The hotel Mi-Casa is quite unusual, amongst the bewildering array of hotels and guesthouses available to the tired and weary tourist, either jet lagged from a long journey to Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport or sore at the feet from a long trek in the mountains. The general presentation is as Nepali as it is global. The owner’s inspiration to use the Spanish for ”my home” as the name of their establishment brings it home (no pun intended). It is a deep respect of both local tradition and the environment, and it is well attuned to the needs of a tourist with limited knowledge of Nepal but eager to learn. The most striking aspect that is unavoidable and is promoted by the owners and staff, is its effort to sustain a homely harmony within a world of chaos.
The hotel is neatly tucked away from the dusty and busy main road, Tridevi Sadak, at the end of a side street called Tridevi Marg. It has the genuine feel of a home. The small courtyard feels open with some stunning, intricately patterned finishings on the front door, windows and their frames. The entrance is dotted with beautiful potted plants. This all gives a feel of the Mediterranean ambience with a massive dash of Nepali hospitality. There is always someone around either working at the reception or in the shaded terrace to the right of the courtyard, and ready to welcome you. There is usually a furry dog lying right at the doorstep. Do not be surprised if you confused the animal for a doormat. Whilst looking comatose under the shade not far from the constant heat of the midday sun, the canine is very much alive and snoozing away without care. Here is a mark of some the deep Buddhist and Hindu principles of respecting all living beings. The greeting ”Namaste”, is already an instant recognition that something special and transcendental resides inside us.
We are now at the reception area. The relaxed ambience continues on the inside. Another pleasant surprise is that the hotel specialises in local teas. They offer guests a complimentary tea. Not even in the big 5 star hotels are you given such large choice of teas and herbal infusions. Surely you can only be at someone’s ”casa”. Together with ”Namaste” you are awarded a cloth or flower garland on arrival after a long journey. As your room is getting prepared you can enjoy your tea and engage in light banter with the staff and guests whilst lying back on the wall-to-wall sofas with colourful pillows. The staff all speak good English but even if there are language barriers, the congenial environment enables good quality small talk with limited vocabulary. There is plenty of reading material too. One can familiarise with local news by reading a daily newspaper in the English language, The Himalayan Times. If local political intrigues repel you, since for sure a lot of tourists are escaping their own annoying distractions at home, there is a well-established book exchange scheme. The bookshelf is impressively stocked with guidebooks, trekking maps and some novels. So no excuses for not already being inspired to set ones foot on the foothills of one of the hundreds of thousands of Himalayan peaks. For those on their way home, no excuses for not reflecting back in fondness of the adventure that was.
The guest rooms occupy the first and second floors. There are just 9 rooms. One the way up you notice that you are going past the major peaks of Nepal. Each room has the name of a major peak, with a reminder above the door of its altitude. A really personal touch is the writing on the frosted windows at the stairway. Each windowpane has a different inspirational message, with spiritual undertones, each painted with a different colour and pattern. The rooms are good quality, with sturdy locally made beds that have firm mattresses, to ensure that all important sleep before a few weeks of rickety beds and camp life. Each room has beautifully crafted and painted cupboard with images of the Buddha. Another item that shall become a complete luxury on the trekking trail, is a hot shower. Nepal whilst abundant with hydroelectric potential still has to ration power due to the poor infrastructure that is unable to manage the varying demands for electric power. The hotel manages this problem well by cutting off power to the sockets in rooms during the power rationing periods and encouraging guests to have their electronic devices charged at the reception. Water, yet another abundant resource in Nepal, is managed well here. Clean water remains a premium but ”Mi Casa” Hotel makes it a policy to not sell bottled water. They keep a water cooler with fresh, purified water at the front terrace at the guest’s disposal, and they charge nothing extra for it. The same goes for the complimentary Wi-Fi.
As with a lot of hotels and restaurants in Nepal, there is a rooftop terrace for eating and relaxation purposes. For an establishment squashed by the random urban sprawl of Kathmandu, there are options for where to relax to either be by oneself or to socialise right within the humble compound of ”Mi-Casa.”