I turned up at the Lumbini Village Lodge recommended as Top Choice in Lonely Planet Nepal (9th edition, July 2012) with no booking, intending to stay there a couple of nights on my way to India.
I ended up staying a whole week, taking time to soak in the atmosphere of the very special pilgrimage centre for Buddhists that Lumbini is.
I was encouraged in this by Jupiter, the owner and manager of the Lumbini Village Lodge who made me feel very welcome in his hostel where he himself lives with his family. He was extremely generous with his time and provided a lot of information about the region and Buddhism in general. He can organise tours (guided or not) to the important historical sites in the area and even specialises in 5 days pilgrimage tours (guided or just car and driver) to the important Buddhist centres nearby in India (Kushinagar, Bodghaya, Rajgir, Nalanda and Sarnath).
If time is a bit short and budget allows I would highly recommend to take this option (at least a driver) as it is very difficult to go from Kushinagar to Bodghaya in one day by public transport. Rajgir and Nalanda are out of the main public transport route as well. I did try to do it and even with a 5am start from Kushinagar I couldn't go any further than Gaya before dark.
The Lodge itself is very comfortable, rooms are clean and spacious and the internal courtyard with its sumptuous mango tree provide a welcome shelter from the dusty and noisy road front. All this of course under the kind and friendly management of Jupiter.