This hotel has multiple personalities, so I'm kind of writing two reviews. I'll start with the bad (the management & ethics), and then the ok (the hotel itself.)
The Management & ethical concerns (1-star rating for this):
Although Lalu, the owner, seemed friendly and helpful at the outset, he showed a volatile and unethical side on my second day. I had friends in Allahabad who were interested in coming to Varanasi for a few days towards the end of the Kumbh Mela (a time when rooms in Varanasi were very booked and the odds of finding a room on arrival late at night were not good.) While on the phone with friends, I relayed their needs to him: 4 people, ideally two rooms. He said he had only one room that night but could put in 4 beds, and could have 2 rooms the next day. We asked the price, he said 1400. Great! Friends arranged a taxi and headed to Varanasi. On arrival, around 11PM, they were told that the price for the room was 2000! When my friends and I objected that he had said 1400 on the phone a few hours earlier, he insisted that we never discussed the price for a "double" room, which was 2000. Total bait-and-switch! When my friends questioned him on this, he became hostile and volatile and said there was no longer a room available for them and he would not allow them to stay (even though he had just told them he'd prepared a room with 4 beds, and even though they were willing to negotiate on price). When I tried discussing this with him, since I'd brokered the original deal (and felt responsible for my friends coming to Varanasi and now having no room), he became angry, snapped at me, turned his back, and then ignored me for the rest of my stay (I had pre-paid three nights on Agoda, so was unfortunately committed to another night.) During my stay I also witnessed him in a shouting match with another set of guests.
The "Brown Bread Bakery" on the roof has the exact same enormous photocopied menu as the other two Brown Breads in town, but serves only a tiny fraction of the menu (and almost no bakery items) out of its postage-stamp sized kitchen. The cook is a good cook, though.
The hotel itself (would have given 3 stars if it weren't for the above):
It's a new-ish hotel in the old city (not really a guest house as no family lives here) with plenty of hot water and cleaner than average for budget India accommodations (if you consider 1400 rupees "budget.") My room had bright paint that was cheerful, but no window (ug) and the only furniture besides a bed was a fold-up chair and a very small night stand, so there was no where besides the floor to put my things. Linens on the bed (bottom sheet only and one blanket) seemed pretty clean. They did not give me a towel. The bathroom had two small square holes cut out of the wall (for light or ventilation?) that were not covered in glass or even mosquito netting, so mosquitoes came in through there. However, the fact that it was relatively clean and actually had hot water is a plus. They cut the power in your room when you're not in it, so you can't charge camera batteries or computers, etc when you're not in the room (though this is typical in India.)
The location is great. You can see the Ganges from the roof top and it's a 2 minute walk from Daseswamedh Ghat (the main ghat.) The rooftop terrace is a comfortable place to hang out with pillows for lounging and low tables for your laptop or meal. Good place to meet other travelers. The wifi is free and slow but mostly worked on the rooftop, but did not work in my room.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Newly opened in December 2010, Rudra Guest House is located in the heart of Varanasi, within a minute to the main ghats, shopping and vegetable market and the winding alleyways of the old city. The staff at Rudra Guest House will ensure that your stay is enjoyable with modern, comfortable and spacious bedrooms (AC and non-AC) and all with western style en-suites. The guest house also has indoor and rooftop dining run by the Brown Bread Bakery. 20% of profits are donated to our main project, The Learn for Life Society. ... more less
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