The Dwarika’s Kathmandu Is A Luxurious Retreat And Living Museum All At Once
- 30 Jan '24
- 12:28 pm by Beverly Pereira
Meandering through narrow lanes at the temple-studded Patan Durbar Square, experiencing the heady rush of Thamel’s nightlife, spinning prayer wheels and monkey-watching at the giant stupas of Swayambhunath and blissing out at Pashupatinath’s evening Aarti on the banks of the Bagmati are just some of the experiences awaiting you in Nepal. Kathmandu, the pulsating Nepali capital is a melting pot of experiences, a treasure trove of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and an obligatory stop for the amateur trekker and mountaineer alike. Its streets are alive with the bustle of an urban metropolitan, even as the valley city rests in the shadow of majestic snow-capped mountain ranges.
Kathmandu is a city of paradoxes where it’s just as easy to find ultimate peace as it is to get immersed in the chaos of it all. For the ‘anti-chain hotel’ traveller who values an experiential, immersive stay, there’s the luxury hotel The Dwarika’s Kathmandu. Located on a busy main road behind an inconspicuous brick wall, an intricately carved wooden door opens out into this sanctuary of peace where worldly worries quickly fade away.
Flying into Kathmandu is the quickest mode of travel. From Mumbai, it’s just a two-and-a-half-hour flight away. Then, arriving at The Dwarika’s is but a five-minute drive from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport. The hotel is located in the Battisputali locality of Kathmandu, home to the sacred Pashupatinath temple precinct.
Concept & Design
The Dwarika’s is a unique hospitality brand, in that it is a living museum with meticulously restored wooden window frames and even an intricately carved 13th-century doorway in the Newar architectural style of Kathmandu central to its design. The product of one man’s passion for preserving Nepal’s cultural and architectural heritage, the hotel was founded in 1972 by the late Dwarika Das Shrestha who built the hotel adjacent to his family home to accommodate his ever-growing collection of wooden artefacts. It was an encounter with local carpenters sawing off an old Newari-style wooden pillar to be used as firewood in 1952 that set in motion the passion to collect and restore Nepal’s ancient wooden crafts.
Today, the luxury hotel continues as a family-run brand, now in its third generation—the founder’s wife, Ambica Shrestha is president of the Dwarika’s Group of Hotels and Resorts; his daughter Sangita Shrestha Einhaus is managing director; and his grandson René Vijay Shrestha Einhaus is CEO. The hospitality is top-notch and incredibly warm.
Any and every urban disturbance is superseded by birdsong within the peaceful environs of this inward-facing hotel set around a beautifully tended courtyard. It’s safe to say that a sense of cultural appreciation for Nepal’s artistic heritage lingers long after one’s stay; wooden carvings depicting Hindu and Buddhist motifs and mythology serve as visual delights in every nook and corner.
Rooms & Suites
The Dwarika’s comes with 80 beautifully designed rooms and suites that keep the region’s artistic heritage in constant frame, whether it’s the Heritage Deluxe room or the Heritage suites. The rusticity of the terracotta tiled flooring makes for a fantastic pairing with the warmth of restored wood generously embedded into the room’s design —from the minibar to ornamental trimmings in the bathroom. Rooms are spacious and accommodate a four-poster bed, desk, seating around a coffee table, and a sun-soaked day bed.
Organic linen, handwoven upholstery and cushions in crimson red and black are locally produced. The bathrooms in every room category are spacious, accoutered with locally sourced black slate, and kitted out with dual basins, a bathtub, a shower, and divinely scented soap bars and salts crafted using essential oils by Dwarika’s hospitality group. Every room is equipped with a host of amenities, ranging from a garment steamer and music dock to shoe-cleaning services.
With no real need or want to leave the hotel, guests are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining options. Breakfast buffets at Toran offer the works, including fresh fruit yogurt. This all-day restaurant is also perfect for lunch with a menu comprising everything from well-made club sandwiches to grilled chicken with a side of black rice (one among the many grains, along with certain spices and herbs, grown at the hotel’s eco-organic farms at Chitwan.)
A light lunch or early dinner of shrimp sushi drizzled with spicy mayo and a bowl of fried rice paired with teriyaki chicken at Japanese restaurant Mako’s is a must. Guests will be welcomed by the warm host Mako-san into this restaurant, reminiscent of a Japanese tea house, dimly lit by the glow of a translucent shoji screen crafted from local paper.
Save space for a hearty and authentic Nepali meal at Krishnarpan which dishes out menus ranging from six to 22 courses. Slow dining at its best, guests can expect to traverse the entire range of Nepalese cuisines, regions and communities. Top this experience off with a cocktail at Fusion Bar, once the family home of the founder himself. Its cosy design and tribute to the classic jazz age are commendable.
Wander over to the hotel’s cozy library Lumbini for a spot of reading as you sip on a heartwarming rum punch. A dip in the pool is quite naturally enjoyed during summer. Then, surrender to the deft hands of a therapist at the Pancha Kosha Himalayan Spa. With a sense of being armed with all the time in the world, it’s also easy to pack in a workout or go deeper within at the sun-drenched gym and yoga room respectively.
That said, when in Kathmandu one can’t and shouldn’t miss out on visits to the many historical sites that are well within reach from the hotel. Seamlessly planned by the Dwarika group’s sister concern KTT (Kathmandu Travels & Tours), theyour sightseeing itinerary could comprise trips to the stupas of Swayambhunath and the temples of Pashupatinath. At the Patan Durbar Square, one of three Durbar Squares in the city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll stroll through winding lanes as you chance upon monasteries and explore a medieval royal palace once inhabited by the Malla Kings of Lalitpur. The design of The Dwarika’s now begins to make sense as the Durbar Square is the best representation of Newar architecture. Besides, one can observe the care and dedication employed in the restoration work of many monuments damaged by the 2015 earthquake.
Back at the hotel, make it a point to spend time at Dwarika’s wood workshop, started back in the 1960s by the founder when he had hired apprentices to learn under the watchful eye of senior carvers. Adjacent to the hotel, this infirmary for wooden artefacts has produced a plethora of carvers skilled in traditional practices.
The Dwarika’s Hotel in Kathmandu is undoubtedly the place to vacation when in the capital city of Nepal. Not only does it serve as a luxurious and peaceful sanctuary in the middle of the city, but it also makes for the best way to get acquainted with Nepalese architecture, culture and history. It’s no wonder then that the hotel has hosted a roster of celebrities including Selena Gomez and Demi Moore over the years.
- The traditional Nepali metal board game ‘Baag Chal’ placed in every room.
- The cosy beds are warmed by a hot water bottle and nightly surprises like a chocolate platter as part of its turndown service.
- The grand selection of local teas is placed in little jars that make for a delightful way to warm up on particularly chilly days.
- Jijivisha, is a sustainable clothes store run by the wife of the third-gen owner René Vijay Shrestha Einhaus with clothes naturally dyed using turmeric, madder and myrobalan.
- All three generations of the Shrestha family still reside in a family home on the property and it is a true pleasure to chat with them during a stay here.