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Reviewed 9 January 2018

I spent a couple of days with my kids in one of Mara's family rooms at the beginning of January. The hotel was run by Ahmed while we were there, he's a very nice guy, speaks perfect English, available 24/7 and willing to help for anything one might need (he even called us on our mobile phone during the day to check if we were okay). The family rooms was very spacious, with three comfortable clean bedrooms, a living room, a small kitchen for preparing coffee or tea and a bathroom. The bathroom is quite basic (open shower with no curtain which is frequent in Egypt but for the price we paid I would imagine something more). Unfortunately two of the three bedrooms don't have windows and in any case the staff suggests not to open the windows facing the street in order to avoid dust. The downstairs common area, which is where breakfast is served, also lacks windows so once again we felt the need for light and air. The house is located in a small quiet back street, about 10 minutes from the train station. While it can be an advantage for some people to be further away from the centre, as independent travellers, we generally prefer to be in the centre of the city so we can step out and find food or shops without having to take a taxi. I have the feeling this hotel works better for tourists who rely on the staff for their entire stay (tours, food etc) and less for people like us who want to do their own thing.

Date of stay: January 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
3  Thank MarziaAnna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Marie V, Owner at Mara House, responded to this reviewResponded 10 January 2018

Thanks Marzia for the great review - we really appreciate when guests take the time to do this. You are right when you say Mara House is more for the traveller who wants a unique experience, not just a hotel bed for the night, who want to avoid the research, bargain hunting and possibility of ending up with "pot luck" during their stay in Egypt.

Mara House both in Cairo and Luxor is more for the person who wants to relax, knowing everything is organised to the best possible standard and that they are in good hands....I tell my staff that guests are on a holiday not attending boot camp as can be the experience of many tourists shunted from monuments to shops to restuarants during tour times with some operators :-)

Mara House was built in 2003 and though we paint and continually refurbish the entire house - the bathrooms would be a major job to undertake - not a simple job like at home. For example the water pipes are embedded in the walls and the tiles are attached with 10 cm of concrete on top of that. So refurbishing a bathroom is more of a demoliton job than a redecorating one. The bathrooms are functional in that you use the toilet, shower and wash there rather than luxuriating in them. However they are on my to-do-list as soon as possible.

Just to clarify - two of the three bedrooms actually have windows 2m x 1.5m behind the curtains hanging in them. The third bedroom has a window 2m x 72cm behind the curtain. When I built Mara House the architect and then the workers were horrified that I was putting in big windows. They were right. I should have put in small windows to keep the rooms cool and keep out the dust which is forever coming in from the desert. So we do advise guests to keep the windows closed and go to the balcony in the sitting room if they want sunshine. Most of the year our guests would use air-con anyway and naturally keep the windows closed, but you could have opened the curtains, no problem.

When our guests come back from a day in the sun and heat they prefer a cool, calm and air-conditioned area to sit in - that is the downstairs bar where we currently serve breakfast. However, I have to agree that if I were building again in Egypt (no such intention lol!) there are quite a few things I would do differently. But for a foreigner building Mara House, knowing absolutely nothing about the reasons why anything is done in Egypt the way it is - I think I did pretty good :-)

In 2003 when I started building Mara House it was surrounded by green fields (now we are in "suburbia!!) and I did want to offer travellers the experience of seeing normal Egyptian life rather than being with every other visitor in the tourist strip - sorry this aspect did not appeal to you. Were I to build again I would probably go out further into the countryside, possibly nearer a village.

Mara House is definitely not for budget travellers but for those looking for a unique perspective on Egypt, a chance to exchange views and opinions with local people, and tours that are tours - not shopping expeditions - We are for people whose priority is the overall experience of being immersed in the culture of the country they are visiting. That is why pretty much all our guests now take our entire packages both in Cairo and Luxor. We seldom have guests who just want a bed for the night so our focus is entirely now on the overall experience the guests have for the full time they are with us.

BTW $150 per night for two adults and two teenagers does not seem excessive to me for a place like Mara House - even just for a hotel room, and, as you say, you got 3 bedrooms, a large sitting room, private bathroom and a small kitchen/dining area, use of a roof terrace and bar, free wi-fi and good breakfasts included.

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Reviewed 2 January 2018

We planned a year end visit about two weeks before the leaving Malaysia. Despite this short notice, Mara and her team made our stay a most wonderful experience. One key ingredient is that Mara delivers exactly what she promises. Our stay was made special by the attentive Ahmed, who is the manager at Mara House and also our guides Mohamed (Luxor-Aswan) and Fatma (in Cairo). We started out in Luxor instead of Cairo and Mohamed made our tour most interesting as there is a clear understanding of his ancient heritage, so whilst we did the usual visits to the Valley of the Kings, Karnak and Luxor temples, we also visited less the worker's village and the Hellenistic temples at Abydos and Dandera. Also, Fatma gave us a grand tour of Cairo showcasing what contemporary Egypt has to offer. Despite what appears to be a rather packed schedule, Mara and her team made sure there were quiet moments floating down the Nile in a Falucca. It was indeed a magical and wonderful experience.

Date of stay: December 2017
1  Thank NKhor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 December 2017 via mobile

I'm a reasonably senior contributor to Trip Advisor. I'm pointing this one out. For a visitor hoping for a genuine experience of Egypt, Mara House is an extraordinary answer! The lodging in Luxor, the food (fantastic!), and the cultural immersion via the Mara House tour... amazing. We hope to go back! Note: Mara House addressed all security questions while in Egypt. We joined with our two Daughters for this trip of a lifetime and we all felt safe throughout.

Date of stay: November 2017
Trip type: Travelled with family
1  Thank bingobiz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 December 2017

I traveled to Egypt recently with my parents who I can honestly say would not have set foot in the country were it not for Mara and her wonderful staff.

From allaying our initial nervousness and providing us with a detailed itinerary for a day in Cairo and 3 in Luxor, to detailed travel advice, professional & knowledgeable guides and gorgeous accommodation, we didn't have to worry about a single thing, and loved every minute of our time in this incredible country.

Mara House is so beautifully decorated, the rooms are huge and very clean and comfortable, and the Feast is a fantastic experience. I wish we could have stayed longer!

The tours (we did the Giza plateau in Cairo, and the West Bank and Luxor/Karnak temples in Luxor) were all fantastic, and we can't speak highly enough of the guides.

Special mention must be made of Ahmed, the manager at Mara House - we were late arriving at Mara House after a missed connection, and Ahmed went above and beyond helping us navigate a detour to Aswan and a train journey to Luxor so that we didn't miss out on our planned tour! Thanks so much Ahmed, we're so grateful for your help.

In summary, don't do Egypt without stopping at Mara House; these guys are absolute professionals with a passion for sharing the wonders of their fascinating & beautiful country.

Date of stay: October 2017
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Natalie R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 December 2017

This boutique hotel is located on a very Egyptian side street in Luxor but from the threshold one is inside a delightful Mara's version of the Cretan Woman's House in Cairo. My rooms (bedroom, shower/toilet/kitchenette/extended lounge area) were huge for a solo traveller, clean and well presented. Wonderful hospitality and organisation by Ahmed. Very good quality food and recommendations. Mara made my visit to Egypt an enjoyable, educational and enriching experience. People with mobility issues may find the stairs interesting.

Date of stay: November 2017
  • Trip type: Travelled solo
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank boothgll
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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