Hamees restaurant, front part, with a view of temple
Hamees and the neighbouring Sindbad were due to close around the spring of 2013 because of the ongoing redevelopment of the central area. However, that redevelopemnt has been delayed by the troubles and lack of cash.
Hamees is at the back of Luxor temple, sandwiched between Ali Baba and Sindbad, in front of the (closed) Luxor Wena Hotel.
Although neighbouring Sindbad has a shingle floor, Hamees is paved, so it is easier to walk on. It also has slightly sturdier and steadier tables. Hamees is in two halves. The front half, with superb views of Luxor Temple, is uncovered. There are umbrellas and there is also shade from trees and bushes but it can still get very hot. The second part is in the shade of a trellis and cloth shelter, so it is far more comfortable, although you do miss most of the temple view.
The restaurant uses 'Portaloo' type toilets and sometimes toilets in the Luxor Hotel. The hotel is not open to guests and the toilets are awful. Avoid them!
Hamees restaurant, rear part under shelter
Prices at Hamees are very keen indeed, but a 12% service charge and 10% tax are added to the bill, so you need to add about a quarter to the menu prices to get to the actual cost. Many people just come to Hamees for a drink. Fresh juices are LE4 - LE5, and even allowing for the service change and tax supplements, this is about a third of the cost of a juice at some nearby restaurants. Other soft drinks are mostly LE3 - LE4, which is not much more than the price of a can in a supermarket. A good range of hot drinks are about the same price. There is also a well stocked bar with beers from LE8 (LE10 with tax and service), a glass of local wine LE13 and local spirits around LE25.
Food is cheap too. A choice of pizzas are all LE15. Other pasta meals start at LE8, soups and salads start at LE6 and sandwiches and burgers are from LE12. Omelettes at LE8 are very well cooked and served with chips at no extra cost, which makes the total cost of the meal cheaper than at neighbouring Sindbad. Bigger meals including a variety of Egyptian favourites are mostly LE25. Remember - these prices are all before the service charge and tax additions, so add about a quarter.
There are plenty of places for a snack in Luxor. Hotels tend to be a lot more expensive, even the Susanna and Emilio basic hotels don't get anywhere near these prices. If you want to sit on the east bank edge of the Nile, there are a few restaurants to choose from, but they are much more expensive and the meals are no better for the extra cost. The other restaurants behind the Luxor Temple probably provide the closest competition. McDonalds and Snacktime are fine if you want fast-food and air-conditioning. Ali Baba is a bit tired now.
Hamees and Sindbad used to be much smarter but imminent threat of closure - a threat that has been going on for several years now - seems to have resulted in a lack of enthusiasm to keep these places clean and tidy. Consequently they are even more 'rough and ready' than they always were. Sindbad has less attractive views, more flimsy furniture, slightly higher prices - and cats! However, sitting on slightly rickety furniture under the shade of a tree is quite quaint and has a popular charm. Hamees has better views from the front part and the paved surface and sturdier furniture are a bit more practical. There isn't too much difference in the prices so it depends on whether you want practicality or charm. We think they are both worth a try if you are happy to rough it.
Where else can you sit in the view of such a famous monument and pay around 50p for a fresh orange juice? Or a simple lunch for 2 with change from LE50?
Review updated October 2014
Prices as at October 2014