“A taste of the real Luxor”
Mara House was a wonderful retreat in Luxor. It is small and located in a neighborhood away from the main section of town. I vacationed here for two days with my wife and two children (then 3 and 5). Mara is an Irish expatriot who runs this lovely hotel. SHe is almost always available and takes great care of her guests. The accomodations are wonderful and quaint, with a/c in the bedrooms which is a must. The fridge is stocked and the food (especially breakfast) is fantastic. Mara will set you up with everything you need for sightseeing and getting to and from the airport. Of note is the fact that we felt completely safe and welcome in the neighborhood. My children played with the local kids on the street, and the walk to and from town was well lit and safe.
July 2012, travelled with family. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Dave_Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh
“Superbly comfortable & atmospheric hotel”
Trip Advisor’s reviews of Mara House looked promising, and I found Mara’s website helpful in the early stages of planning this trip. Mara herself was most helpful in the planning stages for the trip, and though she was away when we arrived, she kept in touch by email & continued to offer helpful advice. The highlights of our actual stay in Mara House were: firstly, the impeccable service provided by the staff, particularly Sahry and Amr, who were attentive to every need, and constantly offering help and advice; secondly, the beautiful, spotlessly clean and artistic decor which greatly enhanced the experience of staying there; thirdly, the excellent Salahadeen Feast offered by the restaurant.
Mara offers a good range of trips and activities, but we had booked these through another company so I am unable to comment on this aspect of her service. I would thoroughly recommend the guest house, and can vouch that the staff all take great pride in providing an excellent service.
Oct 2012, travelled with family. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Jackie E, Taurinva, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
“Great hotel in Luxor”
I stayed the nights of October the 16th and 17th 2012 at Mara House. This hotel is a great place to stay. My room was spacious, nicely furnished and most important to me super clean and neat. The hotel staff was polite, professional and always attentive to my needs. I arrived by plane and her taxi driver was waiting for me at the airport, I used this same driver for trips around town and he was friendly and his fares were economical.
I booked with Mara tours of the Karnak and the Luxor temples one day and a complete tour of the West Bank the next day (highly recommended as this is an expansive area that would be a bit challenging to do independently on a time limited trip). Mara also arranged for me several excellent tours in Cairo, where i had spent four days prior to visiting Luxor. I was totally satisfied with them, my guide was a great friendly young man, Mohammed, that gave me not only an insight into the historical sites we visited but also was great teaching me about contemporary Egyptian culture.
Anyone considering a trip to Luxor (or Cairo) should visit Maria’s website as this is a great source of information.
Stayed October 2012, travelled solo. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Michael C. Davie, Florida
“A Real Gem”
We arrived at Mara House early in the morning after an exhausting night train journey from Cairo to Luxor; I myself had contracted what I thought was food poisoning only 7 hours before. Upon arriving, Mara’s staff were more than accommodating by providing us with both tea and medication to sooth the detrimental effects of what I would later learn to be ‘Pharaoh’s Revenge’ (a nasty bacterial bug that mimics the stomach flu). After hearing that I was ill, Mara immediately called to both inform me of the course of action I had to take to rid myself of this bacteria (using Antinal) and to confirm the day trips we had conversed about ahead of time via email. Everyone was incredibly helpful.
I have never been so ‘spoiled’ as I was during the 4 days we spent at Mara House. Our room and the house more than exceeded my expectations. It was obvious that considerable thought had gone into creating a traditional Egyptian atmosphere that felt both welcoming and homey, especially after long day trips. Sahry and Amr, the two male staff members running the place, were the most gracious of hosts. They both are completely devoted to making your time spent at Mara House relaxing and enjoyable. Their cooking was unreal; be sure to indulge in the Egyptian feast.
The West Bank, Karnak/Luxor Temple, Abydos and Dendera, and Aswan Tours were incredible and extremely well organized, providing us with an excellent Egyptologist as a guide to the history associated with each. Well worth the money.
I would recommend Mara House to anyone visiting Luxor. If you’re looking for a place to help create memorable experiences that will last a lifetime, then Mara House is where you’ll want to stay.
Thank you so very much Mara!
Aleisha & Kathleen
Oct 2012, travelled with friends. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: CanadianAG, London, UK
“A weekend get away”
My weekend in Luxor staying at Mara House was an excellent R&R weekend away from the hussle and bussle in Cairo (where I live and work). Mara and Amr organised a fabulous sightseeing day on the West Bank starting with a dawn hot air balloon ride – I would get up at 0345 every day if each day could start with breathtaking views from a balloon basket high in the sky.
Amr was our host for the weekend, he made us feel most welcome. The house and our room was clean, spacious, comfortable, well stocked fridge with water, soft drinks, wine and beer and I loved the decor. We had a fabulous weekend in Luxor and Mara, Amr and Mohamed played a big part in that!
Stayed September 2012, travelled with friends. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: H N, Cairo, Egypt
“Adventures in Egypt”
After an eventful and tiring (but amazing ) few days in Cairo we arrived early in the morning after the night train from Cairo to Luxor. Thankfully Mara had arranged for her driver to meet us so we were whisked straight to the hotel and a quick check in to our wonderful room for a much needed lie in.
Throughout the trip the attention and care given to us and ensuring that we had a great experience in Luxor was fantastic and really genuine (even with all the extra needs we brought with us..lost passport, found passport, transport passport from Cairo, passport cancelled…). But it all worked out well in the end and Mara helped us get to our next destination in Dahab. The tours were great, and since it wasn’t busy at the time my friend and I had a private tour at no extra cost. A great chance to ask and learn anything we wanted to know about Egyptian history. The advice give on this and what to see was also spot on.
What more can i say, wonderful Egyptian breakfasts, cold beer in the fridge at market prices and beautiful rooms. Thanks for a wonderful stay and we’ll definitely come back!
Nov 2011, travelled with friends. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Erica P., London, UK
“all the comforts of home”
Carol, Accord, NY June, 2012
Stayed June 2012, travelled solo. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Kayakcarol, Accord, NY
“Luxors’ Little Gem!”
We have just returned to the cold of the UK after a fantastic time away in Egypt. The saddest part was the complete lack of tourists, and such a friendly place with SO much to see and do. We choose Mara’s House after reading reviews here and we were certainly not disappointed at all! Mara is there whenever you need her, and is a mine of information – who needs Wikipedia! She organises anything to suit your personal needs in the way of tours and highlights, or meals and what to do of an evening.
There was no faulting anything – her staff and anyone that she called on for tours or our Calesh trips in the evening out to have a meal that Ramadan and Rambo went beyond the call of duty or what you could ever expect to make everything in Luxor really special.
Had we been concerned at all that there was any trouble from what we had seen and heard on the news with the media hype, there was nothing to be seen of anything that would give the slightest of concerns. All we saw was wonderfully friendly people, who were SO conscious even in the tourist markets ‘not to hassle’, but also very sadly literately hundreds of River Cruise boats 8 deep tied up along the river.
Back to Mara House and the rooms were fantastic and spacious, with great cooling facilities, wonderful staff and everything you could need. We travelled with our 2 daughters 10 and 7, and our son 4, and they loved every minute and learnt SO much.
To sum up – you could spend a load of money, stay in a ‘luxury hotel’ that could be anywhere in the world with no personality, or you could stay at Mara House, and SEE Egypt and be a real part of the place. I am really pleased that we choose the latter and had the wonderful experience we did! The only negative was – it wasn’t long enough!! THANKS MARA!
June 2012, travelled with family. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Michelle L, Oxford, United Kingdom
“Fantastic choice in Luxor”
Mara arranged a driver to pick us up from the airport (thankfully, as there were some very aggressive taxi drivers there trying to get our business). From there we set off on our first tour with a very knowledgeable guide and driver. The information provided by the guide at each location was great. Due to the huge drop in tourism, we were also able to walk right into many sights that our guide says are normally very packed.
The next day we did the Abydos and Dendera tour, which exceeded expectations. I think Dendera was my favorite site in all of Luxor, so thanks for the suggestion, Mara! During each of our nights, we also saw the Luxor and Karnak temples with transportation arranged by Mara’s staff.
Bottom line with the tours: I thought they provided great information and were a good value for what was included. The ability to combine the airport transfers, room, and tours into one rate was very easy and definitely the best option for us.
Mara House itself is a very clean and lovely boutique hotel, with a really nice rooftop terrace. We were the only guests at the time, and staff truly went out of their way to make sure we had everything we could think of. We stayed in a suite with two bedrooms, 1 bath, a terrace, and kitchen. The mini fridge was well stocked with water and beer, and easily the most reasonable prices I’ve ever seen at a hotel. Coffee and tea are also available at all times.
Mara also provides a book full of information upon arrival, including local restaurant recommendations, tipping guidelines (very helpful!), local attraction information, etc.
RE: security in Egypt at this time, I wanted to mention that we, as 3 women, felt 100% safe at all times. I believe that many times the news may sensationalize things for a great story, and I wouldn’t want to understate anything going on in the country right now, but we never felt like anything happening politically affected our trip in a negative way. Obviously we stayed away from any planned protests, but other than that didn’t take any other special precautions. The Egyptian people are hurting badly because of this drop in tourism, so if you’ve ever wanted to go to Egypt, this is definitely the time to go!
One other note…I believe Mara also has a location in Cairo that I would check out if I returned. We used hotel points for a hotel in Cairo so that it was free, but if I returned, I would definitely check out the accommodations she has to offer before looking elsewhere.
Many thanks to Mara and her staff for a trip of a lifetime!
Stayed May 2012, travelled with friends. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: bedenji, Chicago Illinois
April 2012, travelled as a couple. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Caroline W., London, UK
Stayed April 2012, travelled with friends. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: hilcampbell, Istanbul *******
“Top care and service”
Back in Luxor, Mara is keen that you don’t get hassled, so you can be sure that your guide will not take you to see his cousin’s shop or any of the other scams that go on. Her guides know this and approve of this as they want to see the tourist experience improve.
We chose to use a caleche (horse and carriage) all the time we were there and, basically, for about £12 (English) you have his services for the day. The guy we used (recommended by Amr, Mara’s manager) was a great character and so obliging. We really enjoyed being able to see the world going on around us and he would occasionally stop off at the horse feed stall in the market en route to top up the stock of green stuff for his horse. You felt you were really a part of the daily life.
Tipping was a concern for us. We knew it was expected, but had no clue as to when or how how. Mara’s website has a page on this and it was very useful. Likewise, we were worried about getting the dreaded upset stomach. This also was catered for as we picked up some tablets on day one and never had to use them. The whole tipping thing is a complex issue to do with the way that the local economy works, which I won’t go into here, but look at Mara’s website and there is some useful information there.
The accommodation (our suite) was very comfortable. Big bedroom, lounge with balcony, air conditioning, big fridge with water, beer, wine, etc all at normal local prices so you felt you could just take what you needed and not be concerned about the budget. This is the Mara trademark. She is giving you the experience you would like to have if you could do it yourself.
I could go on. So many things to make your life run smoothly. You only had to ask. In fact if they thought you were unsure about how to get somewhere, then Amr would just go with you to make sure you were ok.
You are, however, in Luxor, not out in some large hotel complex. You will hear the Call to prayer from the mosque a street or two away. You will see people who appear to have few material possessions in the same street, but it is safe. We thought nothing of walking through the town in the evening. It is a great experience if you want to feel what living in Luxor is like.
I can’t recommend this enough. If you aren’t sure what to do, let them suggest a restaurant or a trip. You won’t regret it.
Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Johnpilk, Portsmouth, United Kingdom
We recently spent a quick weekend in Cairo and Luxor and had the privilege of staying at the Mara House. Having spent the previous couple of nights in a 5 star hotel in Cairo, we were interested to see what it would be like shifting to guest house in Luxor. We were greeted with some fantastic hospitality and a wonderfully comfortable stay in a great little place. Mara was away at the time, however Amr did everything possible to ensure that we fully enjoyed our time there at Mara House. The rooms were very comfortable and facilities were great. The rooftop terrace was a nice little place to hang out in the afternoons, while the restaurant served us with a multi-coursed treat in the evening. The sitting room was also a cosy little place for a wine/beer/tea and chat with friends in the evening (both before and after dinner). I couldn’t rate this place high enough, as it has gone on to being one of our favourite placeas to stay anywhere in the world. I hope you too get the chance to enjoy.
Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
Reviewed on TripAdvisor by: epaki, Moscow, Russia
Our 3 bedroom suite was clean, spacious, and very comfortable. The Egyptian decor was tasteful and welcoming. The staff was friendly and accommodating. Breakfast was plentiful and tasty. Mara provided invaluable guidance regarding tours and transportation. We saw so much more of Luxor because of our location.
One of our favorite experiences was the Egyptian dinner her chef prepared for us one evening. It was a real treat to sample such a feast of 15 local dishes that were all fresh and delicious. A perfect ending to a fabulous day.
The most impressive part of Mara’s house was the secure surroundings and friendly townspeople who welcomed us wherever we went. Never once did we feel threatened. This is one of the main reasons to return to Egypt again and again at Mara’s House.
Stayed March 2012, travelled with family
Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: AlexandraDC4C, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Stayed at Mara’s House for three nights in early April. We travelled as a family with children aged 13 & 11 yrs.
We arrived early evening & were offered a lovely choice of refreshing hot drinks & Mara soon had us organised with a venue for dinner together with a Calesh ride to get there. Before heading out we freshened up in our suite – very spacious & beautifully decorated with soft furnishings.
The Calesh ride didn’t disappoint & really gave us an insight into the real Luxor. What a wonderful city with so much going on. Our dinner at a Taste of India was wonderful with extra choice for the younger palate! The Calesh driver agreed to come back at a certain time & was ready waiting for us. We had a great nights sleep at Mara’s House ready for day 2.
Day 2 – after a fine continental breakfast we were ready for the day which was organised by Mara. We did the West Bank tour by Mahmoud who was a knowledgeable guide & we covered a lot of ground. All the sites were well worth visiting but we especially loved the Vally of the Kings & Tut’s tomb & mummified body. The trip started at 7.30am & finished around 3pm. Lunch was organised for us at a restaurant near Habu Temple which was lovely.
After freshening up we had dinner @ Mara’s restaurant which was a magnificent Egyptian Feast. (see Salahadeen Restaurant) This meal was by far the best meal we had during our stay in Egypt.
Day 3 – another wonderful breakfast & another tour organised by Mara, together with packed lunches. This time we were off to Dendera & Abydos temples again with Mahmoud. Fantastic detail at both sites – you must visit to experience this for yourself! Returning at 4.45pm we freshened up & headed out for dinner to the Fortune Cookie by Calesh ( recommended & organised by Mara) & once again travelled through the markets, streets & hustle & bustle of Luxor.
Day 4 – up at 4am to be greeted by Mara in the hall together with packed breakfast for our next leg of our journey to Cairo.
In summary we chose to stay with Mara because she provided detailed & thoughtful information about Egypt on her website, together with tours in Luxor. Mara House wasn’t just a luxury hotel in the middle of nowhere – it was in the heart of Luxor where you felt part of the real city, where the locals came across as genuinely honest & kind individuals. She provided a personal touch which left you in no doubt, particularly in the current political climate, that she had your safety & well being as a top priority together with helpful tips in order to maximise our stay. If we return we shall definitely go & stay with Mara ( if she’ll have us!?!?!). She is a very special lady!
Stayed April 2012, travelled with family
Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Lovies4, London, United Kingdom
My partner and I were planning to stay at a more upmarket hotel on the Nile as we were only staying 2 nights and thought it would be easier. Once we saw the reviews of Mara House on TripAdvisor we started to rethink. After a few email exchanges with Mara I knew that this was where we had to stay. The personalised service begins from the first email. She immediately offered suggestions on our every option for the trip. She totally gets it. She offers tours (without being pushy) and also advice for those who would prefer to do things on their own.
At first I thought the price of the accommodation might be a bit high as there are hotels with pools available for not a lot more money. However with Mara there are no hidden extras. Her drinks are very reasonably priced – in the hotels the prices are extortionate. And boy do you have to drink a lot of liquids in Luxor. She sells a 1.5 ltr bottle of water for 3 Egyptian – the same price as the supermarket. The hotels charge at least 5 times that. Wi-fi is free too.
The location as mentioned by others is a little unusual on arrival – it is not Beverley Hills – but this is Egypt and it is totally safe and hassle free to walk around. The building itself from the outside doesn’t look special but once you walk through the door you see it is more boutique hotel than guesthouse. Beautiful decor. Mara greeted us and treated us like we were old friends. She gave us great attention and answered all our questions in a very knowledgeable and helpful manner. The rooms are in fact apartments – very spacious and comfortable with separate living room and balcony. The staff are extremely attentive – even came to the phone shop with us to help us through the burocracy of buying an Egyptian SIM card. The day after we arrived Mara went to Ireland to visit family but her staff kept up the same level of service.
We took two tours organised by Mara. At first I thought the prices a little high but as I said before – with Mara there are no hidden extras. All the entry fees to temples and tombs (which are not cheap!) are included. Most of what you are paying is to cover these fees. The drivers are courteous and the guides knowledgeable and the most important thing for us is that unlike most guides all over the world they don’t take you to shops.
Mara also has a folder of useful information and recommendations which cover most things you would want to know. Her restaurant recommendations were spot on. Whenever you need to go anywhere she will organise a taxi within 10 minutes at a fixed reasonable price. She or her manager are always at the other end of the phone to send a taxi to pick you up.
Her restaurant isn’t open every night – seems to depend on the number of guests. But she will let you know if it is going to be open. Don’t miss it. It is an incredible feast. Don’t eat too much during the day so that you have a good appetite for this banquet. And the restaurant itself has beautiful decor.
Once you leave the oasis of Mara House and venture into the touristy neighbourhoods Luxor is a total hassle. Everybody is on the make and they are annoyingly persistent. Understandable at one of the worlds top tourist attractions in such a poor place.
Mara also has 2 self-catering apartments in downtown Cairo where we are staying now. A very different experience from Mara House but it is perfect for us. She organises tours and transfers here in Cairo as well. Even though she has now gone to Ireland she keeps her Egyptian phone switched on in case we need anything. Saved our lives the other night when we needed to know where we could buy some cold beer.
Thank you so much for everything Mara. Go raibh maith agat! Shokran. You are a great reason for us to return to Egypt.
Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
Reviewed on TripAdvisor by Sean O’Flynn, Salvador, Brazil.
Several tours can be organised all of which are of a very reasonable price.
I cannot give enough praise to this establishment.
(* Our caleche driver was Ramadan and we could not have had anyone better.
Stayed March 2012, travelled as a couple
Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Jamieh851, Colchester.
1. It is located in an Egyptian neighborhood a short distance from the tourist area.
2. It has excellent service.
3. Very clean and comfortable.
4. Mara is a wonderful hostess. She can help with tours or just information if you want to see the sights on your own.
5. Wonderful restaurant.
If you want a “sterile” hotel experience where you can hardly even tell which country you are in, stay in a large resort by the Nile. If you are lucky, they may even charge you American/European prices for food and tours, so you really feel at home. If you want see the real Egypt and experience the local culture at a very comfortable, clean, reasonably priced hotel that has free wifi, excellent personalized service and great food stay at Mara House.
As soon as we arrived Mara and her staff greeted us and brought in our luggage. We were offered a refreshment and Mara sat down with us to go over our plans for Luxor. We planned to sight see on our own so she provided us with maps and advice. We walked all over the East Bank by ourselves and felt very safe. She arranged for a taxi for us for the day to see the West Bank at a very reasonable price. The room was large and comfortable. I had the best sleep of the whole trip here. There was plenty of hot water and wifi signal in most of the room. There is also a beautiful rooftop deck that you can enjoy.
We had our laundry done which was very reasonably priced. We gave it to them the night we arrived and the next afternoon it was folded and returned to our room. We were fortunate to be able to eat at the restaurant Salahadeen for 2 of the 3 nights we were there. The quality of the food was excellent and very delicious. We were served 2 different soups to start which were great. Then you are served a large tray with at least 15 different dishes. These included both meat and vegetarian dishes, rice, potatoes and various dips and a large basket of flat breads. There is something for everyone! There was so much food my husband and I could not finish it. This was followed by desert which was a scoop of ice cream with fresh fruit and tea. Not only is the food delicious but the service is excellent.
All of this is served in a very beautiful, relaxing dining room with Egyptian furnishings. I really like to stress the great service at Mara house because that was something I found, overall, in short supply during this trip.
I was supposed to come the previous year but due to the revolution I had to postpone the trip. I had emailed Mara many times prior to arriving, asking for advice about the current situation and she was a great help giving me the information that I needed. Not only is she helpful and professional but she is a very interesting woman. Meeting her and staying at Mara house was definitely the highlight of our trip to Egypt.
Stayed March 2012, travelled as a couple
Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: figlet, Swansea, MA
We had the good fortune to stay 3 nights at Mara House in Egypt. Our host was Amr, a wonderful spirit who couldn’t do enough for us. He took us shopping at the souk, arranged cabs, recommended restaurants. Ask him to bring a hibiscus tea to the rooftop garden so you can hear the street sounds below….that was a nice evening.
Our Room 2 was very spacious with several sitting areas, good furnishings, a comfy bed, a strong shower, and a stocked fridge (including wine). Excellent.
I’d brought hair braids & coloured pens for the kids we’d meet along the way. What a hit for them…yet it’s such a small easy thing for us to do. Make a personal connection, one person to another, when the world is so desperate for a good healing.
If you’re looking for a vacation where you can learn, be dumbstruck by ancient sights, and enjoy the people, GO TO EGYPT and for icing on the cake, stay at MARA HOUSE!
Room Tip: Our Room 2 overlooked the street below. No noise issue at all. It was large like a suite.
Stayed March 2012, travelled as a couple
Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: rsdickson, Vancouver, Canada
Mara was so helpful to us in any number of ways, as well as offering a lovely hotel with a top class welcome. The staff, all locals, were most obliging and helpful, and we were very comfortable and happy there. This is the place to go to get the low-down on life in Luxor, and Egypt more generally. Nothing can quite match the local knowledge of a Westerner who has spent years getting to know the ins and outs of the country and its people, and yet also understands the needs of a non-Egyptian !
We ate the marvellous Sahaladeen feast in the beautiful and newly-reopened restaurant, which was a delight to the senses, and is heartily recommended.
Stayed February 2012, travelled with family
Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: G F Paris, France
At Mara’s they gave us our own key to our little apartment/suite. The place comes equipped with a kitchen, minibar, Tv, etc. They have free wi-fi (most places charge), just know that internet connection in Egypt is not that good. Mara was also very helpful in telling us how to get to places from our location, we walked everywhere and felt safe. The tours were well organized, on time, and worth every penny! The house also has a restaurant, where we tried an egyptian feast for dinner, and the lounge/bar area is nice to just sit back and read a book. Staying with Mara was like staying with family and I’m really glad we found her. Thank you for making our trip to Luxor, unforgettable!
Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: hormellitos, Arizona
We had a great visit – good location in a residential area – nothing mass-produced about the hotel at all. The staff were extremely kind and helpful, including arranging trips to the key sites.
Stayed December 2011, travelled as a couple
Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Laura B., Khartoum, Sudan
Mara is the most helpful people you will find if you want to do a trip to Luxor. She knows her job and does it with a great pleasure and you feel it at your first email exchange.
The place is well located and we enjoyed walking until the Corniche and the Nile. The aera where she is located is full of kind popular Egytians and they welcome you without end.
Her hotel is well done and in an islamic style which is beautiful and more interesting than the standard furniture of big chains…Enjoy it like we did…
François. Stayed March 2012, travelled as a couple. Reviewed on Tripadvisor by: Francois800, Cairo, Egypt