We stayed at the Gorkha Hotel twice on a recent trip to Tibet -- the first time was for a few days upon arriving in Lhasa, and then, again, for the last few days before our departure. We stayed in different rooms each time, both in the back, overlooking the courtyard.
If I were basing this review only on the experience of our second room, I would be rating it 5 stars instead of four -- or a 3 if only on the first room -- so there is definitely a difference in the room you get!
It tended to be a bit dark in the rooms, but we loved coziness of the place and the colorful Tibetan style (and it was plenty bright enough outside in the warm August sun)! We had the same floor plan both times. The rooms were spacious and quite comfortable, with a separate living room, bedroom, and a bathroom/kitchen area. The bedroom window opened onto the courtyard below.
In both instances the beds were big and comfortable, if typically hard, and the bedding was plenty warm. Our rooms both came with 5 pillows. Each had an extra single bed in the living room area.
There was ample closet space and both rooms featured full-size refrigerators, bottled water coolers with on-tap hot water for tea (very nice), flat screen tvs (but I don't know how much reception they get) and wi-fi (which, as in every place we visited in Tibet, was a bit sketchy). There are also in-room space heaters, which I imagine are quite welcome in the colder months. No in-room safes.
Overall the rooms are a bit dilapidated and seem in need of some basic repairs, but this also seemed to add to the authenticity and charm of the place and was not bothersome to us. Everything was clean, but sometimes appeared less so just due to its run-down condition. But this is Tibet, so travelers would do well to remember the standard is a bit different when you're on the roof of the world!
The only real issues we had were in the bathroom, and that was almost entirely limited to the first room.
In our first room the bathroom had no door; it wasn't really problematic for us since I was traveling with my husband and, due to the room's location and orientation it was still pretty private seeming -- but still! Also, the shower in our first room was quite the worst and most confusing thing I have ever encountered! The water was plenty hot (after I finally figured out how to use it) but the pressure was very, very low and even in a fully contained unit, I managed to soak the entire bathroom floor after one usage. We had a tub and shower in the second room which did not have these same issues at all, though the shower curtain was too short and so I still managed to get the floor pretty wet. Oh well -- we thankfully had an abundance of towels for sopping up the mess.
Additionally, the lighting was especially dim in the bathroom so it was quite hard to see, and sometimes there was a pervasive smell of offal which seemed to come up through the pipes (and which we remedied by lighting incense in the room). You cannot flush any paper products whatsoever in the toilets; this is quite common to the area, but I just want to mention it for those unfamiliar with Asian plumbing standards.
The hotel's staff was very friendly and speak a modicum of English, and also Chinese. We loved the 3rd floor dining room, and had a lovely breakfast there each day. And if you climb the staircase out onto the roof (but watch your head -- it's a small doorway, as I learned the hard way) you will be rewarded with wonderful views of the surrounding areas -- and you can see Potala Palace in the distance. It was especially nice at night.
The hotel is in a fantastic location, within easy walking distance of Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street. There are tons of shops to explore and restaurants to be found all over the winding alleyways which surround it. I definitely recommend a stay at this hotel -- its charm beats any of the inconveniences.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This place is excellent. Just returned from 10 days in Lhasa. You should list this...may be one of the best places in old Tibetian town...regards, Sam Singer ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Tibet Gorkha Hotel Lhasa