Family Hotel Review: Dwarika’s Hotel, Kathmandu, Nepal
Part boutique hotel, part living museum, family-friendly Dwarika’s Hotel is a beautiful slice of Nepalese history.
Best For: Artists, architects and historians; kids of all ages.
Reviewed by: Katja Gaskell
Why You’ll Love It
Dwarika’s Hotel was the vision of Dwarika Das Shrestha who bought the land upon which the hotel is now located in the late 1950s. Here, he built a small family home and incorporated a handful of old wooden window frames that he had collected into the design (these can still be seen today). From these humble beginnings grew a beautiful heritage property that today is part boutique hotel, part living museum.
Dwarika’s celebrates Nepal’s culture and heritage. Behind the large wooden doors you’ll find engraved pillars and 16th-century carved windows as well as a huge collection of artefacts dating back to the 13th century. All the terracotta work used was made in the valley using local clay and skills, traditional carpenters crafted the furniture and the linen, textiles and embroideries were hand woven using Nepali patterns.
The result is incredibly beautiful and when we stayed we felt we were experiencing a part of Nepalese history. For those families in need of the modern world have no fear, Dwarika’s is home to three excellent restaurants, a fantastic spa, a swimming pool and it even has a reliable Internet connection.
Why The Kids Will Love It
Dwarika’s Hotel is not your average family hotel and there’s little here organised for kids. That said, we visited with two toddlers and found it an excellent Kathmandu base. The location, just around the corner from the airport and the Boudhanath Stupa, is hugely convenient but what we all liked best was the sense of calm that you felt as soon as you stepped through the grand wooden doors.
Inside there’s a large, enclosed courtyard for little kids to run around and there’s a good-sized swimming pool that children of all ages will enjoy. Small touches such as the highchairs in the restaurant (traditional wooden ones of course) and baby cots make a family stay here easy, too. Rooms all come with a metal bagh-chai or ‘Tiger moving game’, a type of Nepalese chess that involves four tigers and twenty goats – working out how to play tends to keep kids entertained for an hour or two!
Dwarika’s Hotel enjoys 87 rooms and suites. Each room has been individually designed to blend contemporary design with Newari motifs and traditions. The décor is simple with white or brick walls and white linens offset by throws and cushions embroidered with traditional motifs. The attention to detail in the rooms is impressive; the bed linen is organic and hand woven, much of the furniture is custom designed and handmade and a traditional bagh-chai game or ‘Tiger game’ can be found in every room as well.
All rooms come with a TV and DVD player, tea and coffee making facilities, a mini bar, fresh flowers, fruit and biscuits. Guests should note that some of the rooms allow smoking.
The rooms are divided into three categories; Heritage Room, Heritage Suite and Royal Suite.
Heritage Room These base category rooms are large and come with the kind of amenities that you want to take home with you; organic linen, custom made furniture and Nepali artwork and antiques.
Heritage Suite Larger than the Heritage Rooms, these elegant rooms are further divided into Executive and Junior categories. They enjoy a separate sitting area and enormous bathroom. The suites are designed using local materials including pottery, slate and brass.
Royal Suite The enormous Royal Suite takes its architectural cue from the private abodes of the Malla Kings of Kathmandu. Set over three floors and featuring formal and informal meeting spaces as well as private lounge space, a majestic bedroom and a luxurious bathroom, this room is literally fit for a king.
Best Rooms For Families Dwarika’s Hotel allows one extra bed per room. The rooms are all very spacious and can easily accommodate a baby cot as well. There is one pair of inter-connecting rooms. A maximum of three adults are allowed to share one room.
Dwarika has three restaurants each offering a different culinary experience. The two specialty restaurants are Krishnarpan for Nepali fine dining and Mako that serves the best Japanese food in Nepal. The Toran is the hotel’s multi-cuisine all day restaurant
Breakfast Families can enjoy the generous breakfast buffer in the Toran. Enjoy a range of cereals, fruits, yoghurts, toast, bread and jams as well as a large selection of hot dishes including eggs cooked to order.
Lunch & Dinner The Toran is open throughout the day and you can enjoy lunch and dinner either indoors or on the terrace. The menu is a mix of local and international flavours and uses produce from Dwarika’s farm.
Krishnarpan specializes in Nepali fine dining and is excellent. Dinners can include anything from 6 to 22 courses and everything is prepared using fresh organic vegetables grown on the hotel’s own organic farm. Guests are given an apron to wear and a menu with your name printed on it. You must then give some of your first course to Lord Krishna; Krishnarpan literally means ‘offering to Lord Krishna’. When we visited we enjoyed (among many other dishes) potatoes and peas cooked with Nepali spices, traditional minced meat dumplings, pan grilled oyster mushrooms and an assortment of Nepali hors d’oeuvres traditionally served during religious ceremonies. The service is superb and the experience utterly unique. Open for dinner only.
Mako’s is the hotel’s Japanese restaurant and offers a seasonal menu of fresh vegetables grown on the hotel’s farm. The house specialty are the tempuras that use Mako’s (your host) signature batter. The fresh tofu made from soybeans grown on Dwarika’s farm is also popular. For desert choose the organic green tea ice cream! Open for lunch and dinner.
Bar: The Fusion Bar overlooks the swimming pool and has been decorated in a ye olde pub type style which is slightly at odds with the rest of the hotel. Still it serves good drinks and there’s live music on a Friday night; it’s a popular spot for locals and expats to gather.
For Kids: There is no dedicated kids’ menu but there is plenty to keep children happy on the menu at the Toran. Krishnarpan is better suited to adults. Highchairs are available.
Activities for Parents
Book yourself into the Pancha Kosha Spa and choose from a range of therapies that use natural herbs, oils and essences from the Himalayas.
Spend an hour or two in the hotel’s library browsing the selection of books on Nepali culture, history and travel.
Lie by the pool or swim laps in the turquoise waters that were designed to resemble a 12th century Malla Dynasty bath.
Head to Thamel and practise your bargaining skills. This popular tourist spot is the place to go for clothes, jewellery, handicrafts, Tibetan knick-knacks and more.
Take a tuk-tuk to the Boudhanath Stupa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world.
Activities for Kids
Enjoy an afternoon swimming in the pool.
Challenge the family to a game of bagh-chai, or the ‘Tiger moving game’. This strategic two-player board game involves four tigers and twenty goats!
Spin the prayer wheels near the Boudhanath Stupa and join the Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns as they walk clockwise around its base.
Teens will enjoy shopping for souvenirs in the crowded but fun streets of Thamel, little kids will enjoy playing in the indoor playground located in the mall across the street from the hotel.
Explore Durbar Square in Bhaktapur and see how you measure up to the enormous stone lions and elephants standing guard.
Air-conditioning, central heating, common rooms, baby cots available, doctor on call, the nearest hospital is approx. 5 mins away, one extra bed per room, one set of inter-connecting rooms available, laundry, pushchair-friendly, shops, spa, swimming pool, travel desk, WiFi available for a charge.
Rates vary considerably according to room type, extra bed requests and date of travel. At the time of writing, rates started from approximately US $300 for a base category room. Please contact the hotel directly for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.
When to go:
Kathmandu doesn’t have extreme weather seasons so it’s possible to visit at anytime of the year. That said, the summer months (May to September) can get hot with temperatures often reaching 30C and above. The winter months (December to February) enjoy bright, sunny days with average daytime temperatures of 20C. The nights, however, can get very chilly, although it never snows in the Kathmandu valley. The monsoon rains fall from June to September and during this time the city streets can get clogged. August and September is festival time with plenty of celebrations to watch and enjoy.
Location & Travel:
Dwarika’s Hotel is located near the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Tribhuvan Airport is Nepal’s only international airport located in Kathmandu. Some international airlines that currently fly to Nepal include Air China, Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Qatar Airways and Thai Airways International. Dwarika’s Hotel is located 6 km from the airport but the journey can take 20 minutes or more owing to the terrible traffic.
Contact The HotelFor more information or to make a booking enquiry, visit the hotel’s own website by following the link below:
Reviewer’s Top Tips!
1) Kathmandu’s traffic is terrible, make sure you don’t try and cram too much into one day or you’ll spend the entire time cursing in a taxi!
2) Bring good walking shoes for pounding the capital’s streets, plus sun cream, hats and lip balm
3) If travelling with infants then a kiddie backpack or baby sling is a good idea (a pushchair is useless on Kathmandu’s streets).
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