We stayed at Jukaso in September 2013. I would guess the hotel to be 3+ star, and definitely the highest quality of any absolute waterfront "hotel" in the Old City where most hotels are 2 star basic guesthouse/backpacker style.
The hotel is very close to Ram Ghat / Scindhia Ghat, 5 mins walk from Manikarnika Burning Ghat. This make it a relatively central location in the 6km sweep of the river ghats. The few other higher quality "guesthouses" on the river are more "guesthouse" that I am aware of tend to be at the much more southern Assi Ghat.
Most of the 4-5 star hotels in Varanasi are in the new city, well away from the Old City and the Ganges riverbank. This is primarily due to the fact that the "Old City" which hugs the length of the river in Varanasi has very few roads, making access by car or taxi extremely difficult. To get to the Jukaso Hotel, you will need to get a taxi to one of the major ghats and then take a short boat shuttle to the hotel. Dasashwamedh would be the most likely ghat, as the river flows downstream to the hotel making the transfer quite quick.
This wasn't the case for us however. We visited in early September 2013, not long after unprecedented flooding of the Ganges, only to find the river 6m above its normal level. It had been up to 12m higher than usual in the preceding weeks, so the lower floors of the hotel, and riverbank terrace had been inundated with mud. The elevator was out of action, and the staff were flushing mud out of the lower floors with high pressure hoses. The lower steps of ALL ghats were under water, and to get between ghats meant we had to walk many steps and distances to get between them. All boats had been ordered off the water although some were out on the day we visited - apparently for the first day in weeks. We were unable to be shuttled by boat, so had to walk a kilometre into the hotel from where the taxi dropped us. Luckily the hotel provided porters to carry our bags in and out from the hotel. An adventure in itself! So I do recommend that you ask the hotel if the lower floors have been cleared of mud and debris, and that the elevator are working before you commit to staying.
The nightly rate for the Jukaso Ganges is around 8,500 - 9,500 Rp / night, which I personally think was overpriced. 4,000 – 6,000 Rp per night would probably be more reasonable, however the reality is that there are few if any high quality alternatives on the central riverfront.
The hotel is a 5 floor heritage building, on the absolute riverfront, with a riverbank terrace, and a terrace and small restaurant on the rooftop with expansive east facing river views. There are 15 rooms, most with riverfront views. Rooms are very clean with comfortable beds, good A/C, flat screen tv, fridge, room safe, marble showers with good water pressure. I thought the rooms were nice. The terraces have comfortable rattan furniture.
The hotel is alcohol free, although staff will procure beer for you, but out of respect ask that you drink it in your room, and not in the restaurant, or on the public terraces.
We chose to stay at Jukaso Ganges because we were only in Varanasi for one night, and wanted to get the most experience of the Old City itself but you need to realise that the hotel is at least a kilometre from the nearest road. Access is only by boat on the river, or by foot through the Old City. The Old City is a vast labyrinth of extremely narrow alleys and lanes known as gallies, just wide enough for pedestrians, motorbikes, and holy cows. (lots and lots of cows!) It is next to impossible to find the hotel by yourself unassisted, so make sure you take a card with you if you are exploring.
If you are intending to stay longer than 2 nights in Varanasi and prefer to stay in upmarket hotels, then I recommend considering staying at one of the 5 star hotels outside the Old City so that it becomes much easier to access other areas of Varanasi. (Sarnath, etc).
The hotel provides a complimentary boat tour to view the evening Ganga Aarti religious ceremony at Dasashwamedh Ghat, and can also arrange dawn boat cruises (highly recommended), and walking guides to accompany you in the old city (also highly recommended). The old city is quite dark at night, with lots of cobbled alleys, and lots of cow dung, so I recommend a small flashlight, and closed footwear. This is not a place to wear sandals or other open toed footware! :-)
In saying all of the above, my travelling companions and I were very glad that we chose to stay at the Jukaso, given the short amount of time we had available, and I would happily stay there again.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- WelcomHeritage Jukaso Ganges at Varanasi is built on a sloped embankment called the ‘Guleria Ghat’ on the banks of the Holy Ganga River is typical of the riverfront architecture of Benaras. Sandstone quarried from the Chunar Area has been extensively used in the structural beams and columns of this property. The property has 15 Well appointed rooms and most of them are east facing which provide the guest with the advantage of a river view and a soothing breeze blowing off it. ... more less
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