The group trip that started my journey in India was a fully organized package, with most expenses paid. It was extremely well organized and it cost a pretty penny. We stayed at a range of hotels but most of them were pretty darn nice and a couple of them were even seriously awesome luxury hotels. In my life I have done some short term travel before, but nothing at all like this. It’s the first time that I am really experiencing living out of a backpack, figuring out where to stay on the fly and budget accommodation. I’m also still trying to get my head around the value of the Rupee in India, so I’m curious to compare cost against value/experience/etc.
The first two nights here in Mcleod Ganj we stayed at the Green Hotel. It’s in Lonely Planet as a budget hotel. We were paying R800 (approximately USD17.50) a night, plus extra for WiFi. The room was simple but relatively clean, on the second story with a nice balcony with a lovely view, plenty of light. Budget apparently means ,bring your own…’ because there were no towels, toilet paper or soap. What I guess is a pretty standard bathroom around these parts – sink, western toilet and a shower fixture but nothing to seperate the shower from the rest of the room – practical although so far I seem to tend to get water absoultely everywhere when I shower; I wonder if there is some sort of technique to keep the splashing to a minimum. There were the remnants of some bugs squished onto the walls but very few actual bugs which was nice. 🙂 Over all it was a really nice room, and the biggest plus was that it was right next door to the Green Hotel Cafe, which has become our favorite hang out as it’s cozy, great for people watching and has got a small library of books to enjoy while you’re there, WiFi and the best honey lemon ginger tea and cakes that I have found in town so far.
The place was fully booked out for the duration of the Dalai Lama’s stay however, so we visited nearly all the budget places and even some of the higher end ones listed in Lonely Planet but without luck. We had just left another hotel when someone called out to us from the side of the road asking if we were looking for a room, which is how we ended up here at the Annex Hotel (up the road from the Surya Hotel where we stayed during the group trip).
We’re paying R1,000 (approximately USD22) a night (which includes decent but not consistent WiFi). It’s a ground floor room but the hotel is constructed into the side of a hill so we still get a nice balcony and lovely views. The room isn’t as clean as at Green, and we are sharing the space with more six- and eight-legged friends. But there is more furniture, including a fan (although it’s been cool so we haven’t needed it) and a non-working TV, and this place has got toilet paper, soap and towels (although I will admit here that I am a bit of a wimp – I cand handle dirt and smells and stuff, but I do like „home“ to feel clean and I am pretty particular about smell. The hotel towels smell like mildew and I’m happily opting to use my travel towels instead. 🙂 I’m also really happy to have my silk sleeping bag liner! So, big thanks to everyone at Man for those things! 🙂 ).
The bathroom is a bit grim – no window and somehow it reminds me a bit of a jail cell, and there is this bizarre, coffin shaped mirror just outside the bathroom door. The floor is also amusing – wood colored, wavy linoleum. 🙂 But the decor is all right and the amount of light, the view and the balcony are just great. Upstairs there is a simple but lovely rooftop cafe with even more spectacular views. And the neighborhood is also more quiet – there was a pack of dogs living outside Green who kicked off a nightly party around 11. It’s closer to the temple here – this morning I woke to hear the monks chanting prior to the Dalai Lama’s talks which was lovely.
Another plus is that the staff is friendly and helpful – they were great in capturing and removing a particularly large spider from the room (we needed their help because the thing was too big to fit in the glass we had. I’m happy to report that as helpful as the guys were, they were just about as freaked out as I was by the thing! 😉 ).
So this is what the lower end of midrange looks like in Mcleod Ganj. I know it’s possible to pay much less (R150 – R500 for a room); I think it could be good to find out what true budget is like but at the same time, I’m not complaining that all the budget hotels were booked out. 😉
The coffin mirror
Small spider friend – big spider’s baby brother
Lovely light room though