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“unfriendly staff and terrible rooms - but great food and Ganges view”
Review of Hotel Alka

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Hotel Alka
Ranked #5 of 73 Hotels in Varanasi
Certificate of Excellence
Copenhagen, Denmark
Level Contributor
25 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“unfriendly staff and terrible rooms - but great food and Ganges view”
Reviewed June 12, 2009

As seen in other reviews too, we also had an issue that no room was available on arrival despite having a reservation. The staff was extremely unfriendly and changing between two different explanations: the "sick guest story" and a fairytale about guests that got lost in Varanasi and thus failed to check out on time. Only after half an hour of intense discussion we managed to get another room - which was, unfortunately, quite dirty. Only after another lengthy discussion we got a discount for the stay there. Very positive things at the Alka were the food (try a "Thali" - have never eaten so much great food for so little money) and the Ganges view from the hotel's terrace.

  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank mate44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
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1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed May 21, 2009

Alka hotel has a great location and the potential to be a lovely hotel, with a paint job and new staff.
We found the hotel in the Lonely Planet guidebook which gave it a decent write up.
We corresponded by email with one of the staff at hotel Alka and the assured us that someone would be there to pick us up from the train station, out the front of our carriage even. But when we got there, no one to be seen. After wandering around looking for our pick up, we were hassled repeatedly by all manner of people. We ended up calling the hotel and asking them to come and get us. The owner ended up coming to get us. The owner was nice, though a little intimidating and told us about the city on our way to the hotel.

We were shown to our room which was apparently booked by someone else (Sorry!), as they didn't even have our booking in the book. The room double aircon with bath for 750 Rs was small, dank and dirty. Marks all over the walls, one tiny window, and only bottom sheets on the bed, which looked very old and stained. We had to hassle to get even sheets to put over us at night which too were gross, as were the towels. The staff were unpleasant and not very helpful. There was always a group of men hanging around in the foyer which was a little unnerving. And when we went to check out they interrogated us as to why we were leaving and where we were going, trying to make us feel guilty for leaving.
I know this is India, and I wasn't expecting 5 star accommodation, but this is just a yucky place to stay with very bad almost menacing vibes. We've stayed in much nicer places in India for similar prices with beautiful rooms and helpful staff.
I don't know what the story is with this particular hotel but I would not recommend staying here.

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank fuzzylogical
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bedford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
20 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed May 17, 2009

This hotel is hard to find hidden down tiny walkways. I recommend calling the hotel before you arrive and they will arrange a rickshaw to collect you and the driver will walk you to the hotel. when you know your way it is a 5min walk from where a rickshaw can drive to.

we had a cheap room with no AC, it was a little small but clean and comfortable. the bathroom had a nice shower with hot water. they also have more expensive AC larger rooms and cheaper rooms with shared bathrooms. the restaurant was vegetarian but still had plenty of choice.

the location was amazing and so was the view! the hotel is positioned on the edge of the ganges. You can see the river and rituals all day everyday, being raised above the river gives good views and a peaceful atmosphere. steps go down to the river a 2 minute walk to the evening events.

The staff are amazing. Extremely friendly and helpful. We were planning on staying in the hotel for 3 days but we loved it so much we stayed for 7 nights!!!! We would definatley recommend this hotel to anyone going to Varanasi

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank Weez0001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minnesota
Level Contributor
19 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed May 11, 2009

I corresponded with Hotel Alka in advance and was told I had reserved a double room with balcony and AC. I offered to fax credit card info to hold the room. They replied that wasn't necessary--my word was good enough. I confirmed immediately that we would be coming--about 2 weeks before arrival. But, when we got there, they didn't have a room at all for us. They sent us walking through the alleys to another hotel where they showed us windowless rooms. The place had been freshly painted but still smelled (reeked) of paint fumes. We were really stuck--it was late afternoon, hot, we'd been traveling all day. The alleys were filled with garbage and beggars--which is part of Varansasi but is also why it had been important to have the hotel lined up in advance.

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled on business
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Helpful?
3 Thank daykris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Level Contributor
68 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 96 helpful votes
Reviewed May 3, 2009

I will start my review by stating that I did not stay at this hotel.... Although having reserved an "aircon double room with bath balcony view to ganges tariff Rs 1500+5%tax per night" about two months prior to my arrival, and despite reconfirming by phone 2 days before, upon reaching the hotel (which was a 10 minute walk from the nearest possible drop off point - something which was not mentioned to me when asking for a pick-up from the train station) I was led to a standard budget windowless room. When I told the person who showed me the room that I had reserved a specific room with a bath/balcony/view, I too, as a previous reviewer, was given the "there's a sick person in that room, and he might leave later on today" bit.
I gave the man 5 minutes to sort the room out, telling him that I had no intention on staying it the room I was led to.
After about 15 minutes in which nothing was done, I left the hotel.
The whole place seemed totally unreasonable, and it was clear that there was no "sick" person, but rather total ignorance on the hotel's part as to my reservation.
If you have time to play around and are looking for a budget hotel in the heart of the ghat area, then this place might be right for you. Otherwise, don't go near it.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled solo
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
8 Thank RannTel-Aviv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
nyc
2 reviews
Reviewed April 25, 2009

hotel alka's just fine. My room was nothing special -- but there are much nicer rooms. the towels looked dirty, and the blanket definitely was. and I didn't always have hot water. but the staff was really nice and accommodating -- gave me new towels and a brand new blanket with no fuss. and they were able to fix the water situation usually -- if not, they brought a hot bucket of water. the location is excellent. and the balcony restaurant overlooking the ganges is a pleasant place to chill out, even if the food is nothing to write home about. if i couldn't get in at the ganges view guesthouse, (which is lovely), I'd stay at alka again.

  • Stayed December 2008, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank kasanyc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
12 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed March 30, 2009

We expected good things from Hotel Alka, going by previous trip advisor reviews and Lonely Planet. Unfortunately Alka let us down from the word go - our train from Haridwar was held up by 2/3 hours and when we arrived in at Alka at about 7pm the staff had given our room away, assuming we weren't coming (in spite of the fact that train delays are very common in that area due to the congested train network). We'd booked online for 3 nights over 2 months prior to our stay, so naturally were disappointed. The 'acting' manager took us to Alka's sister guesthouse Teerth for one night and promised us a room the following night and we saw him escorting other couples later in the evening, so it seemed that Alka's policy was to put money before their guests (although we did managed to negotiate the room for half price, but we had to kick up quite a fuss to get this).

Once at Alka the following day, the room itself was fine; clean and spacious, although the bed was rock solid and lumpy. The staff contined to be useless however - we had to ask numerous times for blankets (to pad out the bed) and to fix our toilet which didn't flush, but staff were reluctant to assist, even to the point when they made us feel as though we were inconveniencing them. Although we eventually got blankets after much proding, the toilet never got fixed either, so apologies to the people who stayed in our room after us.

Granted the pace of life is much slower in India and things take longer to be done, but for 750 Rupees a night the staff's attitude was unacceptable. We stayed in other hotels in India at a similar/cheaper rate where the service was efficient and staff were polite; in fact at Teerth guesthouse the staff were charming, so if you end up being deposited here I'd advise you stay, rather than going back to Alka.

Although the location of Alka was great the restaurant terrace can be used by anyone, so stay someone else and go there for an evening instead. Alternatively Ganpati guesthouse next door has an equally good terrace and similarly priced rooms, although we didn't stay here so can't comment on the staff or rooms.

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank catherine_simpson10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Alka

Property: Hotel Alka
Address: Meer Ghat D 3/23 | Dashashwamedh, Varanasi 221001, India
Location: India > Uttar Pradesh > Varanasi District > Varanasi
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Restaurant Room Service Spa Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Family Hotel in Varanasi
#1 Best Value Hotel in Varanasi
#1 Spa Hotel in Varanasi
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Hotel Alka 3*
Number of rooms: 36
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Hotel Alka, a synonym for customer-oriented services from years, believes in providing an adorable environment to its guests, where not only they find peace in dwelling but also experience a the highest degree of dedication from the staff. And what more can one ask for? Hotel Alka is located right in the core of Varanasi, a place where even holiness is re-defined. Its evidently a must visit place for all in life. Varanasi (the ancient Kashi or the medieval Banaras) is one of the oldest cities of the world and is considered to be favourite, of even the almighty. Varanasi's prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrivalled. Mark Twain, the celebrated English author , who was enthralled by the legend and sanctity of Banaras, once wrote : "Banaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together." ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Alka Hotel Varanasi

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