If you are hoping for a luxurious stay in the amazing and gorgeous and yet difficult terrain of Ladakh, Grand Dragon Hotel, the first and only luxury hotel at Leh ticks all the right boxes.
I first visited Leh-Ladakh in the year 2000. The things were pretty less tourist oriented back then. This year I had the opportunity to explore Ladakh again. Based on previous experience, I had not given much thought to luxury in such formidable landscape because it really is a task to provide amenities in Leh but Grand Dragon strives to provide all comforts to its guests all year round.
And as my car rolled in the gates of property, I was blown away by the grandeur that exuded from the structure ahead.
The Grand Dragon, Leh
Architecture & Interiors:
The hotel rises up organically to blend in the local architecture of wood and stone resembling the Ladakhi palaces and Buddhist monasteries tucked away in the folds of Himalayas. The canvas of white plaster and brown wood is broken subtly with red and gold embellishments mirroring the rich deep colors of the land.
The wooden balconies and crestings reflect the local Rasbal tradition, Ladakhi traditional craft styles. And the large glass panels of the facade facilitate a peek at gorgeous scenery all around.
A warm welcome was extended by a traditionally dressed Ladakhi lady. As I checked in, a pouch of camphor to smell if I felt queasy and a friendly advice to rest for the day was handed over to me. And a while later a big bowl of garlic soup was served as a complimentary gesture by the hotel. The garlic soup helps fight the AMS acute mountain sickness which usually hits travelers from plains because of high altitude and less content of oxygen in air in Ladakh.
Stepping in I was mighty impressed with the grand lobby decorated with not only local crafts but also beautiful sketches of Ladakhis depicting their daily life. The paintings adorning the walls of hotel are handiwork of Mr Gulam Mustafa , the first modern artist of Ladakh and owner of the hotel.
All of its 76 rooms are tastefully done. Ladakhi traditional jewelry pieces, festive head gears, floral motifs , khabdan rugs feature as decor in every room.
Between the two dining spaces Zasgyath, coffee shop with its extended outdoor seating and Tusrabs, Grand Dragon offers a delectable fare to its guest. However I chose to indulge myself in authentic Ladakhi cuisine at the hotel. A big bowl of Thukpa, a vegetable, noodle and dumpling soup. a meal in itself was all I had on my first day. That set the tone of my affair with food in Leh. Local variety of breads, apricot jam, Yak cheese, Shapta and more though subtle in taste but were extremely delicious and honestly I hogged. The apricot ice cream was absolutely amazing and I yearn for it again even as I write about my memorable stay at Grand Dragon.
The hotel is equipped with most of the modern facilities and offers space for conference, banquets, cultural evenings. Gymnasium, spa, children’s play area, pool table are also some of its features.
Grand Dragon arranges for customized tours on request.
With a view of Stok mountain range in snow clad Great Himalayas greeting me every morning, I couldn’t have asked for a better luxurious vacation than my stay at Leh Grand Dragon.