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“The best guest house in Luxor”
Review of Mara House

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Mara House
Ranked #8 of 54 Hotels in Luxor
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed October 30, 2011

We stayed in Luxor for four nights in Mara House. Luxor is an overwhelming experience and I think we would have been completely lost had we not stayed with Mara House. If you are an independent traveller looking to really experience Egypt I cannot recommend Mara House strongly enough.

From the moment our flight landed at Luxor airport, Mara was looking out for us. She had arranged to have her driver meet us at the airport, and look after the transfer. (We later saw her racing off to the railway station to meet other guests coming by train.) When we were checked in and settled, Mara sat down with us and asked about the “style” of Luxor experience we were looking for. Did we want the experience of Ancient Egypt? Were we looking to for contemporary religious history or ancient astronauts? Or simply to experience modern day Egypt? And according to our answers she recommend a range of tours and sites to visit. She took an overwhelming array of choice and crystallised it down to a manageable itinerary for us.

Mara’s advise ranged from “how do deal with touts on the street” to “which were the best restaurants“. She even helped us when stomach illness struck. It honestly felt like staying with an old friend, rather than a commercial hotel.

We stayed in a 3 bedroom apartment on the second floor, with a balcony overlooking the street. The apartment was attractively furnished and set out. Every day we would awake with the distant sounds of Egyptian suburban life: the donkey pulling the gas cylinders through the street, or the call to prayer. It was exotic - but safe.

On the second night, one of her neighbours celebrated a wedding. As we walked down the street, the neighbours would smile and beckoning us into the festivities! The only reason we didn’t go inside was a shortage of time - if we had had weeks to stay we would have loved to have joined the fun.

Each morning and evening we would meet with Mara and her team, and the other travellers in the common areas and compare notes. Where are you going today? What did you enjoy? What was that temple like? Where did you eat yesterday? It was an easy way to share intelligence and to make friends. More than once we ended out on improvised excursions with other guests. It was all very cool.

We did two tours through Mara - the West Bank and the Abydos/Dendara tour. In each case the guide was excellent, and shielded us from the local hassle. The driver was safe and professional, but still Egyptian and delightfully charming.

Mara’s house is the opposite of an anonymous modern hotel. And if you want impersonal anonymity, then Mara’s place is not for you. But if you are looking for a friendly guest house with personalised advice and guidance, then I cannot recommend Mara House enough.

Room Tip: Talk to Mara in advance and let her know what you want ;)
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  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank michael9699
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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156 - 162 of 409 reviews

Reviewed October 24, 2011

Maras house was beautiful, lovely decor and furniture. Unfortunately we only booked to stay one night, we wished we had booked to stay longer as we felt so comfortable here. The room we stayed in was huge, it was actaully 2 rooms, much bigger than what you get in top-range hotels. We are so glad we stayed here as we got to see a different side to egypt and visit some of the lesser-known temples with a great guide. If you stay here, do follow Maras recommendations for tours, her guides are fantastic and very attentive without being overbearing. We loved staying here especially because it was in great location, right next to the train station and also amungst a tradtional neighbourhood, we could chat with locals and have an experience that would definetly not be found a a high end chain hotel. We will be back soon and cant wait to try the restaurant! thank you Mara.

  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank EarthEllaB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maraegypt, Owner/Manager at Mara House, responded to this reviewResponded October 24, 2011

Delighted you enjoyed your stay with us - it was a pleasure having such an interesting couple!! I also look forward to having you back - the roof garden is pretty much finished and the restaurant should be back in action in about a week - all going well, "This is Egypt!" I will pass on the compliments to the guide.

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Reviewed October 15, 2011

Mara's House is lovely and you get personal attention from the idiosyncratic and attentive Mara. These are big advantages. To address what other's have (negatively) mentioned: it _is_ a little far out and when you arrive you _do_ feel...gosh, why am I staying here? BUT the truth is it's a very easy 10-15 minute walk from the center of Luxor (which turned out to be really inconsequential to me) and the fact that it's not right in the tourist district is actually refreshing. The advantages...specifically the quality of the rooms which are lovely...far outweigh the negatives (or at least they did for me). Mara is extremely helpful (another major advantage) in helping first time visitors negotiate the tourist options of Luxor...for instance Valley of the Kings and which tombs to see from the list that is open. The guides you can get through Mara, I found to be good. It's true, Mara's House is a little on the expensive side and especially in the current Egyptian situation where tourist trade is at a low, you might be able to get better deals elsewhere...but I found staying there lovely, and would whole heartedly recommend it.

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled solo
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2  Thank NigelROC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 20, 2011

Rooms were basic. We stayed on 4th floor, opposite a semi-built building. After a day seeing the sights, it was a slog to climb up and down. There was no TV, which would be expected at 70 Euro per night. I found this overpriced.

The tours were informative enough, but we found the guide did not want to field questions, preferring to leave them to the end….when he was more interested in getting back to the bus for a snooze and leave the group to self guide for 40 mins. Again this was overpriced for the service.

Excluding the tour, the location is 15 minutes walk from the station, on a non-paved dusty local street.

On the location... we got the “oh is it here?” feeling when we pulled up.

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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28  Thank 333export
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maraegypt, Owner at Mara House, responded to this reviewResponded July 21, 2011

Well, this review takes care of those who think I write the reviews myself and that Mara House sounds too good to be true!

Overpriced - in view of the fact that there is nothing good about Mara House in this review I would have to agree that we were overpriced for this instance. I think that one of the 5star hotels on the tourist strip along the Nile would have suited expectations better.

Rooms Basic - there are lots of photos here on TripAdvisor and my own website which show exactly what guests can expect prior to booking.

No lift - yes, sorry about that.

Tour - I take this feedback most seriously and wish I had it earlier instead of 3 months after the tour took place. I would have checked with the guide and the satisfaction rating from other guests on the tour. I will be taking this up with the guide and it should never happen again. His job is to answer all questions not leave guests to wander by themselves. My sincere apologies on this.

Too far out - we are 10 mins walk from the train station which is the centre of Luxor. Too far out from the tourist strip and the 5star hotels - yes, definitely and that is what all our literature says. I advertise Mara House as a place to stay if you want to know what real Egyptian life is like - that is not to be found in the middle of the tourist strip which runs along the Nile.

As for the initial reaction on arriving at Mara House - I have to say Mara House did not always look like it does outside at the moment. When the revolution broke out we immediately bricked up the windows and doors on the ground floor as we were the only building on the street without metal railings on the doors and windows as is usual in Egypt. We had lovely timber mashrabey on the 3 big windows....thinking about it makes me sad but we have to do what we can in circumstances we find ourselves in. The front of Mara House will stay rather plain for the rest of the year as we wait to see what the future holds for us.

Opposite a half finished building - yes, again Egyptian life - that building has been in the making for 15 years and they have only finished 1 floor!

No TV - There are 3 suites at Mara House without TV's - I had a big argument with the electrician and he ripped the TV wire out of the walls in 3 suites before I could stop him!! Major job to get them back in so, yes, 3 suites with no TV.

The low rating on the cleanliness and service is something I also wish had been communicated earlier as I am fanatical on cleanliness and quality service is a must with me. Both I have taken up with housekeeping and the manager and they have been very upset about their failure to please - also the time lapse has made this difficult to deal with in terms of specifics. My manager in particular is upset because he really does his best to please.

Guests are constantly asked if everything is ok or if anything is needed at Mara House, every time guests pass through reception normally - we are sincere in asking both these questions and I prefer if dis-satisfaction is expressed at the time so the problem, whatever it is, can be fixed.

I am sorry Mara House did not match guest requirements in this case and would urge anyone thinking of coming to Egypt to please read our descriptions and reviews carefully - we are completely different to what you will find on the tourist strip and your satisfaction is my first priority but I can only meet your expectations if you fully realise what it is I am offering at Mara House. We do not meet everything you will find in a normal tourist hotel and conversely what we do offer you won't find anywhere else.

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Reviewed July 12, 2011

We stayed for 3 nights at Mara House and every moment of the visit was brilliant, commencing with Mara's warm welcome on our arrival at 3.00am in the morning!!

Mara House is in a residential area which was perfect for us as we wanted to experience the "real" Luxor, not just from a hotel! Our 2 bedroom suite was incredibly spacious, immaculately clean and very comfortable. The fridge was packed with drinks and snacks (and not at usual mini-bar prices!) and the rooms decorated very tastefully in the Egyptian style (but with air conditioning and fans!).

The staff were all really friendly, welcoming, and committed to ensuring we had a fantastic experience. Nothing was ever too much trouble.

Mara had recommended an itinerary for the three days of our stay to ensure that we made the most of our time. On all of the tours we were driven in an airconditioned minivan by Mahmoud who was a very experienced and reliable driver. Our Egyptologist guide was Mohammed who was not only incredibly knowledgable, but interesting and entertaining as well. The knowledge which Mohammed imparted to us was invaluable and added a whole new dimension to the experience – far more than we could have gained visiting the sites by ourselves. We toured the West Bank, Aswan, Karnak and Luxor Temples, as well as Abydos and Dendera - a lot to pack into 3 days but well worth it!

Mara herself is an absolute delight and we thoroughly enjoyed our chats with her as she is a fountain of knowledge and incredibly helpful - both through her website and the tips and advice she imparted.

I would highly recommend Mara House to anyone travelling to Luxor and looking for an authentic and magical experience.

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled with family
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3  Thank Susi D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 5, 2011

The place itself is beautifully decorated, extremely well tended to, and a pleasure to stay in. Service is excellent -- Mara is incredibly knowledgeable about the area and is more than willing to help out with anything. I honestly couldn't think of a better place to stay.

  • Stayed: June 2011
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1  Thank evang295
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 24, 2011

My husband and I stayed at Mara house in May 2011 and would go back again in a heartbeat.

It is not located near the main hotels - and we loved this! We really enjoyed spending time in a real Egyptian neighbourhood. We were generously invited in for tea by some of the neighbours and this experience was extremely authentic and someting that both neither I nor my husband will ever forget.

I must make mention to the staff working at Mara House - they were caring, passionate and truly commited to ensuring that we had a great stay. They even arranged for a driver for us for a day to do some specific sightseeing and shopping.

We really appreciated that Mara House was able to arrange tours for us. The process was smooth and met all of our expectations (fun, affordable, professional, informative). We also liked that the tour groups were small (no more than 6 of us) and with other guests staying at Mara House - we have made some life-long friends and again this is something that we will never forget.

All in all, a great stay (I really don't have anything bad to say) and I would recommend Mara House to other travellers!

  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank strawberrykiwijello
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mara House

Address: Salah Al Din Al Ayoubi | Luxor, Luxor, Egypt
Location: 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 Romantic Hotel in Luxor
#8 Family Hotel in Luxor
Price Range: $25 - $60 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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 
Also Known As:
Mara House Hotel Luxor
Mara Hotel Luxor

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