When my husband told me we were going to stay at Soaltee Crowne Plaza for our Nepal trip, I didn’t really mind it since Crowne doesn’t really belong to the top category of the IHG hotels. Of course, the Crowne hotel brand is special to us as it was in Crowne Plaza Hotel Ortigas when we learned of our pregnancy with our Firstborn. But my interest was only perked up a notch higher when I learned that the British Royals stayed at this hotel when they visited Nepal. Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana visited on separate occasions as well as other Heads of State. I had high expectations! After all, Soaltee Crowne Plaza is a 5-star hotel.
We were picked up at the airport by the hotel car. Kathmandu sure is a perfect illustration of harmonious co-existence of men, dogs, monkeys and cows! My sons got excited when the driver pointed out monkeys on rooftops, and dogs… are everywhere! I thought we will have a great time seeing monkeys at the Swayambhunath Temple but it looked like we could see monkeys everywhere. We were even welcomed by monkeys crossing the road inside the hotel grounds. Soaltee Crowne is a big compound of buildings that make up for the main hotel, conference halls, the Regal Suites, pool, a new wing still under construction, a casino and a wide lawn that makes it a world apart from the busy, narrow roads of Kathmandu’s everyday life.
The first glimpse of the hotel disappointed me a little bit. It wasn’t as I expected because I thought I was going to see a bigger, grander hotel. Instead, I saw a 50-year old hotel with ongoing renovations. But looking closely, it’s charming:
Its littlest details have character:
Its pool isn’t big but it’s just right for my family’s playtime. It’s located right behind the Regal Suites:
The staff at the hotel gave my boys their greatest impression of Nepal! From our first day to our last, my boys saw a consistent flow of kindness and warm accommodation. “Namaste” wasn’t an automatic greeting spiel. My boys saw the kind smiles with every Namaste greeting they got during breakfast until our last minutes at the lounge before we called it a night.
And every night we were welcomed with a treat in our room. We opted to stay for 4 nights (last 2 nights was at Fairfield by Marriott in Thamel) and on each night, we slept with some sweet thoughts from these delicious treats:
So, where did the Royals and the Heads of State stay as suggested by my blog title?
The Regal Suites is a well-guarded building separate from the main hotel. It has its own access to the hotel pool which is located right at the back of the building.
The Lobby Manager On-Duty, Mr. Rajiv, very kindly toured my husband and me at The Regal Suites. There are 7 Suites and these are named after Nepal’s 7 Lakes!
- Rara Lake
- Fewa Lake or Phewa Lake, Phewa Tal
- Begnas Lake
- Gosaikunda Lake
- Phoksundo Lake
- Imja Tsho
- Tilicho Lake
Trust the locals to provide you with trivia every now and then. Mr. Rajiv got us to check the Gosaikunda Suite first. When hubby and I saw the beds, we were relieved! We thought the beds in our room were small. Apparently, this is their standard size. Even for royals!
The Suites are luxurious. It has quarters for personal helpers. It is also being used for long-term stay (months) of expats in the country.
I greatly appreciated Mr. Rajiv’s time and effort in showing us around.
My children felt the same towards other staffs who showed us the same warmth. Another On-Duty Manager, Miss Sunita, went out of her way in assisting us when she heard us inquiring about a taxi to go to Thamel for a little bit of shopping. We got the reliable Mr. Badri who waited for us (we’re done in 4 hours because it started to rain) for 10 USD!
Believe me, you have to truly appreciate hotel taxi’s air-conditioner! Taxis and even private cars are not big on aircon in Nepal (there are a few who luxuriously enjoy their air-conditioned cars) despite the dust. You would want to immediately take on a warm shower the moment you arrive in your hotel:-).
After the initial disappointment and bits of discomfort, we are glad we stayed at Soaltee Crowne Plaza. Gladder that my children saw beyond the physical luxury. Without any hint from us, they saw the kindness around them and it was the people factor that made a bigger impact on them during our stay.
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