Darjeeling stay

By Jane B. Holt
This item appears on page 29 of the April 2013 issue.

During a March-April ’12 India trip, my husband, Clyde, and I arrived in Darjeeling late in the afternoon to check into the Dekeling Hotel* (51 Gandhi Rd., Darjeeling 734101, West Bengal, India; phone 91 354 2254159, fax 2253298 — room rates, INR1,400-INR3,300 [near $25.50-$60] per night).

I had sprained my ankle a week earlier in Kolkata, but the doctor we visited said I could hobble about with my walking staff, resting as needed. To my dismay, the Dekeling hotel’s lobby was four flights up a narrow stone staircase, and it was another two flights up to our room.

Votive candles in the hallway in Dekeling Resort & Hotel. Photo: Holt

We had reserved a “deluxe attic room with mountain view,” only there wasn’t any view; the skies had been overcast since we left the plains and began climbing toward the Himalayas.

With so many steps and continual noise from the busy road below plus — in this building with no fire exits — several hundred burning votive candles and a wood stove in the common room below and over 100 candles in the hallway, we turned down the attic in favor of a “super deluxe timber room” in the new wing.

A vase with flowers, a bowl of fruit and a cake box were moved down to the new room with our luggage. The flowers and cake were for my birthday that day and had been arranged by our friends at Swagatam Tours (203 Swagatam Chamber 23-A, Shivaji Marg., Najafgarh Rd., Moti Nagar, New Delhi, India; phone 91 11 25444000 or fax 25444010), who had set up our 35-day trip (Feb. ’13, pg. 30).

The cake was from the much-acclaimed Glenary’s Bakery & Café (on Nehru Road in Darjeeling; phone 0354 22554122 or 2254315). Indian bakers understand neither chocolate nor cake. The cake wasn’t great, but the surprise was a treat!

The Dekeling Resort & Hotel in Darjeeling, India. Photo: Holt

We ate several times at Glenary’s, twice in the café — where we had a refreshing pot of tea and sweets and, for lunch, really good grilled chicken sandwiches (INR79 each) — and once in the upstairs restaurant, where the food was bland and seemed geared toward Westerners; dinner and a bottle of Kingfisher beer cost INR408.

We think Glenary’s no longer lives up to its reputation. Its location on the mall, with mountain views (weather permitting), is excellent and the building has old-world Raj charm, but the food and the very slow service were not worth it.

Clyde and I enjoyed many meals at tiny Dekeva’s Restaurant on the ground floor of the Dekeling Hotel. Tibetan, Indian and Chinese options all were inexpensive and cooked to order.

Dinner the first night cost INR225 ($4) for both of us*. We especially liked the momos (steamed dumplings), thukpa (noodle soup with vegetables) and Tibetan bread. The 2-person staff was very helpful and attentive, as was the entire staff at the Dekeling.

Hinesburg, VT

*CORRECTION: In the print edition, ITN misidentified the property that Jane B. Holt and her husband stayed at in India as the “Dekeling Resort & Hotel.” Actually, the Dekeling Hotel, where they stayed, is a separate property from the Dekeling Resort, though both belong to the Dekeling family and have been referred to together.

The hotel is located in the Clubside area of Darjeeling, with the contact information and price as printed in ITN. The resort is located outside of Darjeeling in the hills and is referred to on the website as the “Dekeling Resort at Hawk’s Nest.” — Editor