El Luxor (previously the Mercure, before that, the Etap)
El Luxor hotel
|Official local rating||4 star|
|Typical UK rating||4 star|
|TV & Fridge in all rooms|
|Small pool bar|
|Internet (not wi-fi) (extra)|
|Phone||00 20 952 374944|
|Address||Cornish El Nil Street
Excellent refurbished rooms. Many other rooms are still rather dated but decent food, central location and new pricing make it a good value alternative to other 4 and 5 star hotels.
To book this hotel
Package companies are not currently offering the Eatabe, but you can buy through the following agencies and through companies that book flights and hotels separetely.
The front end of one of the wings was taken down in 2009 but that major work is complete. The rooms are undergoing major renovation in batches, so building work will be going on in some part of the hotel for quite a while. Because of the size and layout of the hotel it is possible to escape the disturbance depending on where your room is compared with the current renovation work.
The main entrance to the hotel was to have moved to the side street so that the front would be pedestrainised, but that work has come to a halt. If it resumes, the Champollion restaurant and the shops, will have to move or close.
Nile view through balcony doors from southern wing
View from non-Nile view room, southern wing
There used to be two Mercure Hotels. The Mercure Inn, also known locally as the Coralia, became the Swiss Inn and was subsequently demolished. The other, the Mercure Hotel, also known locally (and shown on old maps) as the Etap, became the El Luxor hotel at the beginning of 2010.
The El Luxor, owned by Misr Travel, a government company (Misr is Egyptian for Egypt) then became the Eatabe, returning it almost to its original name.
The new owners appear to have repositioned the hotel's pricing as it is now available at lower cost than before. The lower prices may also be to compensate for the disturbance during renovations (see the box) and may therefore be short-lived.
The El Luxor is a little to the north of Luxor Centre, quite close to the museum and fairly close, too, to Luxor temple, the ferry and the tourist market. It is not as central as the Winter Palace and Pavillon Winter but if you want to be nearer to the sites than the southern cluster of tourist hotels and restaurants, then this is one of the few 4/5 star choices.
The hotel is across the Corniche from the Nile and has a good length of Nile frontage. It is essentially in four parts, three of which are linked internally. The first part is the central 2-storey block, which has the lobby and reception area. It also has shops and a restaurant on the ground floor and restaurants on the first floor. A single storey extension houses a coffee shop and bar with comfortable inside and outside terrace areas.
Poolside block overlooking gardens
The second part is the largest (northern) block. This has four floors of accommodation above two floors of shops and restaurants and a pub overlooking the Nile, helpfully called 'Nile Pub'. This block is to the left as you face reception and as you face the hotel from outside. The block, houses room numbers ending 01 - 33. It has two crescent-shaped corridors which merge to form a rounded Y shape pointing towards the Nile. There are lifts and a small sitting area where the corridors join. On the odd-numbered side the crescent faces the Nile towards Karnak. Even-numbered rooms face the Nile south, towards the town. There is a good view of the Nile from the even-numbered rooms, although the panorama is increasingly constrained by the edge of the opposite block as you go further towards the back of the hotel (higher room numbers). The views are similarly constrained on the odd-numbered side, this time not by the hotel but by buildings across the road. Caleches used to park on the road below the odd-numbered side, but hese have now been moved so there is o longer a 'local scent' wafting towards these balconies. This block is undergoing very major renovation starting on the top floors and working down.The project amounts to reducing each floor to a shell and reconstructing virtually from scratch, and to a very high standard. The renovated rooms have large wall-mounted LCD TVs, kettles, modern, dark furniture and designer decor. The top two floors have been finished.
The third part of the hotel is a second (southern) accommodation block, linked to the core on the town side - to the right as you face the hotel from outside. It has rooms over six floors with rooms numbers ending in 34 - 46, plus all room numbers beginning with 5 and 6. This has the rather unattractive external appearance of a 1960s block of flats. The block is parallel to the Nile. Rooms on the Nile side (even numbers) have extensive views across the road, over the cruise ships to the Nile and the West Bank but the view is constrained by trees on the lowest floors. Rooms on the odd-numbered side look towards the gardens and the pool. This block has not been renovated.
The fourth part is the 'poolside' rooms, sometimes referred to as bungalows although they are on 3 stories. The have room numbers beginning 7 (ground floor), 8 (first floor) or 9 (second floor). These rooms are not linked to the core or to the other accommodation blocks. Although they are described as 'poolside', they do not face the pool, but are arranged in a quadrangle next to the pool, around well-tended gardens.
Typical unrenovated Nile view room, southern block
All the rooms in the hotel are reasonably sized - not spacious but adequate - and each has a balcony. The balconies in the block that is parallel with the Nile are as wide as the rooms and are the biggest. The balconies in the largest block are much smaller but just about big enough for 2 to sit out.
Most of the rooms are rather dated (see the Building Work box above). Heavy, painted wooden furniture is typical of hotels built 50 years ago and shows its age. It is, nevertheless, functional. Rooms in the poolside blocks are slightly more up to date. In all rooms there is a desk, which would double as a dressing table, a fridge in a cupboard and a wardrobe which provides adequate rather than ample storage. Most rooms have their own safe. This is in the wardrobe but is not secured. Someone gaining access to the room could easily take the entire safe away, and as it is combination-code operated it would only be a matter of patience to open it. The alternative for valuables that need to be more secure, and for those rooms without their own, is to use a safe at reception, which are available free of charge.
The plumbing works, but is quite old. Water is hot all day and flow is adequate for the over-bath shower, but otherwise rather slow, so the narrow full-size baths take quite a time to fill. There is also a good-sized basin and bidet. Basic complimentary toiletries are provided.
There are no drink-making facilities in the unrenovated rooms and bringing your own kettle and ingredients would offend the hotel's (apparently unenforced) ban on food and drink from outside. This is normal for hotels in Luxor.
The TVs in the unrenovated oldest rooms are the older style but there are LCD TVs in most of the poolside block and the renovated rooms. Many TV channels are available. Most of them are from the middle-east, sometimes with subtitles. English-speaking programmes are mostly American and include programmes for children, quite a lot of sport, films and international soaps. There are no English channels as such although English programmes are shown on other channels, sometimes dubbed into other languages. Apart from occasional English on Nile News, the only English-speaking news channel is CNN.
The air conditioning works but not very well in the unrenovated rooms and is not remote controlled.
These services issues are typical of an hotel built in this era and not yet renovated, but the essentials are all available and the rooms are a reasonable size, well cleaned and, if you are happy to accept lack of modernity and all that implies, good enough for the amount you pay. If you want better, you can certainly get better, but you will pay quite a bit more for it.
Light and spacious lobby, looking towards the Sarab bar
When it was the Mercure, the reception area always seemed very busy. Most of the tour companies no longer use the hotel and there appear to be fewer short stays by airline crews and tourists disembarking from cruise boats. Possibly for these reasons, the reception area, whilst it has its busy moments especially at package company arrival and departure times, generally appears more calm. It does not have the glitzy ambience of the Sonesta but it is light and spacious, with plenty of comfortable seating, newspapers and a bank as well as inside and outside refreshment areas. Not over-posh, but a very good size and perfectly adequate. The lobby doubles as a lounge. Apart from the small areas by the lifts in the big block, there is no other lounge or sitting area.
Sarab bar has happy hour from 5 until 7pm
A coffee bar and restaurant are on the ground floor, at either end of the reception area. Bistro (in places spelt Bistrot), a small cafe-style coffee bar open from 7am until 11pm, is tucked behind the Sarab bar, which also provides service when the Bistro is closed. The Sarab bar is open from 10am until 1am. It has a happy hour from 5pm until 7pm (buy one drink full price and all subsequent drinks are half price) and entertainment most nights. The entertainment is usually a duo called the 'Consultants', a female vocalist who sings in several languages and is really rather good, and a male instrumentalist. The rest breaks can be longer than the sessions, so it may be quite difficult to catch a performance.
The smarter Champollion coffee shop and restaurant is on a raised and rather public platform at the northern end of the lobby, extending to a more discreet area behind. It is open 24 hours a day and serves drinks and snack meals as well as providing room service. The much larger Gorna restaurant serves breakfast, set and buffet lunch from noon until 3pm and set and buffet dinner from 6.30pm until 10pm. Le Gorna is above the lobby area, on the first floor.
A french restaurant, Le Flamboyant, was formed in October 2010 from a screened-off part of Le Gorna. A french-trained chef and grand piano add some class. However, prices are not much lower than prices at the 1866 French silver service restaurant at the Winter Palace, but without the ambience. If you want to eat french, the 1866 at the Winter Palace is a more obvious choice.
The Gorna restaurant is very spacious and has good views of the Nile. It used to have a small no smoking area and a much larger smoking area, but it is now all non-smoking, with just a small sitting area near a door reserved for smoking. Tables have cloths, which are changed when marked, and serviettes are linen, even for breakfast. Breakfast is the traditional self-service but basic tea and (mediocre) coffee are served at the table. Alternative teas and diet sugar are available from a display amongst the breakfast foods. Breakfast food choices include breads, pastries, salads, hot dishes and a very small range of fruit and local cereals. Your choice of omelette, fried or other egg is prepared for you as you wait. Unusually, pancakes (crepes) are also available with a choice of topping and can be taken from a warmer. Sometimes a chef is available so they can be cooked to order. Toast is self-cook. Overall, presentation is fine and the range is far better than at many hotels in the same price range, but, as you would expect, doesn't quite match the offerings at the more expensive Maritim, Sonesta or Nile Palace. There is a very wide choice of breakfast time from 5.30 until 10.30.
Close to the Bistro is a small internet area. Two computers are available. There is no wi-fi but a laptop can be plugged in. At LE30 for 30 minutes or LE45 for and hour you are better off going outside. There is are internet cafes in the road to the left and in the Savoy Centre to the right of the hotel. Snacktime and a pizza restaurant in Station road, about 10 minutes walk away, have free wi-fi if you have your own laptop.
Pool, with Italian restaurant to the right
Outside, the gardens are not as extensive as the shared gardens of the Pavillon Winter and Winter Palace, but at least as good as many of the southern cluster of hotels. The pool is a good size and has an Italian restaurant. This used to be called Dakka Rest and that name still exists in places but is now generally just called 'the Italian Restaurant'. It is open in the evening from 6 until 10pm. A daytime pool bar, the Tamam Bar, serves drinks and snacks from 9am until 6pm. There is also a very small children's dry play area and mini-golf. Loungers are sturdy, but do not have a sitting position. Towels are provided.
Review updated May 2014