A beautiful spot above a river, with green mountains around, landscaped grounds and a swimming pool. Could you relax and let your cares melt away in a place like this? Then head to Summit River Lodge between Kathmandu and Pokhara in Nepal.
I was on a rafting trip on the Trishuli River having no idea where we were staying that night. Our guide said we were going to be at “a river camp” after we pulled off our helmets and life jackets. So we were expecting to be on cots in tents or at a very rustic bamboo place at best. Instead we crossed a suspension bridge, hiked up a dirt road, and ended up in paradise.
Summit River Lodge is part of the Everest Summit Lodges Group, so it’s a professional operation. That company is best known for running lodge to lodge treks through the Himalayas, for guests who are willing to pay more for some extra creature comforts (and good food).
We had helpers carrying our bags up the mountain and we could tell in the dark that this was going to be a much nicer place than we expected. When we woke up at sunrise and started looking around though, “Just look at this place!” was the common comment. I was with a group of experienced travel writers and tour operators on a pre-conference trip, but our mouths were hanging open when snapping photos of the scenery.
Rooms aren’t super-fancy at this lodge, but they are comfortable and have air conditioners or heat if needed. They have en-suite bathrooms with showers, comfortable beds, ceiling fans, and reading lights. You probably won’t spend much time in the room besides sleeping though because the grounds, the sitting areas, and the restaurant are so inviting.
The sizable swimming pool is in an elevated area between two sets of lodging buildings, set amid stone walls and brick columns, with a view of the river and mountains. There’s a bar next to it for ordering drinks.
The restaurant is in the original home that served as a family estate before becoming a hotel. A bartender can mix up your favorite cocktail, or they have a wine and beer selection. The food here is fresh and uniformly good, mostly local Nepalese and Indian specialties with some international favorites thrown in, especially at breakfast. At night the dining area has just the right rustic warm glow, while in the daytime you can sit in an outdoor terrace area, a sun room, or inside. There’s also a reading room lounge area in the same building. If you must get online, this is where you go to connect.
Scattered around the grounds are various sitting areas that are better spots to kick back with a good book in the daytime. One overlooks the river and the mountains, another is like an outdoor living room, with a big three-sided permanent sofa. Others are clusters of chairs and a table on the lawn.
The landscaping here is a big draw, with fragrant flowers, trimmed shrubs, and native trees that the birds love. Apart from the occasional truck horn drifting over from the far side of the river, this is a quiet, mellow place to relax and watch the light change as the sun moves across the sky. When you”re in a spot like this and you hear that Nepal is one of the cheapest places to live in the world, it makes you start questioning your life choices…
Summit River Lodge is located roughly halfway between Kathmandu and Pokhara—the two largest cities in Nepal—and is near a common take-out point for those doing rafting on the Trishuli River. Doing that rafting trip and moving on (or going back to) a big city the same day can be exhausting. Staying at this lodge turns the trip into a civilized excursion instead. You can rest up and get a little pampering before braving the traffic to your city hotel.
Review and photos by Tim Leffel, who was a guest of the lodge while on a conference pre-trip with Adrift Adventures rafting company in Nepal.