Now Reading
The Dwarikas Hotel Kathmandu

The Dwarikas Hotel Kathmandu

Dwarika's Hotel Kathmandu, Nepal

Luxury hotels in Nepal

Dwarika's Hotel Kathmandu, Nepal
Dwarika’s Hotel Kathmandu, Nepal

The Dwarikas Hotel in Kathmandu

I arrive at Dwarikas Hotel in Kathmandu late at night, having emerged from the scrimmage of the airport and finally found my transfer outside the terminal building.  It’s only about fifteen minutes drive to the hotel, in the less touristy eastern side of the city, and after being greeted in the driveway and whisked through check-in, I am soon in my Heritage Deluxe room, on the second floor.

The real Nepal

After much research, I have chosen The Dwarikas Hotel for my two nights in Kathmandu, on either end of a 12-day trek in the Everest region, as the most authentically Nepalese of the city’s luxury properties.

Medieval Toran carving at Dwarikas Hotel by Daniel Scott
Medieval Toran carving at Dwarikas Hotel by Daniel Scott

My spacious room, with king-sized bed and separate shower, twin vanities, walk-in wardrobe and large bathtub is full of dark wood, terracotta and ornamental detail, reflecting local Newari culture.

It’s not until next morning, though, that I realise the full extent of this masterpiece of restoration and cultural preservation.  Built around huge sunlit courtyards to emulate a palace from the 15th-17th centuries, the hotel is so full of intricately carved doorways, window frames and red brick/terracotta facades that, as I have an al fresco breakfast from Torun restaurant (named after a medieval door at the core of the property), it makes me feel as if I am enveloped in heritage.

Dwarikas water spouts inaugurated by King Charles III
Dwarikas water spouts inaugurated by King Charles III

The story of how the hotel was founded, in the 1960s, on the site of an old cow shed, by Dwarika Das Shrestha, primarily to protect and showcase Newari culture by repurposing hundreds of pieces of intricate woodwork, then being discarded or burnt for firewood, is both inspiring and instructional.

“The more I studied and toured Kathmandu Valley, I found our culture is not understood and heritage is destroyed out of ignorance,” said Dwarika, ‘with my firm belief that youth education must be based on culture and heritage, I decided to save the heritage first.”

A pool based on a king’s lavish baths

Dwarikas pool, fit for a king, by Daniel Scott
Dwarikas pool, fit for a king, by Daniel Scott

Opened in 1977, and evolved by his family ever since – Dwarika died in 1992, leaving his daughter Sangita and grandson Vijay, to carry on his vision – the hotel now has 80 rooms.  Although located on a busy Kathmandu street, the way it is built, with rooms and public spaces facing inward, it is infused with a sense of peace, with the noise and bustle immediately left behind when you step inside.

I don’t have long to explore on this first visit, with a day visiting World Heritage sites with sister company Kathmandu Travels and Tours  – kathmandu-travels.com – ahead, but it is the combination of cultural authenticity and palpable tranquility, along with the warm staff and excellent food, that make Dwarikas an ideal introduction to the Nepalese capital. 

There is, too, time for a pinch-myself moment when I swim a few lengths in the hotel pool, based on a king’s lavish baths, and for a visit to the adjacent workshop, where skilled craftspeople continue the work of restoring historic ornamental pieces to their former glory.

Dwarika's Hotel Kathmandu, Nepal
Dwarika’s Hotel Kathmandu, Nepal

Post trek massages in the spa

Twelve days later, after one of the adventures of my life in the Himalayan mountains, I arrive back at Dwarikas for a second night, this time staying in an expansive heritage suite, overlooking the courtyard in the main building. 

The same meticulous attention to detail I’d noted on my first stay is even clearer in my suite, with its larger elements like its exposed wooden beams, a lavish four-poster king-size bed, corner daybed and huge ensuite bathroom complimented by period furniture, alcoves displaying terracotta and carved ornaments and splashes of colourful symmetrical patterning, in cushions and rugs throughout. 

The Dwarikas Hotel in Kathmandu
The Dwarikas Hotel in Kathmandu

To be honest, one afternoon, night and morning are not long enough in this atmospheric suite, but I have reservations at hotel restaurants for lunch and dinner and an important post-trek massage booked in the spa.

Unforgettable food

Lunch is at Makos Japanese restaurant, which takes its name from its host, Mako-san, who, as a devout Buddhist, moved to Nepal from her home in Kyoto, to be closer to the birthplace of Buddha.  Delicate and delicious, the sushi here is a welcome change from the hearty mountain fare I’ve been gobbling up in the Himalayas.

Krishnaarpan Restaurant showing momos
Krishnaarpan Restaurant showing momos

Dinner, at Krishnarpan, the hotel’s signature restaurant, is on another level still, a slow dining extravaganza that takes me through course after delicious course of Nepalese food, drawing on fresh produce from the property’s own organic farms and cycling through many of this varied country’s cuisines.  It’s an experience that’s beguiled future kings (Prince Charles ate here during a stay, in 1998), presidents and movie stars and is quite ceremonial, with each dish presented with ritual, reflecting the refined surrounds of the restaurant.   Although all of my six courses are memorable, my favourite offering are the momos, flavoursome dumplings with a range of fillings, that are akin to a Nepalese national dish.

A true heritage hotel in Kathmandu

In between meals and my excellent massage, I have time to sit down with one of the current owners, young Rene Vijay Shrestha Einhaus, grandson of Dwarikas’ founder, over tea in the courtyard.  Although he grew up in Germany, Vijay has returned to Kathmandu to help Dwarikas develop into the 21st century, with another 40 rooms presently under construction.

Traditional welcome at Krishnarpan restaurant
Traditional welcome at Krishnarpan restaurant

“We’re trying to build a Nepali brand,” Vijay tells me, “that reflects the beauty, variety and depth of our country and culture.”

“Heritage,” he adds, “isn’t just a thing that is sitting there, it’s very alive.”

In a world of hotels that are increasingly homogenised, it is this distinctive vision behind Dwarikas Hotel, originating in the 1950s with one determined Nepalese man, that makes staying here so compelling.  It is not simply a classy 5-star property, with attention to detail in every element, including the service, but an invitation to step into Nepal’s illustrious past.

THE DWARIKAS HOTEL

BATTISPUTALI, KATHMANDU, NEPAL

Website: www.dwarikas.com

Email: info@dwarikas.com

Telephone: (+977-1) 4579488/ 4570770


Read More

© 2020 FIRST CLASS MAGAZINE.
Scroll To Top