Sunday, January 31, 2016

iAppend | 2015's Accommodation Recommendation

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 happened.

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)

Disclaimer #1: 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!
Disclaimer #2: 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!
WiFi: Yes
Tariff: < 4000 INR
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)


Delhi
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. 
WiFi: Yes
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.
WiFi: Yes
Tariff: < 1000 INR
To read about a little experiment I carried out at Zostel read this
Zostel Delhi


Rajasthan
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 d├ęcor – 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.
WiFi: No
Tariff: < 4000 INR

Udaipur: Mr. Satya Dev Singh, Aashiya Haveli
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.
WiFi: No
Tariff: < 2500 INR
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.
WiFi: Yes
Tariff: < 2500 INR
You’ll find more about the Udaipur and Pushkar experience here


Bihar
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).
WiFi: No
Tariff: < 2500 INR
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.


West Bengal
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.

Santiniketan: Ms. Nayana, Nayana’s Homestay
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 almost pleading.
WiFi: No
Tariff: < 4000 INR
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!
WiFi: Yes
Tariff: < 2500 INR
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)

Sundarbans: Tour de Sundarbans
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.
WiFi: No
Tariff: < 4000 INR
If you want to know about my Sundarbans experience, read this


Chhattisgarh
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


Madhya Pradesh
Gwalior: Sambhaji Vilas
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.
WiFi: No
Tariff: < 4000 INR

Bhopal: Brg. Prabir Goswami, Jheelum Homestay
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.
WiFi: Yes
Tariff: < 1000 INR
More about the experience of being in Madhya Pradesh here
The view of Bhojtal from my homestay in Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh, India)


Odisha
Bhubaneswar: Hotel Pushpak
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 difference.
WiFi: Yes
Tariff: < 2500 INR

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
WiFi: No
Tariff: < 1000 INR


Bhawanipatna: Hotel Centre Park
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.
WiFi: Yes
Tariff: < 1000 INR
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)


Andhra Pradesh
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.
WiFi: Yes
Tariff: < 2500 INR
A signage at Hotel Continental Park in Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh, India)


Telangana
Hyderabad: Ms. Ambica Srimal
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.
WiFi: Yes
Tariff: < 2500 INR
 
The warmest of welcomes are made of things such as these. Ambica's note at Hyderabad, Telangana (India)


Tamil Nadu
Kanyakumari: Vivekananda Kendra
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!
WiFi: No
Tariff: < 2500 INR
More about what I did in Kanyakumari in this post
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!

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PSSST!
To know about workshops I facilitate on expressive writing, lookie this link up -- https://nomadicthunker.blogspot.in/p/be-you-for-you.html
 

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10 comments:

  1. some wonderful looking recommendations!

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    1. Thanks Andrew :) Though I feel I needed some more photographs to do better justice to these places...

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  2. That's a wonderful list Elita! And thanks so much for compiling all this and putting it up..:-) I too had stayed in Aashiya 3 years back in a room with a lake view and had dinner on the roof top. It was lovely..! :-)

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    1. Yes, the roof top restaurants add to the charm of the entire experience of being in Udaipur :) This coincidence is just brilliant, Priya! And I'm so glad you've enjoyed the post.

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  3. I'm sure gonna try the AirBnBs and other homestays! That's an aweosme list Elita.

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    1. Most definitely! Do look them up, Swati :)

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  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  5. Hi,
    I have nominated your blog for the Liebster award. Please visit this link to accept your nomination and then you can nominate 11 more bloggers for the same
    https://maidensmile.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/the-liebster-nomination

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey Eli, all your stay recommendations look so good! love your clear, concise yet super informative format! keep going great places!!! :)

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    Replies
    1. Yay! Thanks Jo for that feedback. And you can look these up the next time you're here in India. :)

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