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Nice right? Looks are deceiving
My first room (photo above) in Ganapati Guesthouse was a nightmare (post here)!
It was my first night in Varanasi. After the mess-up with the guesthouse’s shuttle pickup, I just wanted to drop my bags in my room and relax. I had reserved “a room with a balcony overlooking the Ganges River”. It was post monsoon season so it was hot and humid as hell and my room was windowless! Like a sealed-in barn room, my room had one fan, which circulated hot air, two ginormous residential lizards (which I thought were going to swallow me whole) and if that wasn’t enough, the lights in my room attracted a “swarm” of gnats (which eventually swarmed all over my wet items due to the moisture)! My bathroom was tiny, cold water only and dungeon-like and my “balcony” outside was in fact, shared with the entire floor.
The room had no ventilation; it was unbearable. I sweat the whole night, while hiding from bugs in my silk liner. I even considered camping on the tables outside, because I was my most uncomfortable evening ever!
The next day, I complained. The front desk looked at me lazily. There wasn’t much I could do because many guesthouses in the area were filling quickly, so I eventually had to just upgrade.
While I didn’t have a “balcony view”, my room was ten times more liveable and spacious. It had A.C. and many windows, which opened to the main patio and even came with a television. The room had a double bed and bathroom ensuite. I paid 100Rs extra for this upgrade and it made ALL the difference in the world. I was in room #12 and I LOVED it!
Some of the staff is friendly. But then, some make you feel like they’ve eagle eyes on every additional minute on the internet or that you’re going to run away from paying your bill! The reception lacks a hospitable warmth (help with directions to places, advice on sites, etc…), and they’re unapologetic towards their own mistakes (the shuttle pickup service that I paid for). Basically, they’re unhelpful. However, the wait staff makes up for it in charm and the guest house still carries good vibes.
The cafe restaurant offers up decent food and a place to relax and meet other travelers and the guesthouse offers many types of rooms to choose from. The guest house is conveniently located on the Ganges, near the Burning Ghat, so getting a sunrise boat isn’t difficult.
- Do not get the rooms on the 1st floor “with a balcony”.
- Your guesthouse shuttle pickup will drop you off at least 8-10 minutes from your guesthouse. You’ll need to walk. Thus, you can easily hire a taxi from the airport. They’ll drop you off at the same area outside the ghat alleys. The only pro of hiring the shuttle pickup from the guesthouse is your driver will at least know the way to the guesthouse and will help you with your bags.
- Boat cruises: Avoid Ajay’s boat unless you don’t mind seeing other boats speed by you, as you become aware that you’re paying by the hour Ajay seems to be the slowest & was often preoccupied with his beetel nut. He’ll also try to drop you off to take a 10 minute tour of the nearby burning ghat!
- Beware of the “Burning Ghat tours”- they’re a scam and many local guides and your boatmen, will try to take you there. While you get a short walking tour of the ghat, see burning bodies on pires, you’ll be led into a secluded room and pressured for a donation. They say these people use the money for drugs. Not sure what the truth is, but if locals hear you’ve gone there, they’ll surely ask you how much these people got out of you.
o Liked — The AC, fan, window & TV in my spacious 2nd room
o Disliked — The heat and insects in my first room w/ the shared balcony
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Varanasi: Ganpati Guest House (website)
Located on the Ganges River, near the Burning Ghat