Take your tours through Mara House!”

I recently came back from an amazing trip to Egypt. In my research of things to do and sites to see, I came across Mara’s website and found it to be extremely helpful. We (group of 6) decided to travel by sleeper train from Cairo to Luxor and stay three days there. Mara, via email prior to the trip, helped us decide which tours to take on which days based on our itinerary. We ended up doing the West Bank tour on the day we arrived…Mara House was at the train platform waiting for us when our train pulled up. They took us to our hostel, allowed us to put our luggage away and then headed out for an amazing tour of the West Bank. Our guide was knowledgeable, friendly, and patient (with a group of 6 all wanting to see and do different things, this is a necessary skill). We also did a tour of Abydos and Dendara with Mara House, neither of which were on my radar screen prior to my discussions with Mara and both of which were absolutely incredible and among the highlights of our trip.

I also feel the need to mention that a couple of people in my group got sucked in by a “guide” in Cairo who was obviously more interested in getting commission than anything else, and he attempted to change our entire itinerary around (and succeeded with two of us). The guide even took it upon himself to contact Mara to cancel our tours…she was wise enough to ask to speak to me to confirm the changes, which of course I did not confirm, and she advised me to speak to my group privately to make sure we understood what the guide was doing. I took her advice, and needless to say, 4 of us ended up “firing” him and continuing along with the initial plans. The 2 of us that chose to follow his lead ended up being stood up for 2 tours in Aswan (which they had paid for in advance) and were generally disappointed with their experience. They also missed our wonderful trip to Abydos and Dendara, and without us even asking, Mara issued a refund for them.

So if all the above doesn’t convince you that Mara House is the best, then I guess you’re on your own. Happy travels. 🙂

Stayed February 2012, travelled with friends. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: mistypo523, Dallas Texas

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“We “like” Mara House”

5 of 5 starsThanks to the previous reviewers on Trip Advisor, Mara House was exactly as I expected. The hotel was the perfect place to host 3 Egyptian friends, and Mara was right there the entire time to make sure our stay in Luxor went well. In a very professional way, she helped me navigate about and arranged for us a tour of the West Bank. I needed transportation from Luxor to Sohag, and Mara took care of the details for that as well. Her Salahadeen feast was well received. My friends were very comfortable and were as impressed as I. I highly recommend Mara House to the savy traveler.

Stayed February 2012, travelled with friends, Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Michael B., Belton, TX

*****

“Don’t Stop Anywhere Else”
5 of 5 stars
We stayed with Mara for two days, one night and could not have chosen better. Her house is beautiful, her staff is fabulous and the attention she gives to your visit is amazing. She provided us with a driver and a plan as we had only a limited amount of time at our disposal. The only disappointment we had was that we had to leave so soon. We were 3 adults and 3 children (10, 7, 4) I highly recommend Mara’s House, you will not be disappointed.

Stayed May 2011, travelled with family

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: DLR22, Colorado Springs, Colorado

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“Home away from home”
5 of 5 stars
Mara house is a delight; large rooms, safe neighborhood and friendly people.

It is more like visiting family than being in a hotel – wonderful!

Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:  John P, San Diego, California

*****

“Elegance and great service in the heart of Luxor”
5 of 5 stars
We stayed at Mara House for 5 days in January, and it was the best place we stayed in our 16 day Egypt adventure. The staff were extremely helpful, getting us taxis and coordinating our visits to Karnak, Luxor, Abydos, Dendera and more. The breakfast is amazing, we ended up bringing parts of it with us to snack on during the long, adventuresome days. When we dragged ourselves in at dusk, we were greeted with a kind offer of tea, which we always gratefully accepted. The room was very clean, with a kitchen, TV, balcony and a gracious design. Plenty of hot water, too. I can’t say enough about this place, it was simply delightful, especially the staff.

Stayed January 2012, travelled with family

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: PlanetValentine, Santa Barbara, California

*******

“Mogg Morgan of Mandrake in Egypt”
5 of 5 stars
There will be a longer account on my blog “Mandrake In Luxor” – so this is interim note – Mara Guest house suited me in everyway and I certainly will be returning, probably with a posse. I stayed in Luxor the entire week, visiting the sites but also some prospective authors on the West Bank (I’m a publisher). Despite all the “troubles” one hears of in the press – this must be one of the savest cities to walk around in at night. I crossed over to the west bank to visit my clients and came back late – no problem.

The guide books say this is hassle capital of Egypt – but that certainly isn’t true. People in Salakhana are interested and friendly but that doesn’t really translate into hassle. There are probably some dodgy types around near the rail station but nothing you wouldn’t find in UK – beside the local traders have a vested interest in protecting tourists from hassle.

I’m not fond of big corporate hotels and prefer a more low key guest house – actually less hassle and in many ways more luxurious. One of the stars of Mara must be Amr, the manager but also secret cook. Apparently they stopped having a professional chef, as on a good day Amr is a real foodie. It was very quiet in Luxor and Mara’s, so not too much going on, mainly just the breakfasts. On my last day Mara suggested I go chill out on the roof garden – they’d wakeme when it was time for my taxi. Next thing I know its 3 oclock and Amr says “I made you some nice soup” – what an underestimate that was!

I took my bags downstairs and chatted for my last 30mins. Another bowl of, this time marrow soup materialised – slight bitter aftertaste but delicious – especially good with the fresh pocket bread. I gotta go back on the promise of more culinary adventures. Mara’s says Yarrow soup is therapeutic so I maybe needed the vitamins in that soup.

“Amr!” I said, “You can cook!”

There’s more – all things permitting, you just got to go to Mara’s.

Stayed February 2012, travelled solo. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: MandLuxor, Oxford, UK

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“Ah, Egypt!”

5 of 5 starsMy family and I visited Egypt for eight days during December and had the most wonderful time. We not only stayed at Mara House in Luxor but also Mara’s apartment in Cairo. I would highly recommend both if you want to experience a more honest, colourful and friendly Egypt.

I am so very glad we did not opt to stay in hotels because we would not have met the local grocers, bakers, carpenters (who offered my son their toilet when they saw him “dancing” past their shopfront) and the children who always had a smile and greeting for us (especially in Luxor). I truly feel we had a home away from home in both places and that was a relief and a joy after our days out and about, especially in noisy, dirty, fascinating Cairo.

The apartment in Cairo was huge, secure and in an excellent location. We walked to Tahrir Square on New Year’s Eve, enticed out the door at 10pm with our two children because of the palpable excitement on the streets (we were watching from the balcony). There was a concert on and we mixed with many families and young people. Not once did we feel unsafe.

We were able to organise airport transfers at the travel office across the road, buy water and supplies at the local supermarket minutes away, walk to Attaba Market, walk to the local’s food market and enjoyed shopping on Talaat Harb, also very close by. My children bought icecream and loved getting the popcorn from the street vendors.

We also walked to the Antiquities Museum (about 15 minutes from the apartment) which was one of my favourite parts of the trip. Seeing mummies, statues, scripts and treasures up close, the things previously confined to books and film for me, was truly wonderful and magical. We were close enough to walk to the famous Cafe Riche, described by Economist Magazine as “the café at the heart of revolutionary Cairo.”
Our trip out to Giza to see the pyramids and the Sphinx was enriching and we were able to enjoy it because of the advice from Mara about which taxi to hail, how to gain a fair price, and how to ask them to stay and wait for you. The amount of hassle tourists encounter is extraordinary and there is never an obvious path to take. Having some idea before you start helps you keep your wits.

Our day trips to Abydos and Dendera and the West Bank’s Valley of the Kings were marvelous and also another favourite for me. Our guide (organised by Mara and her manager Amr) was brilliant and as I delve into my books and watch Egyptian documentaries at home here in Australia I can imagine myself back inside a temple, gazing at Coptic graffiti, hieroglyphics, carved and painted pictures of gods and kings. Incredible.

The kids loved the calesh ride around Luxor and our boat trip on the Nile to Banana Island. I enjoyed trying sheesha, flavoured with rockmelon! The Luxor Temple was just a short walk away and enjoyable to visit. For authentic meals and a good atmosphere try Sofra Restaurant. We went four times because we enjoyed it so much. Also a short walk from Mara House.

On many occasions I found Egypt to be quite perplexing, At times I hated it and then I would come back to the haven of Mara House, go to bed and wake up and want more. Or we would get hassled and intimidated and then someone would be genuinely nice to us. Or we would try and pause, take in what we were seeing and it was truly indescribable and extraordinary.

Years ago a friend of mine went to mid-Africa and when I used to ask her what Africa was like she would laugh and say, ah, Africa. She loved it but I never understood what she meant. Because a part of her was undecided almost. Now I know. Ah, Egypt!

I found myself trying to follow the rules and gliding along in the chaos, only to apply the same rules in another situation and then offend someone. Ah! Frustrating! And I was never quite sure of the rules for women. Should I barter alongside my husband, take control or defer to him? Who knows. I dressed modestly but wondered if I should have worn a scarf (especially on our walk from the Citadel through Old Cairo) or if that would have been pretentious and over the top.

Mara House’s manager Amr was a wonderful guide and companion for my family in Luxor. He was also the one who met us at the front door at 1am (!) in Cairo, showed us around the apartment and gave us our maps and instructions. He was also in Luxor when we arrived there four days later. Amr and his staff did a wonderful job of welcoming us and helping us to get the most out of our trip.

Amr and Karim were just gorgeous with my boys when we were at Mara House. They sat down and drew with them, showed them all the plants on the roof terrace and were always so welcoming and attentive when we would arrive back at Mara House after a day out.
I wish we had more time in Egypt. Next time I want to visit the Red Sea and cruise to Aswan. I would even tackle Cairo again! My nine-year-old son has just said he wants to come back and stay one day. And he said he wants to stay here again because he wants to “see the people again”. I thought he’d say the mummies and treasure!

A word of advice for prospective visitors to Egypt. If you are watching media reports about Egypt with apprehension please do not let it stop you from visiting. Email Mara and she will be more than happy to update you, as she did me. I had sent her an email after hearing about more riots in Tahrir and was then sent an email and a link to her blog which had a wonderful account of actual life on the streets as well as accompanying pictures. It put me at ease.

I found the atmosphere in Egypt optimistic yet cautious. People know it will take time for change. They are not euphoric but quietly hopeful. The media for whatever reason does not depict this. On one evening there was a peaceful gathering for the people who had been murdered by the army at Tahrir, with family and friends holding a candle in memory of their loved ones. No confrontation though. No hostility. I am sure it did not make it to the international news feeds.

I also have to disclose something. I write as if I met Mara but she was enjoying a well-earned holiday with family in Ireland. Having said that, I feel like I know Mara and have met her after speaking on the phone, sharing emails and reading about her on these forums!
I would like to think that my family may one day visit Egypt and Mara(‘s) House(s) again!

Stayed December 2011, travelled with family

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Kellie_Morle, Sydney, Australia

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“Warm, welcoming bed and breakfast!”
5 of 5 stars
Mara House is well-appointed and easy to get to (take ’em up on the airport transfer!) but what really makes it is the staff! They are very friendly and knowledgable and we felt doted on the entire time. Breakfast was included in our price and they were happy to make us a cup of tea at just about any time of the day.

The rooms were clean, beautifully decorated and spacious, complete with a well-stocked mini-bar and snacks, a place to lounge and relax after a long day of exploring and comfy beds. Our room was cleaned and reset each day after we left.

Lastly, we arranged for a few tours through Mara House and were not disappointed by any of them. The guide we were paired with is an Egyptologist and extremely knowledgable about anything we wanted to know. We got to see temples and ruins (Abydos, Dendera, Hatshepsut, Karnak and Luxor) as well as tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Nobles. On our last day we also arranged a hot air balloon ride: such a treat and very relaxing.

I highly recommend Mara House: it was a treat and we would definitely visit again!

Stayed December 2011, travelled with friends

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: mandermu, Nashville, Tennesse

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“Mara House”

Mara and her staff made my experience in Luxor marvellous and fantastic.

From trip advisor I saw this great review about Mara House, I thought I will give it a try and go back to my student day (mid life crisis)!! well I was travelling without my family, so…..!!

The House was bright, tastefully decorated, and my room was very nice and very comfortable. That was good, but the arrangements Mara and her staff made for my short 99.9999% perfect! The other bits well inshallah as they say in the region.

Balloon ride in the morning: it is breath taking…it is a must to see the sunrise and how the hills turn bright red in the rising sun. Simply awesome and there was a lot of very nice people in the basket!!

Tour guide – Hasan- very knowledgeable (comparing to me anyway) about the tombs/temples on west banks. the valley of the workers is also very good, much smaller, but just as colourful and details! Furthermore, Karnak and Luxor temples were simply gob-smacking!

Light and music show at Karnak Temple at night, unbelievable lighting and Mr Hopkins narration was very theatrical! One should start there first before any tours!

The driver, Mahmood, was very safe and understand me when I said drive safely! Which is not typical in the region!!

Most importantly: customer services is not about how the smooth running of normal day to day business, but when it hits a problem.

The problem: The railway was suspended unexpectedly on the evening of my departure, Mara’s staff: Ahmed, Sam, etc, all assisted me in more than their responsibilities or duties to ensure I can get on the train and catch my flight. As one can imagine the chaos when the railway resumed services!! Ahmed and his team were there at the station on the platform at 0115 to make sure I get on the train, and got my ticket and found my seat, etc! I cannot ask for better customer services!!

After all that: I recommend Mara House unreservedly.

Stayed January 2012, travelled solo

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: PeterC168662, Wokigham, United Kingdom

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“Recommend Mara House Hotel”
5 of 5 stars
We were in Egypt for 3 weeks in December 2011 and had 3 nights at Mara House Hotel. I had been to Egypt before 15 years ago on a completely organised trip but wanted to go with my partner this time on our own. Mara could not have been more help to us even before we left England and was able to help with other aspects of the trip not just our time in Luxor. Our holiday had been 6 months in the planning and was a grand tour of Egypt including Cairo, Western Desert, Sinai, Luxor, Nile Cruise and Aswan all arranged by us via the internet.
As part of our preparation we were constantly contacting Mara for advise and assistance on things to do, sights to see and local customs to be aware of when out and about. The information we received back from Mara was comprehensive and extremely useful as we found out in Cairo. On arriving at Mara House we were so disappointed to find Mara not there to meet in person and thank, but the polite and helpful Amr more than made up for Mara’s absence. We booked a number of trips in Luxor via Mara including early morning balloon ride (highly recommended by us) followed by West Bank tour and a full day trip to Abydos and Dendara. We paid a greatly reduced price for these trips compared to the tourist operator websites with the balloon ride being almost half price through Mara.
The well stocked mini bar was also refreshingly reasonably priced compared to other places we stayed and the cold beers in the evenings were much appreciated without having to break the bank to pay for them at the end of our stay. Our breakfasts at the hotel were lovely and the packed breakfasts and lunches we received (as part of the cost of the trips) were excellent and completely removed the need to find somewhere to eat while on the day trips. Mara was able to arrange for the tour guide for the West Bank to be able to collect us from the end of our balloon trip so saving us time and making it possible to do both things in one day. As for the hotel, we had extensively researched it via Tripadvisor and Mara’s website and it was really lovely inside.
Despite knowing it was going to be in a residential area we did initially get a bit of a shock when the taxi pulled up outside as it really is in a back street in a completely non tourist part of the town. If you have not been down a back street in an Egyptian city or town you could be a bit surprised at the location. We had not appreciated what a normal Egyptian residential area was like until we stayed at Mara’s but it was all the better for the experience and we were very glad we had not opted for a big hotel in the tourist part of town.
Our room was fantastic and we had paid extra for the suite which was well worth it. We did not feel like we were in a hotel but as if we had our own apartment. Unfortunately we were too busy to really get to enjoy the suite or the roof terrace. Maybe next time we will arrange for a more relaxed stay with less day trips now that we have done the main attractions. We timed our walk back into town and Luxor Temple and it took a leisurely 15 minutes only. Once you cross under the train station tunnel you are then in the tourist area and start to get pestered by the hawkers and traders but by then you are only a few minutes from Luxor Temple etc so thats to be expected.
Hassle from hawkers and traders etc is a fact of life in the tourist areas of Luxor and other cities and site areas in Egypt and can be very annoying. We found once we came back across the railway line into the Mara side of town the attention we received was due to the friendliness of the people especially the children and all they wanted was for us to say ‘Hello’ back to them and shake their hands although they did ask us for pens for them to do their school work with. Bring any pens lying around the house with you as they are a much appreciated handout to the children around Mara’s hotel and in other parts of Egypt away from the tourist areas.
We will definitely be doing another Luxor to Aswan cruise in the future and intend on staying at Mara’s Hotel again whilst in Luxor. This is not a luxury 5 star hotel but a really lovely place to stay with real personality and was more like staying with friends who were giving you your own time and space than staying in a hotel. I cannot recommend Mara House Hotel more highly for the independant traveller wanting something different from the sterile tourist hotels.

Stayed December 2011, travelled as a couple

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Sue Q, London, United Kingdom

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“Great accommodation, great hostess”
5 of 5 stars
I stayed at Mara House for 5 nights in November 2011 on account of the good reviews on TripAdvisor. It was a great experience. Mara is a gracious hostess who quickly responded to my inquiries, provided sightseeing suggestions, and organized airport pick-up/drop-off/day tours. Her modern house is beautifully decorated and the exceedingly comfortable rooms has all the modern amenities making it a joy to come back to at the end of the dusty and hot sightseeing day. The guests get a nice breakfast to start the day.
The house is located in the residential area behind the train station with friendly locals. Luxor Temple and the train station are both walk-able from Mara House. I book 2 day tours as part of the accommodation package to visit West Bank sights and Abydos/Dendara temples in air-conditioned mini van with a knowledgeable guide. Mara offers great tips on how to deal with the touts paddling things to the tourists. I read a lot about how annoying they can be, but did not find them to be particularly persistent if I smile, said no, and walk away.
As a female traveler walking around alone, I never felt unsafe or pestered, but that may have something to do with the fact that I tried to dress like a local woman. Local people are exceedingly friendly and helpful. El-Zaeem (the popular local fast food joint, short walking distance from Luxor Temple) was my favorite place where I bought take-out food every day and sat in the square in front of Luxor Temple entrance to enjoy my take-out food while watching the sun setting on Luxor Temple and local kids playing on the square. I would highly recommend Luxor and Mara House to female travelers and solo travelers. The comfortable accommodation and the thoughtful guidance from Mara would make your trip memorable too. Caution: those who with repertory problems like mine need to bring along prescription strength medication. Luxor is in dusty desert region.

Stayed November 2011, travelled solo

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Ashley SFCA, San Francisco, California

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“Home”
The only disappointing thing about our time at Mara House, was that she wasn’t there! But who can blame her for flying back to Ireland for Christmas! I certainly wont, not when she left a very capable staff, led by her Manager, Amr, who did EVERYTHING he could to ensure that we were happy, comfortable & enjoying our stay. What a gem. Mara has an extensive & helpful website, she has been WONDERFUL at responding to emails, & she is very upfront & honest about her home & its idiosyncrasies!It was like a B&B, but in Luxor. Walking to the Luxor Temple is like running the gauntlet, the first time, but after that…we loved being able to walk places & see, smell & hear the rich life of this city. Returning to Mara’s was like coming home! I recommend Mara’s Dendara/Abydos trip. Terrific guide & we got to stay way longer than the tour buses in each place! I also recommend earplugs, as the night & early morning are rich in sound!!!!! This place is well worth staying in if you are wanting something a bit different.Stayed December 2011, travelled as a coupleReviewed on Tripadvisor by: Istanbuljoy, Adelaide, Australia

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“Fantastic Place to Stay in Luxor”

Really a great place to stay with a great staff. When I arrived the first night and was in a rush, one of the staff was kind enough to ride his bike to get me something to eat and put together the meal and borught it to my room. Everyone who worked there was so helpful and kind that I can’t say enough good things about them (including Mara herself).

Although the house is located away from the main tourist area of Luxor it is not too far away from the city center. The neighborhood is not beautiful, but shows real Egyptian daily life and the neighbors are genuinely friendly as opposed to the calache drivers near the temple.

The rooms are quite large, well furnished and a good value for money as are the tours that Mara or the staff can help you arrange. If you are going to Luxor and looking for a comfortable place to stay that is more interesting than a normal hotel, I would highly recommend Mara House.

Stayed December 2011, travelled solo

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:  Mattin Paris, Paris, France

*****

“Happy to have been at Mara’s house.”

We spent 3 days and nights with Mara and it made our trip to Luxor all the better for it. She welcomed us with drinks and plenty of free advice. If you are an independent traveller this is the place to stay.

relaxing roof terrace Mara House

The location is excellent, rooms and service excellent, and the roof top terrace a real bonus. Our trip over 12 days took us from Abu Simbel to Cairo. Mara House was the best value in Egypt!

Nov 2011, travelled on business. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Paddy221666, Toronto

 

****

“A wonderful haven”

A sincere warmth greets you on arrival, the rooms are lovely and the beds are comfortable. A well stocked minibar includes a very welcome cold beer at reasonable price. As the hotel is in the middle of an ordinary Egyptian neighbourhood, it’s possible to feel you are in Egypt and not just hopping from hotel ghetto to another. The roof garden is lovely for a relaxing drink and chat among the trees and flowers. I can recommend the guide for the tour to Dendera/Abydos, he really knew his stuff

Stayed November 2011, travelled with friends

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: hilarymunro Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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“Personal service”
4 of 5 starsReviewed 4 November 2011

I am indebted to Mara for helping to sort out our sleeper train tickets upon which our whole trip hinged. Having made enquires on our behalf at the station prior to our arrival, she accompanied us there immediately we arrived from the airport and made sure we were attended to. If you are looking for someone with whom you can have a conversation prior to departure to help organise your trip and personal attention then book with Mara. For me this alone was worth the cost of the room.

Stayed October 2011, travelled as a couple

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:kpod2

Birmingham, United Kingdom

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“Excellent service, great comfort!”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 31 October 2011

We stayed two nights in Luxor and toured the west bank and the temples with Mara House tours. All in all it was a great experience. The service at Mara House was helpful, personal and genuinely friendly. The rooms were big with very comfortable beds. A big plus was the mini bar which had good prices.

When looking at a map of Luxor it can seem to a bit of, but it is really just a 10-15 min walk from downtown. It is also nice not to get a “TAXI! TAXI TAXI!” or “Carriage, you want carriage?” in your face as soon as you leave the hotel.

I would absolutely recommend Mara house to anyone wanting to see Luxor without any hassle.

Stayed October 2011, travelled as a couple

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:

Bjorn_yl
Umea, Sweden

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“The best guest house in Luxor”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 30 October 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.

Stayed October 2011, travelled as a couple

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:

michael9699
Reading, United Kingdom
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“See a different side of luxor”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 24 October 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, travelled as a couple

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:

EllaBoekeman
London, United Kingdom
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“Lovely Place to stay in Luxor”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 15 October 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, travelled solo

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:NigelROC

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“Fantastic and Authentic “Home Away from Home” – Highly Recommended”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 12 July 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, travelled with family

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:

Susi58
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
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“Fantastic place to stay in Luxor”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 5 July 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

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:kmkz

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“Authentic experience paired with pure professionalism and service”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 24 June 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, travelled as a couple

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:

strawberrykiwijello
Canada
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“Good Place”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 20 June 2011

Mara house was great. Rooms were fine. Breakfast adequate. On site sevice manager was helpful. Used their local driver. who was a bit more expensive, but worth it. Recommended.

P2C

Stayed May 2011, travelled as a couple

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:

P2C
Kingston
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“Mara was knowledgeable, helpful and kind. A lovely person.”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 25 May 2011

As soon as I entered Mara House Luxor, I Immediately felt welcomed and comfortable away from the crowds and the heat and the busy details of travelling in a foreign country. Mara provided clean and relaxing accomodations at a good price and was very helpful in guiding us to the sights that we wanted to see and in a manner that would make the visits best for us. She was very acommodating and listened to our concerns and helped us to make the most of our time in Luxor. I loved the valley of the Kings, Abydos and Denderra and Hatshepsut’s temple, as she knew I would since she planned the days especially for us. The guide she recommended and the driver she arranged were exactly what we needed to appreciate the beautiful cultural treasures around Luxor.

Stayed September 2010, travelled with friends

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:

OrlandoCarl
Orlando
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“Great time to experience Luxor”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 14 May 2011

We stayed two nights at Mara House in May and had a fantastic time. Our room was huge and tastefully decorated, and the staff couldn’t have been friendlier. Mara recommended tours to the West Bank on our first day and Abydos and Dendara on the second; both tours were conducted by Mohammed who proved to be a friendly and informative guide. We chose to eat in on the first night and Mara provided a beautiful Egyptian feast of epic proportions. On the second night we decided to stroll down to the Winter Palace for drinks – this took about 20 minutes and on the way we were warmly greeted by the locals. All in all, we had a great time and felt completely safe. Now is a great time to visit, as things are a little quiet and the usual crowds/queues at major sites have diminished. We highly recommend staying at Mara House.

Stayed May 2011, travelled as a couple

Reviewed on Tripadvisor bymarkandsharryn

adelaide
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“You Will Love The Residential Experience!”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 6 May 2011

I stayed at Mara House in March 2011 with my husband, sister and brother in law. We all agreed it was our favorite hotel during our 2 week trip to Egypt, Jordan and Dubai. The reason – it is in a residential neighborhood, not in a touristy area of the city. We arrived at night (Mara scheduled the airport pick up – arrived from Cairo) and I was a little hesitant at first – lots of construction, dirt (what you end up LOVING about Egypt). But the moment we headed out to walk to Luxor Temple we immediately knew this was a fantastic experience. The people are amazing – all the kids came up to talk to us, shopkeepers gave us the usual exuberant “welcome to Egypt!”, people invited us in for tea. Every where else we stayed at Marriott’s and had a more sanitized cultural experience. At Mara House you are able to get a better feel for Egyptian life. We stayed in room 7; a 3 bedroom apartment with a kitchen. The room was great, no complaints at all. My husband never did get the ‘wet room’ bathroom concept and continuously went in with socks after someone had taken a shower. The staff was very helpful and accomodating (brought breakfast to our room the day we checked out, since we wouldn’t have time to eat in the main room). We took Mara’s restaurant advice each night – our favorite was Safra (easy walk to and from the hotel). We also used her arranged tour to the West Bank. May have been a little pricey, but no ‘shopping’, air conditioned van, guide – we were very pleased. We did the East Bank on our own. I would highly recommend Mara House when in Luxor – the neighborhood experience will be one of the highlights of your trip!!!

Stayed March 2011, travelled as a couple

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by

Denver2Globe
Denver
 newer reviews 6, 5, 4, 3, …see older reviews 2, 1

Mara

Hi, I'm from Ireland and I built Mara House, a small, family run, unique boutique hotel in Luxor in 2003.....My promise is to deliver quality service, traditional food, comfort, enjoyable experiences, up-front pricing, no hidden extras.....PLUS I answer all your emails personally..... I provide professional, qualified tour guides who do NOT divert you to shops, restaurants etc. for commission.....We are best suited to people who like to be taken care of from airport entry to airport departure, people who want to avoid hassle, scams and tourist traps.....You deal directly with me... Hope you find my travel info helpful -//.. Mara
Mara