Luxor's Nefertiti Hotel
by Jimmy Dunn
This is the first review we have ever written about a one star hotel, and for good reason. Its not that we have not tried, but usually the one star hotels we have visited were ill equipped to deal with tourists. In many instances, the management and employees at the front desk could not speak a word other than Arabic. Often, the hotels were very deserving of their one star status as well.
An English backpacker catches up on the news in the hotel lobby
However, on my last stay in Luxor I was advised by our Egyptian manager to visit a hotel called the Nefertiti. It was not the easiest hotel to find without a map, but eventually we tracked it down on the boundaries of the Luxor bazaar just behind the Avenue of Sphinx at the Luxor Temple.
We are not easy on any hotels under four stars. In order to consider a one, two or three star hotel for review, they must have more than facilities that measure up, perhaps beyond the rating. When we first traveled to Egypt now a number of years ago, our first lodging was at a three star hotel in Cairo, and the lasting impression from that hotel was that, while the room rate may have been reasonable, they tried to make up the basic rate with outlandishly expensive phone service and expensive local beer in the tavern. Inexperienced in the ways of Egypt, we were taken by taxi drivers and hotel merchants alike. Hence, such deceptions are an old but remembered grievance, and gauging the overall reasonableness, as well as the genuine concern that the staff has towards its guests has become a part of our standard analysis.
However, what a great surprise we found in the Nefertiti. This hotel was stuffed with mostly people from the U.K., including young and old, backpackers and seasoned explorers. Before meeting with the management of the hotel, I had a chance to sit on the roof terrace and talk to a number of the hotel's guests. They all seemed pleased with their choice of accommodations.
Certainly this hotel's facilities are a long ways from measuring up to the Sonesta or Sheratons in Luxor, but so is the price. Yet the hotel is clean and many of the rooms have been remodeled. Guests have their choice between air conditioned rooms and those with fans only, while all rooms have private baths. Other hotel facilities include a restaurant and coffee shop, a laundry and an internet cafe. Just off of the roof terrace is also a good pool table which may be used at no cost by hotel guests.
We should also mention that the hotel has some great views from the roof terrace. The temple of Luxor is visible, as well as the Nile and the mountains and some of the monuments on the West Bank.
Beyond the physical facilities, the management is what makes a hotel such as this valuable. It has much in common with other small hotels that we have given good reviews. For example, the staff looks out for tourists when a taxi is needed, and will advise their customers of reasonable restaurants and other entertainment facilities in town. Furthermore, they provide a range of inexpensive tours including some, such as walking tours on the West Bank, that may not be readily available elsewhere. They will even take you to the Western Desert Oasis by way of a few shortcuts (and not so many dollars).
Aladdin, the hotel manager and owner
The key to all of this is the young manager/owner, named Aladdin, who may be counted among a few, but growing number of savvy travel professionals in Egypt who understand the western market and therefore have long views on tourism. While they are not the moguls of Egyptian tourism, I believe they are making a decent living from their efforts even while other tourism suffers, and thus are teaching locals that good, friendly service and prices make repeat customers. These are lessons that the taxi and carriage operators, as well as others in Luxor could do well to learn.
Operations such as the Nefertiti have not only earned the right to have our budget business, they certainly also deserve both our respect, as well as our patronage.
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Last Updated: June 13th, 2011