My hotel room at Ellora, Maharashtra
This is one of the nicer rooms I stayed in during my trip. It cost me 900r! which is almost my whole budget for the day. But, excepting a room where you'd have to be desperate to stay, there was nowwhere else. Mostly what I was paying for was the garden and the fancy reception centre.
The cheaper hotels and guesthouses have some funny practices in India.The beds are made up with only one sheet. Unlike this room where you can see it's folded on the end of the bed, if you want a second sheet, you must ask for one at reception. They won't get you one straight away. In fact, you may have to ask several times for it. But of course the better the hotel, the less often you will have this complaint.
Some guesthouses in the South ask you to pay an "advance" of another night's room rate. It appears this is a bond in case you steal or damage the property of the hotel. But there is never anything a traveller would want to steal so... Actually, some hotels have noticed that foreign travellers never steal or damage the hotel property so they have dropped this practice.
Cleaning: OMG, there's a lot one can say on this topic.
Places catering mainly to Indian travellers tend not to "clean" the room until you have agreed to stay in it. Often the bedsheet will not be changed between guests, so you have to make sure you ask for it when you agree to take a room. Cleaning a bathroom, usually entails nothing more than wiping over the floor with a wet rag. Neither the toilet nor the sink, nor shower recess will be cleaned at all. Detergent is not used for cleaning, just water and a rag.
Maintenance is an unheard of practice in many guesthouses. Peeling paint is common look and the lids and seats of western style toilets are often broken, but always mouldy and grubby, as is the bowl. This is the reason I prefer squat toilets in India.
A bath by bucket wash is fine by me, so long as the water is hot and so long as I can have it when i need it. Many hotels will only provide hot water in the morning and some will tell you that its only available between 6 and 7am. But if pushed they will let you have it when you need it. Except one hotel I came to which insisted that hot water at night was utterly out of the question - no matter that I had been cycling all day and was stinking and dirty. Obviously I found somewhere else to stay.
Price is not an accurate indicator of quality. At least one of my best rooms was as little as 150r. One of my worst was also that price but that was in Mumbai and what else would you expect.
One of my more expensive rooms, had staff who got around in bare feet, and walked into your room without knocking if the door was not locked (because I was expecting room service). Actually lots of hotel staff do that. They just don't seem to know about knocking on doors.
But its not all bad. I never got bitten once by a bedbug. And now is the time to admit that of all the things that could go wrong on my trip, getting bothered by bedbugs was one of the two things that worried me the most - insofar as I felt it likely to happen.
My favourite places to stay or places which I know are the best in town (as in Ajanta): - And don't forget, we're talking budget accommodation so if you're used to spending anything over AUD$30, none of these places may get you excited.
Delhi - Pahar Ganj - Gush Hotel, next to Hotel Rak International. This is a new place and so everything is sparkling clean. I paid 500r. 600r for a double.
Kerala - Munnar - Highgate Inn - Also brand new. Very good and well located. 500r
Cherai Beach - Veteran's Lodge - Friendly people. A small place, clean, well located. Large room is 800r but they have a smaller one for 600r, I paid 500r. This is a good rate for Cherai Beach which is over priced. Always bargain around here.
Coorg region - Kushalnagar - Vinayaka Hotel - A new place with sparkling noisy marble tiles. 600r. There are some cheaper places on the main drag up from the bus station which are ok.
Bikaner - Vino's Guesthouse. Its a little out on the edge of town but that is a good thing in Bikaner which is a busy place. And they even have a grassy courtyard.
Tamil Nadu - Coimbatore - Hotel Sri Subramaniya. 375 for a double. So much better value than anything else i found in this town and perhaps its because its not listed in LP. So don't tell them.!!! 132 Lajapathirai Street. Its parallel to Nehru Street (Hotel Bluestar).
Badami - New Sankar Hotel. Good Management. I had an excellent pancake here, made by the boss. I'm not sure if the usual cook is quite as good.
Alleppey - Thomas' place at Chennamkary. Its in LP.
And in town, A genuine homestay - Nediyaparampil Heritage Home. Mob 9495163175. You may find them at the Tourist Reception Centre.
Hampi area - Anegundi - Kishkinder Trust - delightful renovated houses in a delightful village. email Farah@vsnl.com or 91 94484 40058
Hampi - Sunny Guesthouse (at Virrupappu Gaddi, across the river)
Ajanta - MTDC Holiday Resort at Fardapur, 1km from the T-junction. Actually it is a bit mouldy here but it was such a vast improvement on my other option for the night, that I was quite content.
Maheshwar - Looby's Cafe in the ground floor room especially. Mid-range option. The best budget option is the govt guesthouse. Its tricky to find.
Bundi - Hadee Rani Guesthouse.
I should point out that none of these places are guilty of the misdemeanours described above except the place at Ajanta but its so much better than the rest.