I have been making trips to Bhimtal area almost every month and though most of the times, I stay at my old joint i.e. ‘The Getaway Jungle Camp’ (Read a real old review with missing photos) but sometimes I do stay outside the camp, in the confines of hotels. This time, it was ‘Neelesh Inn’ right on the bank of mighty Bhim Tal. For the ones (like Sahil) who love to drive this side, I must share that Garh made us cross the river in 30 minutes, Rampur Fatak was a breeze almost making us feel like super VIPS and though there was a curfew at Rudrapur, it was not a lot of hassle to finally reach the Tal. While on the way, the cabin crew was a little apprehensive about the hotel, mostly emanating from the fact that if someplace has a name like Neelesh Inn, Should one be expecting much. But the beauty of travel lies in surprises (like the free Fatak or the curfew at Rudrapur) so we carried on.
It was only by evening that we could manage to finish our business, the alert amid you would have guessed that I am still not very lucky to make frequent trips to Tal on pure vacation. We were there for just one night so our stay was probably about 16 hours and long enough to write a short review.
Location and Access
The location is exceptional, right on the banks of Bhim Tal. You can actually see the lake from your rooms, forget the balconies which almost feel like dropping to the gleaming surface of Bhim Tal during moon lit evenings. It is at Bhimtal so very well accessible. And most importantly, though it overlooks the lake, it is not on the main road. So it can not get any better than that. As you approach Bhim Tal from the Haldwani side, you take a right turn right at the point where the lake begins, so essentially you drive on the other side of the lake and this road goes no-where. It ends at the far end of the Lake and you can not take this road to reach the other side i.e the Jeep Stand side. So the only traffic on this road is of the few hotels. It is a walking distance from the touristy market of Bhim Tal and hence on location and access, this place gets 10/10.
Infrastructure / Facilities
The whole building is at three levels. As you take the ramp, you reach the Level2. There is a parking space of about 10 cars. Reception is big enough from hill standards. I do not know the exact number of rooms, but I would guess anything like 20-25 rooms so can accommodate a group of 50-75.
There was a ping pong table, probably for kids to keep them busy.
At ground level, which is accessible once you are through the aisle, and get past the ping-pong table, there is a small lawn boasting of a swing, watching the serene lake , and flanked on all sides by great Himalayan flora.
Right at the main entrance, one could climb few steps and reach a clearing. I could see a conference room which can accommodate about 50-70 people and the lawn/clearning right outside of conference room which can act as a party area in the evenings.
Not big-wide open spaces for kids to run or to lie down and enjoy the sun during winter days. There was a common dining hall though we didn’t see a lot of action there.
We were in a deluxe room. A medium size room, with a double bed, clean sheets, TV, DTH Connection, tidy bathroom claiming running hot and cold water. The latch of the room was clunky, the bathroom fittings were or poor quality and the geyser took two visits to finally budge. The rooms were supposed to have electric kettle, thought we could see the supplies to make tea/coffee, the electric kettle was missing.
The rooms could have benefited from some more cleaning and the towels were just not usable. For some reason, my reading was that all the consumables (and their upkeep) was greatly lacking.
Apart from TV, the missing Kettle, the nice-view Balcony, we also found two big spiders in the room.
Food was superb. Well priced. Room service was quick and the staff was courteous, polite and very effective.
We could not try much in terms of food because it was some special time for them. When we checked-in, we were told that we wont be served anything around onions and we should simple forget the meat and chicken. This did’t sound right so on more probing, we were told that most of the rooms have been taken by a large group, some sort of a special belief group and they are having their sessions so it wont be possible for us to serve anything. When we expressed surprise on not being informed about it in advance, we were told that we were. Actually we were taking help from a close friend (who in turn had a contact there) so we moved on, thinking that my friend’s local contact might have missed to share this with us. After about an hour of settling down, I called my friend’s local contact to thank him for the room and all the help and politely mentioned about the non-veg thing, he was surprised as will. But considering that the Jam at Garh Mukteswar only took 30 minutes, Rampur Fatak surprised us by seeing us off in no time and the curfew didn’t held us for long, we were pretty much OK to have the lovely panniers, Tamatar Bharwans and the great Dal Makhni.
Coming back to Food, it was indeed very good.
We were on a 20 % discount. The deluxe cottage which overlooks the lake is at INR 3000 and the regular room (which my close friend so graciously agreed to take) was for INR 1800. Considering that it was October (not their peak season) and with some of the restrictions, I think we could have done well with some more discounts.
So all in all, a good place with stunning views, polite and courteous staff, great room service, great food. They definitely need to work more in the area of cleaning, bathroom fittings and most importantly being genuine and upfront when someone is booking a room about any constraints.