Nepal’s hospitality haven: A connoisseur’s top picksA perfect sum of experience and service a hotel provides is how they make it to the list.
In the last two and a half decades that I have been associated with the travel industry, I have had the opportunity to stay at hotels—big or small—across the country and abroad. Here, I have come up with five hotels that offer great experience and exceptional service.
Gokarna Forest Resort, Kathmandu
If you want to spend a couple of nights amidst the wilderness but do not want to venture too far from the fringes of the Kathmandu valley, Gokarna Forest Resort is the perfect place. Located in a protected jungle that's inhabited by deer and other wild animals, the resort is the ideal place to escape the urban chaos. I have stayed at the property several times over the years, and I have loved each stay—especially the very personalised service.
Another factor that makes a stay at the resort special is their spacious rooms, which come laden with all the modern amenities.
Even the food is excellent. If guests find themselves at the resort on a Saturday, they should not miss out on trying the resort's Saturday Brunch. The brunch spread is lavish to say the least. After a good brunch, guests can head out to the golf courses. For those who like golfing, the resort has one of the best golf courses in Asia.
Rates start from $150 (during high season) and $130 (during low season) per night.
Barahi Jungle Lodge, Chitwan
Barahi Jungle Lodge offers guests the best alternative to lodges that once operated inside the Chitwan National Park. The lodge is located on the banks of the Rapti River, and the rooms are housed in thatched cottages designed using the materials that Tharus, an indigenous tribe of the region, use in building their traditional huts. Each room comes with a private veranda/balcony and offers uninterrupted views of the national park and the river.
The service at the lodge is very personalised. The staff are well trained and courteous and ensure that the needs of the guests are met. Last year, I spent two days at the lodge with bloggers from India. They were fascinated with the level of service the staff at the lodge provided. Apart from the service, they also loved the lodge's jungle safari. The lodge offers a host of other fun activities—from riding a canoe in the river, to riding a bullock cart to a nearby village.
But the most remarkable feature of the lodge has to be its sundown rendezvous. The activity starts with a canoe ride from the lodge to the confluence of two rivers: Rapti and Narayani. There, guests are treated with drinks and barbecue. Barahi Jungle Lodge truly is a blend of luxury and nature.
Rates start from $365 per night.
Himalayan Front Hotel, Pokhara
In 1976, PATA International made a blueprint of developing Pokhara as a premier tourist destination. The plan envisaged luxury resorts on the ridges overlooking the Pokhara valley. It took several decades for that aspect of the blueprint to materialise, but the ridges of the lake city now boasts several high-end resorts. Sarangkot, one of the most popular hilltops overlooking the city of Pokhara, is home to several high-end resorts. One of them is the Himalayan Front Hotel. I have visited the hotel several times, and every time I have been amazed by the views that the rooms come with. Guests at the hotel can see spectacular views of the Annapurna massif and Sarangkot's famed sunrise right from the comfort of their rooms.
Another highlight is the hotel’s swimming pool. The reflection of the mountains on the resort's infinity pool is something that we seldom see anywhere in the world. As a flagship of KGH Group of Hotels, Himalayan Front Hotel makes you feel like you are living above the clouds. To relax and refresh, Himalayan Front Hotel is the best option in Pokhara.
Rates start from $110 per night.
Shangri-La Village Resort, Pokhara
Shangri-La Village Resort is one of Pokhara's first high-end resorts. The resort started operations in 1997, and my first stay at the resort was in 1998. And over the years, I have stayed there several times. My most recent stay there was last September.
Located in a quiet corner in Pokhara, away from the hustle and bustle of Lakeside, the resort gives guests the feeling of staying in a village. The mountain views from the resort are spectacular. Every time I stay there, I make sure that I have my breakfast at the poolside and enjoy the mountain views. The resort's rooms are also very well-appointed, and each has a private themed balcony. Though Shangri-La Village Resort might be a bit far from Lakeside, the resort's ambience and solitude it offers makes a stay worthwhile.
Rates start from $ 220 per night.
Hotel Pawan Palace, Lumbini
Lumbini is one of Nepal's top tourist destinations. To cater to the growing number of high-end travellers visiting the holy Buddhist site, a string of new high-end hotels have opened up in the city. Hotel Pawan Palace—a five-star hotel—opened last year in Lumbini, making it one of the latest luxury hotels in the city. The hotel is located very close to the main road that leads to Lumbini.
The hotel is for guests who don't like to compromise on luxury while making the most of Lumbini's spiritual side. I checked in at the hotel last year and was pleasantly surprised with the level of attention to detail and luxury. Rooms are fully equipped with all the modern amenities, and the bathroom is designed to cater to luxury travelers. Even the service was at par with some of the country's leading luxury hotels. For affluent Buddhist pilgrims who enjoy to eat, pray and love in luxury, Hotel Pawan Palace will cater to their every need.
Rates start from $80 (for Nepalese) and $150 (for foreigners) per night.