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Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa – Luxor, Egypt ☆☆☆☆☆

September 30, 2010

Upon our arrival to Luxor, Egypt (Egypt Air flight from Cairo), we were greeted by the hotel pick up service. This airport pick up service was scheduled by my husband and I when we booked our hotel stay. (Approximately 20.00 USD per way)

The Hilton representative who met us at baggage claim helped us out to a waiting van (nice, brand new Chrysler mini van with cold water bottles and a rose for me:) Having a local chauffeur is a great idea if you want to avoid the plethora of locals who wait outside the airport to desperately try and scam into your wallet. During our 10 minute travel to the hotel, our rep gave us a mini rundown of what was what, and which attractions were most popular for tourists. We found this very helpful, as we had a few plan free hours to kill that afternoon.

Once we arrived at the Hilton Luxor, we were warmly greeted by the hotel staff. We were offered a damp hand towel and a small fruit beverage during check in. This was very refreshing (literally and figuratively) since we had stayed in Cairo for the past 2 nights, experiencing a generally stand offish, rude vibe from most hotel and wait staff.

We had requested a Nile View room, which we found very nice and tidy. The bathroom was perfectly clean, and everything was nice and new (just like the rest of the hotel). I especially appreciate when a hotel provides in-room robes and slippers. Theirs were made of high quality material, and showed no sign of wear and tear.

After a quick change of garb, we made our way back downstairs to figure out a sight seeing plan for the remainder of the day. The concierge advised us to visit the Karnak Temple which was about a 5 minute taxi ride from the hotel (also on the East bank). We had passed it on our way in, and although it didn’t look like much from the outside, we were easily persuaded.

Before entering the Karnak Temple, be sure to purchase your ticket from the main building near the road. AND, if you have a tripod, you have to pay an additional fee for that as well. It’s just a huge hassle walking (about a quarter of a mile) with all of your camera equipment, and being told that the tickets have to be purchased way back where you just came from! With all that aside, once you pass through the massive walls into the open air temple, it’s all worth while. The Karnak Temple was probably the highlight of our entire trip to Egypt. It was absolutely amazing! And we got some great images just before, and as the sun was setting.

The taxi driver who had taken us to the temple had given us the option to call him for a ride back to the Hilton. We did so, met him out front, and arrived back at the hotel.. it’s a good idea to do this since this particular taxi driver was pre screened by the hotel (ever so discernible tourists can never be too careful!)

There are a great selection of restaurants to choose from at the hotel. We are vegetarian, and were able to find a vast array of options to suit our dietary specifications. There were Indian, Japanese and Middle Eastern style dishes that we could choose from, and the food quality was excellent. The wait staff was very polite, and didn’t leave us alone for hours on end, which tends to happen quite frequently at some resorts.

After dinner we decided to go back to the room to relax and watch TV. Unfortunately there was an electrical issue with the television, so a service person was sent to check it out. The next hour and a half was spent with service people in and out of our room trying to resolve the issue. Sometimes there were 4 guys at once in our room. In the end, the problem was resolved, but by then we were tired and just went to sleep. That was a big disappointment for us. We only had 1 night at the Hilton Luxor, and after being out on our feet all day, we spent our relaxation time with electricians tearing apart the TV and wall.

We had scheduled a private guided tour of the West Bank – Colossi of Memnon, Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut the next day. The tour guides have very thick accents, so you may need to continually ask them to repeat things. Or, ask them to speak Very Slowly if you wish to learn as much as you can about what you are looking at. Maybe address this issue when booking your tour. Between tourist attractions, our guide took us to an Alabaster workshop. The individual who worked at this alabaster refinery gave us a little rundown/speech about how alabaster was used to make pots, trinkets, etc. He was quite pushy about getting us to purchase some items. He kept reiterating the fact that my eyes were “SO beautiful”.. to butter us up a bit. We presented a few small stone collectables to him, and named our price (a very fair price.) He disagreed with the price, and we went back and forth for a while. Finally, we agreed on a number, and he wrapped our things up. Once we got home, we discovered that when he wrapped up our stone trinkets in the back, he had switched them with less attractive, uneven pieces. Clearly, some of the people are very devious, so make sure your items are wrapped right in front of you.

Once our tour drew to an end, our guide and driver dropped us back to the hotel. We gathered our things, and met our airport shuttle back downstairs. This time it was only the driver (no chauffeur). When we got to the airport, and emerged from the van, 2 locals ran up and put our bags on carts before we had an opportunity to object. They pushed our bags to the entrance of the airport (as they are not authorized to go inside.) Once we caught up to them, my husband unenthusiastically gave them an equivalent of 5.00 USD. The men argued that the fee to take the bags to the entrance (about 50 feet from our drop off point) was 30.00 USD. They gave us dirty looks and hassled us until we were through the doors, and out of sight. In addition to that, our shuttle driver had given my husband an irritated look and took off without bidding us farewell when he gave him a 5.00 USD tip. The trip from hotel to Airport was 10 minutes, and the 20.00 USD was prepaid. So.. politely ask your shuttle driver to leave the trunk closed until you’re out of the vehicle. This won’t give the bag snatchers any opportunity to swindle.

So only 2 real flaws with this trip. I am excited to return to the Hilton Luxor at some point in the near future. Being our first trip to Egypt, we thought that seeing the pyramids of Giza, Cairo museum etc, would really be the stand out attractions of our visit. In the end, our last minute decision to visit Luxor was the highlight of our trip. A much more relaxed atmosphere, much better resort style accommodation, and far less tourists equalled much better photos and memories. Also, remember that those who may appear to be poverty stricken, are commonly well off individuals who make an enormous amount of money hustling uneducated, unsuspecting tourists. Get used to, and ignore the constant harassment. This is key to enjoying your trip to the Arab world.

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