Category: Hotel

REVIEW: Hotel Lumbini, Leh ~ great location but not so great service.

This fall I visited one of my favourite travel destinations, Ladakh for a two weeks holiday. Ladakh is my absolute favourite (i visit every year) and generally speaking the hotels during my last few trips have been great. The service is excellent and local people are warm and friendly – always ready to help you with even the smallest request.
This was about to change this year. We were booked at Hotel Lumbini in Leh for a two day stay before heading onward to other places.
Hotel Lumbini, Leh

Hotel Lumbini, Leh

We reached our hotel at about 8.30 p.m. – after a long journey of 6 -7 hours from Jispa (a transit town between Manali and Leh). We were tired and hungry after the long rocky ride and were keen to have our dinner and a good night’s sleep. To our dismay, soon after reaching, we got a “coldish, rude” reception from the manager at the desk. instead of offering water to the guests, the manager was keen on first rattling out the “do’s and don’ts of Leh”. I agree it was important to inform the guests of travel tips but something like this could be taken care of after serving basic refreshments to guests. Finally, after the “class” was over, we headed to the dinner area which was average in collection and range both. What a downer. (My suggestion here is to check out the bakeries which are right next to the hotel and some restaurants just a little further on the road. You can also visit the small restaurant just opposite the hotel which serves amazing potato momos. Food is pretty good at this restaurant too.)
The disappointment did not end there. We checked into our room, a suite, (since couple of us were sharing the room)- and it hardly looked like a suite. Other than the beds makeover, the suite looked desparately in need of some care and attention. The bathroom was huge but poorly maintained with a broken bathtub. This is going to get better I hoped to myself but not really. The service was okay with some helpers very prompt and efficient and others looking as if they were woken up from sleep. Mixed bag.
The biggest downer was the wi-fi. The signal did not reach many rooms, so you had to stand on the stairs close to the reception to get a little bit of network. Since Leh is only one of the few cities to get internet, i assume this would be a critical requirement among guests. The Manager (my favourite by now) – was not too willing about sharing the password. I wasnt going to have any of that and needled him till he gave it to me. Phew, at least some good news – internet yay!!
The other good thing about the hotel or our room was the view from the balcony. It was a view to die for and I could live here for days just to enjoy my morning tea with that view. See my morning tea view below :)
Morning tea and this view :-)

Morning tea and this view from balcony :-)

A rainbow to accompany the tea :-)

A rainbow to accompany the tea :-)

Overall, i couldnt figure out, with an excellent location and ready hotel structure, why did the owners do such a poor job with management & service? I would really like to come and stay at the hotel again only if some of the basic things were right. And that remains to be seen i guess. Also heard that the hotel / property belongs to one of the most influential families in Leh and hope that they will do something about it.
Keep smiling & traveling!
Megha
Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Quick Review: The Writers Cottage, Ramgarh, Uttarakhand

Main Building

With spectacular views, the Writers Cottage is a delight and a must visit for those looking for a quiet, peaceful holiday.

Writers Cottage Room

Writers Cottage Balcony

The Writers Cottage by VResorts is not your typical hustle bustle holiday destination. Hinged on a hill, in the small town of Ramgarh in Uttarakhand, this humble, poignant cottage is a treat for those looking to enjoy serene, quiet surroundings of a hill station.

While the resort has four rooms overall, the Writers Cottage is by far, the best room/ cottage to stay in. The Cottage has one very large room and an attached bathroom. It’s set aside from the other building in the resort which has three rooms, a dining area and a patio which is quite nice too but my vote goes to the Writers Cottage which is quite spacious and offers undisturbed quality time to chill out and enjoy the landscape.

Dining area in main building

Main Building

Pic of another room in main building

Rabindranath Tagore

Seating area in main building

View from balcony Writers Cottage

In addition to the spacious room, the Writers Cottage has an unparalleled view of the mountain range from its balcony. It’s a view to die for and will make you want to stay in the balcony all day long. In the night, the blinking lights of the local town will make you feel like you are walking among the stars – what an amazing feeling. The silence of the night will echo in your mind, mildly interrupted by jungle crickets making noise ever so often. Just perfect.

It’s fair enough to say that the resort folks are also committed to you enjoying your space and me time. Service and food is excellent (veg & non-veg) and only provided when you ring the bell to ask for it. Not the modern, electronic jarring bell, just the simple hand bell that you find in temples and monasteries which you ring from the balcony of your room and the resort guy comes sprinting around. Loved the bell concept – a minor detail but so appreciated. Meals at the resort are in main dining hall (of the other building) but tea/ coffee is served in rooms if required. The resort folks also happily make an exception if you are traveling with someone who needs extra care.

Although the cottage and its views are good enough to hold you captive all day long, you can also choose to take a stroll around the resort. The resort has its own plum and apricot orchard and you can pick a few to carry home. You might also bump into a few monkeys on the trees but they are interested in the plums, so no need to worry. Of course, the Cottage has a nice big television but these holidays are best spent without any electronic interference.

Apart from its spectacular views, which you will see in the pictures below, the Writers Cottage holds yet another golden feather in its cap – the Cottage is a heritage cottage and a living tribute to Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Laureate and India’s most famous Poet. Apparently, Gurudev, as he was widely known, used to stay in the Cottage often and also penned lines for his poem “Shishu” here. (Shishu means baby). Close by to the resort, is also the spot, where he spent hours in the company of nature and wrote his poems. Wow and not sure why I hadn’t heard of it before.

PS: For those not too familiar with India’s literary heritage, Guru Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941) was a Bengali polymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore or Gurudev as he was widely known, was most famous as a poet and penned many popular poems such as Manasi, Sonar Tari and Gitanjali among others. Besides these, he wrote musical dramas, dance dramas, essays, travel diaries, and two autobiographies, one in his middle years and the other shortly before his death in 1941. Tagore also left numerous drawings and paintings, and songs for which he wrote the music himself.

Overall, the stay at the Cottage was great and I recommend it highly to everyone who wants to do the solo kind of holiday or with a partner /spouse. You can also come and stay with the family but I suggest it as a perfect destination for me-time. The Writer’s Cottage stay is INR 9000 per night inclusive of all meals. Tea and snacks are extra but not too expensive. You can book the Cottage in advance at Vresorts website (www.vresorts.in). The resort chain has a fabulous range of over 50+ properties across 12 cities, so you may want to check out other properties when you have the time.  Twitter handle: @Vresortschain

Finally, the most important bit – the travel part. You can drive to the resort/Ramgarh in your own car or in a taxi (6.5 hours from Delhi via Nainital and Bhimtal) or take a train to Kathgodam, near Nainital and take a taxi to the resort. GPS works great and is pretty accurate. You can visit the resort website and see directions as well.

I’ve included quite a few pics, hope you enjoy them and do share your feedback :)

Keep traveling!

Cheers
Megha

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