Hotel Royal Ladakh
I like Hotel Royal Ladakh because it is slightly out of town but still close enough so that you would not mind walking to and from the market. The views are just great – no obstructions at all – from Tsemo Fort on the left to Shanti Stupa on the right, with the Stok range right in front. You can just keep gazing at the mountains all day. The front-facing rooms offer the same vista.
Yurthung Road, Leh; 0-9906985529; hotelroyalladakh.com/.
Wonderful hosts! In this age when most locals have become money-centric, interacting with them suddenly takes you back to the old Ladakh charm; sometimes you just cannot believe that people can be so warm-hearted. Hotel Omasila is on the busy Changspa Road, but nicely tucked away. The moment you go behind the main building, the whole Stok range opens up for you. They also have a lovely garden.
Changspa, Leh; 0-9419178815; www.hotelomasila.com/.
Hotel Kang Lha Chen
As central as you would want a hotel to be; the main market square is a two-minute walk away. At the same time, the hotel is so quiet that you don’t believe that you are so close to the busy city centre. The hotel has a huge restaurant with a great variety of food, and very professional staff.
Zangsti, Leh; 0-1982252144.
Run by the very friendly and hospitable family of Tashi Gyaltsen, Tukchu Homestay has great local ambience and spacious rooms. It is close to Shanti Stupa. Great tariff for the quality of the rooms and the service.
Changspa, Just below Shanti Stupa, Leh; 0-9622985005; email Tashi Gyaltsen on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oriental Guest House
This place is in a class of its own and is unlike any other conventional property. It is very affordable, and run by a very friendly, warm and hospitable family. It has a very nice garden and a great lobby, which also houses a library.
Leh; 0-1982253153; www.orientalguesthouse.com/.
A family property run by Mr. and Mrs. Narboo, Shambhala Hotel is located in a quieter part of Leh, near Zorawar Fort, away from the city centre. It is a heritage property with the old, Ladakh-style architecture. The rooms are small and cosy, and it has a nice garden, too.
Near Zorawar Fort, Leh; 0-9810035145; http://hotelshambhala.com/.
Spic n Span
It is centrally located, near the market. Built in the traditional Ladakhi style of architecture, the hotel is well-furbished and comfortable.
Old Road, Leh; 01982-252-765; www.spicnspanladakh.com/.
Camp Whispering Waves
With its views of the Changchenmo mountain range reflected in the gorgeous lake, the camp has a super location and great service.
Pangong, Spangmik; campsofladakh.com/whisperingwaves.html.
Apricot Tree Hotel
Located on a cliff overlooking the River Indus, the Apricot Tree Hotel has super ambience and service. The hotel is run by Wangchuk Tsering Fargo, owner of tour company Fargo Travels.
Nurla; 0-9419866688; theapricotreehotel.com/.
Desert Himalaya Camp Resort
Excellence in camping. This camp in the Nubra valley has luxury and deluxe tents that are spacious and comfortable, especially the bathrooms.
Nubra; 0-94191-77708; www.deserthimalayaresort.com/.
Nubra Organic Retreat
Set amid a sprawling organic farm, Nubra Organic Retreat offers quiet luxury in its Swiss deluxe tents with attached bathrooms. Wake up to gorgeous views of Himalayan peaks and walk through fruit orchards. As a responsible tourism initiative, the Organic Retreat promises to delight the discerning traveller. See the aerial view below.
Located away from the hustle and bustle of Leh market, Mantra Cottage overlooks verdant barley terraces and snow-clad peaks. The accommodation mainly consists of deluxe cottages with private verandahs, reflecting Ladakhi architecture. Another reason we love staying here is the excellent kitchen which rustles up some seriously delicious local food.
Yurthung Road, Leh; 0-94199 83233; www.mantracottage.com/.
Hundred Sky Camp
Away from the melee of various camps around Pangong Lake, the Hundred Sky Camp is located a short distance away from the major commercial area. Its peaceful environment is the perfect setting for the quiet contemplation that the beautiful Pangong Lake inspires in every traveller. The luxury Swiss tents are beautifully appointed with attached bathrooms and offer a lovely view of the azure lake.
Pangong; 0-9820501211; http://www.ladakhdekho.com/hundred-sky-camp-pangong.html.
Hemis Shukpachan is the only village in Ladakh with a grove of juniper trees; the mother tree is 2,000 years old. The village borders Ladakh’s range of mountains on the other side of the Nubra valley. The guesthouse is run by Tsering Tondup Namgail, or TT Namgail. He’s a retired schoolteacher who is great to talk to. He gets a lot of tourists and has travelled half the world. He lives with his wife in a 400-year-old Ladakhi house, which has a dry compost toilet. They are a very generous couple. He likes to take on guests who want to understand a bit about the place. He also takes people in for the season (April-October) to learn about farming.
Heshuk Toro, Heshuk, Hemis Shukpachan; call T.T. Namgail on 0-1982240021 or 0-9469361560, or email email@example.com.
We’ve been staying with the family for nine years. The guesthouse doesn’t allow too many large groups, they’re more likely to take two or three people at a time. The house has a dry compost toilet. Whenever we visit, we feel like the family is a microcosm of what’s going on in Ladakh. The father is a great resource to talk to about the history of Ladakh, and how Leh is changing. Dogs, cats and kids are running around the place, which creates a good vibe for the group. The family is generous to the core. The son, Stanzin Odzer, runs Ecological Footprint Travels and the School of Organic Farming.
Leh; call Stanzin Odzer on 0-9906977846 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story has been updated in November 2017.