Boutique hotels seem to be all the rage in Kathmandu, with many of them sprouting up in the capital city within a relatively short time. The tourist hotspot of Thamel has been shunned by most new entrants who have opened new outlets in more residential areas to provide a “boutique” experience to their clients. So what exactly makes a hotel ‘boutique’? The term is believed to have been coined by American hotelier Steve Rubell in 1984 as he was comparing the Morgans Hotel, the first hotel he co-owned, to a boutique. Since then boutique hotels have sprung up around the world, each advertising their unique features. Petite, classy, personalized and expensive (mostly) are some adjectives that define a boutique hotel, even though there are no hard and fast definitions.
We feature a few hotels being marketed as boutique and let our readers decide if they want to try the ‘boutique’ experience.
Royal Empire Boutique Hotel
The Royal Empire Boutique Hotel in Baluwatar is getting much attention these days, largely for its hospitality and top-notch service. A historic building that has been restored, Royal Empire advertises itself on its Facebook page as “a luxury hotel that blends royal heritage and modern comfort”. Reading customer reviews, this certainly seems true.
“Our hotel is a renovated Juddha Sumsher palace dating back 200 years,” says Rohit Shrestha, the General Manager. “And we’ve introduced some of the most luxurious modern amenities to this vintage building.” The Royal Empire has truly humongous rooms, each between 400 and 1500 sq. ft, which is almost the size of most apartments. Along with emperor-sized rooms and royal décor, the hotel also has spa facilities, a multi-cuisine restaurant, an event hall and other modern amenities.
Rates: $100-$350 per night
(There’s a promotional offer with around 30 percent discount for limited time)
Located at Tej Bhawan, Uttar Dhoka, Hotel Heranya is a two-storey palatial building that has been tastefully redone for the comfort of well-heeled travelers. Its 17 rooms are beautifully designed, reflecting the Newar Vajrayan, or Buddhist architecture of the Valley. The premises have a long history of attracting international agencies like the WHO and UNICEF in the 1980s and WECS and the Peace Corps in the 1990s.
Heranya is a family-run hotel, which defines itself as an ecological enterprise. Solar-powered water heaters, rain-water harvesting, organic vegetables and fruits, exotic garden, all added with a touch of unique and personalized service, is what Heranya is all about.
The hotel has deluxe rooms as well as studios apartments for long-term guests with a Kitchenette and added living space.
“We have tried our best to preserve the historic building and added a modern touch to it in terms of facilities and services,” says Ravi Manandhar, the manager.
Rates: $45-65 per night
Royal Penguin Boutique Hotel
The Royal Penguin Boutique Hotel & Spa, situated on the quieter side of Thamel, is one of the first boutique hotels in Nepal, and is completely based on modern themes. The contemporarily designed building has 20 cozy rooms, an exquisitely designed restaurant and bar, and a full-fledged spa. The hotel is unique in terms of its design as well as its services—providing customized services to its clients who can choose from its “Crazy menu”. They can even order dumbbells and soft toys into their room and book business trips to Hong Kong or South Korea.
Décor at the Royal Penguin is an exotic fusion of art and architecture. Outlandish teak root furniture is complemented by multi-genre paintings and installation arts in the rooms, lobby and restaurant. The center of attraction in the décor is a stump of a petrified wood imported from Madagascar dating back to the pre-historic time, all of 230 million years ago.
Rates: $50-$90 per night
Maya Manor Boutique Hotel
The Maya Manor Boutique Hotel is owned and operated by the KGH Hotels group, which is one of the most reputed enterprises in the Nepali hospitality industry for over 50 years. A historic mansion turned into a hotel, the quaint building that hosts Maya Manor in Durbarmarg was built in 1935, in what was the heyday of Rana aristocracy. The building was resurrected after the 2015 earthquake and now is home to the Maya Manor Boutique Hotel.
“We have turned a heritage site into a hotel to give a boutique experience to our guests,” says Niraj Bajracharya, manager at Maya Manor. “This hotel in under the KGH brand so there is no compromising on quality.” Maya Manor overlooks the Narayanhiti Museum and most parts of Durbarmarg and Naxal. The characteristic building stands out amid concrete structures in the area and provides a refuge in antiquity to its select clients. Historic artifacts and architecture adorn the hotel premises that also has a lush garden for its guests to spend some quiet time.