This hotel charges 5000 rupees for a room that lacks a television, adequate lighting, or a fancy bathroom. The sheets are occasionally frayed, and lunch lacks variety. However, I can't think of a better place to stay in Varanasi. The owner, an art and music lover (and connoisseur) has created a beautiful environment, with classical music in the little foyer, objets d' art everywhere and a whole library of books on Indian art and Varanasi history. So if you don't mind things like, say, an erratic showerhead that sprays water everywhere, this is the place to be. The evening vegetarian buffet is excelllent, and in my experience the staff were friendly beyond the call of duty.
An excellent bookstore, the Harmony, is next door (the owner is a great source of info on concerts, exhibitions etc) and Tiwari Travel, also next door, is a very reliable travel agency.
Unique Quality: On Assi Ghat, on the Ganges. Evening aarti takes place right outside. Vegetarian buffet dinner excellent, and a great way to meet people - the hotel tends to attract arty types.
One major minus point: the do not take credit cards, so pay before coming or else you'll have to take out 10 000 rs at a time from ATMs!
Directions: Rickshaws from the train station are pre-paid (75 Rs) but don't like this hotel as it doesn't pay them commission!
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