Review: Dwarika’s Hotel, Kathmandu

first_imgKathmandu is a traffic gone crazy kind of a city. The car trundles through the chaos and swerves into a foyer that is basically just off the road. A red brick wall, double entrance doors and a smiling namaste welcomes us to Dwarika’s.What lies within: As the luggage is offloaded and the wooden doors thrown open to let us in, I am little prepared for what lies within. We walk into a courtyard. And I stop in my tracks. A bit stunned. I am surrounded by an enchanted world: a beautifully restored red-brick building with carved wooden window frames, Nepalese antiques, woodwork and textiles.Heritage and history: You can immediately sense that the hotel is not simply another commercial venture. Every nook and corner speaks of a story, speaks of a heritage and speaks of fabulous aesthetics. While I am being checked-in, I am told the tale of its creator, the late Dawrika Das Shestha who got involved in a restoration and acquiring drive of Newari wood carvings after he witnessed an old building being torn down in Kathmandu and its exquisitely carved, centuries-old woodwork being carted off as firewood. As his collection grew, he was faced with the logistics of storing these bulky works of art. So he decided to construct a building in the old Newari style (made of brick, and carved wood) with the wood he had collected. This became the genesis of Dwarika’s Hotel. What started as the Dwarika’s Village Hotel with 30 rooms expanded with the addition of two new luxury wings in 1998.The rooms: We take the lift up to our second floor room which overlooks the pretty central courtyard. It is huge. Walls and floors are terracotta bricks. An enormous open ‘dressing’ area with stone plate floors has a Villeroy & Boch bathtub sunken into the floor. I am a bit taken aback because this area has no door to separate it from the bedroom. But the shower area comes with a curtain and the toilet with a door and after mental reorientation I love the open spaces. Terracotta sculptures from Hindu and Buddhist mythologies, traditional oil lamps, wooden, hand-carved furniture, traditional textile bedspreads and carpets woven in a place called Sindhupalchowk by local Newa people adorn the bedroom.Around the hotel: I am too excited to stay confined to the room for long. Itching to explore this intimate boutique hotel, I step out into the stone paved courtyard and discover a lovely swimming pool, styled after 12th century Malla Dynasty baths, surrounded by cherry blossom, fruit and flowering trees. A jazz bar overlooks the pool. As evening sets in and the property comes aglow with molten golden lights it is the perfect place for a romantic drink. Dining options: There are three dining options, including al fresco in the courtyard. But what I am looking forward to is the dinner at Krishnarpan, the famous Nepalese speciality restaurant here. Beautiful, elegant, ethnic women in gorgeous traditional attire and jewellery, greet us. The restaurant serves from six to a 22-course meal! We start with Samaya Bajee, beaten rice with roasted meat, smoked fish, boiled-then-fried egg, black soybeans and diced ginger, usually a ritual food served during ceremonies. This is followed by momos, roti with sautÅed spinach, oyster mushrooms, steamed rice, traditional chicken curry, dal, homemade hog plum pickle, dried fish and tomato pickle… I am urged by the lovely hostesses to try Choyila, buffalo meat cubes fried with spices and greens.Locally brewed liquor chang is served on the side. Wonderfully warm and gracious staff adds an edge to this utterly delightful property located close to the airport, walking distance from Pashupatinath Temple and yet not far from city centre and Thamel. Dwarika’s Hotel is almost as much of an experience as the destination itself. An experience that makes for some wonderful memories that stay with you long after you have left Kathmandu far behind.–Ritu Agarwal RohatgiAt a glanceWhat: A heritage boutique hotelWhere: Battisputali, Kathmandu Nepal; tel: +97 714 7488; www.dwarikas.comCost: High Season (Jan 1-April 30) US$ 280 and taxes for double occupancy basic roomVerdict: A unique Newari architectural and cultural experienceHot dealVisit Dwarika’s: Stay for 3 nights/4 days at Rs. 17,777 for two with accommodation, transfers, breakfast and many activities. Valid from May 1 to August 31. Lemon Tree Hotel, BangaloreI entered the lobby of Lemon Tree and paused, sniffing. A distinct aroma, quite different from usual hotel lobby perfumes, hit me: it was citrusy, or rather, lemony. The bright, airy lobby was done up gracefully with four massive stained glass panels hanging from the ceiling. My check-in was done in a jiffy and I was led to my room. Along the way, I noticed that there were a series of inlays on the floor: a nymph, an Egyptian hieroglyph, a set of pug marks… a quaint mix. It was fun and it continued through the hotel.The rooms: My stylish Lake View Executive Room was spacious and overlooked the beautiful environs of Ulsoor Lake. I loved the couch that was ideal for lounging. There is one entire floor designated for women with soft toys in the room and more personal care products, among other things. The dining: Having settled in, I headed to the mezzanine floor which housed the brand’s award-winning creation–Republic of Noodles–a pan-Asian restaurant serving dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia and Burma, but interestingly there was no Chinese. Done mainly in red, the restaurant sported Oriental artefacts and Buddha statues. The menu was extensive, but rather than trying to choose from it, I opted for a tasting platter. Since the dishes were drawn from so many cultures, the tastes varied; I liked the stir fried prawns, the pork steak and khao suey.The afternoon was spent relaxing by the rooftop pool. In the evening, the rustic looking Slounge, the lounge bar was buzzing and I sank into a couch to enjoy a cricket match. For dinner, I headed to Citrus Cafe, the all-day dining restaurant for a meal of Indian and European dishes. I particularly enjoyed the tender reshmi and fish kebabs and the rack of lamb. After breakfast, I checked out the next morning, but the citrus aroma lingered long after, thanks to a box of incense sticks the hotel hands out to all its guests.–Anita Rao KashiAt a glanceWhat: A business hotelWhere: 2/1, St John’s Road; tel: (080) 4480 2000; www.lemontree hotels.comCost: Rs. 10,000 onwards per night (single occupancy) Verdict: A convenient hotel in the cityThe Westin GurgaonA relief for the eye in the concrete mass of Gurgaon, the new Westin pleases from the very beginning. Instead of the boxed office building or mall architecture prevalent in the city, this is a sweep of glass and metal that compels you to take a second look as you pass by; and there may be many such occasions, as it is located right at the busy IFFCO Chowk intersection of Gurgaon.Rooms: I walk into my suite and am greeted by a huge picture window framing the metro bridge. Every once in a while a train passes to and fro, making for a captivating sight. The rooms are spacious and filled with daylight, plush sofas decorate the living room, inviting you to sit by the window and read or watch trains go by; the Heavenly Bed sits next to a high-back armchair in the bedroom. The bed is named after the sink-in comfort that it provides; you can order from a range of pillows if you know exactly what you want. The amenities in the room are top class: there is a French press but also an espresso machine, delighting the coffee-addict in me. I make a shot of espresso even before I hang my clothes in the wardrobe. Here, I feel the rooms lose out in design–the walk-in closet is inside the bath area and is not only tiny, it also eats into the space for the WC and the shower cubicles. Perhaps they could have done better with just two cubicles where three stand. After the spaciousness of the rooms, these seem cramped.If you are a single female traveller, you can book an Aura room, which comes with some essential facilities such as being close to the elevator and serviced by an all-female staff along with some unessential ones: pink dressing gown, slippers and, of all things, a pink yoga mat.Restaurants: The Italian restaurant Prego will probably take another month to open. The menu at EEST is pan-Asian and vast, with the usual sushi and satay but peppered with the new. We try mixed greens, tofu, prawns with chillies, tuna maki rolls, egg tarts, pad thai and each and every thing is superb! I will definitely return to EEST, and recommend it highly. The buffet spread at the all-day dining is huge but it leaves me unimpressed, as at both the lunches I have, the same things are on offer. It is better to order off the menu, if you are particular about these things. In the buffet, a must-try is the Mediterranean counter with a variety of unusual dips and spreads.Unwinding: While the Heavenly Spa is yet to be ready, a portable spa bed and masseuse can provide a small range of therapies in the room. I choose the Chi Balance massage; my masseuse is named, rather oddly, Attila but she is a magician who doesn’t even need a wand. I pass in and out of a half-sleep state while Attila expertly works lavender oil to my advantage. It is one of the best massages I have ever had and I am somewhat of a spa-junkie. So ask for Attila when you book a treatment at the upcoming spa. This business hotel with a pleasing design sensibility is a space that will be welcoming and relaxing for business travellers for sure. But for me, it becomes a short weekend trip, a break that is half-an-hour from home and one with great entertainment options.–Kalyani Prasher At a glanceWhat: A business hotelWhere: 1, MG Road, Sector 29, Gurgaon; tel: (0124) 497 7777; www.starwoodhotels.comCost: Rs. 14,500 per nightVerdict: A great option in the city centreQuote, TaipeiAs I twirl the sleek black pencil on my writing desk, I come upon small silver letters: Stay Understated. That’s the design philosophy of Quote, where even a pencil impresses you. I surrender. I am totally wowed–smiling at clever fixtures, modern amenities, cutting-edge design. I am delighted with this stylish space.Location: As you walk the long shopping corridors of Nan-Jing East Road, a block down from the Ikea store you come upon what looks like a shop that is yet to open. Dark tinted glass doors quietly announce the hotel’s name. Step closer and these doors slip away, revealing a world full of wonders within–a buzzing reception area with hip young people hopping about efficiently; a designer restaurant and bar attracts attention with mirror and glass work, vibrant colours, the whole space speckled with kitsch.Staff: The young staff speaks fluent English, is happy to run up a hundred times to show you how the various cool machines work–the espresso maker, the iPod dock, the telephone that looks like a gadget from space. They have an answer to everything from providing gift boxes, to suggesting a drink for the evening. Design: Quote is small but clever use of space and strategic use of mirrors ensure that you never feel cramped. Each corridor ends with a mirror, making them appear longer. Room categories are Q, U, O, T, E–just another quirk of this designer space. My room, a U, is smallish but cosy and oh-so-designer. The television is a Sony, set against the wall, taking up no extra inch; there’s no space for side tables but a reading light hangs from the ceiling in a glass and metal cage; the toiletries are designer; the espresso maker comes with several flavours of coffee; the bed is king size and plush. Everything is as it should be. In the room, lights are low; it is sleek and understated, intimate and inviting, even sexy. The H.Q. Lounge, which offers endless free coffee, internet, and a wide range of snacks, is, in contrast, lively, well lit and large. Service: I order three glasses of wine and John, the same guy who checked me in and taught me how to use my espresso maker comes up balancing three glasses in one hand. He walks in, recognises the music that is playing and suggests places I can buy more of the same; even tells me of a concert that is going to happen in a couple of days that I might like to attend. The hotel is small, the staff plays triple roles but as a result you get personalised service of the highest quality. Hotels like Quote make you happy because someone has paid such attention to detail, made such an effort to make every small thing a thing of joy for you. And I, for one, am turned a complete fan.–Kalyani PrasherAt a glanceWhat: A boutique hotelWhere: 333, Nan-Jing E. Road, Section 3, Songshan District; tel: +886 2 2175 5589; www.hotel-quote.comCost: TWD 8,900 per night for the standard roomVerdict: A fantastic, cutting-edge option in the centre of TaipeiHotel newsJumeirah Group’s new resort in the Maldives With the opening of the Jumeirah group’s first resort at Gaafu Alifu, you have yet another stay option to choose from if you are holidaying in the Maldives. The all-villa resort, Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, has 22 island villas and 16 ocean villas with private pools. The villas have direct access to the beach and come with a 24-hour butler service. The resort has three restaurants, a bar and offers a number of watersport activities like scuba diving, snorkelling and fishing too. For more information, visit www.jumeirah.comW hotel opens at BaliStarwood Hotels have launched W Retreat & Spa Bali at Seminyak, one of the most exclusive beaches in this popular resort. The first W hotel in Indonesia has 158 villas and suites, most of them facing the Indian Ocean. All the villas–one, two and three bedrooms–have their own private entrance and pool. There is a three storey bar, WooBar, on the beach, a seaside beach club serving Pan-Asian cuisine, and a grill restaurant. The spa at the luxury resort is open 24 hours. For more information, visit www.starwoodhotels.comEco-friendly bungalows added at Elephant Valley Kodaikanal The eco-farm hotel Elephant Valley has opened two bungalows called The Jasmine House. These granite houses come with a large verandah and private garden. This hotel is located 20 km away from Kodaikanal hillstation. Each of the 16 villas and 12 cottages here are made using local material and are equipped with eco-friendly features like solar light and low consumption bulbs. The Valley Restaurant offers Indian and Continental cuisine, but it’s all organic. Each dish served, is made of vegetables grown at the garden. There is also stable here and the hotel offers horse treks to the surrounding areas and horse riding lessons for beginners as well. For details, visit www.elephan tvalleyhotel.comNew wing at Alila Diwa GoaThis boutique hotel, located at Majorda beach in south Goa, has opened a new wing with 27 rooms, six one-bedroom suites, and a two-bedroom suite. All the rooms at the stylish new Diwa wing have a private terrace and overlook the swimming pool. The new wing has a lap pool, open air jacuzzi and a restaurant, the Bistro. For more information, visit www.alilahotels.comLuxury hotel for dogs in France A new four-star hotel, Actuel Dogs, opened for dogs at Vincennes, a suburb at the outskirts of Paris. This stylish and sleek hotel promises to give the pets who check in here much more attention than they get at home. Massages, a dip in the pool, fine-dining meals, dog walks in the forest next to the hotel, television for them to watch while they relax on cushioned couches, are just some of the luxuries that they will enjoy during their stay. The hotel also has a training programme for dogs. Tel: +33 4804 0097The Metropolitan New Delhi gets a spaNext time you check-in at The Metropolitan Hotel New Delhi, you can pamper yourself with a relaxing treatment at the newly opened NeoVeda Spa. The sprawling spa, done up in earthy tones, offers both ayurvedic and international treatments. Each of their signature therapies such as NeoVeda Experience, Energy Equalizer with Volcanic Hot Stone and Vedic Journey are a mix of ancient and modern treatments. For more information, visit www.hotelmetdelhi.comadvertisementadvertisementadvertisementlast_img