Having visited Cairo and Luxor, I can now relate to and appreciate what Mara writes in her blog. Sadly these are not cities to navigate on one’s own and having Mara organise our tours took off a huge burden. All we did was immerse ourselves in the splendour of ancient Egypt. Mara House is an oasis to return to each day, and Ahmed the manager is a wonderful host. The dinners whipped up by their resident Chef is a delicious sampler of Egyptian cuisine.
We were picked up as promised at the airport even though our flight had been delayed. This boutique hotel is located on a quiet back street, which is great because of the noise on busy Egyptian streets. Our suite was great and perfect for traveling with our two kids.
Ahmed and Amr were the staff during our stay and they were great. Amr is an amazing cook. Our breakfast had a variety of interesting Egyptian foods. We treated ourselves to dinner and the sauces and soups were outstanding. Definitely have dinner there.
They kept the mini-bar updated which is great since my kids live on snacks.
Our horse carriage driver, Ramadan was a hoot. He let my daughter have a try at driving the carriage.
We stayed for six days in order to get a feel for Luxor. Luxor is some much cleaner and quieter that Cairo. The restaurants were good and of course the temples are unique in the world.
Great place. Great people. Great food.
Mara House is exactly what we look for when travelling – a small boutique hotel that caters for guests tired of large hotels and indifferent service who want discreet, professional care from a team who know exactly what they’re doing.
It’s the small things that count, right? Bedrooms are huge, the bed itself heaven; towels were plentiful, the water hot and everything is beautifully appointed with understated luxury. The rooftop terrace was a favourite spot with a cup of (complimentary all day) tea or coffee and the hotel is on a quiet street (not the huge hotel strip where you’re cheek by jowl with everyone else).
The real point of difference with this hotel however was the service. This began before we arrived. The owner, Mara, responded promptly and generously to all email inquiries. No question was too small and her responses were direct, incredibly helpful and aimed at ensuring we had the best experience for us, not anyone else, possible – no waffle, no sales pitch, just generous info and honesty.
Her team is also spot-on, both in the hotel and around Luxor. We’re not ones for guided tours of any kind but decided to give it a go and found it so enriching we kept her guides for the whole time. Do the day-trip to Abydos and Dendara temples if you can – worth every second.
I’ll end by saying come to Egypt, folks. We’re a middle-aged Australian couple from Canberra who just spent a month here and the welcome, security and overall experience was incredible thanks in no small part to Mara.
P.S About that “Mara House” service? We decided to do a last minute day trip from Cairo and emailed Mara for help. She arranged it all over night and we woke up to another seamlessly easy and fabulous day out!
We were treated like royalty! Our “room” was a multi-room suite with incredible decorations. Wonderful ambiance, not just a hotel room, but an experience.
The hotel is located on a small back street, you get to experience Egypt away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist. quite and safe neighborhood. Staff on call 24/7, breakfast provided, Supper was extra, but worth a lot more that they charged!
They arranged private tours with a driver and guide of Luxor and Cairo for us. Great drivers and guides by the way! It seems like their only goal, at Mara House, is to make the whole experience perfect in every way!
“A stay at Mara House is definitely a treat!”
For sophisticated travelers who are looking for a unique and exclusive visit to Luxor, this is the perfect place to stay. From the prompt and friendly emails with Mara who arranged everything, to Amr and Ahmed who looked after the two of us in person and were so attentive and kind. It was a seamless and enjoyable visit to Egypt.
Mohamed is an exceptionally knowledgeable egyptologist and communicates wonderfully in idiomatic English. Mahmoud negotiated the daunting Egyptian roads with calm aplomb. We would also say that we felt completely adopted by the staff within minutes of arrival and you can’t really put a price on that feeling.
We will definitely recommend Mara House to any fellow travelers to Luxor.
- Note from Mara – these guests also recommended the Mara House Experience Package as being really good value but TripAdvisor would not publish the review with that recommendation in it.
This amazing old world style hotel has spacious suites, enchanting sitting rooms, free wifi and top quality, attentive staff. You can sunbake on the roof too!!! I have had the best Egyptian food of my entire 2 week trip here – just sumptuous!
Mara also organized some great tours and the staff had really good suggestions for my days off there too. Highly recommended and I will be staying there again when I return!
Set k – Stayed December 2015, travelled solo (Reviewed on TripAdvisor)
All of Mara’s staff are hand picked to be caring and attentive to the smallest detail for personal service. From the driver waiting for you at the airport to Ahmed at breakfast or a special run to the Germans for incredible ice cream I had a blast! Thank you Mara!
211Cynthiar – Stayed June 2015 (Reviewed on TripAdvisor)
Room was large — really a suite, with large bedroom + sitting room with couch and stocked mini-fridge. Very clean, beautifully decorated, even smelled nice. The two fellows on staff were excellent — friendly, helpful, and always around if you needed them. Breakfast was good, with eggs, fruit, yogurt, and bread, and served at whatever time I asked for it. Just a lovely little place.
Fantastic stay. Mara coordinated tours for us each day and Ahmed would be waiting at the door for us each evening. The team at the guest house was very attentive – actively asking if they could get us anything or do anything for us. One evening we were out a little longer that Ahmed expected and he called our carriage driver to make sure everything was okay – and of course he was waiting at the door for our return. We were pampered and well taken care of the entire time. Everything felt very authentic down to the room and the snacks in the room. Eat there at least one night so you can enjoy the authentic Egyptian cooking! Rooms were clean, not fancy, but well kept.
Lonin126, Cottontown, Tennessee – Stayed November 2015, travelled as a couple (Reviewed on TripAdvisor)
I arranged my day tours in Luxor and Cairo via emails with Mara prior to my arrival in Egypt. It was definitely an easy process and she even recommended an itinerary for me based the dates I was there. The tour guides were great! They were very informative and I had an amazing time there. I would definitely recommend them, especially the tour to Abydos and Dendera. Thanks Mara!
David – November 2015
Really nice compliment recently in an email from a future guest “What I like in talking to you is I get a frank & truthful reply – not marketing talk. Tks”
Candid & Organised –
I actually didn’t stay at Mara’s House, but learned about her through TripAdvisor. She also organizes tours in Egypt and I decided to contact her. I was a bit nervous to go to Egypt on vacation, but Mara provided great insight as she knows the country well and can relate to foreigners as she is from Ireland herself. Her tours are great and she has no hidden fees. The way she writes on her webpage is the same way it happens in real life. I was extremely happy with the tours she organized and the guides she chose for me. Mohammed in Luxor and Abydos/Dendera was fantastic. She organized Cairo, Luxor (East and West Bank), Abydos/Dendera and private taxi to Aswan, and gave recommendations all the time. Mara has a passion for Egypt and for providing great service to customers. Use her for the hotel or the tours. You won’t be disappointed.
We (my husband and I) visited Mara house as part of our honeymoon. A private taxi was organised from our hotel in Hurghda to Luxor for our two night stay. The driver was exceptional, as was the guide Mohammad. Mohammad’s knowledge is second to none, he was also incredibly patient as a fair skinned girl from the north of Scotland I really struggled with the heat at times. He helped me fulfil a life long dream of visiting the valley of the Kings. He was also very helpful in learning the correct way to “haggle”. The Mara House Staff, Ahmed, and Armha provided us with a very warm (no pun intended) welcome, making us feel like we were at home away from home. The food Armha prepared for us was exceptional and without a doubt the best meal we had in Egypt. We will be recommending Mara house to our friends, and hope to return in the future.
We had contacted Mara ahead of our trip to get some help with tours and services in Cairo. Things could not have gone more smoothly. We had an awesome driver pick up at Cairo who whisked us through the airport, took care of visa handling in a blink of an eye, money changing and boom, on our way to our hotel. We also did a trip to the pyramids, the Egyptian museum, Memphis & Saqqara. She connected us with a great drive and a careful reliable driver. I’d highly recommend organizing any tour in Luxor or Cairo with Mara. Mohamed Hedar, our guide, was knowledgable, very flexible and reliable.
It had been a childhood dream to visit Egypt but so many things, especially at this time, seemed to say “Don’t go!” However, after reading Mara’s detailed and reassuring essays on every possible topic, I went. My goals were simple: see as many of Luxor’s temples, relax, eat local food, learn about customs. With an efficient manager (Ahmed), awesome chef (Amir), knowledgeable guide (Mohammed), and safe driver (Mamout), I easily fulfilled my dream in safety and comfort. Thank you Mara, you have an amazing team.
Giza Plateau tour through Mara House
I did not stay at Mara House, but arranged a tour of Cairo’s Giza Plain online through Mara, who I found via a web search. I had only given three days’ notice so was expecting to be turned down, but it was no problem and the tour was easily scheduled for a time that was convenient for me. My guide, Mohamed Haider, was excellent and made it a fascinating and fun experience. With a dual degree in history and archaeology he knows his stuff, and he also tied a lot of the historical information to facts about modern Egypt (I won’t give these away, but the tie-ins are fascinating). I had booked a guide because I’d read online that the Pyramids can be difficult to visit due to vendors insistently trying to sell you things, but Mohamed took care of all that and I felt no pressure at all. He also explained the optional ‘extras’ clearly – two different camel rides for different prices, for example – and negotiated with the vendors on my behalf. Mohamed is friendly and relaxed as well as knowledgeable, and I highly recommend both him and the tour as a whole. It is definitely worth it, and not expensive at all for what you get. I also appreciated the nice little touches, like always making sure there was bottled water available – necessary when you’re walking around in the sun and are not used to it. In all, a very professionally-run tour with a great guide – top marks!
– Tildy, England – May 2015 – Travelled Solo.
I just finished a 3 day stay at Mara House and I wanted to take the time to let others know about this incredible hotel. Nestled in a back road away from the normal tourist strip, Mara House provides a unique opportunity to live in an Egyptian residential neighborhood. It is easy to walk to surrounding attractions and restaurants, but when you walk back to the hotel, you’re given a glimse of what life is like for locals. The room was clean, spacious and had hot water. The tours I took with Mara House were comprehensive and entertaining. The breakfast was pretty tasty too! Ahmed was an incredibly interesting person to talk to and made my stay easy!
I had a great visit to Mara House this April. The place itself was very comfortable and everyone extremely welcoming and helpful.
I had been looking forward to the ‘feast’ which sadly they weren’t able to put on due to numbers, but to make up for it they prepared for me an individual home cooked Egyptian meal which was just delicious!
The tours were exceptional and the guide really brought the temples and tombs to life – I have never been so blown away by ancient sites anywhere else in the world.
I had been feeling quite daunted by the prospect of travel to Luxor, with its reputation for hassle and touts, but i didn’t really feel any hassle at all during the whole stay, and this is all thanks to Mara and the team.
Even better than the accommodations was Mara House’s service. The staff were friendly, helpful, and went out of their way to make me comfortable. Example: I arrived around 10:30 at night. When I checked in I asked if they had a map since I like to do my sight-seeing on foot. Not only did they provide a map but they also took me on a half-hour walk at 11:00 at night to show me how to get to downtown Luxor! On the walk, the gentleman explained all kinds of things about the city, e.g. how to buy food at the shops, how much to pay for transportation, how to get in touch with Mara House if I experienced any trouble, etc. I don’t think the staff ever slept or left the lobby because every time I returned to Mara House from my excursions, they were there to open the door even though I had my own key and ask how everything was. They also were up at 4:30 am on the day that I left to make sure I was awake and accompany me to the airport with the driver they arranged.
I am not one for guided tours since I like to find and experience things on my own, but I would recommend you let Mara House arrange for tour guides and drivers for any excursions that take you out of Luxor, like the Valley of the King or the temples at Abydos and Dendera. I discovered that things are not clearly marked or explained and that walking the Valley of the Kings would have taken up too much of my valuable sight-seeing time. Mara House made all my touring easy. I told the staff where I wanted to go and they arranged for a driver and tour guide for both of my day trips. All I had to do was show up in the lobby in the morning and everything was taken care of! The tour guide was friendly and accommodating and took care of buying all the tickets and navigating through the itinerary. Thankfully, the drivers knew their craft well since driving in Egypt is not for the faint-hearted.
I loved everything I did and saw in Egypt, but I would go back just to stay at Mara House again.
Mara House is lovingly maintained and as I have mentioned above,decorated with lovely Egyptian textiles which give it quite an exotic atmosphere. The rooftop deck is lovely anytime of day and wonderful at night to watch the stars from. The rooms are spotlessly clean and bright and contain all that you need for a comfortable stay including cold drinks. Mara House can arrange excellent to tours in Cairo too!
I also highly recommend that at anyone to travelling to Egypt for the first time read Marie’s website. It is a goldmine of info. We found it so very helpful in everyway. Thanks Marie. Your operations are first class!
Mara House is a fantastic place to base yourself so as to explore the area. The rooms are clean tidy and tastefully decorated to an Egyptian theme
The place is very well managed by Ahmed and everyone is looked after by Amr who is a great cook when it comes to authentic Egyptian food.
I was able to engage Mara to show me the sites and it was amazing to be able to tap into her knowledge of the Temples Tombs and general history of the country
The story’s on the walls all made sense after Mara explained them and took you back in time.
We cruised the Nile to Komb Ome Temple(don’t miss the crocodiles)then onto Aswan, Phillea and Elephantine Island by Felucca. Then by car to Edfu(Temple of Horus)and back to Luxor
Close by is Karnak and Luxor Temples. A day trip to the Valley of the Kings is special( King Tutenkarmen is back in his Tomb) as is the highlight of the trip a day visiting the pristine Temples of Abydos/ The Osirion
And Dendera Temple while your there just stop and sit for awhile and feel the Magic of the place.
Much thanks to the team at MARA HOUSE
David Leech, Australia – Stayed March 2015, travelled solo (Reviewed on TripAdvisor)
Staying at Mara House is like staying with the locals in a beautifully appointed private house, away from the tourist area.
I was fortunate to stay there twice, first with my son and a week later on my own. The suite I shared with my son was very spacious, tastefully decorated, well appointed including five star quality bed linen. The suite was smaller on my second stay but had the same ‘home away from home’ feel and attention to details.
The breakfast was a delicious spread and nothing was too much trouble for Ahmed and Amr: from organising a taxi when required to recommending excellent restaurants when in Luxor and picking me up in Aswan in a private car to get back to Luxor.
The Abydos and Dendera tour organised for us by Mara House was outstanding: from the very knowledgeable Egyptologist guide we had to the smooth driving of the chauffeur and the delicious cold lunch provided.
Mara and Mara House turned my stay in Egypt into an unforgettable, wonderful holiday.
If you are looking for a unique experience, outstanding service and care, Mara House is the place to stay. –
– cyclinglamb, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia –Stayed February 2015, travelled with friends (Reviewed on TripAdvisor)
The actual hotel is interesting being on the far (non tourist) side of the railways tracks about 8 minutes walk from the station and 20 minutes to Luxor temple. It’s down a quite but safe side street. The location may be a consideration for some people as you are away from the main sites and restaurants but taxis are cheap if needed and Mara house has a couple on call.
The rooms are large with a bedroom and separate living room with fridge and sink. I slept well although you are ‘in range’ of an early morning call to prayer although the same could be said of many places.
In terms of deciding to book the location is the main swing factor given the excellent service can be taken as read. If you are happy to be in a ‘local’ area away from tourists and the centre then this is an excellent option. If you are looking for the 5* experience or simply want a view over the Nile with inbuilt restaurant and room service probably not for you. –
If you are going to stay in Luxor for a few days or for a more extended period, I strongly recommend Mara House. I have just completed my first visit to Luxor and have had a wonderful time. In fact I hope to return to Egypt next year and, if I do, I will certainly stay at Mara House when in Luxor. The rooms (suites) are spacious, well appointed, clean and very reasonably priced. Mara House organizes guided tours to Abydos & Dandara, Karnak & the Luxor Temple, and the West Bank. In addition has connections with 4 or 5 taxies and this is re-assuring and one less hassle to worry about. After the tour I returned to the West Bank via taxi until I had visited every tomb open to tourists. They also facilitated a balloon ride and several felucca rides. Ahmed (the manager) has spent hours helping me book my Nile Cruise and the Hotel I will stay at in Aswan (I don’t have a cell phone nor access to my email). Amr is the King of the Kitchen – a chef and not a cook. lol And everything he makes is a native Egyptian dish – you just can’t beat that. The staff are always friendly and professional and I got to know them well over 2 months.
Now is the time to come to Egypt as there continue to be few tourists about (and I don’t think this will cont. much longer).I have been in tombs in the Valley of the Kings with just a couple other tourists, and stood alone in the center of the Great Court in the Luxor Temple with no one in sight but a couple temple guards. Luxor is an ancient Arabian delight – at no time have I felt threatened or in danger – and I am just a 68 year old baby-boomer lost in the wonder of it all. The other day I was at Karnak and saw 2 buses of tourists. The cabby told me 50+ was the norm prior to 2011. Don’t miss this opportunity I think the crowds will be back soon.
Two weeks in family 2adults and 4 kids at Mara house in good standards. it is little excentred but is compensate by very good service and helpful. Rooms and hotel are nicely decorated by egyptian art.
Thank you very much Mara
Stayed December 2014, travelled with family – Benoits, Lyon, France (Reviewed on TripAdvisor)
Mara arranged tours for us in Cairo, Giza and Luxor and it was all great. Very knowledgeable guides, which was what we were after, no trips to papyrus shops, drivers were safe and on time. We saw everything we hoped to see and more. We are a family of 4 and we had a very memorable adventure and learned a lot. It was very helpful to be able to email with Mara beforehand and ask questions about options. I would highly recommend Mara to anyone.