Freak Street, Kathmandu
There are many very enjoyable hotels in Kathmandu that will suit Western tastes, but the <a href="http://www.yakandyeti.com/">Hotel Yak & Yeti</a> has a reputation as being among the best. From their website you get the impression that it is a lavish, luxury palace that puts your local Holiday Inn to shame, but in reality it's all relative. The resort hotel does serve as an oasis and sanctuary from the toxic smog and anarchy out on the surrounding streets, but don't be underwhelmed when you think you've stepped into a dingy old hotel off of the strip in Las Vegas. Compared to the rest of Kathmandu the Y&Y complex is a huge step up in sanitation and comfort though. The dated decor and antique fixtures throw you back in time several decades, but after returning from trekking in the mountains or even from shopping in nearby Thamel you'll welcome the serenity and class that the hotel offers. The prices at the Yak & Yeti are exorbitant relative to the more primitive accommodations in the rest of the city too, but some would say you can't afford the risks of discomfort and lack of security elsewhere.
The lobby is lined with intriguing Hindu antiques and each room is enhanced with a few historical artifacts. There are interesting handcrafted artworks along the halls and the furniture and wood paneling add a lot of class. Just beyond the lobby there is a very appealing lounging area, as well as an enticing bakery. A great benefit is also the Business Centre for internet access. The hotel staff members wear smart, professional attire and you get the hint of the very proper, traditional British etiquette. There is even a gentleman appointed to attending the front door and greeting guests with a salute and "namaste". The older wing of the hotel is an historic palace, which is fitted with fine wood and marble and showcases even more artwork and antiques. If you snoop around the corners you'll find their casino too. To the rear of the hotel is a lavish garden and swimming pool area. This can be a very peaceful and relaxing place to spend time.
It is true that the hotel staff offer high class courtesy and service, and
the shops and restaurants are vastly higher quality than the outside world.
The hotel includes a wonderful "silver spoon" breakfast buffet to
its guests, and I set my alarm early every morning to make sure I didn't miss
it. The irony of having such well-groomed staff and fine table settings is
that most of the guests are scruffy westerners wearing shorts and sandals.
Most of the guests are setting out for hiking, and they neglected to pack any
slacks or collared shirts. That's the real element that steals the magic of
staying a five-star resort.