I've been traveling in Nepal for about 12 days and have stayed at a number of hotels including 3 in Kathmandu. I also travel frequently and have stayed in hundreds of hotels in the US and around the world from budget accommodations to five star ones... so I think I have a good basis for comparison here. Of the 3 hotels I stayed at in Kathmandu, Hotel Tibet International was my fave of all the hotels I was at and well worth the price. If you're in doubt, keep the following in mind about this hotel and Nepal:
- "cheaper" hotels in Nepal have blackouts and do not use a generator (at least not right away). The blackouts get annoying after a while, esp when it's hot and muggy in your room and you are dying to turn on the AC. This isn't an issue at Hotel Tibet International as they turn on their generator right away.
- cleanliness standards are not the same in Nepal as in first world countries. Several times I was promised a clean room at other hotels by my guide, however, when I went in, the room was old, there was dust on furniture or baseboards, insects (dead and/or alive), etc. When you compare a room like that to the city itself, it looks clean (that's just how filthy Kathmandu actually is), but when you compare it to first world standards, it is dirty! That said, Hotel Tibet International is not like that at all. In fact, it was the only hotel I stayed in where I felt the room was clean enough to actually take a bath!
- other hotels also have old towels, dim lighting, cramped spaces... all of which may seem "fine" for Kathmandu standards, but if you're at all used to Western comfort or the Western idea of what a comfortable room should be like, you should to stay at this hotel instead.
- the internet connection was so good at this hotel, I could actually video chat using it! This was rare for Nepal as hotels that promise internet often offer spotty service... or non existant service once you get to your room.
- they offer free meditation class at 7:30am! I've yet to see this at other hotels.
If this hotel were in the US, it would get a solid 4 stars - probably comparable to a Sheraton or Westin type of hotel. The staff is super friendly, breakfast is OK (it's a buffet with eggs/pancake cooked to order), there are actually elevators here (a lot of hotels in Kathmandu don't have elevators), they give you a welcome drink, the room has a quiet AC, two bottles of water... and if you get a higher floor (5th or 6th), you might have a view of Asia's biggest stupa. If not, you can go to the terrace on the 6th floor and see it there.
Things I didn't like about the hotel:
- The location is not the best as the area around it is filthy and there are beggars; unfortunately, this is just a reality of the city. If you were in Thamel instead the streets are cleaner and sans beggars since it's the "tourist" area.
- You have to cross the street to get to the stupa (only a 3 min walk away) and the drivers are crazy in Kathmandu so crossing the street is scary especially in the middle of the day. There aren't a lot of restaurants/shops immediately on the same street as the hotel - you have to go to the stupa for that.
- If your breakfast isn't included, it's about $12USD. That is a lot for this city considering you can eat a good lunch and dinner for around $17USD a day per person.
- They charge a lot to have laundry done in-house (like $2-$3 per item) and there weren't ready laundry options in the area. If you were to stay at hotel in the Thamel area instead, laundry is only 50 rupees/kilo.
- No one mans the bar during opening hours so you have to call the front desk to tell them to send someone up to the bar. It's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it is a bit of a nuisance if you're hoping to get drinks right away! When the bartender arrives, however, he does of course, offer great service.
That said, I'd recommend this hotel to people who seek Western cleanliness/comfort in a crazy, hectic city and don't mind taking a cab to other places of interest. I know there are other "luxe" hotels in Kathmandu -- the Hyatt comes to mind -- but the Hyatt is even farther from the stupa than Hotel Tibet International so I can't see why you'd stay at the Hyatt instead (you'd pay more to be farther away and for potentially mere incrementally better service/room... doesn't seem worth it). If you're looking for some thing more luxe than this the next step would be something akin to a Ritz Carlton which they don't have in Kathmandu anyway.
So anyway, to sum up - this is a great hotel option when you consider what is actually available in Kathmandu. If you've got higher standards for a hotel room, it might not be available in Kathmandu. The only downside is the location but if you don't mind taking a cab, it's not a big deal.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Tibet International is a boutique hotel offering Nepali hospitality with a touch of Tibetan warmth, strategically located close to the Boudha Stupa which is a world heritage UNESCO site. We offer 68 rooms, lavishly furnished with fine beddings and linens for a good night's sleep. Our Shangrila Kitchen offers fine Tibetan / Chinese and continental cuisine, Norbulinka Stupa View Terrace offers breakfast in stunning view of the famed Stupa and our Shambala Spa offers the best remedy to de-stress and recover from treks, or a pampering before heading home. ... more less
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