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The Sofitel Winter Palace is one of Egypt’s most historic hotels and one of the best places to stay in Luxor. As soon as I saw it on Booking.com I knew I absolutely had to book a stay here!
Located right in the heart of the city close to Luxor Temple, this beautiful 5-star hotel first opened its doors in 1907 and has welcomed many famous guests over the years, including Agatha Christie, Jackie Kennedy, Jane Fonda, Al Gore, Henry Kissinger, Prince Charles and Lady Diana, and President Sarkozy. It was built in 1886 by an Italian called J.S.Crozzo and is incredibly opulent both inside and out.
Staying at the Sofitel Winter Palace is an experience in itself, so much so that you could spend days here and never actually leave the grounds! With plush red carpets, sparkling chandeliers, grandiose staircases and lush gardens, the hotel is absolutely stunning and feels like a true palace.
In this Sofitel Winter Palace review I’ll give you a sneak peek inside the hotel and tell you what I thought of it!
How to Get to the Sofitel Winter Palace
My tour driver dropped me off at the hotel, so I didn’t really have to figure out how to get there. If you’re arriving in Luxor on your own though the best way to get there is either by taxi or by booking an airport pick-up with the hotel.
There are taxis usually waiting outside arrivals at Luxor Airport and the rate should cost about 90 Egyptian pounds. The Sofitel Winter Palace is about a 10-15 minute drive from the airport and just a short walk (5-minutes) from Luxor Temple. It’s very well situated right in the heart of everything so you can easily walk along the corniche and around downtown Luxor on foot. If you want to visit the Valley of the Kings/Queens and Karnak Temple, you can book tours online with GetYourGuide and Viator or hail a taxi to take you there.
Sofitel Winter Palace Review
Entrance & Lobby
I arrived at the Sofitel Winter Palace after a long day of sightseeing and the building’s yellow facade was glowing orange as the sun set over Luxor. As I made my way up the sweeping staircase covered with red carpet, I knew I was in for a magical experience.
The Winter Palace is just as impressive on the inside as it is from the outside. The lobby is quite spectacular, with dazzling chandeliers, beautiful tiled floors, oriental rugs, antique furniture and sumptuous red couches.
From the moment I arrived at the hotel the reception staff were extremely welcoming and I was lucky enough to be given a room upgrade. They arranged an early morning wake-up call for my hot air balloon ride and a late check-out since my flight back to Cairo wasn’t until the evening. A female member of staff also walked me to my room and arranged dinner for me in the hotel’s 1886 restaurant.
As a woman traveling solo in Egypt it meant a lot to feel so welcomed and taken care of. The service was impeccable and really added to the entire experience.
Each of the hotel’s 86 rooms and 6 suites are decorated in an old-fashioned, colonial style. They’re not ultra-modern like the rooms at the Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa, but they’re definitely impressive with very high ceilings, fine woods and elegant furnishings.
There are three major room types – Classic, Superior and Luxury. Some have garden views while some have views of the nile and the corniche.
When I checked in I was upgraded to a Luxury Room with garden view and my jaw dropped when I opened the door. My room was absolutely enormous with so much floor space I could dance around in it.
The major highlight for me though was opening the French doors and discovering the enormous terrace. The terrace overlooks the gardens and is the perfect spot for a morning cup of coffee or an aperitif.
Other perks of the room include satellite TV, high-speed Internet access, a mini bar and direct dial telephone. After having such patchy Internet in other hotels throughout Egypt, I was relieved to have such great WiFi in this hotel. My only gripe about the room was not having enough plug sockets, but it’s an old hotel so I understand why.
In the bathroom I found bottled water, a hairdryer, bathrobes and amenities supplied by Acqua di Portofino. The bathroom really has everything you need, including a bath tub, shower, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, toothbrush and shaving kit.
The Sofitel Winter Palace boasts multiple restaurants and bars throughout the property. From open-air dining out in the tropical gardens to fine dining in the hotel’s decadent French-style restaurant, there are numerous options depending on what you’re in the mood for.
Since I only had one night at the Sofitel Winter Palace I decided to book a table at 1886, which is the hotel’s most opulent restaurant. Reservations are required and the dress code is smart, with jacket and tie for men. The interiors ooze Parisian-style glamor with chandeliers, red velvet chairs and candlelit tables. On the menu you’ll find various French fish and meat dishes including grilled langoustines, baked red mullet, grilled beef fillet and veal medallions.
I ordered the pan fried duck with orange sauce and seasonal vegetables, followed by the chocolate pudding. While the dessert was great, I have to say that the duck wasn’t up to the standard I’d expect from a 5-star establishment. I did read numerous reviews on Booking.com saying that the food isn’t that great at the Winter Palace and I’m inclined to agree. Everything else was exceptional but I found the veggies to be soggy and the duck a bit dry.
Breakfast at La Corniche
Breakfast is served in La Corniche restaurant, which boasts large sun-lit windows, wood floors, pastel green chairs and crimson-gold details. The buffet breakfast includes an array of fresh pastries, fruits, cheeses, nuts and cold cuts, plus omelets made to order.
For a pre/post dinner drink you can head to the Royal Bar, which boasts deep red walls, damask fabrics, and rich wood paneling. A classical pianist plays here every night so it’s the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy a nightcap after dinner.
While I only dined at the above restaurants and bars, there are many more on-site food and drink options, including:
Shisha Corner – This open air bar is located in the hotel’s tropical garden oasis near the swimming pool. Here you can enjoy a puff of shisha (hookah) in a relaxed ambiance.
Central Park/Open Air Bar – Dine underneath the stars at Central Park Bar, which is set on the lawn of the hotel, opposite the Shisha Corner. This is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner for two.
Victorian Lounge – Enjoy afternoon tea with macarons and scones in the opulent Victorian Lounge, which is decorated with a crystal chandelier and plush, pink oriental carpets. King Farouk, the last King of Egypt, used to enjoy afternoon tea here.
Pool and Gardens
Covering an area of 40,000 square meters, the exotic garden provides a tranquil oasis where guests can escape the hustle and bustle of Luxor. Relaxing here I felt a million miles away from the chaos of the city and it provided a welcome retreat after a hectic 7 days in Egypt.
The garden contains more than 50 different types of trees, some of which are over 100 years old. Each of the trees in the garden has been logged and tagged with the specific year that it was planted. The gardens are maintained by a team of 12 gardeners and feature a large array of exotic flowers, which attract many species of birds.
Eagles can be seen in the late afternoon hours while Hoopoes birds (recognizable by the feather crowns on their heads) can be found digging the garden with their long beaks. Strutting around the main lawn you’ll also see beautiful pink flamingos, which make for a good photo opportunity!
The hotel’s large outdoor pool is set amongst shady palm trees on the edge of the tropical gardens. You’ll find plenty of comfy sun loungers with umbrellas for shade and there’s a swim up bar should you want to order a cocktail while you’re swimming! If not, then there are also waiters who come around regularly taking orders for food and drink.
Next to the pool is a restaurant called El Nakhel, which offers sit down dining at lunch time. The eclectic menu features soups, salads, mezze, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, pastas, fish, steaks and Egyptian dishes. Bathrooms and changing areas are available next to the restaurant, so you don’t have to go too far to change in/out of your swimsuit.
Is it Worth Staying at The Winter Palace, Luxor?
I hope you found this Sofitel Winter Palace review helpful! Staying at this resort is an experience in itself and definitely one to cross off your bucket list.
When I was booking my stay in Luxor I was a bit torn between staying at the Hilton Luxor and the Sofitel Winter Palace. While the Hilton is much more contemporary and modern with better food (so I hear from reviews), the Sofitel Winter Palace is located slap bang in the heart of Luxor so you can literally stumble out of the front doors and into Luxor Temple.
It oozes old-world glamor and staying at this hotel makes you feel like a king or queen. so I’d highly recommend staying here. You can stay at modern hotels anywhere in the world but the Winter Palace is something quite special and unique.
Address: 17 Corniche el Nile street Beside LUXOR Temple، 11432, Egypt
Phone: +20 95 2380422
Check-in from 03:00 PM – Check out up to 12:00 PM
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