A Luxor Gem

“We had a wonderful stay at Mara House last month, and the real gem is the proprietor Mara Vaughan.  Although her place is beautiful, immaculately kept and hospitable, it was Mara who singlehandedly assisted me and my fiancee plan the trip of our lives to Egypt.  She was giving and kind, helping me throughout the months leading up to our Dec. 2013 trip there with endless emails and advice. She organized tours in both Luxor and Cairo, and although she does not make a lot of profit on the Cairo tours, I really do believe her motivation is to see others have a wonderful trip to Egypt. She helped me more than she knows, and we had a flawless trip as a result.

On Mara House itself: It is situated close to all the major sites in Luxor, as well as selected restaurants.  Upon arrival, we were greeted with welcome tea, and given a lot of information about our stay, surrounding sites and suggestions for activities.  Our place was a suite, and was plenty of room for the two of us. The staff were attentive to our needs, including laundry service and tea on demand.  The room and bed were very comfortable, and the decor had taste and was thoughtful.  Our fridge was stocked with plenty of drinks, wine, snacks, all for a nominal fee, and although we were so busy, the rooftop lounge looked mighty appealing after long days exploring the temples.

Amr, Mara’s assistant, kindly took us around Luxor several nights, arranging taxis and coordinating our trips out to town.  He was really essential in making sure our Luxor experience went smoothly, from the minute we got there.  The breakfasts were good, and Amr packed me a boxed lunch to explore Abydos and Dendera on my birthday (my fiancee was in bed with “mummy’s revenge), which helped quite a bit.  You might want to pack ear plugs or listen to some relaxation music before bed, as the street in front of Mara House tends to get loud, especially on wedding weeks (we happened to hit one down the street).

Mara has a few suggestions for restaurants in the area, including Taste of India and Sofra, the latter being our go to restaurant for several meals. We were disappointed not to be able to eat at Mara House’s restaurant, Salahadeen, but the low volume of tourists dictated it’s closure for now.  Ask Amr for the “orientation book,” in which you’ll find all the suggestions Mara has vetted for you to optimize your trip to Luxor.

At no time in Luxor, or Egypt for that matter, did my fiancee and I feel threatened or even uncomfortable at the sign of danger or political volatility that would have prevented us from doing activities or being around certain places. The people of Luxor are kind, giving, professional and desirous of more touristic activity, so go there. You’ll have the experience of your life. And stay with Mara at Mara House.”

Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple. Reviewed on TripAdvisor by: Jason F.

******

Best host you could hope for!

Stayed at Mara’s House in both Cairo and Luxor. Both Mara and Stephen were most helpful and welcoming to us, and kept us clear of the usual tourist traps that are rife in Egypt. They even recognised our food poisoning symptoms before we did and gave us special ‘Egyptian grade’ medication to prevent the onset, so we owe our whole trip to their helpfulness since it would’ve otherwise have been quite unpleasant.
They helped us organise tours, recommended restaurants, told us the do’s and don’ts and generally gave us a lot of inside info that we would’ve never found out ourselves.  Accommodation was clean, tidy, comfortable and good value. Would not stay anywhere else and glad we found them.

You won’t be disappointed!

Nov 2012, travelled as a couple. Reviewed on TripAdvisor by: Aussie-in-the-desert, Perth, Australia
*****

Safe at Luxor in Mara House

I recently visited Egypt and spent a week in Luxor. While there I stayed at Mara House and was very pleased and welcomed. I loved the house and Mara’s service was outstanding. I was there during the month of August and always felt safe and absolutely in no danger whatsoever. It was such an enjoyable place to visit. The temples, the Souk (marketplace) was a great place to find wonderful handcrafted items and great bargains.

Mara’s House was so beautifully furnished and I enjoyed tremendously my breakfast every morning as well as the wealth of information that Mara could provide of Luxor and Egypt in general.

Stayed August 2013, travelled solo.

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Redheaded Lady7, Miami, Florida

*****

Ireland in a Luxor Alley

Mara is a very unique hostess. Her determination and skills of matriarchal wisdom resound with dogmatic focus. The digs are very clean and, the building as a fortress is very secure. The neighborhood is another story. The House is located away from the hustle and bustle of hotel and history “strip.”  The breakfast is above par, and bountiful.  You may arrange for tours along the other side of the Nile where the archaeology mainly abounds and, you may take a taxi to Karnak and Luxor Temple complex on the city side… With the affairs current as of 2013, who knows if the water runs, the sewers drain or the power comes on with the flip of a switch…..

Oct 2012, travelled with friends. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: MDFS333, Nashville, Tennessee

****

Lovely place

I strongly recommend this hotel. Not only is it a beautiful place, with a delicious and well served breakfast, but also its owner is a lovely person. She organized everything to me in Luxor, tours, transportation, guide, everything. Mara made things easier. I felt like at home. I learned a lot. Visit LUXOR. Go MARA HOUSE!

Aug 2013, travelled solo. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Diego O, Coventry, England.

******

a complete experience

A wonderful experience. Mara is a great owner and she was able to satisfy all our desires. she provived food even if the restaurant was closed, organized a complete tour of luxor and was ready to respond quickly to our every request for change from our arrival to airport to our departure.

The B & B is clean, well furnished, quiet and in a neighborhood of the “real” luxor.

Mara, we hope to see you soon!!

May 2013, travelled as a couple. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Bruno S., Milan, Italy.

*****

Friendly and comfortable

My son and I really enjoyed our short one-night stay at the end of June 2013. We were the only guests at the time as tourism has suffered so much since the Revolution but everything was calm – too calm – Luxor was like a ghost town everywhere – apparently only a 3% occupancy rate these days. GO TO LUXOR!!!

Everything in Luxor was just a short and inexpensive taxi ride away. We had no time for tours when we were there, but when I asked for info about a massage, Mara appeared with her cell phone and a spa on the other end of the line, and had negotiated a discount. Everything was just so easy.

The room was huge and clean – the suite had a separate air conditioned bedroom off a main sitting room which had a small kitchen as well. The price of the room was incredibly good value. The fridge was stocked with an assortment of drinks and snacks at extremely reasonable prices.

Mara is very engaging, and we spent a good amount of time talking about Egyptian politics, which were heating up again when we were there. She also described a very interesting project she was working on with the Souk vendors for a No Hassle shopping experience for tourists – something which will be very welcome.

We could have stayed anywhere in Luxor, but I wouldn’t have changed places for anything – it was much more interesting at Mara House.

June 2013, travelled with family.  Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Scubakir, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

*****

Hidden gem            

5 of 5 starsWe stayed at Mara House about three years ago if not longer and we will return without a doubt.  Mara House is clean beautiful relaxed and charming and the owner more helpful than many I have seen before. One of my most beautiful memories of this place was sitting on the roof top terrace with a drink listning to the whistle of the old trains. What perfect nights those were looking up at the moon. Luxor itself is a must so please do go to this hidden gem in the heart of luxor

Stayed September 2012 Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Bettyboop003, England

****

Great place, Great people, Great service

My family of six stayed at Mara House for four nights. I am glad we took the tour package because other tour operators charge more or less the same, and they take you shopping and you probably get suckered into buying some thing or the other. The rooms are large, comfortable and clean with an included sitting area. The breakfast was simple and adequate.

There is an informational booklet in the room that gives you valuable advice and has a price list of items found in the fridge which we found fair and reasonable.

Mara and her crew – Amr the manager, Mohammed the excellent Egyptologist guide, Mahmood our taxi driver (his car can accommodate 6 pax) made us feel at home. Mahmood would change his music from Arabic to Celine Dion all four nights we took his cab to keep us entertained – which was nice of him 🙂 Cost of taxi was about LE 25 per trip. Mara and her team can arrange and take care of anything that you need and this is what sets Mara House apart from the rest. Overall we had a great, great, great time!!

Stayed May 2013, travelled with family. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: SyedCanada, Brampton, Canada

*****

A Hidden Gem

4 of 5 starsMara House is ideal when exploring the Luxor area. Large, clean suites which allows room to rest with a cold beer after a day of touring.

Mara will organise tours of all the attractions, with Mohammed, an English speaking Egyptologist if required – we would recommend him, he’s very good.  She also arranged Ramadan, the calesh driver (a horse & carriage), who will take you anywhere in Luxor (including the Temple at Karnak). The cost is no more than a taxi, and you will see so much more on the way. Ramadan arranged a felucca trip for us. Mara will also arrange collection and return to the airport. All in all, a great one-stop Luxor experience

Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: JohnandMagsSwindon, Swindon.

******

Highly Recommended!”           

5 of 5 starsOn arriving in Luxor, Mara had arranged a taxi which took us directly the Mara House; a hidden gem in a residential part of city.  My boyfriend and I were warmly greeted by Mara and her staff and the hotel offered an exceedingly large and clean room (living, bedroom, bathroom and balcony area).
Mara offered countless advice over our 3 days stay from being streetwise to the kind of temples we HAD to visit, (this is all organised as part of our payment) and she wasn’t wrong! The temples were breath-taking and we found the people across Luxor to be friendly and happy to help regardless of the unfair negative media press in the west.

All in all, I can’t recommend Mara House enough, her generosity and personality exceeded our expectations.  I genuinely felt touched and honoured to have spent time with her in her oasis enjoying and listening to story upon story.

I can only hope we will see each other again.

Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Louise_was_here, London

****

“Way more than we bargained for!”5 of 5 stars

We arrived at Mara House after travelling throughout the Middle East for over two months.  During that time our accommodation had included top hotels, guest houses and serviced apartments.  None came close to the treat that awaited us at Mara House in Luxor.  Words could never convey the warm personal welcome and generosity that Mara and her staff bestowed on us (and all their guests for that matter).

This is one of Luxor’s greatest gems tucked away in a typical yet unremarkable residential street.  The décor of the hotel is rich, eclectic and breathtakingly beautiful.  The rooms are spotlessly clean and generous.  The food in general is absolutely delicious and the friendly service is unsurpassed.  The feast hosted in the Salahadeen Restaurant on the premises is legendary.  The food is scrumptious, authentic, exciting and filling.  The restaurant itself is a real treat for all the senses over and above the gastronomical.

Nothing is ever too much trouble for Mara or the charming and shy Amr.  Mara is amazing and intuitively seems to know and precisely understand what to offer her guests at any time, how to keep a perpetual smile on her guests’ lips and how and when to dispense her awesome Irish wit, humour and wisdom.

All you have to do is ask and Mara and her staff bend over backwards in a timely manner to ensure all is taken care of.  Mara’s tour guides, taxi and calesh drivers are so friendly, fun and genuine they make getting around easy and enjoyable. She definitely is the ultimate ‘conscious hostess’. We will never forget the wonderful nine days we spent with Mara and we truly feel we have made a lifelong friend in her. We cannot recommend Mara House in Luxor highly enough!

May 2013, travelled as a couple. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:  Ross W., Wollongong, Australia

****

I loved it!

5 of 5 starsThis place was for me.

Arriving late at night I was greeted by Mara and I felt right at home. The room was LARGE and superclean, the air conditioner was on, the minibar had great chips and Coke, the bed was huge and comfy… I was happy.

Staying at Mara House you’ll experience Luxor for real, pretty far from the plastic tourist version. Well, not that far, it’s only a ten minute walk from the railway station, and walking home in the evening is an experience in itself.  It’s beautiful, it’s dirty, it’s Luxor. You will see some cool things that you will never forget. That’s why I travel.

Mara’s got her own taxi drivers and guides, all of whom are superb in every way (the guide, when going on the West Bank tour and the Abydos/Dendera tour, was especially amazing).

The rooftop terrace is a great place to just hang out, read a book and relax.  If you haven’t got any books, Mara’s got a bunch of them for you to enjoy in the lobby.  If you need your clothes washed, just leave them in a bag outside your door in the morning and you’ll have them back all clean in the evening.  And also, when you come back in the evening after a day in Luxor there will be tea or coffee for you to enjoy, free of charge.

And the room is always superclean.

For a special meal, make sure to try out the Salahadeen restaurant, also run by Mara and her friendly staff, located in the same house.

There’s so much positive things to say, I could go on forever. But you must be aware of some things: the breakfast is simple, the shower might not have the best water pressure or the warmest water (depending on when you shower, you’ll get the hang of it after a while), there will be power cuts, there might be an Arab wedding which will be LOUD, the guys in the mosques will start their chanting of prayers VERY early, the streets and the money are VERY dirty, the vendors might be tough to deal with, people drive like crazy…

However, if you adapt and take it easy, things will be perfectly fine.  Mara will provide you with loads of useful info all collected in a binder. Read that and you will love Luxor, just like I did.

I totally enjoyed my stay at Mara House, I really can’t find anything to complain about. Everything that happened was a part of the experience. I even learned to appreciate the early morning prayers from the mosque that woke me up at 05:30 every morning. No problem at all. It was almost like a dreamlike surreal experience after a while.

I loved it. I love Luxor. I will come back and I will stay at Mara House, for sure.

April 2013, travelled solo. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:  IndyGrinder, Stockholm, Sweden

****

Fantastic Stay!

When my mother and brother visited from America, I wanted to provide them with a smaller, more “Egyptian” experience than they could get by staying a big hotel chain.   Mara House fit the bill perfectly, and we all had a wonderful stay.

Mara and her staff are attentive and always smiling.  They were able to arrange everything we needed — transfers from/to the airport, taxi to dinner, etc.  We really enjoyed the full dinner one evening, and when we asked for a local restaurant for dinner or cafe for shisha, Mara’s recommendations were spot-on.

The entire hotel is beautifully appointed, comfortable, and VERY clean. While it is off the beaten track in a neighborhood under construction

I will absolutely stay here when I am in Luxor again, and have already recommended it to friends. If you’re looking for a big, generic, American-style hotel — this isn’t the place. However, if you want to feel like you are actually experiencing Egypt — this IS the place.

April 2013, travelled with family. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:  Misty W., Seattle, Washington

*****

Trip planning” 

I contacted Mara by email regarding our 2 day stay in Luxor prior to a Nile cruise, even though we are not staying at her hotel after visiting her webpage and finding copious helpful information regarding a trip to Egypt.  She has arranged airport p/u, 2 full days of tours, and provided excellent information regarding our visit/tours/logistics. Emails were responded to promptly and thoroughly, so I know she read them. While I had been reluctant to visit Egypt, I feel confident we will be well cared for and safe now. See you next month…..

Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple, Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:  IAdivers, IA

*****

We have just returned from the most incredible holiday in Egypt but the highlight has to be having stayed at Mara House in Luxor. This is run by Mara, a lady from Ireland who has set up the most amazing hotel which demonstrates such attention to detail not only with regards to the set-up and provision with each of the rooms/apartments but with even greater respect to the support and advice that she and her staff provide to guests.

We travelled as a family of 4 and arrived at Mara House after a 3 day trip into the desert followed by an overnight train ride on the sleeper from Cairo so that on arrival we were pretty tired and grubby. Mara made us feel so welcome and we were all really pleased and impressed with the rooms we rented being large, spacious, cool and beautifully decorated. Heaven after the previous few days!

Information is clearly outlined about tours to take, places to visit and eat in so that we were assured of successful outcomes with whatever we decided to do. Two of Mara’s staff members were particularly helpful throughout our stay. Mohammed who drove us to various chosen destinations in his taxi and was just superb by always waiting for us at the end of any visits that we made. Also Amr who helped us feel looked after at the house but also by coming with us on a trip into Luxor to go shopping in the Souk and advising us on fair prices to pay for goods. We expected to be hassled at every opportunity but Amr’s presence meant we were not ripped off.

Mara House is also a restaurant and for 2 evenings we ate traditional Egyptian food sampling a range of the most delicious dishes that we are now keen to try making at home.

To top things off though Mara and Mohammed supported us even more after we had left the house to go to the train station for the return trip to Cairo on the sleeper train. After sad goodbyes we were at the station only to find that the train wasn’t running due to strike action. Faced with a potential coach trip overnight instead, Mara advised us to try flying instead and both she and Mohammed taxied us to an Egypt Air office and managed to book flights for us all that evening. Time was tight but Mara and Mohammed were just incredibly helpful and we did get away by plane in good time in the end. We can’t thank them enough for their help but above all we can not recommend Mara House highly enough as a place to stay in Luxor.

Stayed April 2013, travelled with family.

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: workandpleasure, Brighton, United Kingdom

***********

I loved this place.  It’s away from the touristy area in a local neighborhood.  You get to see more of real Luxor.  Its like a 15 minute walk from the Luxor Temple. Totally safe area. The rooms are huge and so clean. I walk every where usually to get a feel for everything…but if you want they will have a cab or horse carriage there for you in minutes.  All around an awesome hotel.  With Mara and the staff it’s like staying with family…I honestly felt sad when I had to say good bye.. Hi Mara! 🙂

Stayed February 2013, travelled solo

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:  IWannaTravel365, Branson, Missouri


*****

My husband and I spent 4 nights at Mara’s House.  It is a perfect place to be in Luxor.  Mara House is a short walk to shops and restaurants.

Mara’s is located in a typical neighborhood and you get the real feel of living in Luxor.  Mara and her staff are OUTSTANDING, she is always quick to respond to any and all questions.  The entire house is very clean and the entire staff takes pride in that.  The fridge is stocked with bottled water.

The staff is friendly and always available to bring you a cup of tea. Zahry is so kind and always greets you with a smile,,,,,thank you Zahry for making our stay enjoyable. We booked all of our airport transfers and sightseeing with Mara.  I would reccommend this as well.  The drivers were on time and the cars were clean and well care for.  Booked Luxor and Karnak Temples, Abydos and Dendera also West Bank of the Nile.

All tours were outstanding and the guides were well versed and very professional….well done by all.  Sitting on the roof top talking with Mara about what it is like living in Egypt was very interesting too.

Mara and her staff make you feel very special during the entire stay, I wish we could have stayed longer. Four nights in Luxor at Mara’s House is really not enough.

Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:  RebeccaA602, Holland, Michigan

*****

We are a mid 30’s couple and we spent 3 nights at Mara House.  I initially found Mara House on Tripadvisor when looking for a place to stay in Luxor.We had the best time ever thanks to Mara and her friendly staff.

Location
The house is located behind the train station, about 15 minutes easy walk to Luxor temple.  Don’t let this deter you from staying at Mara House because it is really just a short stroll away.

Accommodation
The house is on many levels with a large terrasse on top which is perfect for an afternoon beer and chill out moment.  Overall it is a familly/home atmosphere that you can’t find in a hotel.

Our apartment (#2) had a large bedroom, a living room with kitchen, terrasse…just like being at home.  On our first night the house restaurant was offering a 15 plate dinner which we highly recommend.  The breakfast in the morning is also perfect with coffee/tea, juices, bread, chees, jam, and local sweetbreads.

Let’s not forget
Mara is an invaluable source of knowledge, and she will do everything to make your stay perfect, from organising tours, to booking taxi and restaurants. Mara is also happy to share her stories and local knowledge as you wish, she made our stay even more memorable.

We both gladly recommend Mara House, feel free to PM me if you have questions. Otherwise don’t hesitate to contact Mara directly as she is always in touch on emails.

Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Sandrine J., Sydney, Australia

*****

We picked Mara based on the TA reviews (read them – they’re spot on – but expectations will be exceeded!) and on the helpful advice Mara provided via email when we were planning the trip. The three of us (parents and one daughter) were indulged in a three bedroom suite, beautifully decorated. We came on the overnight train from Cairo/Giza, to be met at the station and checked in right away so we could freshen up for the first of two days sight-seeing (Abydos/Dendera the first day, Karnak/Valley of the Kings/Luxor the next).

We picked the room/tour package, which is the best value approach, and Mohammad adjusted the itinerary a bit as our energy flagged the first day. Of course we were spoiled by the attention we could be afforded because of the low tourist numbers – all the more reason for you to visit now – there are really no safety concerns in Luxor or even in Cairo if you are sensible.

Other aspects to highlight: the lovely roof garden; a location that gives you a feel of actually living in the city; chatting with Mara about ancient and modern Egypt. Also, there were not enough guests for Mara to open her restaurant, but she pointed us in the direction of Sofra Restaurant, which was wonderful.

One thought – the driver meeting the train was at the main entrance although we thought we would be smart and go out on the other side of the tracks where Mara House is (and where it is much less frantic).  Maybe Mara could make the choice explicit.

Stayed March 2013, travelled with family

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:  RayC32, Philadephia, PA

*****

Loads and character and great service from Mara     

5 of 5 stars
Mara House has loads of character and was a brilliant change from the faceless 4* hotel we were staying at in Cairo.  Roof terrace is a nice place to relax and read, and the rooms are huge.

Mara herself is really friendly and always on hand to help out with a last-minute request for a trip or a guide or whatever, and the centre of Luxor is just a short walk.

Totally recommend.

Stayed February 2013, travelled with family

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Ray M., London, United Kingdom

***************************************

It was through TripAdvisor that I found out about Mara House when I was looking for accommodation in Luxor for the final part of a family holiday that took us from Jordan to Egypt.

My wife and our two kids stayed 3 days in Luxor and Mara House was the perfect place to base ourselves. Mara was excellent in helping with our arrangements, including excursions, before we set off on holiday. She provided a level of support you simply won’t get from the usual hotel chains. The hotel itself is full of character and the rooms are lovely. It is very much ‘off the beaten track’ and those of you more used to Hiltons and Marriotts (I include myself here!) will find this a very different kind of experience. Mara House is in a regular Luxor neighbourhood nowhere near the tourist spots (although you can easily walk downtown).

The highlight for us were:

1. Great help in organising tours, which will include guides who take you a bit more off the beaten track and show you aspects of ancient Egypt that the river cruise brigades won’t see.

2. If rooms are free, Mara will be happy to check you in early (our flight got in at 0830) and let you check out late (our room was needed by another family but Mara provided a different one in which we could shower and freshen up before our flight home).

3. The experience itself. Yes, you’re still a tourist, but you will see a side of Egypt that is both friendly and fascinating.

If you are looking for a place to stay in Luxor I wholeheartly recommend Mara House.

Stayed February 2013, travelled with family

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:  Andy H., Bath, United Kingdom

****

So glad we stayed at Mara House 

5 of 5 stars
We – me, my husband and our fifteen-year-old son – just got back from a fantastic week at Mara House.
Full disclosure first: this is not a 5-star luxe hotel with a view of the Nile.  If you want that, don’t come here.
If, however, you want to experience a little of what living in Luxor might actually be like, email Mara right now.  She’ll answer all your questions quickly and carefully and once you arrive make sure you have a hassle-free trip – no mean feat in a city where hassle is a given.
We were met at the airport and shown our comfortable and spacious triple suite (three bedrooms, sitting room, bathroom, kitchenette) and felt immediately at home. The house is on a residential street the ‘wrong’ side of the railway tracks, but a swift 15-minute caleche ride or 20-30 minute walk to Luxor Temple.
Mara organizes tours of all the main sites and we had pre-booked three of them.  Our guide Mohammed escorted us to Luxor and Karnak Temples, to Dendera and Abydos and to the West Bank, taking in the Valley of the Kings, the Tombs of the Noble and of the Workers and the Medinet Habu.  They were long days, but good ones.  We learned a vast amount and it was all smooth and straightforward.  We were met at the hotel, taken to good restaurants for lunch and returned to the Mara House at the end, where we could relax and absorb all that we had seen, whether in the cool of our room or on the roof terrace.
Going out in the evening was a breeze, too. Mara’s team (Zahry and Amr, who doubles up as chef at Mara’s restaurant, Salahadeen) call one of the caleche drivers they use (we were lucky enough to have Ramadan, who was great) to pick you up, take you where you want to go and take you back to the hotel afterwards. T his is a huge plus as it means you don’t get ripped off and you don’t get overly hassled by the dozens of taxi drivers and other caleche drivers looking for business.  And you can understand why they might be.  Tourist numbers are massively down since the revolution, and Luxor is very, very quiet.  But don’t let the political situation put you off.  Cairo is 300 hundred miles away and Port Said even further. And most of the people you will come across are polite, funny, kind and if you treat them civilly, even when haggling, will do the same to you.

We’re so glad we went – and so glad we stayed with Mara. We could have stayed in a posh hotel and spent our week in a protected bubble, but this way we got to see a little bit of the real city and to do it in a very easy and pain-free way.

Stayed February 2013, travelled with family

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:  Hotelsarelovely, South West London

*******

My friend and I stayed at Mara House for five nights in February 2013.  We chose Mara House because of Mara being english-spoken and because of her expertise and vast knowledge of Egypt.  Right from the off, when we were emailing Mara back and forth with our ever-changing itinerary, we knew that we were making the right decision to stay with Mara. Mara’s prompt replies (always within 24 hours) reassured us that we would always be in good hands. That was so true, from the moment our plane touched down in Egypt. Mara had one of her drivers meet us and take care of our visas before taking us to Mara House.

It was lovely to be greeted by Mara at the door of the residence. Right away she made us a very welcome cup of tea and had our luggage taken to our room. We felt straight away that we had been friends with Mara for years! She was so welcoming and her Irish hospitality was second to none. Nothing was too much trouble for Mara. She organised all our tours to Tombs and Temples and even packed a breakfast and/or lunch for us.

At very short notice, she helped organise (through her many contacts) a hot air balloon ride over Luxor.  Our suite was spotlessly clean.  We couldn’t fault it in any way. The fridge was well stocked with water, soft drinks, wine, beer, chocolate bars and crisps, all of which were replenished each day.  Staying with Mara made our trip so enjoyable and took all the hassle away.  She’s a remarkable lady!  Thank you Mara for making or trip so exciting.

Stayed February 2013, travelled with friends

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Kayk1, London, United Kingdom

****

Great Stay in Luxor             

5 of 5 stars
Our 3 generation extended family spent two nights at Mara House in January and the only problem we had was that we couldn’t stay longer! Mara communicated well with us as we were making our arrangements prior to our visit, and everything came together as we hoped. Her staff, namely Amr and Sahry, were exceptionally attentive and helpful. They were always ready with a cup of tea and good advice. All the arrangements they made for us, from the hot air balloon ride to the tours to the calesh ride through Luxor, worked perfectly.
Our tour guide, Mohammad, was interesting, patient and knowledgeable. The apartments were spacious, comfortable and clean and the rooftop terrace was lovely and relaxing. All nine of us would highly recommend Mara House.
Stayed January 2013, travelled with family

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:  MichiganScout, Michigan

****

Stayed at Mara House 11-16 Feb 2013.  Chosen because we felt we would be happier staying with a woman who spoke English.  On arrival at the airport we were met by one of Mara’s drivers who took care of our visas etc and guided us through the airport to the waiting car and driver.
On arrival at Mara House the lady herself was on the steps to greet us in person.  A member of her team took our luggage while another made us a very welcome cup of tea. Within minutes we felt completely at home.
Our apartment was spotlessly clean and well appointed.
We’d pre-booked some of Mara’s trips but late one night we wondered, rather hopelessly, if we could also squeeze in a hot air balloon flight for the following morning.  A quick call from Mara to one of her contacts and it was done.  Egypt could have been a chaotic and daunting experience, especially when one doesn’t speak the language.
Mara’s expertise and knowledge of Egypt took all the hassle away – leaving us to have an amazing, carefree, wonderful holiday. Thank you so much Mara.

Stayed February 2013, travelled with friends

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:  JoyEssex_England, Essex, England.

***

Luxor makes a good base from which to explore pretty much the whole of Upper Egypt – that’s from Abydos to Aswan – and more. Mara House became my little home from home from which I ventured out, mainly across the river to the west bank, where I walked, cycled, motorcycled, bused and taxied all over the place visiting temples and my friends in Qurna, the community of people whose villages ring the ancient Theban necropolis on its eastern flank. (visit www.mandoxegypt.wordpress.com for more stories about all that.) One could also ride (horses or camels but that ain’t really my thing)

Whereas West Bank and Qurna is a very much more rural, very quiet experience. Mara House is situated in the Inner City right behind the very busy railway station and just 15minutes walk up El Nozri to Luxor temple and the lively area around the souk where little restaurants like Ali Baba offer has nice food (Egyptian or International) and beer plus one of the best views of any restaurant.

So I lodged my entire two weeks at Mara’s where they looked after me very well.  I was in room 4 – one floor up on last time – very nice quiet room – with a large glass topped dinning table on which i could lay out my books and laptop. Very comfortable there.

I also had the opportunity to go on one of the longer day trips to Abydos in the company of Mara, Mohammed and Amr. There should be links to some film of this on the mandoxegypt site or youtube.  Journeying to this famous pilgrimage site has long been one of my ambitions. The journey on this new desert road was fantastic – desert scenery all the way then a gem of a temple – with not one but two guides to show me the special bits. We had a lot of fun and even managed to step briefly onto the Osireion, which was dry.

Several hours there wasn’t enough enough and I must go back – if only for more gossip from Mara (but I am a nerd). We then got to Dendara for last two hours – which is best time to see it – more than enough there to keep one busy for the day.

Coming back in rush hour I think on reflection I’d get off at Jazeera on the west back and catch the public ferry over and walk back to Mara’s rather than spend an hour via Luxor Bridge which is quite far upstream. Even so its probably a detour one should make at least once – just to see the bridge and uptown or is it downtown Luxor.

Many thanks to Noor, Asdar and Sahry for looking after me so well in the Hotel.  Keeping my room looking so fresh and providing such nice breakfasts every morning and tea whenever I needed it.  Coming back late I’d often get a call from Sahry just to make sure I was OK – which is nice really – people in Egypt really do go the extra mile … thank you – hope to see you all on my next expedition.

Stayed February 2013, travelled solo

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:  MandLuxor, Oxford, United Kingdom

****
Hi I stayed at Mara House for 5 nights in January along with 8 friends. The rooms were huge and beautifully decorated, and they did a great job of organising trips for us during the stay.  Above all Mara and the team really made us feel at home and secure.

Stayed January 2013, travelled with friends

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Duncan_Doughnuts, London

***

A home away from home

4 of 5 stars
I was part of a trip of nine who stayed at Mara House in January 2013 and I can’t rate it highly enough if you’re looking for a good-value B&B with excellent service. Even before we arrived, Mara (Irish lady who owns the place) sent us loads of advice and dealt effortlessly with our questions and schedule changes.

Arriving at Mara House is a little bit of a shock, as it’s on a backstreet that (to our untrained Western sensibilities) looks a bit rough – but nothing could be further from the truth. The front door opened to an oasis of tranquility and calm, the people in Luxor are lovely and when we got there, Mara and her staff (Amr and Sahji) bent over backwards to accommodate us.

Mara arranged all our excursions, Amr accompanied us and arranged all the driving and let’s not forget Mohammad, our hotel-appointed tour guide, who opened up a world of understanding at the sites including the Luxor and Karnak temples, Abydos, Dendera and the Valley of The Kings. If you stay with Mara, I thoroughly urge you to take advantage of the full service package they offer for excursions etc – you won’t find a better deal.

On the longer excursions (requiring an early start) they provided packed breakfasts, which were just the ticket.  And if you stay here and they offer you Amr’s home-cooked Egyptian feast one evening, make sure you take them up on the offer.

Oh, and of course – the rooms were huge, spotless and comfortable, the service was impeccable and the roof terrace provided a lovely escape from the hubbub below.

If you don’t know what to expect, in the first couple of days the Islamic call to prayer at 5am will jolt you awake – but it doesn’t last long and you will have the same experience if you stay at the most expensive hotels. This is Egyptian culture – embrace it!

Thank you Mara and team – you were an essential part of making Luxor a great experience.

Stayed January 2013, travelled with friends

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Smudgeboy, London.

******

I stayed at Mara House with my son for 4 nights in January 2013. The accomodation is in a “genuine” Egyptian neigbourhood away from the other hotels and about 5 minutes from the railway station. The accommodation was a large living room with a large bedroom.  Breakfast, which was included in the price, was continental in nature and perfectly fine.  Unfortunately time precluded taking some of the tours that Mara organised and unfortunately we were not able to attend the Egyptian feast as the chef was ill on the relevant day.

The biggest plus of Mara house is that the staff (and I will no doubt spell these names wrong) Sahry and his colleague (Amr). They genuinely cared that you had a good experience in Luxor and were always anxious to ensure that the visit was as hassle free as possible.  In particular, we had a difficult situation with a calesh driver who upped his fee by a great deal and became very aggressive.  Sahry and Amr came out of Mara House at what was 1 am in the morning and spoke with him, arranged a reasonable fee and directed us inside.

Overall I would recommend Mara House.  Being in a genuine Egyptian neighbourhood, you really benefit from meeting real Egyptians who are not out to hassle you and we were touched by the acts of kindness shown to us (such as a local giving us a “no obligation” ride on the back of his moped to Mara House when we got slightly lost one night). It is slightly out of the town centre (15 minutes walk to Luxor temple) compared with other hotels and did not have a TV (if this is important to you) etc, but if you are willing to walk or use the fixed rate taxis/calesh that Mara House organises and wish to experience a less touristy side of Luxor, it is perfect.

Stayed January 2013, travelled with family

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: smcm980, London, United Kingdom

*****

The Perfect Oasis In Luxor

Over the holidays, I stayed at Mara House with my parents (in their 50’s), my sister (in her 20’s), and my husband (in our 20’s). We were a group of 5 Americans visiting Egypt for the first time.  My husband and I live in Kuwait, so we knew a bit of what to expect, but were nervous to take my parents around the Middle East in such a busy country like Egypt. Thus, we booked Mara House.

sailing the Nile – Mara House Luxor

Mara House made our vacation an absolute dream; we couldn’t ask for a more helpful, friendly, hard working staff. The facilities are spotless and well-maintained. We had a whole “apartment” to ourselves, with breakfast included, at a great price!  The beds were the most comfortable beds I’ve slept in the Middle East.  Every night was a silent night’s sleep; no honking horns to keep you awake!  You arrive to a fully stocked refrigerator of local wine and beer (reasonably priced), chips, candy bars, and water, so you don’t have to stress about finding the nearest bottle shop or corner store at the end of a long day.  There were two sitting areas, a television, and a spotless bathroom. Trust me, this place is the cleanest, most organized places I’ve been to in all of the Middle East, and I’ve traveled to many, many places!

Mara House roof top

Not to mention Amr and Sahry (Mara’s righthand men) helped us order felafel, hummus, even pizza every night we didn’t feel like going out. They made us laugh endlessly. They arranged taxis, helped us with directions, recommended things to do, they are natural hosts. We genuinely miss both Amr and Sahry; I have traveled over 20 countries, and never have I been to a B&B where I felt this cared for.  We wanted to hire a felucca one day, and had met a man along the Nile who we wanted to book with. Amr and Sahry wanted to make sure we had a good experience, so they called the man on his mobile (we got the guy’s phone number when we met him) to talk to him about his services. They were super concerned about everything we did in Luxor, and wanted to ensure we loved every moment.

If you are looking for a comfortable place to relax, bask in the sun on their beautiful rooftop garden, talk with the friendliest people, and have a helping hand to make sense of the crazy tourism in Egypt, then book with Mara. You won’t regret it.

Need I say it again? The place is spotless. Quiet. Safe. Friendly. Helpful. Great food. Good price.

Mara is a pro at email. She will email you back within 24 hours. (A rarity in Egypt!) Send me a private message if you want to know more or get a feel for what my itinerary was.

Stayed December 2012, travelled with family

Reviewed on TripAdvisor by:  Kimberly J, Madison Wisconsin.

****

Great Egyptian Experience.

Mara House in Luxor was truly an inspired find. It was a great bonus to discover the house is set back in the town and away from the large hotels and very insistant vendors in the markets. A walk along the street from the house will bring you by Egyptian front doors to be met by welcoming hello’s from local adults and children.

Mara House is a new development built to a very high standard with large rooms or apartments, fully equipped to cater for yourself if you wish. Do not miss the “feast” a scrumptious meal of Egyptian cuisine, beautifully cooked and presented by the staff in the house. No shortage of help or advise with booking trips and arranging transfers from the airport or to the Nile.

All the arrangments for our visits to the Luxor temples, Dendera and Abydos were made easy by the Mara House staff. The occasional power cut was the only down side and proved only a minor inconvenience. I heartfully recommend Mara House for its friendly service and excellent accommodation. I would gladly book it again and hope to do so in the future.

Stayed November 2012, travelled with friends

Reviewed on Tripadvisor by:  Pat F., Dublin, Ireland

*****

Great fun, great value, great food. Do try staying here!

Completely different from all the big hotels with their corporate beige interiors. Mara House is a genuinely attractive Egyptian house off the tourist track in the centre of Luxor. Bursting with colour and style, clean, bright and with a friendly welcome.

We stayed in an attractively decorated large double room. Good quality Egyptian cotton sheets and very effective air conditioning. The en suite shower room was large and clean.

Dinner was honestly fantastic – lots of different small dishes and the best soup we tasted during our three week holiday in Egypt. Breakfast comprised tasty fresh bread, cheese, yoghurt and fruit juice.

It is difficult to `star rate` Mara House. We arrived there having just come from the Oberoi Mena House rated the best 5* hotel in Cairo (it was excellent, see my separate review) and so you may wonder why I have also given Mara House 5* rating when its facilities are so obviously different. Well, Mara House is a taste of the real Egypt; something often missing from even the best big hotels. A real travel experience. Something authentically different from the norm. It is also amazing good value for money and I recommend it whole heartedly.

Mara also helped me book internal flights with Egypt Air. She was able to access flights considerably cheaper than I could – and without seeming boastful, I reckon I know my way round airline booking engines!! We also booked a private tour guide though Mara for our three day stay in Cairo. Again, I cannot recommend Mara`s service highly enough. Our guide spoke good English, the car provided for us was clean, air conditioned and fairly new and the driver expertly negotiated the horrendous Cairo traffic.

Do try staying at Mara House in Luxor if you can, you won`t regret it!

Stayed November 2012, travelled as a couple

Reviewed on TripAdvisor by: Supermummy, East of England.

****

Great stay at Mara House Luxor

From the pick up at the airport (charged separately) to the wonderful tour guide and tours to the well-appointed rooms, our stay at Mara House was great!

relaxing at Mara House

We arrived early on a Thursday morning and the guide was already at the house ready for the West Bank tour. We requested something light to eat as we had not had breakfast and it was served with warmth and hospitality. We spent the first day on an abbreviated West Bank tour in the comfort of an air conditioned van.

For dinner that night, a taxi pick up was arranged and we ate at an Indian restaurant recommended by Mara. Run by an expat Brit, A Taste of India was delightful and the food was excellent. The cold beer also went down a treat. 🙂

Friday we took Mara’s suggestion and left the house with packed lunches and seven or eight other guests in a large air conditioned bus, from a tour of Abydos and Dendera. Our same knowledgable and friendly guide, Mohammed, accompanied us on this trip as well.

On Friday evening, we ate at the Mara House restaurant and enjoyed an Egyptian feast. We left, happy, on Saturday morning.

I can highly recommend Mara House both for its accommodation and arranging of tours. In fact, I already have.

Stayed October 2012, travelled with family, Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: S Rushton, Houston

newer reviews 6 , 5…see older reviews .. 4, 3, 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