I have booked an airport pick-up, so after spending an hour clearing immigration, it’s a relief to find the driver waiting outside with my name on a sign. It’s rush hour, so although the hotel isn’t far from the airport, it takes about half an hour to get there. The contrast between the noisy street outside and the rarefied atmosphere inside the hotel – calm, open courtyards and an airy lobby – is marked. I’m given a glass of hot ginger tea while checking in.
The hotel is located in Battisputali, between the airport and Kathmandu city centre. Most of the main sights aren’t within walking distance, but it’s close to the wondrous Pashupatinath Temple complex, on the banks of the Bagmati River. Cremations, sadhus, gurus and ordinary devotees are all there to be seen.
The hotel consists of three main brick-built buildings, which are finished with traditional and mostly historic wood window frames salvaged from demolished buildings. They’re set round a series of linked paved courtyards, which are blissfully peaceful and atmospheric, and dotted with trees and shrines. There’s also an outdoor swimming pool, and a spa and gym. Most of the guests during my stay are on holiday from the United States or Europe; it’s also popular with Middle East expatriates and diplomats.
There are 83 rooms and suites in total in the hotel; mine is a deluxe room, and surprisingly large, with a spacious bathroom and hallway. There are stone floors, traditional rugs, wooden furniture and air conditioning, and although it doesn’t all match up to modern luxury-hotel standards, it more than makes up for it with its charm.
There are plenty of well-trained local staff, who are quick, kind and unobtrusive. Calls to reception are answered and acted on quickly, breakfast is very well catered to, and at dinner, staff willingly prepare a dish that’s not on the menu. On departure, cleaning staff on every floor wish me a good-hearted goodbye.
The hotel uses local, organic and sustainably sourced food wherever possible. There are three main restaurants: Krishnarpan, serving traditional Nepali food; Toran, an all-day dining restaurant with a good variety of options; and Mako’s, a traditional-style Japanese restaurant. The food is all very good; a two-course set menu at Toran, including a local curry, dessert and tea or coffee, costs about 14,500 Sri Lankan rupees (Dh359). Breakfast is a generous spread of local Bhaktapur yogurt and cheese, the usual hot buffet items, four types of freshly baked bread, fruit, cereal, juices and hot drinks.
The restful ambience and historic atmosphere. A half-hour back, head and shoulder massage (about 3,000 rupees [Dh74], including taxes) was great for decompressing after a flight.
Although no rooms face roads, tooting traffic and occasional barking dogs can be heard morning to night. At some stage, better double glazing will help. At night, the lights inside my wardrobe won’t turn off, so I have to call maintenance.
A beautiful place to stay in a historic city where too many old buildings have been lost.
The bottom line
Double rooms at Dwarika’s Hotel (www.dwarikas.com) cost from US$280 (Dh1,028) per night, including taxes and breakfast.