CONS: 1) Third-class, illiterate, goon-like reception staff keen to loot you with forced extras! 2) Lacks most of the important facilities like Spa and Library that are mentioned on MMT. 3) Lacks internet connectivity (though it is mentioned as 'Complimentary Wi-Fi' on MMT). 4) Charges higher tariff vis-a-vis published rate card when booked through agents like MMT. 5) Has only 1 multi-cuisine restaurant. 6) Very average-looking rooms and lobby. 7) The hotel refrains from taking accountability in situations and refrains from calling the Police.
PROLOGUE: We (my Wife and I) had arrived in Leh on 17th January 2016, for Chadar Expedition held in the Zanskar region. For the duration of the expedition, we were booked at another hotel near The Grand Dragon in Leh.
CONTEXT: Owing to the strenuous trek that Chadar would be, we had booked The Grand Dragon for the 26th January, 2016 through MMT against a payment of Rs. 9700/- plus taxes in the month of October, 2015. The Grand Dragon was booked from 26th January to 27th January 2016 for Relaxation and Spa facilities that were mentioned on the hotel page on MMT.
Inadvertently, MMT booked me as the only guest.
THE CHECK-IN: Upon arrival at the hotel the said fact was made known to us by the hotel. We contacted MMT and tried to resolve the matter on 26th Jan itself. We were asked by the hotel staff to pay Rs. 1500/- for extra guest. We were on call with the officers of MMT the whole evening and the hotel staff with no time for relaxation. We had made it clear to MMT officer that we won't pay any extra money to the hotel as we had already paid Rs. 9700/- plus taxes to make my trip which is over and above the prevailing rate on the rate card of the hotel, ie:8000/- plus taxes (for two guest). Having already paid Rs. 1700 extra for the same room in advance, it was unfair to burden us with a further cost of1500 in which case we would end up paying Rs. 11, 200/- for a room that costs 8, 000/- as per the card rate. We also pointed out that the difference in tariff on the website of MMT as on date for the same room for one guest to two guest was Rs. 300 only. We also asked the hotel staff to show us the rate card that reflected 1500 per extra guest. They failed to provide the same.
I had personally called MMT and asked them to revert with the update on the issue raised by the hotel. MMT failed to revert. Neither did the hotel staff bring up the topic the whole night until the morning of 27th January.
THE HAPPENING: On 27th January, when we approached the reception for check-out they asked us to pay 1500/- over and above our food bills. They took us to ransom by not permitting us to leave the hotel and threatened and warned us against stepping outside the hotel premises without making the additional payment. They threatened me and my wife with our well-being. On asking the hotel to call the police (as our mobiles had no network in this area), they refused to do so. I then forcibly took the phone of the hotel and dialed 100 for police assistance.
Meanwhile, the hotel staff showed me a alleged message from MMT that was written to the hotel asking them to recover the money from us. On the basis of that text, the hotel staff not only held us to ransom but also threatened to harming us physically.
While all this happened, the officer of the hotel clearly mentioned to us that MMT wasn't authorised by them to make bookings (we also have a recording of this). I had asked the officer to put the said fact in writing against which I shall make payment of 1500 and file for cheating against MMT. The hotel staff refused to do so and continued with their threats and warned us that we would miss our flight if we don't pay on time and leave. They also called some official of MMT who warned us against further loss of losing our flight. The officer of MMT admitted that they were at fault but still insisted us to pay. I was absolutely shocked, annoyed and disappointed after speaking to the alleged officer of MMT. After making my stand clear to the said person, I handed over the phone to the hotel staff and left.
Thereafter, I and my husband left the premises of the hotel. We weren't even provided a car for airport transport on a cold snowy morning despite making a request the previous night itself. There was no vehicle available for airport on the road and we were required to walk with heavy baggage. Least to mention, I had injured my knee during the Chadar Expedition.
So much so, my wife and I were apprehensive of foul play by the officials of the hotel The Grand Dragon in conspiracy to feed their tall egos. We were apprehensive of our safety while travelling to the airport.
The CCTV footage of the hotel lobby shall provide evidence of threats issued by The Grand Dragon if MMT would have requested for the same in time.
CONCLUSION: All said and done, Rs. 1500 was too itsy-bitsy an amount to haggle over; however, the entire premise was based on the fact that WE DIDN'T WANT TO BE BULLIED/TAKEN TO RANSOM, ESPECIALLY NOT BY THIRD-CLASS, ILLITERATE AND GOON-LIKE HOTEL STAFF AT THE GRAND DRAGON. We took a stand against injustice and walked by it.
Also, The Grand Dragon lacks most of the important facilities like Spa and Library that are mentioned on MMT.
You must be absolutely sure to pick this hotel if you absolutely surely want to end your trip in Leh on a low. Take our word for it.
The best location to stay in Leh is Changspa road. Hotel Sheldan has a stay and cafe. The hotel looks like a home from the outside. Has spacious and clean rooms, a garden outside, clean sheets and very hygienic wash rooms.
The owners are very friendly, we stayed here at least 5 nights and kept check-in and out of the hotel - until we called for them that we are finally leaving they did not even bother us for the money. Also, this was one hotel that allowed 3 persons to stay in one room when we told them one of us had a sleeping bag.
This hotel is walking distance from Shanti Stupa and the local shops are also on the same same Changspa road.
A travel agency and a cafe that is located right outside is where we kept going to for our travel and food needs. Take rooms that face the beautiful garden outside if you plan to stay indoors in the daytime. The aroma from their kitchen was yummy-delicious but we never got the opportunity to eat here (you have to give them advance notice for the home cooked Ladakhi food).
Good interiors, spacious bathroom & excellent service, this is what I will say if you ask me our overall experience at Rafica. After checking out 2 – 3 other hotels in Leh our driver Alibhai led us to this place whose owner was a friend of his. We were showed two rooms Normal Room (Ground Floor – Rs. 700) & Deluxe room (2 nd Floor – Rs. 1000). After seeing the rooms & hearing the specially discounted price we decided to increase our budget a little & opted for deluxe room. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at this place. The rooms are spacious with very good interiors. The wooden interiors keep the room warm even when the outside temperature is chilling. The bathroom is large & enough space is provided for keeping our things & luggage. Hotel staff is courteous & always smiling. We were very much satisfied with their service. They even helped us in getting innerline permits for Nubra Valley & Pangong Tso at a nominal charge. Even our rafting trip (From Chilling to Nimmu) was arranged by them at the same rate as other operators in the market charge. Since the hotel is located just off the main market road all the essential services like Internet Café, STD Booth, Travel agents, good restaurants are located at a walking distance. Overall we were more than satisfied with our stay at the place.
Best Experience: 1] Room interiors are excellent. Wooden finish makes you feel warmer. 2] Service is good; staff is very courteous & always helpful. 3] Their Fresh Lime Soda (Salty) was amazing. We loved it. 4] Since we had to go to Nubra Valley for one night they offered us to keep our excess luggage in the same room we were staying & when we returned our things were there exactly as we had kept it.
Worst Experience: 1] Not exactly worst but the view from the window did not open to a fabulous view as you would expect to see when you are in such a beautiful place. 2] Sometimes we had to remind them to switch on the hot water supply, without which you cannot have bath in Leh especially during Mornings & evenings.
We booked for 12 people in 6 deluxe rooms. The complete upper floor was occupied by us. Great view from the hotel, The rooms were big and neatly maintained, all wood, wooden floor and ceiling. The view of majestic mountains was clear from room. The location of hotel was great very near to shanti stupa and close to main market too. The locality was quite and peaceful.
The common space on the floor was great, we had a great time smoking hukka and playing games over there. The staff was co-operative too. Though the complimentary WiFi was never working at all. We had to come down to reception to get WiFi signal. The hot water and other amenities were good in hotel.
The complimentary breakfast was little depressing not having much options but was manageable. The food was not great I would recommend people to go out in main market and try various eating joints, They had amazing food, lot of variety and great taste.
I would recommend this hotel to everyone who is looking for nice comfy stay in Leh near market and away from market noise. My advice to hotel staff would be to improve service and food quality and make travellers stay as memorable. Cheers!
I had booked hotel Thongsal in Ladakh through Via at a premium price over packages offered by other more established travel portals only because the facade pictures put up by the hotel seemed interesting. But as they say appearances can be deceptive, only the facade seemed nice. Despite having booked a Deluxe Package, the hotel decided to allot us a stinky, dark & dingy Standard room.
They asked for compensation for up gradation to Super Deluxe room, which after much pleading, & sweet talking the travel agent obliged. However, the Super Deluxe room seemed like any ordinary room of a normal three star hotel. The lighting both in the room & bathroom was bad; the shower in the bath along with the pot jet didn’t work properly. The glass of bathroom door was cracked. There was no exhaust in the loo & the wooden rack in the bathroom was broken.
The corridor of the Hotel was totally dark at night & we were told it was due to solar lights which obviously didn't work. The housekeeping needed drastic up-gradation as there was dirty laundry strewn all around the place in the day. The outside area of the building needed a lot of maintenance as the tables & chairs outside in the garden were virtually falling apart.
Food- We were told that due to some Buddhist festival in Ladakh( like Navratri) the hotel felt compelled to serve vegetarian food, even though they were serving eggs in the morning for breakfast! Also on repeated request, they did a special dinner in which they served non-veg food one night but on other nights they insisted on serving the same veg food. Not to say that there wasn’t non-veg food being served in restaurants in Ladakh despite the Buddhist festival. The owner of the Hotel was not Buddhist yet to save cost they went on with this charade.
When we had booked the package through Via the hotel was to provide free transport to the market but on reaching there we were told to hire taxis for the same. Hotel Thongsal had a tented accommodation in Nubra which was even worse. The mattresses on the bed were rock hard & we had to use the duvet to sleep on.