Back in 2014, I received feedback from readers that while my posts
spoke of my experiences, I had missed out on mentioning places I would stay at.
That’s how iAmend
I have been meaning to round up together a post on my accommodations
from the places I had the opportunity to travel to in 2015; more like an easy
reckoner though. I have mentioned whether free WiFi is available at these places and the tariff bracket under which they could be categorized. The shoe-string budget traveller that I am, I have 3 categories:
< 1000 INR
< 2500 INR and
< 4000 INR.
These are single night rates on double occupancy basis.
|On an island in the Sundarbans (West Bengal, India)|
Homestays are not as much of a phenomenon in all
parts of the country. So I have had to make do by staying at hotels. And
sometimes also due to my budgetary constraints!
This is post has been a month overdue!
Jammu and Kashmir (Ladakh)
This trip was my first ever fully sponsored one courtesy a contest run by Tripoto that I had won! Hotel Thongsal located very close to the Shanti Stupa in Leh is not very hotel-like. And that for me was a very good thing; this in spite of the fact that there are rooms and a restaurant (as is in every hotel). The owners have a property in Nubra Valley as well and that turned out to be my first ever glamping experience!
Want to know why I think you SHOULD NOT go to Ladakh though? Read this
|Empty kawah cup and two great companions at Thongsal in Leh, Jammu and Kasmir (India)|
Towards my last leg in Delhi, I found my accommodation needs being taken care of by AirBnb where I stumbled upon Shubhneet’s
apartment. This was just the kind of quiet, relaxed space I needed (and thankfully found). Proximity to the metro station and even the Qutub Minar make it even more likeable. Shubhneet as well as his staff at the apartment were not just helpful but also non-interfering.
Tariff: < 2500 INR
I also spent some time at Zostel Delhi
which was very refreshing given that I had - in all this time of traveling about the place - never stayed at a hostel.
To read about a little experiment I carried out at Zostel read this
My third stop-over of the year was at the Pink City – for a friend’s wedding. So when I and a few of my friends got in there a day early to indulge in city exploration, we made ourselves comfortable at Hotel Umaid Bhavan. The hotel has some very interesting décor – be it in the rooms or even at the restaurant. The pool beckons everyone rather invitingly. Located a little away from the main road, the hotel keeps its patrons away from the din of its noisy streets.
I returned to the state to visit Udaipur in September and was glad to have found Aashiya Haveli. Even though we had made a reservation prior to arrival, our host was very generous to upgrade us to the room facing Lake Pichola at no extra cost – simply because it was vacant anyway. What’s not to love about a lake view room and hospitality that extends itself so much! For food though one could frequent the multiple restaurants all over the place as the homestay does not prepare and serve food to its guests.
|Being serenaded by the view of Lake Pichola in Udaipur (Rajasthan, India)|
Inn Seventh Heaven was a great find with its very relaxed vibe. Somewhat hostel-like in its overall feel, it’s a great place for backpackers. It is an old haveli that has been restored and converted into a hotel in a very elaborate manner.
You’ll find more about the Udaipur and Pushkar experience here
This goes down as the only place I didn’t pre-book prior to making the
trip itself. I spent some five weeks in Bihar in early 2015. And it was only
natural for me to make that trip to Nalanda and Bodh Gaya. I wasn’t certain
about where I wanted to make a stop. But when I did, it was at Rajgir. Situated
along the road and at a suitable proximity (read: walking distance) from some
of the local sites was Siddharth Hotel. The rooms are spacious and the staff
warm – which matters when traveling solo (at least to me).
Curious to know what’s there to
do in these parts of Bihar? Do read my
post which offers a little bit of that insight
|Venu Van, Rajgir (Bihar)|
Besides, Rajgir I did stay in Patna, Muzzaffarpur and Madhubani where
I was provided accommodation by NGOs or the charity-based organizations I was
visiting. In small-town Kishanganj, however, I stayed at a nondescript place - Hotel
Puja – which truth be told didn’t feel very welcoming.
I began my journey into and through West Bengal by spending some time
in Barasat where I was provided accommodation by the organization I was meeting
with. From there of course I headed off to Bolpur to celebrate my first ever
Holi at Tagore’s Santiniketan.
To this day I maintain that my experience of Holi would not have
happened were it not for my host, Ms Nayana, being accommodating and
considering my request. Over a phone call. With me
You’ll find more about Bolpur,
Holi and my homestay experience here
Homestay.com came to my rescue in helping me figure my homestay in
Kolkata. And as it would turn out, my host – Mr. Shomir – was also the trustee
of one of the NGO’s I was meeting with in Kolkata. Shomir and his wife, Connie
were great hosts. Not only did they help me figure out the best ways to commute
the city and recommend places to eat and see, I also got taken out to dinner by
them. It truly felt like I was meeting family in a distant town!
To read about what I did in
Kolkata click here
|My hosts - Shomir (centre) and Connie (right) with a friend of theirs to the left - in Kolkata (West Bengal, India)|
This was a TripAdvisor find. Sundarbans had been on the travel
bucket-list for much longer than I would’ve liked. So the stint in Kolkata
allowed for me to plan my time and ensure I crossed this item.
If you want to know about my
Sundarbans experience, read this
The state has enamoured me for some reason; this in spite of other
people’s perception of it. But then I don’t care so much about how people
perceive a place. Were that to ever hold true, I’d never ever travel. I got
lucky in Raipur because a friend’s family warmly welcomed me in. This was a
homestay experience of a different kind itself, to say the least. But it was Jagdalpur
with its natural simplicity that stole my heart. Here in Bastar region, the NGO
folk were generous enough to save me the money I’d otherwise spend at a hotel
by providing me space for a night’s stay.
You can find out how I unlearnt
fear in Chhattisgarh with this post
Google ‘homestays in Gwalior’ and you’ll find Sambhaji Vilas. Move to its website and you realise what a find it is a family run heritage homestay of the Angres who have been living there through the generations since the late 18th century.
If you’re the creative kind who thrives in quiet places, Jheelum Homestay would be your kind of place. Located away from the hustle and bustle of the city along Bhojtal - the oldest man-made lake in India - my hosts were a retired Army official and his wife with whom conversations over meals would revolve around sharing notes about experiencing India from its different parts.
More about the experience of being in Madhya Pradesh here
|The view of Bhojtal from my homestay in Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh, India)|
My stay at Hotel Pushpak was a fairly good experience because like
Rajgir here too the hotel staff were quite warm (doubling as my go-tos for
reccos sometimes). A decently sized room that was well ventilated also made a
My curiosity around the Chandipur beach in north Odisha near Balasore
was realised when it coincided with a visit to an NGO in Baliapal. The OTDC
hotel is right at the beach providing its patrons with unrestricted access to
this not-so-touristy beach
Bhawanipatna is a place that will not ring too many bells in most
people’s head but if I mention Kalahandi, it just might! Kalahandi is amongst
the regions in India with the lowest HDI. My visit to the region was a little
over than 24 hours and my stay Hotel Centre Perk was a lot better than I had
expected. It has a business feel to it and reaffirmed to me that not every
small-town needs to live up to the repute media paints around it.
You can read about all about why Chandipur aroused my curiosity, my day trip to Konark and Pipali by public transport and the joy of the train journey to Kalahandi here
|The countryside at Baliapal in northern Odisha (India)|
Vijayawada was a very sudden last minute detour I had to make prior to
making my way to Telangana. Arriving in Vijayawada felt a lot like Holi in
Santiniketan – only that instead of a festival every other hotel seemed to have
been reserved entirely for the multiple weddings that were happening the very
day I had arrived. Hotel Continental Park was where I found refuge. And an
extremely comfortable stay. Breakfast was complimentary and so was WiFi
(Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs always assumes a different avatar when food and
WiFi as being complimentary are mentioned in the same breath). The rooms were
designed for comfort and a very modern in their look.
|A signage at Hotel Continental Park in Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh, India)|
Here is where I sought AirBnB and my luck couldn’t have gotten any
better because I found a very warm host to add to my list. What I knew of
Ambica prior to meeting her, I knew from the reviews left behind by the
previous guests. And everything about her and her place were just as described.
What made it better was that she shares in the wanderlust, so breakfast
conversations alternated between her itching to go to Ladakh and backpacking
through parts of Europe! In her, I found a roomie-cum-friend with whom dinner
and movie plans became normal in the 10 days I was there.
|The warmest of welcomes are made of things such as these. Ambica's note at Hyderabad, Telangana (India)|
When you’ve spent almost a week on trains (and one of those was
spanned over 80 hours), any place on terra firma feels like bliss. But if
you’re at the Vivekananda Kendra, be assured it is bliss raised to the power
‘n’! The property is not just massive but also very well kept. My friend and I
had a massive cottage that came with two gigantic rooms (each with its own
gigantic bathroom) in addition to a living room and a kitchen area! Bliss
raised to the power ‘n’, indeed!
More about what I did in
Kanyakumari in this
|Peacock spotting at the Vivekanada Kendra in Kanyakumari (Tamil Nadu, India)|
2015 has been a combination of solo and group travel - though it's mostly been the former. So a lot of the places mentioned above are solo travel friendly. It has been an ever widening circle of like-minded people who are driven by a similar mission of making travel within India more comfortable and endearing in every way possible!
Do let me know if you've found this post to be helpful and share feedback please!
P.P.S.: For opportunities to work with me, click here