NEPAL HAS BEEN THE CENTRE of the ‘hippy trail’ since the 1970s, when travellers would commonly stop in Kathmandu on their way overland between Afghanistan and India. Although the itinerary has changed since then, Nepal is still better known for its low-end trekking lodges and seedy dives in Kathmandu’s Thamel district. However, like the country itself, Nepal’s accommodation options are far more diverse than they’re often given credit for. These five beautiful hotels prove that it’s possible to enjoy Nepal in some serious style.
1. Dwarika’s Hotel
Dwarika’s, located in eastern-central Kathmandu, is a heritage and restoration project as much as it is a hotel. The late Dwarika Das Shrestha began the project in 1952, when he went out for a run and noticed some people burning the intricately carved window and door frames from traditional buildings. He recognized the cultural value of the old structures, which were being allowed to crumble, and made it his mission to convince others of this importance, too. He originally started storing and restoring artifacts in his small home.
Bit by bit, the present-day, 86-room luxury hotel was created. Dwarika’s looks very similar to several of the important heritage sites dotted around the Kathmandu Valley, such as the Patan or Kathmandu Durbar Squares. That’s because it is built with rescued carvings from Kathmandu’s ancient Newari culture, one of Nepal’s many ethnic groups. Some of the artifacts found around the hotel are as much as 700 years old, and the rooms come with antique furniture and hand-woven textiles. The on-site restaurants are lavish, too. Krishnarpan serves elegant, traditional Nepali food in a six-course banquet, and the waitstaff and are dressed in the various national costumes of Nepal’s many ethnic groups.
2. Everest Summit Lodges
Good morning Monday!! If you look closely (centre down) you'll see our lodge in Tashinga. Impossible is nothing, truly. This lodge was built thirteen years ago with a confidence that somehow this brilliant environment and lodge could be appreciated by world travelers. But it didn't come without difficulties. Now, a bag of 50 kgs cement that costs 750 rupees in Kathmandu becomes 10,000 rupees by the time it gets transported up here! #architecure #himalayas #mountains #motivationmonday #inspire #rebuild #travel #nepal #nepalnow #agodalens #agoda #explore #exploremore #everest #vast #expanse #landscapes #mountains #escape #himalayas #tashinga #instatravel #instadaily #instalikes #holiday #everestlodges #neverstopexploring #globetrotter #autumn
Nepal is well-known to have some of the best infrastructure in the world for multi-day, high-altitude trekking. Its system of ‘tea houses’ in many regions, which provide cheap food and lodging, mean that trekkers do not need to carry tents or food as they do in many other beautiful but remote trekking destinations. But while many of these tea houses are comfortable, they are also very basic, with shared bathrooms and thin walls, through which you can hear your neighbor snore. The Everest Summit Lodges, however, redefine what it means to trek through the Himalayas. At the end of a hard day’s walk, staff greet guests with a warm cloth and welcome drink. Night-time temperatures in the mountains can be frigid, but electric blankets and hot water bottles in the beds ensure a warm night’s sleep. Hot showers can be expected, and rooms tastefully decorated with local photographs, art work and linen.
Several lodges are located along the Everest Base Camp trek, each being slightly different but with the same high standard of lodging, service and food. When you’ve slept well, it’s so much easier to adjust to the thin air at high altitude, or to push yourself on for another hour of uphill walking.
3. Tiger Tops
Tiger Tops’ two lodges are located in Nepal’s jungle national parks, Chitwan and Bardia. They are the ‘original’ Nepali eco-lodges, established in 1964, and are intimately involved in conservation efforts in their local communities. Tiger Tops’ Tharu Lodge, located next to Chitwan, is far enough away from the main tourist town of Sauraha that visitors can enjoy peace and quiet. Both the main rooms and tents are designed to blend in with the landscape, so the colours are earthy and neutral, and traditional building techniques have been used. All safari and sightseeing activities are included with the room rate, and the choices include jeep and foot safaris, boat rides, helping wash and gather food for the lodge’s elephants, bird watching and visiting the neighboring villages. Tiger Tops’ expert guides have sharp eyes and detailed knowledge of the park’s flora and fauna. Sightings of rhinoceros are almost guaranteed, as anti-poaching efforts have been very successful in Chitwan National Park. Sightings of the garial crocodile and Royal Bengal tiger are also possible, although a paw-print from the latter is more likely than the animal itself.
4. Old Inn Bandipur
The homely Old In — located in the small Newari town of Bandipur, between Kathmandu, Chitwan and Pokhar — has been partly responsible for bringing tourism to the town. Situated on a high ridge, with spectacular views of the Annapurna Himalayas, Bandipur was once a wealthy trading town, strategically situated on the main trade route between India and Tibet. By the 1950s, this trade dried up, leading to Bandipur’s decline. The Old Inn opened in 2000, but there was no road to Bandipur until 2003, so tourists were slow to find out about the town. However, once the road connected it to the highway below, Bandipur became a popular retreat between the Annapurnas around Pokhara, the plains and jungles of Chitwan and the urban bustle of Kathmandu. There is little to do in Bandipur, but it is a relaxing place to spend a couple of days. The Old Inn is a renovated Newari mansion, and a fine balance has been struck between modern comforts and traditional style. Flowers and branches twine around the rooms’ private balconies; dark-wood alcoves shelter bronze Buddhas and other deities; doorways are low, and windows covered by slatted shutters rather than glass. Buffet meals are served by staff wearing traditional red, white and black Newari dress. The luxury of the Old Inn lies in the fact that it feels like a comfortable, elegant, Nepali version of home.
5. Gokarna Forest Resort
Just a 20-minute drive north-east of central Kathmandu, Gokarna Forest Resort is located within a 470 acre forest that was once the private hunting playground of the Nepali kings. The main, sprawling red-brick building was inspired by the old royal palaces of Nepal, and is surrounded by one of Nepal’s only golf courses. Beyond that lies the large, protected forest. Rooms have almost floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the trees, and guests are reminded to keep windows shut at all times to keep the monkeys out—although that doesn’t stop them from jumping onto the outdoor dining tables and stuffing sugar packets into their mouths. Guided walks can be taken in the forest and to the Hindu and Buddhist temples that lie within it. Monkeys and spotted deer are common, and although leopards are rare, they have been seen. The on-site spa offers beautiful facials, as well as pool and sauna facilities. Without a single barking dog or honking horn, it can be easy to forget that the Gokarna Forest Resort is so close to Kathmandu.