|Official local rating||4 star|
|Typical UK rating||4 star|
|TV & Fridge in all rooms|
|Air conditioning (remote)|
|Outdoor pool, heated in winter|
|Small pool bar|
|Wi-fi internet (extra)|
|Phone||+20 103 456253|
|Address||Khaled Ebn El Whalid St
Small lower-cost Nile-side hotel. Doesn't compete with the bigger 5 star hotels but Nile-side location and better views from most rooms make it worth considering against 4 and 3 star alternatives. Improved but still disappointing breakfast and other meals. Noise can be a problem.
To book this hotel
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The Lotus is a relatively new hotel. It is on the Nile side of the main Khaled Ebn El Walid Street that serves most of the hotels in the southern cluster, squeezed between the Steigenberger Nile Palace on one side and the old swimming pool site and Sonesta St George on the other.
The hotel is owned by the government. Its traditional business was for short-stay government purposes, such as police conferences, but now has an increasing focus on tourism. Until recently it was only possible to book direct or through accommodation agencies, but package tour companies, including Thomas Cook, Olympic and, more recently, Monarch (Cosmos), have started offering the Lotus.
At the front, the hotel is set back from the road, behind some roadside tourist shops and the hotel's own car park. This has the advantage that road noise is not as much of a problem as it is for other hotels along this stretch of road. You also get a chance to emerge from the building without being immediately accosted by taxi and caleche drivers. From the road, the entrance is inconspicuous and easy to miss.
At the rear, the hotel is also set back a little more than the neighbouring hotels from the Nile. This gives a fair depth to the grounds which include a circular pool, heated in winter, with adjoining shallow pool, and several sitting areas on different levels. On the minus side, it also means that the sun rarely gets to the balconies because even after the sun has made its way to the west, all but the very centre rooms are shielded by the flanks of the neighbouring hotels and the walls of the Lotus itself.
One of the better balcony views
from a standard-price room
The hotel boasts Nile views from most rooms. Being so close to the neighbouring hotels, the same walls that shield the balconies from the sun also blinker the outlook, so that the panorama of the Nile is quite constrained, especially from the rooms set back furthest from the river. From the balconies of these rooms, part of the view is of the Nile Palace on one side and the Sonesta on the other side. The best Nile views are from the centre rooms, most of which are the more expensive suites, and views are still quite good one or two rooms back, but beyond that the blinkering effect of the neighbouring hotels makes its mark, especially on the Nile Palace (higher room number) side.
Normally, the 'Please do not disturb' handle notice would be red, and 'Please clean my room' would be green. At the Lotus, the red one says 'Please clean my room', so if you don't want nasty surprises, be careful to read the notice before you hang it.
Bear in mind that the views from standard price rooms at other hotels, such as the Sonesta, Nile Palace, Iberotel and Isis are also limited, so this is not peculiar to the Lotus. At the competing hotels, the rooms with the best views come at quite a high price premium. At the Lotus you can get a better view from a standard price room, if you get the right one. If you want the best views try to get a room number ending between 04 and 06 (some of these are suites) but 01 to 03 are also OK. Rooms with numbers ending 07 to 10 are increasingly further back along the Nile Palace side. Rooms with numbers ending 11 and 12 overlook the road.
The Lotus appears quite smart from the outside and the effect is maintained as you enter a small but impressive reception area, with polished marble, smart antique-style furnishings and a vista straight through to the Nile beyond. The gloss on the image is a little let down by a temporary-looking ATM machine, public internet computer terminals and notices.
The antique-style furniture continues into a neighbouring lounge, which doubles as a saloon. A small bar and TV were added to the corner of this lounge very early in 2010. The bar and the waiter service offer hot, soft and a limited range of alcoholic drinks. There is no entertainment.
In the centre of the main reception area is an atrium which extends upwards through the five guest floors to a roof light. On each of the floors a galleried landing surrounding the atrium gives access to the guest rooms. This is a very pleasant feature, providing natural light through the building. However, the design is better suited to a concert hall than a hotel as the atrium also tends to act as a megaphone. Any loud conversation in reception transmits through the hotel. Even the hand bell at the reception desk can be heard inside the rooms several floors above. In most hotels, an uncontrolled child would disturb neighbours. Here, if the noise is from the reception area or any of the landings, it disturbs everyone.
Lounge area behind main reception
Reception is through the glass doors on the right
You get the impression that a great deal of attention went into creating an appealing public space but that the rooms themselves were designed and fitted to a budget rather than to a specification. Some of them are really rather small, even for a hotel that has not earned five stars. The rest are average in size for a four or five star hotel. Natural light is provided by a pair of glazed doors onto the balconies. The balconies themselves are quite small and have no chairs or other furniture. Most of them are in constant shade.
There are no drink-making facilities. Until recently the hotel was one of the few that did not ban beverages and food from outside, but this has now changed. Now that the ban is in place, bringing your own kettle and making your own drinks would, strictly speaking, break the rules.
New bar in the lounge at the Lotus
The bathrooms are a reasonable size and have a shortish bath tub with shower over. The fittings are basic: the sort that come as a job lot in DIY store sales. Even though the hotel is young they are already looking worn beyond their years, with failing enamel to the baths and fittings that are functional but in need of frequent attention. There is a towel rail and narrow shelf, but not really enough storage or surface for the volume of cosmetic, cleaning and other bathroom paraphernalia brought by most tourists. There is no hairdryer. Basic toiletries are provided.
The rooms have fridge and TV. The TV shows mostly arabic-language channels. There are a couple of channels showing English language, mostly American, films and TV shows subtitled into Arabic. It also has an Egyptian channel with occasional news in English and CNN most of the day. There are however no English TV channels, such as BBC World, normally found in larger Luxor hotels.
The rooms appear to be well cleaned by pleasant staff who are adept at towel sculpture. However, the appearance of the rooms is a little let down by poor finishing of the building. We have seen glass that is too small for its opening, surface-mounted taps that have been fitted too far from the wall so they look less secure than they are, and clumsy use of cement at the finishing stage. All minor points but unnecessary snags that really ought to have been picked up at building stage and betray a possible lack of priority to the private guest areas. The guest room furniture, too, is quite ordinary and appears older than the hotel's age. The wardrobe is far too small for a two-week stay. These things are not going to spoil your holiday, but it is a shame that a hotel with so much potential has missed the mark in trivial ways. The other 4 star hotel built at about the same time, the Morris, has high quality sanitary appliances and far better finishes throughout, although its location is not as good.
The air-conditioning is not the sleekest, nor the quietest, but it is effective and remote controlled. There are no safes in the rooms, but safety deposit boxes are available at reception.
The Restaurant Manager is usually around and identifiable from his suit. Otherwise, most of the management staff do not make themselves very evident. In fact the Food and Beverage manager wears casual clothes and no badge, so you would not know his position even if you saw him.
Hands-on staff, including waiters and staff at the pool and reception, are pleasant, attentive and appear efficient. Their command of English is adequate for day-to-day hotel needs.
Breakfast used to be very basic, often consisting of bread rolls, cheese, meat, butter and jam with a hard-boiled egg and a little salad, delivered to the table pre-plated and wrapped in cling-film, with a choice of tea or weak coffee from a flask. There may still be reviews that describe the breakfast this way. The Lotus have tried to improve on this by following the normal tourist hotel convention of offering self-service from several breakfast cultures. Egyptian tastes appear quite well catered for and there are some cooked european foods, salad, breads and pastries. However, the cooked foods are not kept very hot and you get the impression that some things may reappear the following day. Eggs are cooked to order. The juice is artificial but the coffee is Nescafe in sachets or tea in bags, with flasks of hot water at the table. There is only one choice of fruit and the single choice of cereal: a local imitation of an international brand and very salty. For british tastes the improvements do not yet go far enough to bring breakfast at the Lotus in line with four and five star tourist hotels, but it is now better than most of the two and three star alternatives and improving steadily.
In the main restaurant, the tables are circular and all have eight seats. The waiters direct guests to tables, usually occupied ones. If you like a quiet breakfast you may not like this communal eating arrangement. A second, smaller restaurant in a separate building close to the pool is often used for breakfast instead of the main restaurant. Here, the tables are oblong and seat six, but the communal eating theme is maintained.
Drinks and daytime snacks are available at the pool. The main restaurant also provides lunch and evening dinner from 7pm until 10pm.
Snack food is fine although choice is a little limited. It seems to take a long time to come and if you order different dishes they will not necessarily turn up together. Overall, there is nothing superlative about the snacks or reason to come here if you are staying elsewhere, but they are prepared well enough and are very good value, competing in price with the value restaurants outside rather than the other hotels.
Food for the other main meals, however, gives rise to many complaints. It is worth complaining because improved meals are sometimes produced, but people on full or half board tariffs who accept what they are first given without comment do not eat well. Guests who come on half-board tariff often choose to forgo their evening meal entitlement and eat outside.
The grounds of the Lotus Hotel
showing the heated pool and seating areas
Access to the pool is a bit quirky. Like most of the hotels along the side of the Nile, the front entrance is at road level and the outdoor facilities at the rear are on a lower level. At the other hotels, there is a route from the guest rooms, via the lift, to the pool level at the rear, so that guests can emerge from their rooms and go to the pool without exhibiting themselves to the public in the main reception area. At the Lotus, there is a lift that goes from the guest room levels to the pool level, but access to the pool is only available through the restaurant. This is not something you can do when meals are in progress - which is most of the day. The only alternative is to leave the lift at reception level, to go through reception, through the lounge, and emerge outside one level higher than the pool, going down outside steps to pool level. Not a major problem but not too clever either and indicative either of a lack of thinking through at hotel design stage, or that the hotel was not designed to be aimed at tourists. There are toilets at the pool level, but they are not signposted so you may miss them. As you face the hotel from the pool area they are to the left of the restaurant.
Beyond the pool there is a landing stage which is used by motor boats and feluccas bringing tour parties to this end of town. Parades of tourists through the pool and sunbathing area can feel intrusive.
Lotus hotel from the rear (Nile) side
Note how close it is to the Nile Palace on the right.
Other facilities offered by the hotel include an internet area within main reception, where you can use their flat screen machines or your own laptop via wi-fi for only a little more than you would pay at a local internet café. You can plug your laptop into the hotel network at the New Pola or at various internet cafés for a little less and wi-fi is available free at places like Snacktime and McDonalds in town, but the price at the Lotus is good for a hotel. The laundry is very good value too.
A range of massage and beauty treatments is available, based in a shop unit in a basement-level shopping area in front of the hotel. Apart from a tourist shop, the other units there are unoccupied. As the general area is well supplied with tourist shops, services and restaurants at street level, it is hard to imagine the attraction of the underground ones in front of the Lotus, which may be destined to remain empty.
Whether you choose the Lotus will depend to a large extent on the rate you get. If you want the lavish breakfasts or multiple lounges and bars on offer in 5 star hotels nearby, then you may not be happy at the Lotus. But if you remember that the accommodation part of the holiday cost at the Lotus is generally half the cost of the Sonesta, Nile Palace or Sheraton, and if you want somewhere decent, rather than somewhere fantastic, then we think that, despite its imperfections, it's Nile-side location, better views from many rooms and public area ambience make it worth booking as an alternative to the 2 and 3 star hotels in a similar price bracket.
updated April 2013