Indian Hotels & Accommodations

You can still find clean and comfortable accommodations for under $10 a night. This often includes TV and sometimes even a phone. I always check the room before I take it. If there is a bathroom included, check whether the water actually runs, particularly if there is a shower as well. It may just be a dribble, and often it is not hot.

NEVER take recommendations for lodgings from the ubiquitous taxi or auto-rickshaw drivers, or any other touts strategically positioned at popular train, bus and airport stations where tourists gather. The recommended lodgings will be overpriced. The only time I took a driver’s recommendation was in desperation at 4:00 am when nothing else appeared open. The place was filthy.

I find the best recommendations come from fellow travelers. Most of the places I like to stay are not in any guide books, and have been discovered by the more adventurous spirits I meet along the way.

Don’t be put off by the endless details required when you check in. You will always need your passport at hand, and some of the huge hotel ledgers hearken back to Dickensian times.

Noise is part and parcel of India, whether it’s the call to prayer for the faithful at 4:00 am, or someone cranking up the latest Bollywood tune to stun. Use earplugs.

Staying at The Circuit House has its plusses and minuses. On the plus side, there is Tasnur and Hermanta, the room boys who take the concept of service very seriously, gliding in and out like bobbing mannequins, just on the right side of obsequiousness. And then there is "bed-tea". When I first got wind of this service, I imagined a pool of dark liquid spreading dangerously over my sheets, perhaps the unfortunate consequence of indentured servants gone amok. But no, it’s terribly civilized. Essentially, a steaming cup of my favourite brew, chai, is delivered whilst I lie in regal spleandour, propped up on pillows, sipping as I meet the morn, not having to stir my stumps from the comfort of my bed.

Excerpt from Nirvana By Installments

I generally use a bed sheet wherever I go. It’s a precaution against other people’s bugs and what-nots. It’s also useful when sleeping on trains. The only time I didn’t use this precaution was a night I spent in the "Retiring Room" at Cochin Railway Station. I was so tired, I just lay down and slept right on top of the last person’s sheets. MISTAKE. Next day, I awoke with a very itchy scalp – head lice, which took a severe dose of some dubiously toxic product to get rid of.