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If you are looking for a lovely hotel with loads of character and 5 star historical ambience then you can't go wrong with the Sofitel Winter Palace. However, if you expect haute cuisine or some of the other luxuries associated with other top class 5 star hotels, including those in Cairo, then you may be a little disappointed.
I had booked a Nile view room and was pleasantly surprised to be upgraded to a suite on arrival. It was gob-smackingly huge and decorated in French colonial style. Massive bedroom, dining room and lounge area. The bed was king size and comfy with a range of pillows to choose from. I slept well and was not disturbed by street noise at all. A really lovely touch was the personally written welcome note from the general manager and a gift wrapped book on the Valley of the Kings. Unfortunately with still 5 weeks of travels to go and an already groaning luggage limit I wasn't able to take the book with me.
The gardens are extensive, beautifully maintained, and a wonderful haven from the bustle of Luxor. The pool area looked beautiful and very inviting even in winter. The staff were all helpful, genuinely welcoming, polite and courteous. A highlight for me was high tea on my own private felucca at sunset accompanied by a waiter from the hotel and very reasonably priced. I wasn't as I impressed with the food but more on that later. To be honest I was so wrapped up in sailing along the Nile that it did not detract from my enjoyment at all.
The hotel itself is grandly decorated with comfortable and spacious lounge and bar areas and rooms that take you back to a different time. Throughout the building there are wonderful artworks some showing the history of the hotel and Egypt. All add to the atmosphere and the sense of going back in time. I cannot imagine how difficult and expensive it must be to maintain this unique heritage building in such a dry and unforgiving climate.
Now for some of the areas that in my opinion could benefit from improvement.
My view of the Nile was more "filtered" ( a couple of young trees blocked the view from the front) than "spectacular" although there are plenty of vantage points outside the hotel for better views and rooms above the second floor would have had those "spectacular" views.
The bathroom is modern and large but in-bath shower with shower curtain felt a little less than "5 star". Bath robes were also stiff and scratchy rather than soft and luxurious. These are really minor quibbles but given the tariff I had expected a few more of these little extra luxuries.
My major disappointment was with the food at the 1886 Restaurant. I have eaten French food in Paris, Australia and Tunisia, some at exclusive restaurants and some at cheaper establishments. All were better than the food at 1886. The soup was bland and tasteless, the seafood ravioli was like big chewy floury dumplings not the delicate transparent pasta it should be. The salmon was reasonably tasty but overcooked - it should be pink in the middle. The Egyptian red wine however was better than expected. Same disappointment with the high tea. Tasteless and brightly coloured petit fours along with dry sandwiches although small chocolate cake was ok. I would have been happier with a selection of Egyptian treats I think. I came to the conclusion that the chef is probably trying to adapt to a cuisine of which he has no real understanding. Perhaps it's because Egypt was not extensively colonized by the French but the French food in my Tunisian hotel at a quarter of the price was four times better. I completely understand that it must be incredibly difficult to attract and retain high quality chefs during this time in Egypt and expect that management is well aware of these issues and is doing its best to remedy them. However, my advice is to skip 1886 and venture elsewhere in Luxor for dinner.
My other gripe is with the wifi which while available in room and in reception was incredibly unreliable in both locations.
Overall I am glad I had the experience of staying at this beautiful, historic hotel and would definitely return. Ps. Egypt and Luxor are safe and quiet for tourists and now is an excellent time to go despite what the press would have you believe. Just use your common sense and steer clear of the small number of potential trouble spots.
Dear guests, thank you for your detailed feedback. I am sorry that your dining experience did not meet your high expectations; please allow me to express my sincerest apologies.
We appreciate your sharing your concerns, and it is our hope that you will give us the opportunity to better serve you in the near future. As you left our gift in the hotel, I would like to offer you to send to your home in Australia. Just send your address to Christian.Ruge@sofitel.com and I will send it to you free of charge. Thank you again for your stay with us and your feedback. Kind regards, Christian Ruge
After much persuasion by my wife we attended appropriately dressed for Afternoon Tea. Though there is a clear dress code only we had seemed to adhere to it. The presentation was superb but the cakes were hard and the sandwiches dry. The chicken sandwiches had pieces of breastbone and even though I did received an apology from the waiter no other compensation was offered. We will not return but have afternoon tea in our hotel.
Dear guests, thank you for taking the time to tell us about your experience at the Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor. I am sorry that your experience did not meet your expectations; please allow me to express my sincerest apologies. At Sofitel, we strive to provide a superior service experience for every customer; therefore your feedback is very important to us. Please rest assured that we are taking the appropriate measures to address the problem and prevent future occurrence. We appreciate your sharing your concerns, and it is our hope that you will give us the opportunity to better serve you in the near future. Kind regards, Christian Ruge
The Winter Hotel provides what you expect from a mythic hotel: high ceilings, huge corridors, spacious room, top class food & service, an oasis of wellbeing after a long day visiting the historic sites. Add to this a great garden and a huge heated swimming pool, and you are close to heaven.
The MAJOR PROBLEM is that you keep being HASSLED at the door as well as within the hotel:
- The horse cart & taxi drivers shout at you to get your business the second your feet reach the ground down from the front staircase; this is done with such a loud voice that it is at best annoying, and even frightened my wife who did not feel like visiting the city without me by fear of these guys.
- Inside the hotel, the pressure is more subtle but still present from the staff in charge of cleaning the rooms: from bringing flowers to your room (are they part of the standard service?), to offering to visit the King Farouk suite, anything seems good enough to get a baksheesh from you. These guys are a minority, but they spoil the enjoyment here.
Dear guests, thank you very much for your feedback. We apologize that you felt uncomfortable with the plenty of business man trying to get some business outside of the hotel. Please rest assured that most of them give up as soon as they acknowledge that there is no interest from your side for a taxi or horse carriage. In regards to the hotel staff, I can guarantee that fresh flowers are part of our service and most of our guests are asking to see the room with King Farouk's original furniture. I trust that our colleagues did not want to show you this unique room to get any tip. Thank you again for your nice feedback about the hotel and we are looking forward to welcome you back to the Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor. Kind regards, Christian Ruge
Looking for a Hotel with style, old world charm with modern facilities and attentive professional staff then you will come back to this Hotel again and again! Egypt is a favourite destination with it's guarantee of hot sun, but of course you can go to other places in the world for that! This is our third visit to this unique and splendid Victorian style, old grandeur Hotel where the staff are definitely proud of working in it's lovely surroundings. Situated on the corniche overlooking the Nile the minute you arrive you enter a secure environment (security is obvious so safe from Persistent Egyptians) the white marble steps lead you through into a huge marble hall with glittering chandeliers and ahead an impressive wide staircase leading up to the first floor rooms. We had a second week on B&B after a highly recommended cruise on the yacht in the Nile, The Alexander the Great. After a busy week viewing tombs and temples we were looking forward to a relaxing break by the pool.
We were upgraded to a Nile view room, we have had garden view rooms before and when we go again I would choose a Garden room as it is very peaceful and green, whereas the Nile rooms can be noisy when sitting on the balcony and dusty from the traffic if cars and horses on the corniche, although you do see stunning sunsets over the West Bank.
Our room was spacious, huge bed, lovely white fresh linen, bathroom clean with Hermes bath products, fluffy towels. TV showing sky channels and a Bang Olufson radio. Housekeeping are very keen to please despite the language barrier, fresh flowers and fruit with mineral water every day we felt very spoilt!
The gardens are at the back of the Hotel and have a wide variety of mature trees of many unusual varieties. Howard Carter stayed here regularly in the 1920's. You walk along paths which are lit charmingly by lanterns in the evening, to the swimming pool where you are greeted by pool staff with towels who guide you to your sun bed for the day. A lovely restaurant overlooks the pool area where the lunch is very good, freshly prepared salads and fresh seafood, also pizzas and club sandwiches. I found the showers adjacent to the pool side in the Ladies very good and clean. You are surrounded by trees, flowers and little birds. It is peaceful, no piped music! And no hassle! We highly recommend the massages, very reasonable price and excellent.
We tend to eat in the Hotel and have tried all the Restaurants. Breakfast is buffet style, and what a Buffet you are spoilt for choice! Pastries, bread, cooked breakfast, omelettes, fresh fruit, sweets, yoghurts yummy!! The Hotel is quite formal so don't expect to walk around in skimpy clothes, there is a dress code in the evenings especially in the formal dining Restaurant 1886. The staff are wonderful, the food can be a bit hit and miss, it has a reputation for fine French dining and it is an experience in style and elegance. We stay on a B&B basis which we find cheaper than Half Board. The main Restaurant Corniche is a relaxing dining experience, the food is good although not a great variety, we found the Rtaurant by the pool very lovely in the evening,it serves mostly Italian and again the staff cannot do too much for you.
we would recommend this Hotel to anyone who wants 5 star luxury in a historic grand Hotel, in beautiful grounds, attentive polite staff and good food with large comfortable bedrooms and in the centre of Luxor.
Walk to Luxor Temple, avoid the hassle by walking with purpose saying No as you move swiftly to your destination! The more you look like a tourist the more they hassle you! I recommend adopting a more conservative dress, long, shoulders covered and a scarf to cover the shoulders/hair. On a group visit it is not so necessary but when it's two of you walk like an Egyptian and you will not get bothered!!
Dear guests, thank you for your detailed feedback. I will pass on your comments to the team and I am sure they will be very glad. We hope to welcome you back to the Sofitel Winter Palace for or your easter vacation. Kind regards, Christian Ruge
A beautiful and historical masterpiece; a true Palace. We soaked up exquisite service, sophisticated atmosphere, decadent room, lush gardens and pool in the heart of the Nile Valley. Steeped in history and majestic period furnishings, it was a delight to rest and rejuvenate. The staff was sweet and helpful, setting up tours and transportation and generally at our beck and call. Dining was elegant.
Dear guests, thank you very much for your wonderful feedback. We are glad that you enjoyed your stay with us. We are looking forward to welcome you back to the Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor on one of your future trips to Egypt. Kind regards, Christian Ruge