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Reviewed 9 April 2018 via mobile

We’re just back from 9 full days in Egypt, totally planned by Mara of Luxor’s Mara House. Wonderful experience for both me (67) and my granddaughter. Mara’s guides were all excellent, knowledgeable and helpful. Other reviewers have praised Fatma and Mohamed in Cairo, as well as Mohammed in Luxor. I totally agree. I would also like to add freelance guide Hassan Mostafa, who accompanied us on our 3-day Nile cruise. Added to his skills as a guide was a playfulness and connection to kids that made it all more fun for my granddaughter. Hassan also showed us Karnak and Luxor Temples.

I had been nervous about visiting Egypt, and especially taking a child into what might be a potentially dangerous country. Mara had been very reassuring, and I’m so glad that I listened to her. I always felt we were in good hands, and quite as safe as possible in today’s world.

Our schedule was packed so little time to improvise. It would have been nice to have more time for shopping and just walking around. We were limited by having the parameters of Spring Break. We did squeeze a short visit to the beautiful Luxor Museum, which I highly recommend. Also, after our visit to the Valley of the Kings, I asked if we could see some local artisans at work. Mohammed took us to an alabaster workshop, which was quite interesting.

Mara House itself is like a little museum, with high quality art works an integral part of its charm. Manager Ahmed was an impeccable host. A very comfortable place to stay. We loved our spacious suite.

I don’t know if I’ll make it back to Egypt one day. I would like to. The people are open and friendly, and the magnificence of its attractions can’t be exaggerated.

Date of stay: March 2018
Trip type: Travelled with family
3  Thank Robin D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 March 2018

I first inquired about staying at Mara House via email one week prior to my anticipated visit. Mara sent a prompt email response which included options for day trips to temples. The entire package price was affordable and to my surprise included a driver and tour guide to the temples, a sunset cruise on the Nile, and a fabulous dinner on my last night! My 3 awesome nights at Mara House were made unforgettable by Ahmed, the hotel manager, the driver Ahmed, and the tour guide, Mohamed. Breakfast and the final dinner on my last night was great and the chef accommodated my vegetarian diet. I received impeccable service in a cozy, clean, and beautifully decorated hotel! Thank you Mara!

Date of stay: March 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled solo
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank 782robyn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 February 2018

This was quite different for us, in the sense that we were the only people in the hotel. So my daughter and I had a large family room, but with only one bedroom. It has a huge living area with a fridge and sink. It's very clean and well maintained and while the bathroom is different than most Westerners are used to (no shower stall), it is scrupulously clean, no mold, nothing. No elevator so be prepared to get a leg work-out on the stairs.

The location is in a residential neighborhood. No, you can't just walk to restaurants or shops and yes, there is major construction all around (including the city which was ripping up streets to replace gas lines, nothing the hotel had any control over) but while the views from the roof top terrace might not have been stellar it was lovely up there in the sun.

The breakfast is basic but fresh and prepared whenever you want it. 7:00, 10:30, complete flexibility. We found this hotel through a package. We got 3 nights and 3 days and it included tours on each day, a carriage ride, boat ride, etc. The best part was the flexibility. Because we were leaving at midnight on day 4, they completely arranged the tour so that we didn't end up having a whole day with nothing to do and made another suggestion to keep us busy. There was no pressure to follow the schedule, it was completely at our desire.

We had the same guide for all three days. His name was Mohammed (not sure last name) and he was great. He spoke perfect English, was pleasant and knowledgeable and it was great to have the same guide with only 2 of us (1 extra the last day but not an issue) and I would highly recommend him. He also didn't try to force us to take extra tours on the side for more money, was very helpful in letting us know who we had to tip where and how to avoid tipping if we didn't want assistance and never once pressured us to stop at a tourist shop or buy anything. It was refreshing to have a guide who was focused on guiding and not getting a cut from a friend's shop.

Our main driver was Ahmed Modi. He had a taxi and except for one big tour out of town, was our driver for all tours and when we wanted to go out in the evening for dinner. He spoke great English, was charming, always made sure we got where we were going, we were again never "suggested" we go to X or Y, and went out of his way to help us out. It was like having a personal driver and while you are not downtown, it is fairly inexpensive to take a taxi there.

The crown jewel though was Ahmed, the manager of the hotel for lack of a better word. When we would return from dinner or a tour they would phone and tell him we were coming and it was like having your mom waiting for you at the door. He arranged everything for us, made sure we knew what was going on, ordered food for us when we were too tired to go out, my daughter sprained her ankle on the second last day and he went to the pharmacy and got her cream to ease the pain, he was just a really pleasant fellow who spoke perfect English. He was just tops with customer service.

So if you like typical anonymous hotels (I usually do) and want to stay right on the Nile or right in the heart of the action (such as it is, Luxor is a small town) this is probably not for you, but if you like to feel that you are not just a number on a tour and arrangements taken care of for you, it's ideal. We were two women traveling and it was nice to not have to deal with some of the less savory sides of things (not that we don't have extensive experience traveling together and solo - but Egypt is a completely different environment). So if you are looking for a slightly more non-commercial experience and it was really a great price for hotel with all tours included.

Date of stay: January 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank Tam A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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
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