Almost exactly six years we arrived in India for the first time. The night flight from Paris landed in Delhi in the middle of the night. We had booked a taxi service from our hotel and the driver was waiting for us as promised. So far so good!
The journey to the hotel was long and noisy. We saw expensive palace-like hotels, shacks, cows and people gathering by fire. Typical contrasts India offers to visitors. But the longer the taxi took to navigate through small streets, the more we got worried. Where are we going to? What mostly worried us, I think, was that we were supposedly approaching the center, but the city didn’t get any cleaner. Isn’t it usually the other way around? Aren’t the slums “outside” and the rich “inside”?Finally, maybe 3 o’clock in the morning the car stopped. It was pitch-black and we sincerely thought the driver needed petrol or that there is a problem. There was nothing apart from homeless people and cows by a big fire. And this is when the driver said “Welcome to Hotel Namaskar”. Like in the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, except that Marigold was a palace compared to our “hotel”…. I don’t remember if back then I was swearing in English, French or Finnish, but I must have said a few selected words.I had booked Hotel Namaskar by email and they had been very responsive and friendly. I guess I had found it through Lonely Planet or Tripadvisor. It had seemed ok, centrally located and cheap, and all this was true. So what had gone wrong? Ok, I must admit that there was one more reason why I had booked it: I wanted us to jump into the “real Indian life” as soon as possible. I guess I saw sleeping in a cheap, dirty hotel as a kind of vaccination? Or maybe I believed that if we start at the bottom, it can only get better? Whatever it was, my now husband was in utter shock. “There is no way I am sleeping here”, he said. By now we had already been taken to our first room, which was worse than a prison cell. It did not even have a window. I hate it when it is pitch black, so we insisted getting an other room. The receptionist informed us that it will be more expensive, but when you talk about one euro more, who cares. We got our new room, with private bathroom and a window, and crashed into bed. After all, it was almost 4 o’clock in the morning.. what else could we have done?
We ended up staying at Hotel Namaskar for three nights. We never touched the floor with bare feet and there was no room cleaning, but the bed was clean enough. We saw some cockroaches (only few) but there were no bed bugs. No hot water either but this was not necessarily the hotel’s fault. After three nights we left Hotel Namaskar in a private car with a driver to start our 14-day tour of Rajasthan with a drop-off in Udaipur we had bought at 400€. Our driver’s behavior will be another story, but we had an excellent trip in Rajasthan. And thanks to those very cheap nights in Delhi, we had more money to spend at beautiful palaces around Rajasthan!
HOTEL NAMASKAR (http://www.namaskarhotel.com): 917, Chandiwalan, Main Bazar, in the Paharganj area. Within walking distance from the railway station.
Standard room: 400 INR (4.70€ or 6.50USD).
PS Please don’t be turned down by these not-so-beautiful photos! There will be plenty of others that will surely be more appealing! India IS a very attractive country, wait and see.