As you know, Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal. It’s also home to some five million people. Situated in a valley surrounded by hills, the city sits at an elevation of 1400 m. Within the small area of the Kathmandu valley lies the cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, along with a few small villages. Crowded because of the lack of space within the main area (Kathmandu and Patan), the valley still has plenty of hiking trails on the surrounding hills. Overall the Kathmandu valley is around 600 km sq.
As of spring 2020, there is only one international airport in the country, and that is in Kathmandu. Therefore, unless you are crossing the land border between India and Nepal, you will definitely be spending time in Kathmandu.
For tourists there are a limited number of areas which offer accommodation, namely Thamel, Patan and Bouddha. Within these areas, however, there are a large number of hostels, lodges, hotels and deluxe hotels to meet every ones requirements.
In this post I will guide you through the different locations and accommodation options which will give you a starting point on your search for what suits you!
Approximately 6 km from the airport, Thamel is THE place for tourists to Nepal! Within and around Thamel the range of accommodation is astounding from backpacker hostels to five star hotels. I have handpicked places within each category which I think are worth you having a look at.
How to get to Thamel – from the airport take a taxi. Unless you are on a tiny budget, take a prepaid taxi from the desk at the exit. Saves time and trouble. Approx USD 6. Walking down to the main road you will find ordinary taxis and could manage to bargain the price down to around USD 4. No guarantees though!
10 Best Backpacker Hostels In Thamel
Going back only around ten years you would be unable to find a hostel in Nepal. At that time lodges were very inexpensive so demand for hostels was not there. But as rents and overheads have increased, so too have room prices. And with the rest of South East Asia increasing becoming a ‘must see’ travelling destination for backpackers, demand for hostels has reached Nepal also. The best ones are probably found in Kathmandu because Thamel is the centre of nightlife for young Nepalis and tourists alike. While you can find very comfortable mid range and expensive restaurants and bars, there is an even bigger range of cafes, restaurants and bars geared up for the backpackers and budget tourist.
Here are my top picks of hostels in Thamel.
1. Zostel Kathmandu
Situated in the new backpacker area of Thamel called Paknajol, Zostel Kathmandu is part of an Indian chain of backpacker hostels which spans forty cities in India and Nepal. With private rooms with on suite bathrooms, four and eight bed mixed dorms and four bed female dorms, this hostel has something for everyone. They even have a loyalty card great if you are planning to explore India too.
2. Flock Hostel
Describing itself as having ‘hipster vibes’ this is a new hostel with great outdoor space, and fresh décor. It has beautiful private rooms along with eight – ten – twelve bed mix dorms and a ten bed female only dorm. Beds come with privacy curtains as standard. With airport pick up, currency change facilities and in house restaurant serving bakery items and special dietary menus, this hostel has the feel of a hotel with the vibe of a backpacker hangout.
3. Yakety Yak Hostel
Situated in a part of Thamel that is not pedestrianized there is no trouble getting a taxi straight to the door with your heavy luggage! The mixed and female only dorms come with great storage lockers and there are five private rooms with en suite bathroom. All dorm beds come with towels. With its own mini restaurant, it is in the same building as a great café, working space.
4. Alobar 1000
This is one of the older hostels in Kathmandu (2012) and is in a great location on the outskirts of Thamel but only 3 or 4 minutes walk to the centre. It excels in providing tours and information for travellers.
5. Rest Up Kathmandu
Six and 10 bed dormitories, plus a 6 bed female only dorm along with private rooms, at a very reasonable price, even lower it you skip the breakfast. This is at the budget end of hostels.
6. Big Tree
Relatively new hostel near Zostel Kathmandu and Flock Hostel.
7. Poshtel 111
The bunks in this hostel are structured Japanese style cubical beds: practical and private, if a little claustrophobic.
8. Shangrila Boutique
Rooms are available either with en suite bathrooms or with shared bathrooms.
9. Thamel 327
This hostel provides the usual dormitories, female only dormitories, and private rooms.
10. Phat Kath’s Secret Garden
Here the accommodation in bungalow type clay and brick rooms.
5 Best Cozy Boutique Hotels In Thamel
If you want to take a step up from a hostel, here are my suggestions for great boutique hotels in Thamel.
1. Bodhi Boutique Hotel
This hotel is located in a quieter, newly opened, part of Thamel, yet all the hustle and bustle, nightlife and shops are just 5 minutes walk away. Double, twin and family rooms are all decorate in a unique style to reflect the name of the hotel. Breakfast is included in the small, cozy breakfast room. The rooftop is available for tea, coffee, drinks in the evening.
2. Kasthamandap Boutique Hotel
Situated in the same quiet area as Bodhi Boutique Hotel, the Kasthamandap Boutique Hotel has standard, deluxe and suite rooms, all decorated individually with wall art by local artisans. The whole hotel has a traditional Nepali Buddhist look and feel to it.
3. Karma Boutique Hotel
Again, Karma offers a traditional feel and is decorate with traditional Nepali arts.
4. Taleju Boutique Hotel
Offering a restaurant, bar, and seminar hall, this hotel also has a spa (great for after your trek). Its courtyard garden and rooftop terrace provides great outdoor spaces to relax in.
5. Kumari Boutique Hotel
Another new hotel created with a traditional Nepali feel.
2 Best Traditional Hand Crafted Hotels In Thamel
If you want a more authentic experience through hand crafted hotel, the following two hotels might be what you are looking for.
1. Kantipur Temple House
This amazing hotel was build long before the newer hotels were even thought of in this location. Not only is this a heritage hotel, it walks the talk being that it is an eco-hotel with a social responsible philosophy. It does what it can to protect and preserve both the environment and the cultural heritage of the Kathmandu Valley. If you want to know what it was like to live in a traditional Newari style home, with its traditional wooden window frames, and opening onto a central inner courtyard, here is your chance!
2. Nepali Ghar
This hand crafted hotel has beautiful Nepali architecture, particularly wood carvings. Each piece of furniture is a statement piece reflecting hundreds of years of skills. Yet, the hotel also boasts modern facilities such as a fitness centre and executive meeting rooms. An all day restaurant and terrace garden completes the hotel.
6 Best Medium Size Hotels In Thamel
There are of course a host of other good hotels in Thamel. Here are some of my medium sized hotel suggestions for you to check out.
1. Yatri Suites
2. Norbulinka Boutique Hotel
3. Hotel Moon Light
4. Dalai La Boutique Hotel
5. Aarushi Boutique Hotel
5. International Guest House
14 Best Business & Luxury & International Chain Hotels In And Near Thamel
If you are coming to Kathmandu for business or if you already have loyalty cards to some world class hotels, you might find what you are looking for here. Some of them are brand new. Some are world renowned, and others are privately owned with a long history of operations in Kathmandu. All are situated in, or near (within 10 to 40 minutes walk) of Thamel.
1. Aloft Hotel (5 star)
2. Malla Hotel (5 star)
3. Fairfield By Marriott
4. Ramada By WYNDHAM
5. Hotel Ambassador (4 star)
6. Hotel Shankar (4 star)
7. Radisson Hotel Kathmandu (5 star)
8. Hotel Shangri La Kathmandu (5 star)
9. Hotel Manaslu (4 star)
10. Traditional Comfort (4 star)
11. Hotel Annapurna (5 star)
12. Hotel Yak and Yeti (5 star)
13. Hotel Shambala
15. Kathmandu Marriott Hotel
16. Maya Manor Boutique Hotel
Interesting Fact One
Oldest Hotel In Thamel – Kathmandu Guest House
There is really no need for a street address for the KGH! It’s a well known landmark in Thamel. As a matter of fact, the Lonely Planet uses it as the central landmark in Thamel.
Established in 1967 well before Thamel became the tourist hub it is today, the Kathmandu Guest House is in a converted Rana mansion. KGH has a long history of hosting mountaineers and many famous people including the Beatles in 1968! Recently upgraded, it still offers accommodation at different budget levels to fit its wide range of clientele.
Patan lies approximately 6km from the airport, in the opposite direction to Thamel. Once separate kingdom, it is now very much a part of Kathmandu only separated by a different administration and the Bagmati River. It is a very popular area for expats but more and more tourists are finding its charms.
5 Best Backpackers Hostels in Patan
In recent years, with more tourists discovering Patan, a few backpacker hostels have opened up. I have to say that they are not as sophisticated as the hostels in Thamel but if you like that homestay feel, and are on a low budget or simply enjoy being away from the maddening (tourist) crowd, these might be for you!
1. Hostel Solo Travel Nepal
This hostel gets great reviews and ratings with its dormitory and individual rooms.
2. Kaji Home
Great for those who like to be off the beaten track with more of a homestay vibe.
3. The Old Town Hostel
This hostel offers mixed dorm beds only. Located in the heart of the old town, it’s a great place to explore old Patan from.
4. Sanu House
Pretty basic, with prices to match.
5. Comfortable Home Stay
Not really a hostel, but offers inexpensive twin and double rooms in an old part of Patan.
11 Best Heritage Traditional Hotel In Patan
Patan itself is like a huge heritage site! Patan Durbar Square and the surrounding old town provides an insight into the past as well as a window onto very much alive local traditions. Reflecting this are some lovely heritage hotels.
1. Lumbini Heritage Home
2. Hotel Timila Newa Comfort Home
3. Zyu by Casa Deyra
4. Boutique Heritage Home
5. Tajaa Pha The Heritage Home
6. Hotel Patan House
7. Hotel Kutumba
8. The Inn Patan
9. Traditional Homes – Swotha
10. Hiranya Guest House
11. The Life Story Guest House
4 Best Business And Luxury Hotels In Patan
There are a number of good business and luxury hotels now located in Patan, including the Summit Hotel. While not so much a business hotel, this comfortable hotel with a lot of green space sees visiting staff of development organisations, the UN and embassies, coming to stay, along with trekking groups. It’s also quite a haunt for local expats.
1. Hotel Himalaya
2. Vivanta Kathmandu
3. Hotel Greenwich Village
4. Hotel Goodwill
Situated approximately 4 km from the airport, Bouddha is the name of the area surrounding Boudhanath Stupa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also the area where many Tibetan refugees have traditionally gathered. Although many of the older refugees are now Nepali citizens, the area still retains its Tibetan vibe. Early morning and evening people can be seen doing kora around the stupa in traditional dress. There are a number of good restaurants in the area, many of them focusing on Tibetan food.
7 Best Hotels In Bouddha
1. Hotel Tibet International
2. Hotel Hermika
3. Hotel Mukhum International
4. Green Boutique Hotel
5. Hyatt Regency International
6. Ghangri Boutique Hotel
7. Bouddha Boutique Hotel
Airport Hotels in Kathmandu
By airport hotel I mean hotels located near to the international airport! There are no hotels in the airport itself and many of the surrounding hotels are catering more for pilgrims and businessmen rather than tourists. However, they might be a good option if you have an early morning flight.
3 Best Hotels Near Kathmandu Airport
1. Airport Hotel Kathmandu
2. Hotel Meridian Suite
3. Pashupati Boutique Hotel
Interesting Fact Two
Oldest Heritage Hotel in Nepal – Dwarikas Hotel, Kathmandu
Dwarikas Hotel lies not far from the airport and near Pashupatinath Temple. It is, however, definitely no pilgrims’ hotel! This is a very high end and expensive hotel which is like a step back in time. Having its roots in the 1950s when the late Dwarika Das Shrestha bought the land the hotel currently sits on to build a family home (Interestingly, this family home is now the Fusion Bar), Mr Shrestha’s passion for cultural heritage grew into a sustainable business. In 1998, the front building was completed tot the design of his daughter, Sangita Shrestha Einhaus and the rest is history! In fact it’s such interesting history I suggest you go take a look. A coffee or a drink in the bar is well worth the money spent to see this fabulous hotel, Dwarikas has kept many traditional arts alive in its workshops as well as being home to many visiting famous names and tourists.
If you have the budget, they also have a resort in Dhulikhel which is so exclusive it is closed to non residential guests!
To Sum Up
If you are looking for a hostel with a great traveller vibe, best head to Thamel. If you have been on the road a while and are looking for something less touristy, then Patan might be for you. For those who are into Buddhism, Bouddha is the place to go. Even if you are not spiritual, the atmosphere in Bouddha is unlike anything else in the city. Tibetans in exile say it’s as close as they can now get to home.
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