Labboo's Cafe is more guest-house than hotel, and use that distinction to decide whether it is for you or not. If customer service and being waited upon for every little thing makes a difference to your holiday, then know that it is almost non-existent here - and to be fair, they don't really charge you for it. After 6:30 there's no staff other than the watchman, for example. There's no phone or bell in the rooms; Mohammed must always go to the mountain. You get the idea.
I personally prefer places with non-intrusive staff so that I don't feel like I'm trapped in a hyperreal theme park. And so I think other backpackers/independent travellers would lurve the place, while families with more demands on hospitality may find it a bit inconvenient. Having said that, the four-five staff members who take care of Laboo's Cafe are such genuine and sincere people that I'm sure they would've helped me if I'd asked. And they were fun to chat with at breakfast (breakfast is included in the tariff, so is a bottle of water a day, nice).
Go solo women, go! It is located in a quiet corner of the fort, and is a "Rajaji's property", same as the super-luxurious Ahilya Fort (at a tenth of the tariff). This also makes it a super safe place for women travelling alone - for obvious reasons. At the time I visited there there were only two occupants, and both of us were solo women travellers in a place run by five men. Neither of us (we discussed it) spent a moment worrying about our safety, or even being annoyed by unwanted attention.
The location is super! It is so close to the main attractions of Maheshwar (the Narmada, ghats, temple, fort) that when I desperately needed to use to the loo one morning, I ran up the ghats/stairs and back to my room in three and a half minutes! The single AC room that I opted for was simply but well-appointed, and the bathroom was so clean I didn't need my slippers. But the architecture was the highlight - the room fully captured my imagination with it's two staircases, jharokha windows, jharokha niches in the wall for books, and cute open plan bathroom. Each time I returned to the room I felt like an Indian princess, or at least a poor cousin of one, which is good enough! I think the room was absolutely fine for the price. If you like, carry your own pillow-case and sheet and use it over their linen (I did).
The cafe: Mohanji is like the cook in that friend's house everyone secretly harbours intentions of poaching some day. Anything he touches turns to gold, and he does it most effortlessly in a matter of minutes. His masala chai, aloo paratha and poha are worth mentioning and spreading the word for. Food is prepared fresh and you really taste the difference. The courtyard is a pretty and peaceful place made to read, write postcards, listen to music, or have a good conversation. With tall trees, potted plants and the grand backdrop of the fort walls, it could easily be a very hip up-market cafe extension of the Ahilya Fort if they chose to be greedy, so it's worth appreciating that the most expensive item on the menu there is 45 rupees. The cafe closes by sunset, which means no dinner (which is just as well, so you can experience the scrumptiousness of Gurukripa's thali, which I went back to again and again).
All the single ladies (gentlemen too), go visit Maheshwar, and stay in Labboo's, I say you'll love it. I can't wait to return for a longer stay.
For the rest travelling as couples and families, if you're sure you don't need/expect much in way of service, I don't see why you won't have a nice time. If nothing else, the kids would be thrilled to run around in that beautiful courtyard and up on the fort walls, and the elders will appreciate its proximity to the ghats and temples.
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