You arrive in New Delhi, step off the plane, survive your first taxi journey, but where are you gonna stay?
Throw yourself into it why don’t you? Sure, you might have the rupees to stay at the Taj, but what sort of an experience will that be?
Like many first-time backpackers, we headed for the very well known area of Paharganj to stay at the not so well known “Kuldeep and Friends Hostel”. This place was just as quirky as the surrounding area and here is our account.
Rewind 3 months
“This place looks ok”. Says Sammy.
“Are you joking? look at the reviews”.
“Yeah, but it’s about £1.70 a night”. (Rs170)
“Well I suppose we can always cancel if we find something better”.
We are not snobs at all and are more than prepared to rough it, but the reviews of this place were pretty bad. Nonetheless, we had quit our jobs and moved out of our home to allow us to travel, so we were conscious of the fact that we might have to take a risk with accommodation from time to time.
Watch your footing
The taxi dropped us off on the main lane that runs through the bazaar and the driver was kind enough to walk us to the entrance. We wouldn’t have found it otherwise.
We edged gently around the cow that was blocking the alleyway, while being careful not to step in the gentle stream of urine that trickled through from the outdoor urinal. We grazed the feet of a man who lived in a chiseled out hole in the wall, covered with a curtain. He had not quite made the hole big enough, so his feet stuck out.
We were thankful to have arrived to our hostel, but our hearts sank with the feeling that maybe we had made a mistake.
Upon entry to our new digs, we were greeted by the fattest pug we have ever seen, along with it’s puppy. The place kind of stank of dog, but being dog lovers, we weren’t put off.
While we sat and made friends with the animals, the receptionist called for (who we assume is) the boss. A tall, long haired Indian emerged. Clearly “baked”. Probably the most relaxed person that we have ever met….”what has he been smoking?”, we wondered.
He kept us chatting for quite a long time until we insisted on going to our room.
What do you expect for £1.70 a night?
professionally wired electrics? no.
clean bed sheets? no.
Soft pillows? no.
Toilet roll? lol. Welcome to India.
Peace and quiet? no.
A TV? YES!
Hot water? Usually.
Don’t judge a book
After locking the door firmly behind us, our initial perceptions began to change, and continued to change until the day that we reluctantly checked out of this little gem.
Allow us to explain exactly why we think that you should consider this place for your visit to New Delhi:
That whacked out Indian hippie turned out to be “Robin”, and came across as a genuinely caring guy. On our first evening in New Delhi, we needed food and sleep as the flight had been rough. So once we had checked in, Robin sent a young boy outside to fetch us our very first chai in India and OH MY GOD it was delicious! Hot, sweet and spiced just like Carl.
After spending an hour in our room to catch up on some much needed zzzz’s we decided that we were hungry. As we walked through reception Robin must have noticed how sh***y Carl looked so offered to send “the boy” out to fetch us some food. Our first genuine Indian takeaway consisted of a rich paneer curry, garlic naan and rice and to this day, it is one of the best meals that we have eaten.
Throughout our entire stay, the staff were checking that we were ok, asking about our onward plans and making suggestions on how to go about them. We would never just nip down the stairs and out of the front door without sitting for 5 minutes with Robin to have a chai (which he was kind enough not to charge us for).
The hostel is home to one colossal, fat, smelly pug and her pups. The mother will take any seat that she chooses in the reception area and is too heavy to move. Her pups are the most playful, delightful little things. Needless to say that after playing with them so much, we still carry dog hair on our clothes, 2 months later.
Being situated in the heart of Paharganj is probably the best place you can be. It’s a short walk from the railway station and a very cheap auto ride to all of the tourist hotspots, if that is what floats your boat.
With a labyrinth of stalls, bars, restaurants and street food, you are never going to get bored here. When we got hungry, we walked out of the front door and found delicious food for dirt cheap.
We found these scrumptious paneer kebabs right on our door step and for a steal at Rs50! Yum!
We also found one of the best Thali joints down one of the many little winding alleys. Several pots of curry, curd, pickled veg, rice and chapati for Rs60. The place was full of locals, so you know it’s good.
The room itself
On closer inspection, we found the accommodation pretty nice. The bed sheets were dirty, electrics were a little sketchy and the toilet hadn’t been cleaned since forever. That being said, it began to feel like home.
The ceiling fan was noisy, but functioned. The TV was antique, but picked up comedy central. The shower was caked in limescale, but had hot water (very rare in budget places). The wifi was out of service when we arrived, but was pretty quick when it was fixed…The password is “IWASLOOKINGFORYOU” – we had to hassle Robin to tell us this, and to be honest, when it comes out of his mouth it does sound a little bit creepy…
When booking a room, make sure that it has windows. Some of the rooms are interior to the building.
Have you ever stayed in any other budget accommodation in New Delhi? What was it like? Are you planning a trip and would like some advice on New Delhi? Let us know and we would be happy to help.
Please leave us a comment below, follow us on Instagram (@thevagabondbeans), on Twitter (@vagabondbeans), or find us on good old Facebook.
Thank you for reading our posts and supporting us.
~The Vagabond Beans~