My stay at the Dwarika’s Hotel Kathmandu is something I will never forget. I was a guest there when the earthquake hit 80km west of Kathmandu, and so for me the hotel holds special significance. The staff were incredible during the disaster; I simply cannot stress this enough. In fact, incredible isn’t a strong enough adjective to describe what they did. They put us above all else, even their own families. I will write about their kindness and humanitarianism in a separate post, for it really does deserve special public recognition. But for now, I want to concentrate on Dwarika’s the hotel – as I do not want the events of April 2015 to detract from what is quite simply the best hotel I have ever stayed in.
So often, hotel reviews are littered with throw-away flowery phrases that become redundant the more you read them. The term ‘oasis of calm’ is something I hate myself for writing as it sounds like one of those terms. But in the case of the Dwarika’s it is 100% true. From the moment you enter its heavy teak doors you are transported away from the dust and the madness of Kathmandu into a mystical world of 13th century carvings and deep Nepalese history. The blaring horns of mopeds are replaced by birds singing and the hypnotic sound of water fountains. The hotel’s open courtyard is an unforgettable experience in itself – and while I’m on the subject, it seems unfair to even label the Dwarika’s as simply ‘a hotel.’ It is much more than that. It holds one of the biggest private woodwork collections in the world, meaning at Dwarika’s you are not just another a customer in a hotel – but a VIP guest at a luxurious, liveable museum.
I was given a Junior Suite on the third floor, the room designed with local materials including pottery, slate and brass, as well as genuine antiques and artefacts. That description may make the room seem quite cold and sterile, but the result is quite the opposite, with soft lighting cleverly used to spotlight certain items. (Three carved elephants set into the wall guarded over me as I slept.) In the spirit of a Nepali home, each suite has a divan (day bed) for lounging and a huge bed for more of the same. The suite itself was enormous, taking around 20 seconds to walk from the entrance to the elaborately decorated walk-in bathroom. The stone floors were spotless, and for such a huge, old building this is no easy task. In the bathroom itself, all sorts of high-quality toiletries were provided free of charge: from lemongrass hand sanitiser to wet-wipes and Himalayan toothpaste. I ran a bath, and as I sat on the divan eating my way through the bowl of fresh complementary fruit, a bird landed on the windowsill and peered in at me. I think he was jealous of my surroundings.
That’s the dilemma when you stay at Dwarika’s: do you venture out and explore Kathmandu or do you lounge about the grounds all day, enjoying the swimming pool and eating at their first-class restaurants? Browsing through the wealth of information given to me on arrival I spotted that there was a Japanese restaurant called Mako’s in the hotel itself and so off I went. Mako’s, as it turns out, is run by Mako – a Japanese lady from Kyoto who now calls Kathmandu her home. I invited her to sit with me, and over my dish of authentic katsudon, I practised my Japanese as I told her I had just been living in Tokyo for three years. The hotel has five restaurants in total, and while I didn’t dine at them all, the breakfast buffet at Toran – Dwarika’s multi-cuisine all day restaurant – was very, very good. Sikarni (cinnamon flavoured yoghurt) followed by buckwheat bread and jungle honey? Yes please. I really could go on and on and on about this hotel. If you are visiting Kathmandu I can’t recommend Dwarika’s enough. The events of April 2015 will always be with me. And so will the Dwarika’s for all the right reasons. Would I visit Kathmandu again despite what happened? Absolutely. Would I stay at the Dwarika’s. Undoubtedly. Everyone should visit this place at least once in their lifetime.