Hotel review: Gokarna Forest Resort, Kathmandu, Nepal
Hotels in Kathmandu vary in facilities and price. The previous few visits to Nepal, I have always stayed in Thamel, however for this special trip I was part of a wedding party so the venue and hotel were already chosen.
Gokarna Forest Resort is a four star retreat set, as the name suggests, in the middle of the forest, 10 km outside of Kathmandu centre. The calm serenity of its idyllic hilltop location is a far cry from the crowded, dusty streets of Kathmandu proper.
It was the perfect location for such a special event, with a party of over 70 of the bride’s Western family and friends flying in from around the world to stay and witness the three-day traditional Nepalese wedding, and over 400 of the groom’s Nepalese family and friends attending the celebrations, and the hotel was more than able to satisfactorily accommodate us all, as well as another wedding on the same weekend.
Having spent a lot of time in Nepal, and particularly Kathmandu in the past, and with a jam-packed itinerary for the rest of the trip around Nepal and Bhutan, I made the most of the hotel’s extensive facilities, trying almost all of the activities on offer. The spa, pool and sauna/jacuzzi were lovely, and with excellent massages and scrubs starting from under $35, comes highly recommended. The small gym above is a little toasty and has limited and dated equipment, but with the floor to ceiling windows facing into the forest, I completed a couple of good early morning work outs – I just wasn’t sure who was more fascinated – the monkeys or me!
We had booked onto a nature trail (you can arrange 1, 2, 3 or 4 hour guided walks through the forest), however unfortunately our guide had seemingly disappeared as we were due to meet him so we were unable to go ahead, but those who had seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, coming back with reports of wild deer and monkey sightings. I did do a horse ride, which I enjoyed mostly because I haven’t ridden a horse at all during the last year – although horses cannot ride through the forest so it is worth pointing out that the ride itself is not that thrilling.
The wedding ‘reception’ was held on the grounds, outside at the Gamekeeper’s Cottage, and the ladies mehndi (henna) party was held in the courtyard, both excellent locations which were beautifully decorated for each occasion. The rooms were large and well decorated in traditional Nepalese style and staff could not have been more helpful and friendly, accommodating our endless requests for momos, Everest beer and masala tea (not necessarily in that order!)
Overall it’s a place that I would highly recommend for people looking for a more peaceful stay in Kathmandu without needing to be too near the centre – a great place to spend a few days relaxing in the forest at the end of a trip to Nepal.