I have finally found a way to bring reviews and comments about Mara House and our Salahadeen Restaurant together within my own website. Sadly, I have been unable to find many about the Salahadeen because it has been open only to Mara House guests for some years now and Tripadvisor has deleted the reviews. The reviews here are gathered from sources such as Tripadvisor, Google Maps, guest blogs, letters from guests etc etc. I hope they give you a feeling for what Mara House and ourselves are all about. Enjoy – Mara
Reviewed on TripAdvisor 5 Feb 2020. Cairo package and Luxor Package
Booked Tours in Luxor and Tours in Cairo
After planning for so long my Egypt trip I contacted Mara House and planned the itinerary for our group of three. I knew all the key points I wanted to visit in the West Bank, and the surrounding area such as Abydos, Abu Simbel, etc. and left the details to Mara. I did say that I wanted to be "all Eypted-out" and I was not disappointed. Our guide, Mohamed, through our 4 days is a wonderfully trusted, serious, and amiable person who knows just about everything and everyone. At one point I thought...I could skip some of the smaller sites in the West Bank to make more time in the bigger sites....but I am so happy I continued with Mo's suggestions for the Workers & Nobles tombs...smaller but i found them quite beautiful and tender.
When you don't know the language or the places or much else you always feel a little lost but with Mohamed & the drivers from Mara House, we just always felt in good hands as we zipped back and forth fulfilling a life's dream.
I just need to go back soon to continue!
Tony, USA traveled as family. Reviewed on TripAdvisor 20 Jan 2020 Booked Tours in Luxor
Thank you for checking in and we really enjoyed our travels in Egypt. It was made truly special by you and your team!
My wife, Anjali, had this childhood dream of visiting the pyramids and Abu Simbel and I made her dream come true ably assisted by your excellent and professional team.
We were saved from all the hagglings which come associated with touristy places. Your team members made sure we were well informed and saved from anyone over charging us.
Mohammed I who guided us in Cairo was amazing and knowledgeable. Mohammed ll who guided us in Luxor and Aswan is truly remarkable and a treasure trove full of knowledge about everything. We spent the Maximum time with him and miss him already.
A special mention for all the drivers who drove us around in Cairo, Luxor-Aswan and Abu Simbel. They are RockStars!! Safe, smiling and humble guys!
I loved dealing with you Mara and cannot recommend you enough.
Keep in touch and keep doing the excellent work you all are doing!! Kudos!
Letter from Guest 8 Jan 2020
TOUR MANAGER Ahmed:
* Collected us from the airport and looked after us all and treated us like family daily for almost 2 weeks!
* Ahmed, who completed the ultimate sacrifice and tried KFC and McDonalds before we arrived so he could advise us accordingly!
* Ahmed, whom pulled off a surprise wedding - with band - wedding of the century - in less than 24 hours.
* Ahmed, no request is too big, too small or too weird
* Ahmed, who is loved by all and is totally worthy of our adoration.
* Ahmed, we left more than just f.r.i.e.n.d.s.
TOUR GUIDE Mohamed:
* The ever knowledgeable, always endearing Egyptian gentleman.
* Mohamed who has so much wisdom and is never boring.
* Mohamed who stole the bride's heart from the moment she met him, and stole the men's hearts too.
* Mohamed who learnt that 'stop jinning' will get the ladies moving.
* Mohamed, the Redbull scout.
MARA - IRISH QUEEN OF EGYPT
* Mara has spent 19 years making Mara House Luxor what it is today.
* Literally built from the ground up and every piece has been lovingly chosen, made or found.
* Everything about our experiences had Mara's personal touches.
* The information and guidance she provides even before we have left home.
* The Hotel and tours in Cairo.
* The shows and entertainment.
* 7 night Nile Cruise on a 5 star ship.
* The people she has chosen to work for her.
* The off the beaten track experiences.
* Food glorious food. Amr @ Mara House is an amazing chef.
* Lots of tours but also so relaxing - Busy but lots of down time
This tour planned and arranged by Mara starts with the Giza Pyramids and camel ride but somehow each day after was better than the day before!
MARA HOUSE LUXOR, I can't wait to go back and next time spend a week just at Mara House.
Traveled with friends. Booked Mara House Nov 2019 Group Tour. Reviewed on Tripadvisor Jan 2020
My husband and I went on a small group tour with Mara of Mara House Luxor. We had a marvelous time with seasoned, knowledgeable guide Mohamed and fantastic, miracle worker tour manager Ahmed. We are usually solo tourists, so it was a pleasure to have everything taken care of, including the transportation and tickets to all the sites, and the luggage handling. In addition, we were provided with local information and tips on how to not be taken advantage of when we decided to venture out on our own.
Ahmed is acquainted with the people who work at the sites we visited, so he knew exactly who could provide a safe, reliable service, especially for the camel ride at Giza and the horse carriage at Edfu.
His wonderful contacts got us front row seats at the Sufi Dance performance we went to, enabling me to take fabulous photos of the event. If we wanted to buy a specific souvenir, he knew exactly where we could obtain it and provided very helpful bargaining tips so we could get the item at a fair price.
Mohamed knew every crook and cranny of the sites we visited and could answer questions about the history of every site we visited. This enabled us to keep ahead of the other tour groups because he could guide us to parts of the sites where it wasn’t so crowded. He did his best to educate us about everything we saw even though we weren’t the best pupils at times!
We were lucky enough to sit with Mara during meals on the cruise, and she regaled us with many entertaining stores of her extensive experiences running a guest house in Egypt.
We wished that we would have had more time at Mara House itself, because it is so peaceful and beautifully decorated, but we had to get back to our real lives and work obligations. We really enjoyed the one night we had there, and all the drinks and snacks are very reasonable priced compared to the hotel and cruise ship.
In addition, we were offered the famous feast, which was absolutely fantastic. The breakfast at Mara House was just as good, and it was included in the package. If you are looking for a wonderful, hassle free tour of Egypt you can’t go wrong with Mara House Luxor.
Couple. USA. Nov 2019 Mara House Group Trips Reviewed on TripAdvisor 11 Dec 2019
Everything was perfect - the accommodation (hotel, ship, Mara House) all fine quality, the destinations (hidden treasures without tourists), the service/care given to each individual, the educational guides through each location. Wow, wow, wow. I cant fault it.This was exactly the holiday I needed from my busy/stressful life.
Traveled with family. Australian. Booked Mara House Nov 2019 Group Tour Reviewed on TripAdvisor
Mara was very responsive to my emails, and she also helped to answer questions I had about the rest of Egypt e.g. the situation regarding protests in Cairo. She was also very accommodating in holding my preferred dates until I could confirm my availability.
On arrival to Luxor, although she was out of Luxor and busy with her group tour with other guests, she still made the effort to check-in on us during our stay, which we really welcomed.
(a) Room comfort
The room we got was HUGE. We got a spacious living area attached to the bathroom, and an equally spacious bedroom. Our room was beautifully decorated and reminded me so much of home. Everything is also very clean.
The bathroon is a wet bathroom with no shower partition but this didn't bother us because we are Asian and many Asian countries have this sort of bathroom design. The bathroom uses a water heater that pre-heats a fixed volume of water when switched on, so you have to wait 30 minutes before using it, but the water is nice and hot once it is ready. If you indulge for too long the hot water will run out and you will need to wait for it to heat up again, but the amount that is heated each time is honestly sufficient for a normal length shower for one person (and even sufficient for two people if you don't indulge).
The bedroom has both air-conditioning and a fan that is available for use. Wifi was hard to access as we were at the very top floor of the house but since we had a local sim card with plenty of mobile data, we didn't mind this.
The comforts of this accommodation aren't meant to match the luxuries of a 5 star hotel, so I think it will be very unfair to expect it to be of the same standard as that of a 5 star hotel.
Mara House is located in a residential area away from the main tourist belt. The airport is quite close at about 20 minutes drive away, and Luxor train station is at an easy walking distance.
We enjoyed a walk to the train station to explore the fruits and vegetable market and we were not hassled by anyone along the way; it is safe and a great look at local life. If we had more time in Luxor, I would have liked to walk all the way to Luxor temple and enjoy the beautiful promenade along the Nile.
Also, I wouldn't call the streets outside Mara's House ugly. I think they have a very quaint charm to them (in fact I think the street can be very pretty with its colours--have a look at my picture if you'll like). This is REAL Egypt. If you do not like how real Egypt looks then you will probably have to stick strictly to the tourist belt and luxury hotels for the sanitized version of the country.
You might want to bring earplugs just in case, as the locals had a wedding party on one of the nights here, so it got quite noisy. But for the rest of our time here it was very peaceful and quiet. You will hear the call to prayer in the early morning, but we went back to sleep easily enough once it ended.
(c) Hospitality & Food
Although Mara was not around, Amr and his team still provided amazing hospitality in looking after us. Bottled water is complimentary and the snacks and drinks provided for sale are as good as local prices (way cheaper than back home, and also without any trouble of bargaining or facing any hassling).
You'll get a good taste of Egyptian fare here and this was actually some of the best Egyptian food we've had on our trip. Everything is hygienic as well and we had zero stomach troubles during our stay. I have attached a photo of the Salahadeen feast we enjoyed as part of our package.
On our last day we wanted to get some souvenirs before returning to Cairo, so Amr actually took us out personally at night to the money changer first as we needed some EGP, then he took us to a trusted store and reminded us to bargain very hard 😉
We took up Mara's 3 day Luxor Package which covered one half day visit to Karnak temple and Luxor temple, one full day visit to Abydos and Dendera, and one full day visit to the best sights of the West Bank (e.g. Valley of the Kings, Temple of Queen Hatshepshut, Medinet Habu, Tomb of the Nobles and Tomb of the Workers).
There is a packed lunch provided for the long day to Abydos & Dendera (we had tuna mayo sandwiches with chips, chocolate croissant snacks, and water--simple, but good enough for me!). For the tour of the west bank we stopped at a restaurant overlooking the Nile and the food here was really good!
We had a great time on tour with Mohammed, and while visiting the Valley of the Kings it was revealed to us by other tour guides that "we were very lucky to have him because he was their professor"!!! I liked how his explanations were simple enough for the normal tourist who was not crazy about Ancient Egyptian lore e.g. my husband, while at the same time I could go a bit more crazy asking about every single detail I saw on the walls...
Note: Do NOT miss Dendera!!! It is mindblowingly beautiful. I have attached a photo of its beautifully first hypostyle hall with its restored colours.
Mara House served all our needs perfectly and was a home away from home for a country that could get a little difficult at times even for seasoned travellers like my husband and I.
I feel the need to mention that my husband and I are usually independent travellers and we did try visiting several sites in Egypt on our own without a guide... but going with a guide really makes a huge difference to your understanding and appreciation of the sites especially those from Ancient Egypt. For example, in the Temple of Philae in Aswan we were absolutely clueless as to what we were looking at even though I had found some information online as a reference of things to look out for. So I fully recommend going on tour with a good guide to the sites in Egypt as much as possible.
Lastly, I'll like to mention that finding a host / tour provider that you can trust in Egypt is absolutely essential in keeping your trip pleasant.
As an example of how things can go sour very quickly, we unfortunately booked a horse riding day trip in Cairo that worked in "Egyptian ways" e.g. the tour ended up unlike what was marketed on their website; the guide didn't bring us to a place where we had already paid entrance fee and then claimed to the owner it was a miscommunication issue due to language; the guide badgered us mid-tour for MORE tips when we already gave him 10USD at the start (as was requested by the owner to solve the problem of no change), the 3 hour ride became just 2 hours...
Thankfully we had none of that #@#$ during our stay with Mara. No feelings of being shortchanged or cheated, no feelings of being hassled for tips during your tour or being told your tips are not enough, and really just genuine, SINCERE hospitality, so that you can remember your trip and all the amazing sites you've seen with fond memories forever!!!!
Thank you, Mara, Amr, Mohammed, and the rest of the team with Mara House Luxor!
Travelled Nov 2019 - Couple. Luxor Holidays 3 nights - Reviewed on TripAdvisor
I felt safe at all times. The security in Egypt is of very high standard. Apparently recently voted second best in middle east and eight in the world. They also have a special Tourist Police unit which is very visible and caring towards tourists.
Do yourself a favour and visit Egypt with Mara from Mara House to plan and organise your tour.
Travelled with Friends - Booked Mara House Nov 2019 Group Tour Reviewed on TripAdvisor