Advantages Quiet and very charming - fabulous views
Disadvantages The food - but then you could say that of the entire country. It's no worse than anywhere else.
|Value for Money|
|Quality of Rooms|
|Standard of Service|
|Quality of Food & Drink|
|Quality of Facilities|
The Zangto Pelri was my favourite of the three hotels we stayed in during our tour of Bhutan last November and I really enjoyed the two days that we spent there. It's located a few miles outside Punakha, the city that was the historic capital of Bhutan before the Fourth King moved the capital to Thimphu.We arrived by car from Thimphu after a nauseating drive up winding roads and over the Dochu La Pass - a place with fabulous views of the Himalaya and a good place to stop and top-up on your travel sickness tablets.
With stops for photos and cups of tea, the journey was about three hours and as we pulled off the main road (I use the term 'main' very lightly) we wound up another hill and suddenly there was the hotel. The location is very rural with nothing and nobody around to disturb the peace and quiet. I think we were the first arrivals of the day and so our guide was able to get us a really good room in one of the bungalows in the hotel grounds. Room 309 was half of a little cottage and the lowest of the cottages on the mountainside with uninterrupted views down into the Punakha valley. In the distances the turquoise waters of the river meandered through the countryside and I just wanted to sit and stare at it for hours.The room itself was astonishingly cute and reminded me of an up-market railway carriage similar to royal carriages that I've seen in railway museums. It was a long narrow room with wooden panelled walls, wooden floors and a white-painted wooden ceiling with a fan in the middle. There were twin beds with a small side table between and there were large windows behind the bed heads and all along the wall that faced the valley. The beds had fluffy duvets and crisp linens. Other furniture included a large built-in wardrobe a small desk and chair with a mirror over and lamps either side, and a TV table with (predictably enough) a TV on top. There was an oil fired radiator for heating. On the side of the room was a small en suite bathroom with shower over the bath, a loo and a sink unit and next to the entrance to the bathroom was the door to a lovely little wooden balcony with chairs and a table. Everything was really clean and well maintained.
After we dropped our bags in the room we headed back to the main hotel building to get some lunch. There was a large lobby with a big reception desk and a counter selling odds and ends. A large seating area served as a sort of bar although drinks had to be ordered from the restaurant next door. The restaurant was large, rather soul-less and served exactly the same food you find in every hotel and restaurant throughout the country. Our lunch included fish full of bones, tough stringy green beans and some of the nastiest coffee I've tasted in a long time. But this was our third hotel and we were getting used to the food and the view made up for it.Dinner on the first evening wasn't too bad - the usual bland buttery soup but a good buffet selection which included red and white rice, naans and parathas (breads), fish in garlic, mutter paneer (cheesy peas!), cheesy potatoes, crisply fried veg and a bowl of toxic ema datse (the local chillies and cheese that should come with a health warning). It shows how excited I was by the food that I actually went straight back to the room and wrote down all the dishes. I'm guessing in retrospect that there were some meat dishes as well but I would have ignored them. Puddings are not exciting in Bhutan and in this case it was sliced pineapple.
The hotel has one of the few outdoor swimming pools in the country but at the time of year when we visited it was far too cold to use it. There's also a very expensive gift shop and a bar in the gardens of the hotel.Both nights we slept like dead people - it was so calm, quiet and peaceful that we woke feeling really refreshed in our little cabin. Admittedly I think we were lucky to get cabins and not one of the main hotel rooms but once in a while it's nice when the luck falls your way.
One other slightly strange thing about the hotel was that almost every member of staff was female - from the porters, through the waiting staff, receptionists and shop attendants, I don't recall seeing any men working there at all. When it was time to leave a tiny lady no taller than 5 feet and built like a reed came to collect our bags. Grabbing both our bags, we weren't at all surprised that she soon gave in and took just the one and came back for the other but absolutely refused to let us take them ourselves.I've read mixed reviews of the Zangto Pelri and have to conclude that whether you like a Bhutanese hotel or not is likely to depend as much on you and your attitude as it is on the hotel itself. Every visitor pays through the nose to be in Bhutan but some seem to expect first rate hotels with American and European standard facilities. If that's what you want, probably best to stay in the US and Europe for your holidays. However, if you like to be surprised and charmed and sometimes even amused by your hotels, the Zangto Pelri should delight most open-minded travellers with its beautiful setting and quirky rooms.
Attention, this is the first review from this author
Instead of giving a negative rating, consider:
Help this member by giving your advice
Report fraud (for example plagiarism) or other issue with the review to the Ciao support team
Add your comment