Treat Yourself to Somewhere Special

Features Issue 215 Oct, 2019
Text by Evangeline Neve

Sometimes, come the weekend or in the middle of a busy week, one feels the need to get away from it all and have a little change of scene. Usually that’s when a night away is planned, often involving travel of some distance. There are times, though, when you might not have the time nor feel the inclination to go anywhere far, but still want to treat yourself and be somewhere different. This month I experienced just how special and refreshing that can be, when I spent the night at 3 Rooms by Pauline, a boutique hotel in Baber Mahal Revisited.
There was something luxurious about leaving behind all my home responsibilities for a night, checking into someplace beautiful, and just letting myself be taken care of. It started with the room—I’ve been to Baber Mahal Revisited countless times, but I’d really never looked up. And that’s where my room was, tucked into an upper nook of the complex. Owner Pauline Driard originally started with the eponymous three rooms back in 2014, but has now expanded to a fourth.
The vacation—or staycation, if you will, though that word does not do it justice—began the moment I stepped inside the room, put down my bag, and looked around. Elegant, charming, with just the right touches of both the rustic and the luxurious, it may be one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed. Everything from the tile floors to the old furniture spoke of care, attention to the tiniest detail and a good eye for art.

By the time I’ve been there perhaps half an hour, I am already head over heels in love. I really can’t see how anything could be better: from the antique trunk in the bathroom to the canopy bed to to the perfect no-waste solid toiletries alongside the bathtub… everything is done just right and I have that sensation of wishing I could stay for days to enjoy it to the full. I pour a glass of wine and begin to relax; I can almost feel the week’s tension leeching out of me.

My room has its own little patio and I move out there with my wine, the New York Times crossword puzzle and a stack of books—which, it turns out, I needn’t have brought: there are ample shelves of books of all kinds here, and while many are in French, there are plenty of English choices, too. Sitting outside I alternate reading and watch the world go by below me via a courtyard that I’ve passed through so many times, having a very enjoyable time until the light fades.

The apartment—it’s not just a hotel room—has its own little kitchen downstairs, ideal for longer-term residents, but in my case I’m not here to cook, which is not a problem because with several great restaurants in the complex—Mul Chowk, Bawarchi and Chez Caroline—there’s no shortage of options. I go to the latter, and had a delicious meal at one of the most outstanding French restaurants in town. Note that not all of the rooms have kitchens—mine was the apartment one, so it did—and each is a little different in terms of size, features and price.

After dinner I returned to my room, where I enjoyed a long soak in the bathtub—a great experience anytime, but made more so here by the room itself. Again, local materials like wood, tile and copper have been used to outstanding effect, with the standalone bathtub at the center: the way it was all put together made me feel as if I was at a top-end spa. I was particularly impressed by the small amenities provided—soap, shampoo, conditioner (and a beard balm should you need it!)—all natural Nepal made products that were wrapped in paper, not plastic. With single-use plastics being such a serious issue, it’s good to see a hotel making choices like this. These may seem small things, but with waste, we have to start somewhere and I hope things like this will become more widespread.

Speaking of made in Nepal, as far as I could see there wasn’t much in the room that wasn’t—even the slippers provided were comfy hand made local ones. In that way—and I feel this will particularly be the case for non-resident guests—the apartment serves as a sort of mini display of Nepali art, furniture, fabrics and design, perfectly complementing the historic building it’s housed in.

For breakfast, you can either choose to have it delivered to your room, or go next door to Chez Caroline, which is what I did again, enjoying the best simple cheese omelet I’ve had in ages and plenty of good coffee. Back in my room, my things were easy to pack—what wasn’t so easy was letting go of this special space. The staff told me their longest guest was someone who stayed about three months in 2015, after the earthquake, and whoever they were, as I checked out I envied them a little. A shout-out here to Manager Naresh Shrestha and the rest of his team, who made me feel at home and were on call for anything I might need.
I highly recommended this special place for both visitors to Nepal and those of us who live here—I can imagine it would also be a great place for a writing retreat or an opportunity to get some quiet work and thinking done. I know that I returned home relaxed and refreshed and delighted to know such a place existed, just out of sight all this time.

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