We stayed at the Surja for 3 nights in early January. The hotel itself is adequately clean and has a relatively good location inside the fort. Its so cold at night and the rooms are generally uncomfortable. The rooftop restaurant overlooks the old city and serves good breakfast and tasty curries. However all this was ruined by the general dishonesty of some of the staff members. On the first day we were pressured by the hotels tour organiser called Munnah, he spent the first couple of hours at the hotel trying to sell us a Camel/ desert safari. However his sale technique was sneaky and he would only discuss the price behind closed doors. We were sold a tour for 1000 rupees (per person).
The following day we went on the tour. The first few hours were a jeep safari taking you to a Jain temple/ abandoned village and a memorial area. Instantly the scams began and we were told that we had to pay extra money to get into these sites. However once in the sites we found that some of our travel compatriots had paid and others hadn't.
After a long drive into the desert we arrived at the camel safari starting point. We had arranged a 3 hour ride followed by dinner, a gypsy dance and then a nights sleep under the stars. The camel ride itself was good however it lasted for just one hour. The camel herders then basically left us in the desert and walked / rode off. I then had to call the hotel to explain what had happened and after a 30 minute wait the tour guide Munnah miraculously appeared.
He became aggressive and confrontational and asked why we had called the hotel. The camel herders were eventually called back and we had one more hour doing a mini circuit of the sand dunes.
The food in the evening was ok but the following morning we were promised a camel ride back to the jeep/ main road. However there were no camels around and we were just picked up from the site.
The whole trip was further damaged when we all found out what each other had paid for the trip. Some guys had paid anything between 750 to 3000 rupees. This added to the bad feeling. One girl challenged Munnah (tour guide) and he again became aggressive. He seems to target the people who are most vulnerable and attempts to extort as much money as possible.This kind of back stabbing dishonest behaviour typified our trip to the Hotel Surja. I would recommend strongly against booking a trip through this hotel.
I dont mean to sound bitter, I have spent 3 months traveling around India and im not naive to think that travelers dont pay slightly different prices and the commission culture can sometimes be quite difficult to deal with. However this was next level. At one point Munnah became so confrontational that we had a full argument. I think he tried to pay the camel herders for just one hours work and probably attempted to pocket the rest.
Overall a decent hotel ruined by its its shoddy excuse of a camel safari.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The famous rooftop view at Surja Hotel & Restaurant has been attracting guests for years. Our relaxed atmosphere and hospitality is what has people always coming back. The restaurant and hotel are housed within the walls of Jasailmer’s 850 year old fort. Our rooftop lounge and jharoka balconies in each room offer some of the cities most impressive views and a free Wi-Fi connection which make you keep in touch with your relatives and friends. Whether you need a room, a meal, a camel trek, or would just like to come see the view and enjoy a free cup of chai, we hope you will visit us when you are in Jaisalmer! ... more less
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