(Old) Winter Palace Hotel
Old Winter Palace
|Official local rating||5 star|
|Typical UK rating||5 star|
|TV & Fridge in all rooms|
|Fine spacious gardens|
|Two restaurants & pool snacks|
|High class piano bar|
Not up with the very best international standards but for Luxor: fit for a king, although you need a king's ransom to afford the best rooms.
Ways to book this hotel
The following agencies can book rooms for you at this hotel. Click on the logo (below) to go to their web site. The ones listed first usually offer the best deals.
An unbooked airport taxi should cost about LE40-50 per taxi (not per person).
Local tour companies will arrange a transfer from about LE80 per car. Read more about this on the Getting to the hotel page.
Old Winter Palace foyer and stairs
Built in 1866, the Winter Palace used to be the winter residence of the King and it still retains that opulence. This is the hotel of choice for visiting presidents or their representatives, film stars and others who don't need to check the price before they book in. Howard Carter was a very regular visitor, even though he had his own house on the West Bank.
The hotel is in a grand, imposing building on the Corniche, across the road from the Nile. Go up the sweeping stone staircase into the hotel to enter an ornate foyer with magnificent staircase. Many people come just to look, but the hotel discourages voyeurs. By and large, you need to be resident or to be coming for a meal to get this far. There are staff at the entrance who will check that you satisfy one of these criteria. If you do not, they will refuse admission or will charge LE100 for entry, which will be taken off tea or any other refreshments you may have.
The grandeur of the hotel is not in the modern flash vogue, but in the traditional, colonial style. The communal rooms share the flamboyance of the foyer and staircase. The massive Victoria lounge could easily be in Pimlico. Resting in one of exquisite armchairs you would not be surprised if Jeeves offered you a cocktail and a freshly ironed newspaper. The Royal Bar, opposite, has old books lining its paneled walls and a live pianist. There is a dress code that prevents unsuitably attired visitors detracting from the ambience in the lounge and the bar as well as the restaurants. No cargo pants or T-shirts here.
The rooms towards the centre at the front are massive and arranged in suites. These are the ones frequently occupied by visiting dignitaries. Many of the other bedrooms and suites appear to have been created by subdividing previously cavernous areas. Consequently they vary in shape, size and layout, giving each a unique character. The rooms at the front overlook the Nile. The ones at the back have a view to fine gardens. The gardens are a major feature of the hotel. They are extensive and include a good pool, poolside dining and tennis courts. These facilities are shared with residents of the nearby, newer, Pavilion Winter hotel.
Old Winter Palace Royal Bar
Service is as attentive as you would expect at a hotel of this class. They will even run errands, such as changing cash, but of course the tips are expected to be generous too.
There are two dining rooms, which are reviewed separately here.
One of the 'things to do' in Luxor is to take tea on the balcony at the Winter Palace. You have to be smartly dressed to be admitted and there is a cost premium for the privilege. Unless you are resident, the minimum charge of LE100 applies. But where else can you sup tea on the balcony of a former palace with uninterrupted views over the Nile to the West Bank, or the grand lounge where kings, presidents and film starts have supped before you?