7- 13 November 2014 #731

Simplicity, elegance, taste

The boutique hotel proves that architecture need not be flashy to be beautiful

To visitors and Kathmandu inhabitants alike, the valley has become an increasing hodgepodge of urban sprawl, barely punctuated with greenery or quiet spaces. Every metropolis needs to place such areas very strategically in the middle of their city centers to afford relief to its inhabitants.

Unfortunately for Kathmandu dwellers and tourists, this kind of urban planning seems to be far from the minds of the city’s architects and administrators.

Equally problematic for a city (and country) that relies on tourism is our utter disregard for facilitating buildings that add to rather than take away from the natural graces inherent in this beautiful green valley.

With the advent of recent dubiously designed large hotel projects within the Valley, it would be heartening to see taste triumph over scale, with people moving towards using existing spaces to create the smaller more intimate type of boutique hotels that favour character over the woefully generic.

Now, with the opening of ‘3 Rooms by the Paulines’ (started by two French women who coincidentally share the same name and already run a well established gemlike idyll in the foothills of the Shivapuri National Park) perhaps some sort of precedent will be set in valuing smaller buildings, giving greater attention to detail, and with the idea that architecture need not be flashy to be beautiful.

This new little hotel, indeed just the three rooms, is inside the first courtyard of the Babar Mahal Revisited complex, and is truly an exercise in simplicity with elegance and taste. The spaces are built with the perfect mixture of earth and light tones that accentuate the ethnic furniture and genuine Nepali antiques that occupy each room. Gone too is the almost laughably  characterless artwork that most hotels unabashedly sport. Instead the Paulines have decided to support their photographer friends who hang their work in the rooms for the guests to purchase should they happen to fall in love with a particular piece.

With each of the rooms having their own special character, it is hard to choose a favourite, but I can imagine myself being happy in any of the three as a guest, each has its own specific draw.

Adding to the already great charm of this intimate hotel is the collaboration with neighbouring Chez Caroline which will make its full menu available to the hotel guests for room service, although of course one might also be tempted to just roll out of bed and walk the sixty odd seconds it takes to get to the restaurant itself for one of its unsurpassed brunches.

Suffice to say that most aspiring hoteliers could learn a lot from these three rooms. As for these intrepid Frenchwomen, one can’t help but wish them a great deal of luck for having established something so quietly beautiful in the center of our beloved but rapidly expanding city.

Sophia Pande