Kathmandu is a backpacker town mostly…a staging ground where people land and spend a few days before heading off on their treks. It’s this context which explains a distinct lack of “proper” hotels in the city. This is why when I visited Kathmandu recently I gravitated toward the Hotel Shangrila in the Lazimpat area of the city.
The Shangrila is ostensibly a 5-star hotel, although more like 3 or 4 stars in my book, and is centrally located for tourism, shopping and dining when in Kathmandu. Sure the Dwarika is more luxurious, but in the end it is simply not centrally located and makes getting around town a bit of a drag.
At about $85-120USD a night, the Shangrila also represents good value. The on-site Shambala Café is surprisingly good and set in a gorgeous little garden with fountains and flowers. My friend Gretchen and I agreed that the local and Indian menu was amazingly good, especially the Dal Makhani (black lentils cooked overnight in a tandoor oven). We were unanimous in deciding it was the best Dal we have had outside of India. And combined with the Chooza Makhani (tandoori chicken simmered in tomato gravy and finished with double cream), Naan bread and a local Ghorka beer, it was a divine Indian feast. Even if you are not staying at the Shangrila, we would recommend heading over to the café for a meal.
Also we enjoyed our time spent at the bar as well (as one does ;). But seriously, it was just so cozy sitting around the fire and sipping cocktails. Living in SE Asia, I cannot remember the last time I gathered around a fireplace for an intimate chat. It’s a special treat if you are from a warmer climate.
The rooms themselves were comfortable, but not especially luxurious…and for me this is why I dispute the 5 star rating. It in fact might be 5 star for Nepal, but compared with other destinations around the world, it was more 3 or 4 star for me. Don’t get me wrong, nothing was particular bad or off about the room, but then again, it wasn’t especially memorable either.
In the end though, sometimes when traveling you have to acknowledge that very little time is spent in the room and with this in mind, the Shangrila is a great place to dine, chill over cocktails and stage your discovery of Kathmandu.
Hotel Shangrila Kathmandu
Telephone: +977 (0) 1 4412999