The ancient and holy Egyptian city of Thebes. The chief relics of its former glory are the great Temple of Karnak and the smaller Luxor Temple on the east bank of the Nile, and the Valley of the Kings, the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut (still a design triumph), the Ramesseum and others on the West Bank.

In 1997, November 17, 58 international tourists and 4 Egyptians were killed by Islamic terrorists in Luxor. It happened in the morning at the parking lot of the Temple of Hatshepsut (Deir al-Bahri)on the westbank of the Nile, near the valley of the kings.

Because Egypts economy depends mostly on tourism, this was a sad day in history. Tourism dropped, people from around the world were afraid to come to Egypt. The Egyptian people did everything over the years to attract the tourists again; they had the opera "Aida" played at the Pyramids at Giza (near Cairo) and they offer the tourists huge and beautiful lightshows at the sphinx and at the Karnak temples (near Luxor).It helped, because in 1999 figures show that the number of tourists visiting Egypt is rising again.

During my visit at Luxor in June 2000, I could still see the impact of the massacre of 1997; policemen and militairy people standing near and at tourist attractions, such as Luxor Temple and the whole westbank of the Nile at Luxor, wearing big guns.

A hotel/casino resort on the Las Vegas strip (at 3900 Las Vegas Blvd.). Its main building is a very large pyramid, covered entirely with glass on the outside. At the building's tip is the world's second brightest light, which is turned on for roughly eight hours per night, starting at dusk.

The Building
Luxor's pyramid building makes it one of the most unique-looking resorts on the strip. Its outside appearance is dark and simplistic, with no tacky lighting or neon signs peppering its surface. Aside from the top light, there are strobe lights on each of the building's four edges that are sometimes lit in a sort of waterfall pattern. Of late (in the past six months), however, these have not been active.

Inside the pyramid itself is the world's largest atrium. Walking into the building from any of its entrances immediately yields an amazing view to anyone who looks up. The hotel's rooms line the walls of the pyramid (there are no rooms in the center of the pyramid; it is entirely hollow), and each floor is (by necessity) smaller than the one beneath it. Each floor's walkways are open, in that you can look out (and down, if you're feeling brave) over the walkway's retaining walls into the open nothingness that surrounds the upper floors. While there are thirty floors accessible to anyone with a room key, the 27th floor is the highest one that offers a view down into the pyramid; the higher floors are too small to reasonably accomodate the open design of the others, and they're too busy being posh and cushy and full of expensive, exclusive suites to care.

Glass elevators provide access to the first five floors of hotel rooms, but the hotel's real star attractions are the inclinators, custom elevators that run at a 44-degree angle up the sides of the pyramid, starting at each corner (one bank of four inclinators per corner) and running up the whole building. Each bank services different floors (and one bank does service the first five floors in addition to the glass elevators). They are not the world's fastest elevators by any means, but the sensation of moving on two different axes in a machine that normally only moves on one is unique to this hotel. Fortunately for hotel guests, and unfortunately for any curious tourists, the inclinators are guarded by rent-a-cops who will not permit anyone without a room key to ride the inclinators.

Note, though, that they don't check that the room keys are valid; they just want to see you flash one. Thus, if you ever find one on the floor in the casino, don't turn it in. Keep it for yourself, and you've got instant, whenever-you-want-it access to the hotel's quiet floors, and the inclinators. Don't underestimate the surreal effect of looking down on the casino from 27 floors up. It's eerily quiet, and very relaxing.

Back on the ground floor of the hotel lies the casino. The usual stable of games are offered, including slot machines in every denomination from $0.01 to $5, roulette, craps, mini-baccarat, blackjack, three-card poker, Pai Gow poker, and more. A high limit gaming area offers full-sized baccarat, and probably other stuff (it's hard to snoop around there, since it's absolutely always empty except for the dealers and security milling around it).

Also on the main floor are some restaurants (the least-expensive of which is the Pyramid Cafe; other more expensive food dispensaries include Isis, Sacred Sea Room, Papyrus, etc.), a lounge, a theater for their performance show Blue Man Group, and the nightclub Ra.

The main floor is also the only means of entering and exiting the building. The front entrace, to the East, leads to Luxor's strip-facing side, which features a giant obelisk bearing Luxor's name (it straddles the sidewalk on Las Vegas Blvd. and is large enough to walk underneath/through), and a (much) larger-than-life replica of the Sphinx. These areas are both reached by walking past the valet and taxi servicing area. Also near the Sphinx is the tram providing free transportation to both Excalibur and Mandalay Bay, the two properties adjacent to Luxor (all three are owned by Mandalay Resorts Group). This is the "main" entrance to the casino, and visitors walking into it through this entrance are treated to a spectacular set of statues and water displays. The main hotel lobby (for check-in and check-out, the bell desk, etc.) is nearby.

The rear entrance, to the West, leads to the swimming pool, spa, and parking garage. The North entrace connects to Luxor's newer towers, which house more hotel rooms, and to a walkway connecting Luxor to the Excalibur hotel/casino. There are also some shops here, along with a tour group entrance and check-in desk.

The South entrance connects to a walkway linking Luxor to Mandalay Bay.

Beneath the main floor is the Pharoah's Pheast Buffet, a somewhat overpriced and bland buffet. Above the main floor is Luxor's Attractions Level, which contains an IMAX 3D theater, a two-story arcade, a museum recreating the tomb of King Tutankhamun, two IMAX Ridefilms, more stores, a food court, a wedding chapel, and two bars.

The Hotel
The hotel offers several types of rooms. The basic room is your standard-fare Vegas hotel room, on the higher end of the scale in terms of size and comfort. This room type is available both in the pyramid and in the new towers. Both are priced the same. Reportedly, the tower rooms are larger. Still, every room in the pyramid (even the cheapest ones) offer a view out through a slanted window. The experience is quite unique.

Next up the room size ladder are the jacuzzi suites. These are similar to the basic rooms, except they include an additional room (with a second TV, a couch, and a small table), and a giant bathtub on a raised platform right next to the windows. The bathtub easily seats four, but only affords room for two people if any kind of bump-and-grind is attempted. It features lots of water jets. The hotel likes to include lots of various single-serving bottles of goop, including bath oils for the jacuzzi.

The jacuzzi suites represent the high-end of the pricing scale that mere mortals can afford. The next higher-sized room is the "Junior One-Bedroom Suite" which is essentially a bigger version of the jacuzzi suite, plus a wet bar. Luxor doesn't like to brag about its even larger rooms, but larger suites are available.

The largest suite known to exist in the pyramid is the "Nefertiti Suite", a multi-room monstrosity that isn't available as a traditional "hotel room." You cannot reserve the room or book it online (or over the phone, or even in person); like every major hotel in the city, you can only get into this suite by placing a huge sum of money on account at the casino, and schmoozing a casino host. Try $1,000,000 at first, and as long as you're comfortable throwing $1,000 chips onto the tables as casually as a low-roller doles out quarter chips, you can probably hint around (or flat out ask, at those prices) to get the suite.

Room service in any room is generally fast, but overpriced as usual. Presumably in the higher-priced (or exclusive) suites, the service is faster. I would imagine the Nefertiti Suite includes its own wait staff.

If given a choice of where to stay at Luxor, choose the pyramid, not the towers. While the towers' rooms are slightly bigger for the same price, the experience of riding an inclinator to a room with slanted windows and a very unique view is worth giving up a few square feet. If a choice isn't offered, ask for the pyramid anyway.

The Attractions
Blue Man Group is reputed to be funny and entertaining, but this writer doesn't have nearly two-hundred dollars to spend on it to find out. The IMAX theater is large and impressive (and, I believe, unique in its design even among other IMAX theaters, with its unusual loading ramp and securing bars that lower onto your lap to restrain you before the movie starts). The two IMAX Ridefilms offered are entertaining; one (In Search of the Obelisk) includes other interactive elements that lengthen the ride and are quite fun.

The arcade is as mediocre as any other strip arcade; expect poorly maintained arcade games and pinball tables, high prices, and a little coupon redemption kiosk full of stuff you don't want.

The museum is woefully short (and isn't worth seeing unless you're given a free pass by staying in the hotel). Midnight Fantasy is a topless revue, and is reportedly fairly good.

Luxor's spa is apparently very "middle-of-the-road," offering nothing truly exceptional but not really sucking at anything either. Expect higher-than-normal prices, of course.

The nightclub always seems to be very popular and busy. On the average Friday and Saturday night, you can ogle many pretty people lined up outside it waiting eagerly to get inside. Be careful, or they may ogle back.

Getting to Other Nearby Properties
Taxis are available at Luxor's front (East) entrance; head to the valet area to find a long line of people. Walk beyond that area (up a ramp, emerging from in between the legs of the Sphinx ... draw your own conclusions there) to reach the tram station, with a tram that runs to Excalibur and to Mandalay Bay. Note the Excalibur side has an obnoxious "secondary stop" that spits victims out in a fully-enclosed area that forces them to walk through the entire casino to get back out to the strip; if you reach this but the tram does not say "This is the final stop!", stay on the tram, as it will run to the actual end-of-the-line, which places you more conveniently in the very front of the casino.

The walkway on the North side of the building leads to Excalibur as well. It spits you out on Excalibur's upper shopping level. The walkway to the South, leading to Mandalay Bay, is currently closed for construction.

At this time, there are no known shuttles between the Luxor and any other casinos. You'll have to walk to New York New York, MGM Grand, or Tropicana if you get sick of the Mandalay Resorts Group block.

The hotel has a website at www.luxor.com


Thanks to Roninspoon for pointing out to me that the Luxor light is not an array of small lights, but is in fact one gigantic light. I'm even more impressed with that light source now.

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