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Kathmandu is a maze of chaos. There are different words that come to mind when you walk the streets of this city – crowded, haphazard, vibrant, spiritual and energetic. It’s a city that takes time to grow on you; it’s unique with a distinct character. Different than most places you will travel to. Kathmandu was once called Kantipur and it was an important trading point in the route between India and Tibet. It grew in prominence and into the large city it now is. Most tourists end up staying in Thamel – the hotel cramped part of town lined with shops, restaurants, cafes, rental shops and pubs. It’s a crazy place, crowded and congested.
Even though the place is lively, the constant sound of vehicles, loud music from the pubs and exhaust fumes take a toll on you. We landed up in Thamel too, for the first 5 days during our 1-month Nepal tour. It’s a convenient place as all motorcycle rentals are located close by and plenty of shopping joints too. But after a while, the crowd became overbearing and for the remaining 2 days in Kathmandu, we wanted to be away from it all. And that’s when we decided to stay at 3 Rooms by Pauline.
3 Rooms by Pauline - Baber Mahal Revisited
If you like staying in boutique hotels, then 3 Rooms by Pauline is probably one of the best there is in the Kathmandu valley. 3 Rooms by Pauline is a quaint, chic little hotel located in a Rana Palace – Baber Mahal. It lies on the first floor on the western side of the complex and after staying in Thamel, it provided a perfect place to enjoy some peace and quiet. So, what is a Rana Palace? The Rana dynasty of Nepal were warriors belonging to the Indian sub-continent and ruled in the country from 1846 to 1951. During their rule, the built several structures that included residences, palaces etc and Babar Mahal is one of those surviving structures.
The original complex was constructed in 1913 and housed a residence along with horse stables. The building has been renovated and now houses 3 Rooms by Pauline, a few restaurants and boutiques. Baber Mahal Revisited was built by Sir. Gen. Baber Shumshere Jng Bahadur Rana’s grandsons. As an ode to their previous residence, it has 6 courtyards, that hold an array of fine dining and shopping experience of fine dining and shopping experiences.
It is said that the plaster was made up of brick dust, molasses, black lentil paste, mustard meal and limestone powder. Pretty fascinating right? 3 Rooms by Pauline, was started by Pauline Driard who moved to Nepal quite a while back and opened 3 guesthouses in the Kathmandu Valley. They were all destroyed in the 2015 earthquake that ripped through Nepal. 3 Rooms by Pauline started in 2014 and since then it’s been home to well-known politicians and Bollywood stars.
That’s quite a clientele. For us, we just needed to enjoy the peace. 3 Rooms by Pauline has 4 unique rooms – Attic room, Courtyard room, Terrace room, and the Apartment room. Ours was the Terrace room on the 1st floor that came with small sit out. The room is basically a one bedroom apartment – big in size with a queen size 4 posted bed, shower room, toilet, storage, chairs etc. The sun lights up the room through the big horizontal windows and if you open them on both sides, you wouldn’t need to switch on the fans, unless its peak summer. The wooden furniture, rustic doors and white drapes all elegance to the room which is cosy, comfortable and chic. What we really loved about the place was that even though it was located in a complex full of galleries and cafes, we didn’t once hear anything!
Service & Facilities
Breakfast is included in the package, served in the room and has a delicious French spread of French bread, jams, butter, fruits, Nepali coffee and fresh milk. 3 Rooms by Pauline doesn’t have an attached restaurant so you will have to dine in the restaurants in Babar Mahal, or venture out for meals. Since we had some spots to cover nearby, we had our lunch outside and skipped dinner. Apart from a little sight-seeing, we spent most of our time in the room or in the complex.
The staff in 3 Rooms by Pauline is as prompt and as courteous as any luxury hotel in the world. They make you feel comfortable and every request is taken care of. As for the facilities, every room comes with fast wi-fi, 24 hour electricity backup, minibar, tea/coffee maker, laundry and dry cleaning service, hot water, mobile phone to call the staff, and complimentary bottle of water.
The boutique hotel is a definite value for money when compared with hotels rated 4 star and above in the Kathmandu valley. Every need is taken care of and the location is away from the crowd. If you are looking to stay in a heritage property without paying through your nose, then 3 Rooms by Pauline definitely fits the bill. The beautifully decorated, spacious, well maintained rooms with large beds give you the relaxation you need and the complex provides for various eating and shopping options as well.
How to reach 3 Rooms by Pauline
From the Kathmandu airport, the hotel is located at a distance of 5 kilometres. The taxis don’t run on meters and we wouldn’t recommend paying anything more than 700 rupees. Tell the taxi driver to take you to Babar Mahal revisited as there is another place in Kathmandu that’s called Baber Mahal.
If you are traveling from Thamel, the distance is just 3.5 kilometres. We spent 250 rupees on the taxi ride from our hotel in Thamel to 3 Rooms by Pauline.
Places to visit nearby
Maitighar Mandala – Located at an intersection of roads 2 mins from 3 Rooms by Pauline, the Mandala is an important Kathmandu landmark. The mandala’s outer layer has 32 vajras, the one next to it has 16 lotus petals and the inner one has 32 garlands.
Singha Durbar – Just 1 kilometre from the hotel, the Singha Durbar is a palace that was built in 1908. It was once considered to be one of the most exquisite palaces in the world but it got devastated in the Fire of 1973 and the earthquake of 2015.
Thamel – This is the tourist hotspot and the go to place if you like to party. Dotted with pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, and shops, Thamel is the party central of Kathmandu. If you love to socialise, party, and shop, then Thamel is the place to be.
Pashupatinath Temple – 4.5 kilometers from the hotel, is the famous Hindu temple located at the banks of the Bagmati. The UNESCO World Heritage site is a collection of 518 temples and ashrams. The main pagoda themed temple is located in the courtyard and is heavily guarded by the Nepalese army!
Boudha Stupa – This lies 7 kilometres from the hotel and is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Nepal. It is one of the largest stupas in the world and a crowd puller. Get there early to avoid huge crowds.
Best time to visit Kathmandu
The best time to visit Kathmandu/Patan would be from October to April when the sun is now beating down on you! During these months, the place remains dry and suitable for exploration and trekking. The temperature in October ranges from 26 degrees Celsius to 14 degrees Celsius, and as December approaches, it drops to the range of 20 degrees Celsius to 4 degrees Celsius.
Kathmandu is also best visited in March and April as the temperature steadily rises and spring steps in! During this season, you will find the greenery at its peak and because of the clear weather, you can see the snow-clad Himalayas from places like Nagarkot!