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Archive for the ‘India’ Category

Based on the experience of my trip in India and Nepal, following are links to my reviews of accommodations, restaurants, and other services that I would like to recommend you to try or NOT to try.

This is just my two cents. For more reviews and suggestions, I would recommend one to check out IndiaMike.com, an online community for India travelers. I especially like its forums. The personal experiences and up-to-date information given by its strong member base are far more trustworthy and helpful than many other random travel sites.

And things change quickly in this world, especially places like India and Nepal. So please don’t take the numbers I gave here as they are, but only as a reference. I have two advices for you when shopping in these countries.

  1. Check and compare the prices of different shops or hotels before making your purchase.
  2. Bargain always. You will be surprised by all the better deals that you can get for yourself by doing so. =)

Another website that I used a lot when I was doing my research is Trip Advisor.

Here are some reviews of accommodations and restaurants.

Delhi – Waves Restaurant, Prince Polonia Hotel, Hotel Blue Sapphire
Varanasi – Scindhia Guest House
Khajuraho – Hotel Zen
Agra – Taj Home Stay, Maya Hotel
Jaipur – Umaid Mahal Hotel
Kathmandu – Annapurna Lodge

In addition, here are more information that you may find helpful.

Cost Breakdown of My India & Nepal Trip

Itinerary of My India & Nepal Trip

Transportation in India
Travel in India – Car Rental
Indian Drivers & the Evil Commission System
Car Rental in India: How Much Tips for a C+ Service?
Transportation in India: Car Rental & India Railways

Tour Guide in Nepal
Nepal Tour Guide

Trekking in Nepal
Jap Quality Hot spring in Jhinu

Shopping in India
Travel in India – Beware of the Commission System!!!
Travel in India – Have Fun Bargaining
Travel in India – The Best Anti-Hawker Strategy
Different Entry Fee for Indians and Foreigners
Indian: Friendly? Tricky?

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Hotel: Hotel Zen
Address: Jain Temple Road, Khajuraho, 271606
Comment:
Do NOT go to Hotel Zen, one of the worst guesthouses we stayed when we were in India, if not the worst. We got a very noisy room, with little insects flying in and out the bathroom from the ventilation. We had to keep the bathroom door closed at all time to prevent the insects from getting into our sleeping area.

Their customer service was ok, but their food was bad and expensive. With the same amount of money we paid for their crappy room and food, we could definitely get a much better deal.

Since there are so many guesthouses in Khajuraho, you really don’t need to make any booking in advance. Once you get to the town, just spend some time walking around and shopping for a lodge that you are really happy with before making any payment.

Seeing is believing 😎

Actually, there are internet cafes nearby with cheaper rates … 😮

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Delhi Hotel Reviews

Hotel: Prince Polonia Hotel
Website: www.hotelprincepolonia.com
Comment:
Prince Polonia Hotel has crappy rooms with crappy beds. Well, at least this is what we have experienced with this hotel. Yes, you may find several positive reviews of this hotel online. In fact, these are what got us into booking a room in this hotel. But, check the posting date. They are all reviews written years ago, like 2002 and such. Apparently, things have changed much there.

In addition, despite how close from Connaught Place it says itself locates on its website, I found it quite remote and inconvenient. There isn’t much near the hotel, no sightseeing spot, night market, or restaurant, whatsoever. So unless you take a taxi or rickshaw, you can’t go anywhere. And our driver had a hard time finding the hotel.

Their standard room costs Rs 1190. We could find better deals in this price range.

Breakfast in Prince Polonia Hotel tasted so-so, but it’s complimentary, so that’s good 😀

The surrounding area (not too exciting huh)

Hotel: Hotel Blue Sapphire
Website: www.hotelbluesapphire.com
Comment:
Some staff there have bad attitude. But the hotel is located in a very convenient area, where night markets, Mc Donald’s, and Indian restaurants are just a block or two away. Furthermore, money exchange service and long distance call service are just right across the street.

So everything around the hotel is just too convenient for us to resist. We simply forgot about its bad customer service and stayed in this hotel for its location. Since we didn’t have to deal with the staff besides during check-in and check-out, it’s not a big deal.

Its price is fair, with standard room costs Rs 1290. And rooms are decent, with hot shower and a/c.

There is a night market about 2 blocks away from Blue Sapphire.

I found a henna tattoo artist and a nice dry fruit store in the night market.

There is McDonald’s too! Try McCurry Pan. It’s sooo good! 😀

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Hotel: Scindhia Guest House
Website: www.scindhiaguesthouse.com
Comment:
This guesthouse has rooms with very nice view . Although it always took them forever to cook and serve the food we ordered, their food was great. It’s nothing fancy, just the basics like toast and porridge, but nevertheless, they tasted so good (Here is a post about their yummy banana honey toast 😀 ).

Their rooms are relatively cheap when compare with other guesthouses with river view. Some reviews posted online saying that the guesthouse is a bit too difficult to find. Yet we didn’t have any problem finding our way back to the guesthouse even after dark. Since the guesthouse is located next to the river, to get back, instead of going through all the twists and turns in the market place, all one needs to do is walking along the riverside.

The guesthouse also arranges boat rides and Sarnath day trip for their customers. Their price is not the cheapest, but competitive. Instead of wasting our time in searching and bargaining with the locals for a slightly better deal (and it is not guaranteed that one could surely find a cheaper deal with the same quality of service), we just let the guesthouse arranged the morning boat ride and the Sarnath day trip for us. We are satisfied with what we got. So, that’s fair enough.

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Jaipur Hotel Review

Hotel: Umaid Mahal Hotel
Website: www.umaidmahal.com
Comment:
When we first got to the hotel, we were disappointed by its size. We were like, “so petite!” 🙄 Since we thought it’s a palace, we were expecting something grand, with multi-level-ceiling lobby, spacious courtyard, and green beautiful gardens. And we saw none of these… Later we learned that due to its size, Umaid Mahal Hotel cannot be called a palace, but a heritage castle or boutique hotel. In India, a mansion can be called a palace only if it has 50 rooms or more. And Umaid Mahal Hotel has only 32 rooms.

Because of the disappointment brought by the first impression, we were considering staying in this hotel for only a night and moving to another hotel for our second night in Jaipur. But after a very good dinner in the hotel and learning that there would be fresh fruits in its complimentary breakfast, we changed our mind and decided to stay there for both nights 😎

The dinner was great! Food was fresh and delicious, and the price was fair (you should try their tandoori roti, cucumber raita, and veggie fried rice, YUMMY 😀 ).

Actually Umaid Mahal is a pretty little castle with nicely decorated interior that goes into the details. For those who want a real palace experience with grand, luxurious setting, Umaid Mahal isn’t for you. Come to the end of it, it’s not even big enough to be qualified as a palace. But if what you are looking for is an Indian cultural heritage experience in a beautiful boutique hotel with a limited budget in hand, then I would recommend you Umaid Mahal.

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Agra Hotel Reviews

Hotel: Taj Home Stay
Website: www.tajhomestay.com
Comments:
This is one of the best hotels we have stayed in when we were in India. Since the hotel had opened for only three months by the time we were there in Feb 2008, everything was very new. Their complimentary breakfast was big, but because it was so good, we couldn’t help but finished everything.

The only downside is its location, which in fact isn’t too bad. Unlike Maya Hotel and some other guesthouses located right next to Taj Mahal, Taj Home Stay is a 10 minute ride away from the landmark. It is less convenient, yet it provides a quiet and restful environment which the guesthouses near Taj Mahal lack of.

I hope that they can keep up with the quality of their service and rooms as how they were when we visited a few months ago. With their attentive customer service, competitive price, and excellent food, we were very happy with this hotel and would recommend it to anyone who plans to stay in Agra.

We asked for a room with balcony so for us to hang and dry our laundry. Since no room with “regular” balcony was available by the time we checked in, they gave us a room with a super-sized balcony :mrgreen:

With this balcony, we actually could hang all the clothes that we had with us! Haha.

Very good breakfast! 😀

Hotel: Maya
Website: http://mayainmagic.com/
Comment:
We didn’t stay in Maya, but our driver insisted to bring us there and show us the place. He said, “You just have to go and see, then you will decide. Ok?” So, we let him drove us there… (I bet he could get commission or some kind of goodies from Maya, that’s why…)

Maya was ok, located very close to Taj Mahal. So that’s good, especially if you want to visit Taj Mahal first thing in the morning for nice exposure of the morning light. Rooms look ok, but nothing comparable with Taj Home Stay.

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Restaurant: Waves
Address: Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi – 110017
Phone: 41681333, 41681444
Email: wavesrestaurant@hotmail.com
Comments:
Yik and I accidentally bumped into this restaurant when we were finding somewhere for dinner after visiting Qutab Minar. We didn’t expect we could find a place so nice around that area for our driver kept persuading us to do take-away instead (bad driver we had =P). The food was great. Our lamb dish was fantastic! Waves is more of a high-end restaurant, with a dining session and a lounge area. I can’t recall how much our dinner was. But as far as I remember, its price was fair.

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