Hotel Review: Kunga Guest House in Mcleodganj

Kunga Guest House Mcleodganj Bedroom ImageIf you are looking to stay in a warm, friendly family run place, the Kunga Guest House located in the Himalayan town of Mcleodganj (where the Dalai Lama runs the Tibetan Government in exile) may be tough to beat. Especially after Hollywood stars too have endorsed it.

It is owned by the head of security to the Dalai Lama, and run by his son Nick Tenzing (ably supported by his wife) – all Tibetans. The guest house is unpretentious, very clean and fresh, suprisingly very modestly priced and makes you feel wanted with genuinely warm smiles all around. And it has hosted the likes of Richard Gere and Pierce Brosnan in the past.

Kunga Guest House Mcleodganj Bedroom ImageI stayed here during a trip to this town in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, would recommend this to anyone who is happy is settings other than plush hotels. Here’s a review:

* Tariffs: Start smiling. These range from Rs. 175 – 600 ($ 4.50 – 15) per night for a double room. The variation is based on room location, amenities and on whether the bath is shared or en-suite.
* The Rooms: The air feels fresh, it looks well scrubbed and the sheets and quilts look very clean and inviting. If you think these should sound as standard features, check out typical hotels in the mountains that tend to be musty due to the climate and rarely give a clean feeling – and they charge 2-5 times of what Kunga does. Some rooms have fans, some don’t. Ditto for television sets. My Rs. 600 room had the former, as well as storage cupboards, sofas, table and a double bed. Nick claims every room is scrubbed clean and sheets changed after every guest leaves – even if stayed just a few hours.
Kunga Guest House Mcleodganj Bath Image* The Bath: Very basic, but functional and hygienic with a hot water geyser. You are not provided with towels, toilet rolls and soaps though. But you can buy some supplies from the reception, or shops around the guest house.
* Number of rooms: 9 in the main building, 6 in an annexe below the restaurant terrace on the ground level (buildings in the mountains tend to have a few floors above and below the ground level) and a few extra rooms in nearby buildings.
* Meals:
They run an excellent vegetarian restaurant within the premises named Nick’s Italian Kitchen (that serves Chinese dishes too without classifying them as so, to be politically correct I guess) open from around 7:00 am – 9:00 pm. The food is tasty, fresh, wholesome and nothing seems to be over Rs. 90 ($ 2.25). A rich American breakfast of a big plate of hash browns, two eggs, two toast, butter, jam and a tea or coffee costs just Rs. 75. Beat that. They also make an excellent banana cake (I did not try other flavours but they looked as good) and freshly brewed coffee.
kunga-10.JPG* Who runs it: Nick’s extended family including a few cousins and nephews. They all stay in this building only. It was set up around 1995. And they are all hands on: Nick’s wife was seen tying mops, his cousins would be cleaning rooms and Nick himself claims to get his hands dirty when need be.
* Connectivity:
No telephones or internet; but in Mcleodganj you are never more than a few metres away from a high speed internet café or a public telephone call booth.
* Reservations:
They don’t take advance reservations, as they do not believe in asking guests to vacate a room (if they decide to extend their trip). In fact, they didn’t even ask me how many days I wanted the room for: I can check out any day before noon. And then the room is made available to walk-ins. Nick says it is also tough to keep track as people make reservations and then don’t turn up. They believe in keeping business simple. They are also selective about giving out rooms; when I was checking in, a travel agent was told they were full up but we got the rooms. The owners do not seem to be the snooty type; they probably seem to prefer the quiet sort of guests.
Kunga Guest House Mcleodganj top view of Nick’s Restaurant* Contact: Kunga Guest House, Bhagsunag Road, Mcleodganj, District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India. Tel: +91.1892.221180 / 221569, +91.98160 21180, Email: tenzin_dhonyo@yahoo.co.in.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. They could do with a website and advertising that they have hosted the likes of Richard Gere and Pierce Brosnan in the past.

    A general upgrade might even get the place more visitors!

  2. If you meet the owners, you will realise they are happy with what they are doing. Guess they want to keep things simple and manageable – I would think they anyway have enough clients through word of mouth.

  3. Ok, next time I’m there I know which place I should stay! Usually I stay at state tourism operated hotels/guest houses since they have standard fixed rates & they don’t cheat guests, you get what you pay for there. But since you have had personal experience at this place then I think I can give them a try! :)

  4. I think, that i will come at the 29. 0r 30. 10 .09 . do you have a room for me and what will it cost ??

    Best regards

    Dagmar Lohmann

  5. Visit us @ http://www.hotelturkishcottage.com/
    Turkish Cottage is a beautifully located and easily reachable Guest House at Bhagsunag, 2 kms from Mcleodganj and close to all the local sightseeing spots in Dharamshala. The Guest House is a perfect place to relax and enjoy your holidays while visually enjoying the scenic beauty of the Dhauladhar ranges from its balconies. The cottage is completely decorated and offers the best bed & breakfast with warm and friendly welcome and all the facilities for a comfortable stay/ all the services that you expect from a luxury hotel at affordable prices..

  6. i wanna see your hotel massage staff.
    his neme is Taklajyal. tibet men.
    if do you know him, tell me my E mail adress.
    thank you.

  7. Hi this is ankit and i want to visit dharamshala. I would like to stay in kunga guest house so i want to know the charges of your guest house.

    Thanks
    pls reply as soon as possible

  8. absolutely agree with the author. Lovely place run by really warm, friendly helpful people. Very clean and hygienic and agree with author’s comment about general cleanliness standards in other hotels.
    The good news is they do have wifi now and also have a website. The food prices have gone up all across India so don’t expect a full-fledged American or English breakfast at 75/- it costs 185 to 200 but I would say very worth it

  9. My experience at Mcleodganj was one the best trips I’ve taken. Apart from what the author has mentioned, there are 2 aspects I would like to highlight:
    1) Triund: This is a trek that one has to do! Climbing 9 kilometeres vertically is an adventure like no other. On reaching the pinnacle, which is totally snow clad, have your beloved Maggi noodles and this trip is worth every sweat bead of yours!
    2) Shiva Cafe: Go at 11pm in the night from the base of the Shiva Hill. It is pitch dark and even the sound of an animal crawling past you is magnified. Caution: Do not score from here :)

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