I never, ever tell anyone they can have a private tour to any temples but especially not to those temples - it is a 2 -3 hour drive to Abydos and I would not send two buses on such a trip at the same time.

As for the manager who only spoke "egyptian" - Amr's english is not perfect but, funnily enough, he seems to be able to communicate rather well with everyone else who stays at Mara House - in fact my guests seem to love him. If I am not at Mara House I make myself available, wherever I am in the world, to speak with my guests on the phone if there are any questions that need clarifying - such as yours.

The other couple who shared the Abydos/Dendera tour with you had booked a special offer of 3 nights and 3 tours and never mentioned a private tour either, which I also clarified with them that morning - I do resent being called a liar and a scheister as I think it is pretty obvious to everyone who stays with us that I genuinely do my best for everyone, from helping plan their trips to providing the best services possible.

When calling me a scheister I note you did not quote the cost of your stay and tours for 5 persons, nor the family reduction. Neither did you mention the fact that you had 3 bedrooms, two sitting rooms and two bathrooms for that price. You did not say anything about the water pressure to any of the staff and to the best of my knowledge there is nothing wrong with the water pressure. My own apt is above your suites as is the laundry and the water pressure is very good in both places.

I don't know what kind of "input" you wanedt to do with the guide - it is his job to guide you, not the other way around.

Air-con being turned off when you left the room for 5 minutes - I hardly call going across town to a restaurant 5 minutes. We clearly ask our guests to turn off the air-cons when leaving the room for fire safety and when they don't we can hear it from the street and the roof terrace - so, yes, we turn them off in those rare instances that guests ignore the request. There is also such a thing as being a good/considerate guest.

When you asked for the receipt I did not say the computer was down. I said it was not possible for him to print a receipt because all that information is on my laptop not the computer in reception which is only for keeping in contact with me. I told you I would send it to you. I didn't send it because your husband didn't seem to think it was important when he came on the phone to tell me "I don't get angry, I get even" - which I presume is what this review is all about.

So, yes - I think I have responded to every issue you raised. And again, I am sorry for your unhappiness and hope life will be kind to you and your family.

Mara
Owner of Mara House, Luxor
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Houston
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 November 2012

From the pick up at the airport (charged separately) to the wonderful tour guide and tours to the well-appointed rooms, our stay at Mara House was great!

We arrived early on a Thursday morning and the guide was already at the house ready for the West Bank tour. We requested something light to eat as we had not had breakfast and it was served with warmth and hospitality. We spent the first day on an abbreviated West Bank tour in the comfort of an air conditioned van.

For dinner that night, a taxi pick up was arranged and we ate at an Indian restaurant recommended by Mara. Run by an expat Brit, A Taste of India was delightful and the food was excellent. The cold beer also went down a treat. :)

Friday we took Mara's suggestion and left the house with packed lunches and seven or eight other guests in a large air conditioned bus, from a tour of Abydos and Dendera. Our same knowledgable and friendly guide, Mohammed, accompanied us on this trip as well.

On Friday evening, we ate at the Mara House restaurant and enjoyed an Egyptian feast. We left, happy, on Saturday morning.

I can highly recommend Mara House both for its accommodation and arranging of tours. In fact, I already have.

  • Stayed October 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank srushton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mara_House, Owner at Mara House, responded to this review, 18 November 2012
I am so glad you had a good time with your family at Mara House and want to thank you sincerely for taking the time to recommend us - and indeed for the guests you have already sent to us.

Mohamed also appreciates that you enjoyed his tours and "A Taste of India" is my personal favourite when I want to have a night out, happy that you like it :-)

It's great that it all fell into place for you and that you got to see Luxor before moving on - I hope you will be very happy in your new home and will look forward to seeing you if you get the chance to return.

Many thanks again for taking the time to recommend us.
Mara
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Mara House

Property: Mara House
Address: Salah Al Din Al Ayoubi | Luxor, Luxor, Egypt
Region: Egypt > Nile River Valley > Luxor
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#8 Family Hotel in Luxor
#8 Romantic Hotel in Luxor
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Mara House is an Irish owned boutique hotel catering to the tastes of independent travellers who want to be sure they experience the best of Egypt. Mara House can only be booked directly via email to Mara. We help with sightseeing and itinerary planning for all of Egypt and steer our guests clear of tourist traps and pitfalls. Holidays are so important to us all and great holiday memories make such a difference to our lives - Mara ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mara House Hotel Luxor
Mara Hotel Luxor

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