Contributor/ Woody Anderson
Best Known For
The likes of Prince Harry and Selena Gomez have each laid their heads on Dwarika’s fluffy pillows. But what’s so special about this place is the architectural and cultural heritage that the hotel celebrates within its walls. From its very origins, the hotel has strived to conserve and promote Nepal’s unique skill and craftsmanship; an ethos that has been recognised with prestigious awards from both PATA and INTACH-SATTE. Dwarika’s is Nepal’s first and only hotel to appear on the World’s Best Asian hotel list, it has also won awards from Conde Nast Traveller and Trip Advisor where it was placed amongst the Asian king and queen of hoteliers: the Taj and Oberoi, so it is in very good company.
The Good Stuff
It all started when founder of the hotel, the late Dwarika Das Shrestha witnessed carpenters sawing off the intricately carved portions of an old wooden pillar for firewood. Struck by the mindless destruction of Nepalese heritage he salvaged the piece; and a lifelong mission to save Nepal’s heritage was born. By the mid 60s Dwarika’s collection was gathering such volume and intrigue that it needed a home of its own, so in 1977 he opened the doors to the hotel which would act as a living museum to showcase his artefacts.
The hotel takes its inspiration from the architectural grandeur of Newari Royal Palaces, and everywhere you look, from the elegant courtyard, reception, bar and restaurants to the 86 meticulously designed rooms, you’ll find pieces of history amongst the red terracotta surroundings and locally sourced materials.
You won’t find better hospitality and luxury in Nepal. The hotel retains the spirit of this ancient city while offering a truly regal experience, and an earthiness of traditional Nepalese life. The attention to detail is commendable and gives an unparalleled experience blending modern amenities and historical craftsmanship.
The hotel is a true oasis within a very hectic city, and Dwarika’s gives you a little something extra that you won’t find elsewhere. The clientele is very eclectic, and you’re as likely see David Beckham playing darts in the bar, as a French fashion designer en route to hunt out exquisite fabrics and embroidery, to explorers gearing up to summit Mount Everest.
Inside the Hotel – 8/10
There are three restaurants and a bar within the hotel, with cuisine ranging from continental to Japanese to Nepali. But the highlight is the Friday night barbecue which sees hotel guests, locals and tourists from around the Kathmandu valley gather to sample an array of Nepali delights within a festival atmosphere. In reality I didn’t think the food was exceptional, and I tried most options.
The hotel pool replicates a 12th century Malla Dynasty royal bath and is a delight when heading back from a busy shopping spree in Thamel. There is a library where you can delve into Nepali history and culture, a yoga and fitness centre, spa and for the business traveler various amenities.
Outside the Hotel – 6/10
Dwarika has a sister resort at Dhulikhel which has won various Spa awards, and is only a 45 min drive from the hotel. Unfortunately the resort wasn’t open when we were staying as it was monsoon season, but I’m sure it’d be as delightful escape from the city and deliver some Himalayan elegance. Dwarikas has two significant religious places of interest nearby. The Pashupatinath, Nepal’s most important Hindu temple which is positioned on the banks of the holy Basmati river, and the Bodhnath Stupa, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the holiest Buddhist shrine outside of Tibet.
The hotel also supports various local causes. The devastating earthquake that took place in April 2015 is still affecting the country, and Dwarikas has its own foundation to support families and communities helping them reconstruct their home and rebuild their lives. They also operate a primary school delivering quality education for around 300 children. The hotel is happy to talk about their philanthropy and take you to visit their various projects.
Image courtesy of Dwarika’s