The Lumbini Hokke Hotel is located right smack inside the Lumbini Development Zone, a huge, generously funded Buddhist complex (in Rupandehi, Nepal), which is (or will be) probably to Buddhism what the Holy See is to Catholicism. The hotel is in the northern part of the Zone, a stone's throw away from the World Peace Pagoda (more on the Development Zone in a later entry). A room in Hokke is not cheap, but since budget permits it, we took two rooms, one for Air, and one for us guys. We got a discounted price, the NGO price. Hokke has a strange pricing system: a room is priced less if more people will share it (Air's room, though smaller, is actually a bit more expensive); you pay less if you're a Buddhist pilgrim, but you pay more if you're from the US or Europe (which means you'll probably get the best deal if you're an Asian pilgrim with a group). Come to think of it, maybe all hotel rooms should be priced this way.
There are only 16 rooms in Hokke, which come in two styles: the Western style, and the Japanese style. Of course we took Japanese-style rooms. It was love at first sight. The rooms are immaculately designed, and very comfortable. In other words, you know where your money goes. My first reaction upon seeing our room was, where's my camera? Tatami floors, sliding paper panels, minimalistic furnishings. They even provide Japanese robes for all guests, and complimentary green tea. A Japanese bath is also available for free use by tour groups.
The grounds are well-kept, and the ambiance nothing short of tranquil, perfectly suited to Lumbini. There are ponds at one side, a prayer and meditation area at the back. Just outside the grounds is a crane sanctuary. Two beautiful peacocks roam freely in the grounds, especially in the morning when they make the strangest sound, like a cross between a truck horn and a really loud fart!
The hotel is also supposedly known for its Japanese dishes, but I've not tried them because they're probably very expensive. The fabulous complimentary continental breakfast is enough proof that they serve immaculate food. They even bake their own bread.
(The Hokke is my favorite hotel in Nepal, and the staff are some of my favorite people in the country.)
(Click on any image to see more photos.)