Modi Hotel, Kalka, Haryana INDIA

On the night of Diwali, festival of lights, in 2017 we stayed one night in a hotel near the terminus of the small-gauge train that takes tourists up the mountain to Shimla, a popular Indian hill station resort area in the state of Himachal Pradesh. During our six months traveling in India this celebration was by far the biggest event with virtually everyone scurrying home. Bus stations and roads were mobbed. Our Modi Hotel visit was an overnight pit stop to catch the train the following morning. The hotel of about 150 rooms was deserted that night. We were the only guests. Our room was up a couple dusty stairways and down a rather dusty hallway to presumably a quieter area away from the street noise and dirt.

The pictures below say it all. A new AC unit worked great except it blew directly on the bed. So we rigged (see 2nd pic) a diversion of the airflow using room furniture, our luggage and anything else handy.

The flip side of the “worst hotel” experience was the dining room in the hotel was fabulous and the food was fabulous — something we got used to in the most unlikely places in India. It’s part of the allure and charm of this incredible country.

Also, the manager and staff in the hotel was so, so kind and helpful to us. He arranged to have someone bring us some medicine for a bad cold Paul was battling. And then, when Paul was too sick to take the five hour train ride, arranged for a car and driver to take us up the mountain to our stunning five star hotel in Kufri (Royal Tulip Hotel). Even “worst of…” experiences can have a silver lining.

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Laxmi Palace — Rishikesh, Uttarakhand INDIA

Before we left for India, a friend told us, ‘when you get weary, just check yourself in to any hotel with the word ‘Palace’ in it.’ The idea being we would be magically renewed. Uhm. That was not was, in our experience, factually accurate.

Our one-night stay at the Laxmi Palace in Rishikesh was complicated by the fact the area, a spiritual mecca, is dry. So bring your own bevvie and check out — cash only! — ASAP. Oh, and bring your own towel (see video clip below).

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Citrus Chambers - Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra INDIA

A friend in Udaipur recommended Mahabaleshwar, a hill station popular with urban dwellers in nearby Pune and Mumbai. We were coming from nearby (fabulous!) Aurangabad. We seemed to be the only foreigners in town. It’s a very charming, provincial strawberry growing region. But charming is not a word we use to describe our hotel. While a large room and conveniently located walking distance to downtown walking streets, the entire property needed a makeover. The dilapidated pool pic at the top of the page is from this property. Need we say more?! Oh, and they spray DDT openly to control the tiniest of bugs! Absolute paradise…

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