The real thrill of Kathmandu is in wandering its dusty maze of narrow streets. Leading from one another without a hint of change, the streets will guarantee you loose direction while dodging local people who go about their day. Kathmandu is fast paced, crowded, noisy, and the iconic Kathmandu Guest House stands out in stark contrast.
Hailed for generating the tourist hub of Thamel, the Kathmandu Guest House has been an institution since 1968. Its founder, Karna Shakya, has played an even larger role in placing Nepal on the adventure tourism map by being a key player in creating the very first protected conservation area in the country- a significant move for the nature enjoyed throughout Nepal today.
What makes Kathmandu Guest House so unique is much more than a foundation of influential moments of Nepal tourism though. In Thamel space is a premium, and buildings, structures and people fight for it, but in the thick of the action, Kathmandu Guest House’s high green perimeter fence divides a sanctuary from the chaos.
When the security guards peel open Kathmandu Guest House’s gates, it’s like arriving into a completely new destination. In place of noise is silence but for birds chirping and where ordinarily buildings are packed tightly, open space welcomes nature to grow. A large sunshine yellow, and dark wood building to the left is the main guesthouse – which began as a discreet 13 rooms – and an open bar fluently brings history into the present.
History is important to Kathmandu Guest House and you can feel it everywhere you look. There’s a museum wing of Nepalese artefacts, a beetles wing commemorating the band’s stay here, and an archive of historic personalities in the reception area. Interestingly, with all the fame that has been a part of the Kathmandu Guest House, there is no whiff of arrogance. Consistent with the gracious and humble manicured gardens which the buildings are centred around, a feeling of calm filters right through the team who work there.
With every interaction the tone is soft, instantly putting even the most intense of travel inconveniences to rest. Housekeeping and grounds staff glide rather than rush, and there’s a common demeanour of “nothing is a problem”. It’s these qualities which have been imbedded in a long standing culture, and are attractive to travellers.
Be it travelling to Nepal for the first time, or the last time, for recreation or sightseeing; this masterpiece will be a true highlight of the journey. Secretly shielded from the craziness of Kathmandu city, yet directly in the heart of the hub, Kathmandu Guest House’s peaceful contrast is a delight.