Karnak Resort Luxor
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Historical Traveler Reviews Karnak Resort Luxor
Best Hotel in Luxor
We stayed at the Sofitel Karnak from 01 - 15 June this year and each day we congratulated ourselves for making such a good choice. Of course there were a couple of minor niggles, firstly, after arriving and completing the usual formalities we were shown to our room - or not as the case may be - we were simply taken half way, pointed in the direction of one of the outbuildings and told our room was on the top floor. This was the first time I have never been personally escorted to a hotel room. After showering we went for the evening meal which was being served in the Õ Nile restaurant - this is normally the smaller á la carte restaurant but when the hotel is approximately one third full they use this instead of the Opet buffet restaurant which is much larger. Again we were just pointed in the general direction of this and we had to return to reception for confirmation of location. The Õ Nile restaurant is in a lovely location alongside the Nile with a small outside terrace - but it wasn't really suited to a buffet style meal arrangement as the room was too narrow for this type of operation and people were constantly brushing past perimeter tables.
However, 4 days later due to either complaints or an increase in the number of guests, breakfast and evening meal were reassigned to the Opet restaurant. This is a large restaurant nicely arranged and decorated (although I felt the wall murals a little OTT) - the main buffets were arranged around a large replica of a Pharonic royal barge. The food throughout our stay was exemplary - always fresh, hot where necessary and attractively presented. The chefs were continually re-arranging the buffets to ensure good presentation. Each day of the week there is a different theme ranging from Oriental through to Tex Mex and Italian etc. In addition each evening there were several types of salad and fresh pasta dishes cooked on an as requested basis. I have to say that in all the places I have stayed on half board, the Sofitel Karnak stood head and shoulders above them. The desserts especially were varied, it was obvious someone had gone to great lengths to ensure they looked as well as tasting good.
Breakfast was served from 0530 until 1030 - it was served this early to enable people who were going on day excursions to take advantage of the cooler part of the mornings. Those on half board were also entitled to a limited quantity of free drinks with their meal - this was not without some peculiarities, for instance you could have a bottle of Stella beer but Sakhara beer was charged at normal bar prices, similarly you could have a can of Cola Cola or Sprite but not Diet Cola which again you had to pay for in full. I don't know what the limit on free drinks with your meal is but we usually had a large bottle of water and either a beer or soft drink each, which in the circumstance seemed reasonable.
If I have slight irritation it was with the majority of staff throughout the hotel - and that was the frequent slow service even when not busy - you would ask for something, not receive it and ask someone else, only to give up and try and find it yourself. I don't have a problem with this if they are genuinely busy and I am only too happy to help out where necessary but you just never knew if you were going to get what you asked for. Don't get me wrong they were polite, smiling and very welcoming but after experiencing the type of prompt and efficient service you usually get in the hotels in Sharm el Sheikh, the reverse here came as a surprise here - they definitely need a more efficient restaurant manager.
However, that's almost all the niggles out of the way - food as I mentioned is excellent, the rooms are good, not luxurious and a bit on the small side - but no problem if it's just the two of you, however I imagine it would be a bit cramped if you needed a third bed. The bathroom again was good, clean and with a power shower over the bath. Word of warning here though especially for those with young children. The shower does not have a temperature regulator - you would normally expect this to simply result in a sudden stream of cold water, but here the opposite applies, almost without warning the shower temperature can go from tepid to scalding - this happened on a daily basis - to if you are showering down young children, DON'T - give them a bath instead.
The hotel gardens are really lovely and extremely well looked after - the site is fully mature with towering palm trees springing up from green lawns, There are innumerable flowering shrubs and flowers - it really is a picture at every turn. An area that is especially attractive is the lawned gardens to the rear of the fitness suite and down the driveway to the exit gates. If you have young children - do take a walk to the bottom of the drive, just before the exit there is a small menagerie looked after by a young man. It contains a young camel, a couple of donkeys, sheep, rabbits, ducks, doves and two baby crocodiles in a pond - when I asked him what he fed the crocodiles on he pointed to a small shoal of little fish cowering at the far end of the pool - I don't think they slept at night! Don't forget to give the lad a tip - he's saving up to put some glass windows in his parent's house - at least that was my interpretation!
The main pool with swim-up bar is excellent, there are plenty of comfortable sunbeds with mattresses and parasols, there is a smaller adjoining children's pool. During the morning and again in the afternoon there is water aerobics and water polo. At the towel station it is
possible to borrow or hire a multitude of games or sports equipment - there is also a book exchange library. A little further away on the lawns going down towards the Nile there are more sunbeds, that have a great view over the Nile towards the West Bank and the Valley of the Kings et al. Close by there is a further children's' pool with small waterside and magic mushroom water fountain. If there is one thing that spoils the view it's the massive electricity pylons slightly upstream with cables that span right across the Nile - these are a bit of an eyesore and you tend to concentrate your eyes in the other direction.
Directly above the Õ Nile restaurant is the Sundowners Bar - this is open from about 4pm until midnight serving drinks and shisha pipes - this as the name suggests is a great place early evening to watch the sun set with a drink or two. Do be aware though that due to its close proximity to the Nile there are a few mosquitoes around. That said the hotel does a really good job of keeping them under control - they have plenty of fluorescent flying insect traps around and each evening they mist around the grounds and during the day and wash down all hard surfaces (walkways) with mosquito repellent. Don't be put off by the thought of hordes of mosquitoes they are well behaved, or dead.
On the sporting front there are modern free squash courts, volley ball courts, tennis courts, jacuzzi and sauna
Drinks etc - the bedroom minibar is very reasonably priced with drinks being the same as you would pay at one of the bars. Inside the main hotel building the main bar is Carter's Bar - this is where the main evening entertainment is held which in actual fact isn't too bad. They do try
to vary it a bit with either a duo or group of four providing both Arabic and European music and songs. This is interspersed throughout the week with Karaoke evenings or Limbo dancing or Casino nights - the animation team do very well and provide just the right level of enthusiasm for their audience. There is also the Moorish café situated off the lobby which
serves all types of drinks from mid-morning until late into the evening. Prices for drinks are I think good for Egypt and this class of hotel - certainly cheaper than at home. A 500ml bottle of Stella was E£18 and Sakhara was E£20. Alcoholic cocktails were all priced at E£35 and from comments I heard seemed to be good and have a fair quantity of alcohol in them. Diet Cola, Sprite and similar were I think E£9 each for a 330ml can. The exchange rate whilst we were there was E£10.66 to the £1 sterling.
Likewise if you wanted to eat during the day - meals could be ordered from the Palmerie Bar (pool bar) these were very good value - for example pizza with salad and French fries was approx E£34 and an enormous beefburger with salad and French fries was E£32.00. The menu was quite extensive ranging the sandwiches to steak and chicken fillet - but none of it expensive.
Transport into and out of Luxor is a commendable 11 times per day ranging from approx 0700 in the morning through to the last minibus back from Luxor around 1830 in the evening. The courtesy motor launches are a great way to get a free mini-cruise - many guests simply stayed on when it got to Luxor and made the direct return trip. From what I can re-call the minibuses operate throughout the day and the motor launches operate in the afternoons. Typical journey times are 35 minutes to Luxor by motor boat (against the flow) and slightly less coming back). The minibuses only take 10 minutes.
So just how good is the Sofitel Karnak compared with its main competitors in Luxor - well quite simply none of the other compare and I even include the Old Winter Palace, Sonesta St George, Movenpick on crocodile island, Sheraton and Hilton. How can I be sure - because I paid a visit to all of them. OK one or two of them have a couple of redeeming factors for instance:
Old Winter Palace Hotel - yes it's got some history but inside it's somewhat dated (OK that what they call ambiance) and the staff look like they belong to the Adams family - it may be OK for a holiday in which you never wanted to see another living person but that's it. We visited on a couple of evenings and on each occasion felt that we were involved in a murder mystery evening with us two as the sole survivors - so far! Redeeming features - drinks fairly reasonably priced, a great shoe shine chair and footstool in the main lobby (feature only) and a drinks waiter who looked like Hercule Poirot complete with black hair slicked back with a pound or two of Brylcreem and matching moustache.
The gardens - these are OK but not a patch on those at the Sofitel Karnak - honest. What I found a little off-putting was the signs instructing you to keep of the grass. The swimming pool was OK (for the purpose of this report OK equates to about 6 out 10). At least it was clean and of reasonable size. What I can recommend though are the ice-cream sundaes at the pool bar/terrace. We went back on a couple of occasions during the day for these. They were full of fresh fruit salad; three scoops of ice cream, sauces, trimmings etc and at E£22 each were a real bargain.
New Winter Palace Hotel - adjoins the Old Winter Palace and shares the gardens and pool. In actual fact I think I preferred this hotel and bar - there were people - moving, just!
Hilton Hotel- now this is the pits and just about everyone who goes to Luxor knows. Why? - because all the other hotels ship their guests there on the day after arrival for INTRODUCTION TO LUXOR aka how the holiday reps try to rip off the holidaymaker even more than the poor locals. Yes folks this is where they get their captive audience - at a pre-arranged time (usually 10.30 am) buses arrive from at least 6 other hotels and you are
ushered into a sub-terranean ballroom. You are then subjected to a presentation aided by a slide show from half a dozen reps on how to get the best from your visit. This takes about an hour and a half. Great you think - lets go. Oh no you don't. None of the buses are permitted to leave until those who have been indoctrinated have made the appropriate arrangements with the reps. In the end we gave up and walked down the short drive to the main road and got a taxi.
I forgot all of this of course does not necessarily make the Hilton a bad choice - but the following does. Firstly the hotel, gardens, pool, interior fittings, building exterior are all shabby. When you enter the gloomy hotel its like hitting Smokey Joe's café - it reeks throughout of cigarette smoke. As I mentioned the pool and gardens are poor - pool furniture needs replacing etc etc. I know that many people who had been on a weeks cruise on the Nile and had booked the second week in Luxor at the Hotel where being encouraged by Thomsons to move at no additional supplement to the Sofitel Karnak as the Hilton was now considered to be sub-standard. Honestly if you have booked the Hilton get a transfer now - just about all the other hotels are better. It's time Hilton sold this hotel on - I fear it's too late for a refurbishment as the damage has been done, it has a bad name.
Sheraton Hotel - dark dismal, poorly kept gardens and grounds. In what can only be described as a cul-de-sac. Swimming pool the size of a postage stamp - poor choice - you can do better - much better.
Sonesta St George - Credit where credits due - this hotel is a much smarter affair, internally anyway. I thought the exterior looked a little decadent - or was that wishful thinking. No this hotel stands head and shoulders above it's competitors in Luxor centre with the possible exception of the Old Winter Palace aka The Morgue. A smart lobby, smart restaurants, smart bar - all staff here seemed extremely sharp. I visited here twice, the first time we had a single drink each, the second time about a week later we went into the bar and the waiter knew what we wanted - well done to the Sonesta. Can I find any fault - you bet I can - the hotel despite its good points is similar to a shopping mall - it's as though they have sub-let (indeed they may well have done) what can only be described as shop units which you have to pass in order to get anywhere - like Meadow Hall its all marble and clean but not where I want to spend a week or two. Secondly the exterior area, as I mentioned are directly in off the shabby street into the hotel - to the rear is the swimming pool and the Nile. This is another swimming pool that is truly postage stamp size and despite the small area the garden occupies it is not well maintained. There is a floating pontoon, which in effect give more outdoor area - but not very pleasant - covered in faded Astro turf and parched tubs of plants. Now if all you want from an holiday is a base from which to explore the sights and be right in amongst the mayhem of Luxor then the Sonesta will suit you fine. But if part of your holiday is relaxing by a pool in pleasant surrounding then the Sonesta, Sheraton or Meridien Hotels are not for you - if you have children they are definitely not for you or them.
Meridien Hotel - very close to the Sonesta St George, A monstrosity. Despite being fairly new it doesn't look good. Again straight in off the street and you have to pass through an internal courtyard surrounded by overlooking bedrooms. The courtyard contains seating areas, bars, cafes etc. Like the Sonesta much of the hotel is given over to secondary trading - but unlike the Sonesta these aren't shops but stalls - some may call it an authentic Egyptian Bazaar or Souk - I call it shabby. If at all possible the rear garden is even worse than the Sonesta and the pool is microscopic - you need to be on good terms with other sunbathing guests and just hope that filter system on the pool is working efficiently to remove the perspiration and sun tan cream from countless bodies - ugh!
Movenpick Hotel (Crocodile Island) - I had great expectations for this hotel but - yes you've guessed it - give it a miss. In theory this should be similar to the Sofitel Karnak - it's out of town (upstream) and has plenty of space. That almost all the good points. We arrived there early evening and left in fear for our lives. Greeting us immediately outside the Entrance were the usual security guards and what can only be described as two industrial grade Mosi Zappers - these were going off like continuous firecrackers as kamikaze mosi's flew unceasingly to a crisp end. Do I exaggerate? NO. Now the Movenpick has supposed to have had a revamp but the interior didn't look anything too special - there were plenty of staff who seemed very efficient but it was difficult to see exactly where all the money had been spent. We decided to risk a look at the pool area and gardens - I fear this is another area in which people may be disappointed - the lawns were Astro turf (Movenpick seem to prefer this type of ground cover in preference to grass - both of their hotels in Sharm el Sheikh use it) a pity as it doesn't look good. The pool area was a reasonable size but the pool furniture was rickety and needed replacing. Most of the tiled footpaths around the gardens were broken and with tiles missing. One or two brave soles were trying to sit outside but the mosi's must have thought it was feast day. On the flight home I spoke to chap whose family had stayed at the hotel - he confirmed that it had been hell and they were all covered in bites The reception staff provided each room with a plug-in mosquito repellent - which was fine until they left their room. Apart from the hotel entrance little seemed to be done to try and nullify the critters.
The bar I tried was reminiscent of an English city pub of the 1960's complete with fireplace. Good service, not particularly cheap - don't stay here unless you have the skin of a rhino.
Haggling - this is a way of life for them - it's a habit. It's no good getting harassed by the continual assault of everyone from children to caleche drivers offering you every type of trip or service. I reckon that in the first week you will have to say 'la shukran' (no thanks) approximately 50 times per 100 metres of travel - this does reduce by the second week when you have a better tan and they realise that you have wised up to them or have probably been on most trips. Whatever to try to keep good humoured - if you show the slightest sign of being rattled they will simply look upon you as good sport for the next 5 or 10 minutes.
Language - do try to learn a few simple words or phrases, believe me it works wonders, invariably they are highly delighted that someone as taken the bother to say please, thank you, good morning etc in their language.
1.Change the bulk of your money at the ATM's or banks either in the hotels or Luxor town - all offer a fixed rate which is 10-15 percent more than you can obtain in the UK.
2.Turn right outside the entrance gates to the Sofitel Karnak and walk the 200 yards or so to the village - here you will come across a row of small one-room open-fronted shops all seeming to sell the same basic food items. Here you can buy large sealed bottles of water for E£3 or E£4 and cans of Coke etc for about E£3 each.
3.Do not pay more than E£20-E£25 for a taxi from the rank outside the hotel to Luxor Centre - that's per cab not per person.
4.Do not pay more than E£5 (50p) for a caleche (carriage & horse) ride within the confines of Luxor town.
5.Do not be taken in by a promise to take you to the various bazaars or markets - almost certainly you will end up at a shop where the caleche or taxi driver gets a percentage.
6.Never, never purchase a sight seeing trip from an hotel rep unless you have money to throw away - in which case my address is ...........
Finally, do I recommend Luxor - yes and I will be going back, but only to the Sofitel Karnak. To be honest it was the only hotel we have been to where I would have been quite happy to stay for the entire 2 weeks without stepping foot outside. It was only as we were getting to the end of the first week that we realised we really ought to make the effort to see some of the sights. So my recommend sights are:
Morning - In one morning you can see the Colossi of Memnon, Valley of the Kings (a single entrance pass entitles you visit any 3 of the open tombs with the exception of King Tut's (this carries an additional premium of E£70. Valley of the Queens (again 3 tombs per single entrance pass) - in actual fact I think you could give these a miss - Kings are better. Finally round off the morning to see Queen Hatchepsuts (think I've spelt that wrong) Temple. You should be able to get a taxi to take all of you - wait for you and then return you to the hotel for approximately E£80 -120. Allow a similar amount per person for the various entrance fees.
Day visit - to Edfu and Esna Temples - Edfu is approximately 75 miles upstream of Luxor and you will need a police escort. You should be able to get an air-conditioned taxi for approx E£180 - E£200 for the return trip. Again that's for the taxi not per person. Allow approx E£50 for entrance fees.
Morning - Visit Karnak Temple and Luxor Museum - courtesy hotel minibus will drop you off at either free of charge. Allow approx E£60 per person for tickets.
Morning - Visit Luxor temple - again free courtesy bus. Entrance fee about E£35. Then head inland behind the temple and try to find the main Luxor street market - this is great, free and you may well be the only Europeans you will see. Don't worry this is completely safe and almost 100 percent hassle free.
2 day trip - to Aswan - this is one trip I should have liked to have gone on but couldn't as the locks at Esna were closed for de-silting. It is possible to do it in one day by taxi but it's about 150 miles away (4 hours each way) and makes for a long day.
So hope you all have a good time - and if it's not too late change your booking to the Sofitel Karnak.
PS - No, I'm not on commission!
What a Hotel!
This was our first trip to Egypt and our stay at Sofitel Karnak made it extra special. The staff were very friendly and the rooms were very clean (sheets changed daily and chocolates left on your pillow every night!). Would definitely recommend this hotel to couples looking for peace and quiet while still being within easy distance of the hustle and bustle of Luxor.
Photos of the restaraunt do not do it justice!
Try out the Sundowner bar in the night, drinking cocktails watching the sun go down is bliss. Food was excellent with a choice for everyone regardless of your taste.
Would go back tomorrow!!
Lovely - would recommend!
We really enjoyed our stay at the Sofitel hotel, it is about 10mins out of the centre of Luxor so it's quite quiet and more relaxing - for us this was a plus but some prefer the hustle and bustle.
The staff were very helpful and friendly and the majority had a very good grasp of english and french, so communication was easy.
Food was absolutely excellent with a different theme for each day e.g. mediterranean on Monday, egyptian on Tuesday etc which was great - every day there were lots and lots to choose from. Breakfast was always lovely and was nice to sit out on the terrace and have little birds waiting at your feet to peck at crumbs.
Hotel room (2047) was a little bit smaller than we expected but it was clean and we did have a slight sliding wardrobe doors (that wouldn't!) issue - one quick call to housekeeping had someone at our door in 5 mins flat with the problem quickly resolved.
Only one slight complaint - as the hotel has very open corridors, all the floors are tiled and regularly mopped (the floors were left absolutely sopping wet through) which is a slip-hazard! Also the tiles were "oiled" with a stong smelling turpentine-smelling solution which filled the corridor and probably wouldn't have been very nice for the ground floor rooms...
Watch out for the leatherette sunbeds! Nearly burnt my behind when I sat on one while I waited for my towel to arrive!
This is the best
we have just arrived back in england after 2 great weeks in egypt. We stayed at the sofitel karnak and from the very begining the servive was first class, the rooms we had were excellent with plenty of space, we had our own safe in the room (free) well stocked fridge, and not rip of prices. All the staff from the managers to the cleaners could not do enough for you, the food was excellent, at dinner the choices were fantastic, it is done on a buffet style and freshly cooked with a very wide variety of meats, veg, salads. and some fab puddings.
the drink prices in the hotel were very fair and the service excellent.
there was entertainment on every night for adults as well as children.
I would recomend this hotel to anyone, it is first class in every way
Definitively not a 5 stars hotel!
We had a quite bad time there, from the very beginning on. Even though we arrived later that expected, the rooms weren't ready and we had to wait for about 2 hours before getting the key. Then, no employee was there to help us carry the luggages to the rooms. On top of this, the room wasn't clean, and wasn't correctly cleaned all the week long. This was also the case for the swimming pool furnitures. Moreover, due to a crucial lack of waiters, there was no service at the swimming-pool bar and a very slow helping at the restaurant.
Great staff, nice hotel
Stayed here in December 2004, over Christmas. The hotel is set down a new (rough) road away from Luxor, beyond the centre of Karnak. You can walk to Karnak in about 25 minutes, if you don't mind being hassled on the way, or there is a shuttle bus with a very helpful driver who runs from the hotel to Luxor centre once an hour (although not late evening), but will drop you off anywhere en-route if you ask. There is also a shuttle boat, running the same times. The rooms were very nice and clean, but basic - no safe or facilities tray, but a radio/alarm and a tv with some English and French stations, and a minibar. Our room (like most on the ground floor) opened with patio doors onto the gardens near the pool, so for privacy you needed to keep the curtains drawn! The heating in the room was a little erratic. The staff at the front desk are generally fantastic, helpful with a very good attitude. There is a bank on-site to change money, and security boxes to store valuables. The restaurant has buffet breakfasts & dinners. Both meals are average, but the choice is fairly large, and it's nice to see fool beans on offer for breakfast. The "special" dinner put on for Christmas eve was pretty awful, and they didn't have the staff to turn it around in an adequate timescale. Restaurant staff don't speak much English, but the guys on the front desk generally do. The swimming pool is fantastic, and if you don't want to get wet, borrow a board game or play some pool or table tennis, with the "animators".
Holiday taken beginning of March 2005.
We enjoyed our stay here - although the hotel was full, there was no pressure on sun beds and there was a choice of beds in the garden overlooking the Nile or around the pool - very easy to relax.
Our room was small, but clean, with a small balcony but not 5 star - no tea and coffee making facilities and the safe was not in the room but in reception (albeit at no cost). The staff were always friendly and helpful and the service generally very good. At busy times in the dining room sometimes there was not enough staff to cope and tables were slow in being cleared and the wine waiter often failing to serve the table. Having said this, we would be happy to return.
Great time to relax
Just arrived back and must say still on Egyptian chilled out vibe, still havent gone back to work!!!!!
The Hotel is great everything you could ever need to help you relax is there, nice pool , gym , jacuzzi (my wife loved it!) sauna , squash courts all very well kept , they even provide board games, Staff are very friendly and do everything and anything to help you enjoy yor stay. They have an animation team who seem to be able to everything and never seem to be unhappy or tired (dont ask me when they sleep though , because they are always there doing some kiond of work towards you enjoying your stay). I could go on but i think you get the picture it was a 10 out of 10 if your going on holiday to get some sun and just kick back and relax.
Very nice stay
We just spend the week before Christmas there and we really enjoyed our stay.
The Hotel is very nice and located inside a huge garden. It is away from the Luxor center but you can use a boat shuttle or bus shuttle to go to the City (one every hour); they said there will increase the frequency. Otherwise you can use one of the inexpensive taxis waiting at the main gate by just asking the reception.
Rooms are clean, well equipped, comfortable but not so large (the bathroom also) for the standard of the Hotel. For that reason I didn't give 5 stars.
Don't expect Nile view also as the hotel has only 2 floors. However you can enjoy Nile sunset at the terrace of the O'Nile restaurant with a drink or/and a water pipe.
Activity is very good with a huge swimming pool heated at 30°C, shows at the theater, music at the Carter's Bar, you can also practice aqua gym, stretching,.....as in all this type of resort.
The food is fine with a different buffet every evening (half board basis) but you have to pay your drinks (avoid the egyptian wines).
The staff is helpful, polite and the Management is really making everything possible to make you happy. Congratulations to them.
The kid Club is great with 2 nice fantastic young women taking care of childs. Our daughter cried by leaving. 2/3 of the customers are french, also the Kid Club is mainly french speaking but the 2 ladies in charge speak english. Childs are on a full board basis with the Kid Club.
It is very easy to visit the historical sites from the Hotel. Reception and Executive Staff are, once more, ready to help.
The global atmosphere is casual and pleasant. I recommand to go.
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