Sometimes, on your travels, you come across places, experiences and people who leave a lasting impression on you. The Norkhil Boutique Hotel & Spa in Thimphu, Bhutan, was one such memorable experience filled with such warm hospitality that I absolutely HAD to write a post on them. If you are planning a holiday in Bhutan, then I highly recommend staying at the Norkhil Boutique Hotel & Spa. Read on to know more about this lovely little hotel and why I recommend them so highly…
The Norkhil Boutique Hotel & Spa is a relatively new, 46-room property in Thimphu with a terrific location; it is just a stone’s throw from the Memorial Chorten (which can be seen from the balconies and windows of some rooms) and since it is at a higher elevation than most other hotels in Thimphu, offers great views of the town and valleys from one side as well as the forested hills on the other.
The beautiful Bhutanese architecture on the exterior of the building is balanced by the elegant, modern decor within which exudes calm, welcoming vibes.
Norkhil offers four options for accommodations – Classic Rooms, Comfort Rooms (with Forest View / Valley View), Superior Rooms (with and without balcony) and Suites. We had opted for a Superior Room with a Balcony and were thrilled to be staying on the 5th floor with incredible views of Thimphu town as well as the Memorial Chorten!
Do note, while all the rooms have heaters, there is no air conditioning. Not that it is even needed but should you feel very hot, the hotel does provide you with a fan. We didn’t need even that since during our stay, the night time temperatures were a very cool between 5 and 8ºC.
As you can tell from the image, the room is very spacious and even with an extra bed as well as the King sized bed, there was adequate space for a family of 4 without us feeling cramped! Since we had the balcony as well as windows all along the wall, there was so much natural light in the room!
Whenever we travel, I try to book rooms / apartments with a balcony because I love sitting there sipping my morning coffee while hubby and boys sleep. It was such a serene experience having my coffee with a view of the Memorial Chorten, listening to the sounds of the city waking up and the cool mountain breeze – just perfect!
The most striking feature at Norkhil is the beautiful wall that one sees as soon as one enters. That beautiful Bhutanese mural is not just a work of art – it is also the entrance to Zama, the restaurant at Norkhil offering Indian, Bhutanese and international cuisine.
The interiors of Zama too, are light and airy with lovely views over the valleys but for lunch, I loved sitting in their al-fresco seating area. Take a look at the pictures and you’ll know why.
If you have seen my insta stories, you would have seen all the delicacies that Chef Bhanu Pratap Singh and his team whipped up for us. From delicious burgers and pastas so delectable dal makhani to yummy chhole bature – everything was finger-licking good! The Chef mingles with all the guests taking their feedback and asking if they have any requests. When I mentioned that I wanted to try out traditional Bhutanese cuisine but was apprehensive whether there were vegetarian dishes, he told me he would have a traditional Bhutanese dinner ready for me the next day. All vegetarian. And truly it was a feast!
We had Hontey – a Bhutanese version of momos made with buckwheat dough and a stuffing of spinach / turnip leaves and cheese and served with Ezay, a Bhutanese chilli sauce. The salad was Goen Hogay, a really delicious mix of cucumbers, tomatoes with crumbled local cheese and zimshey (a local seed that looks like mustard) . This was my favourite dish of them all. I didn’t think I would like Jaju – a milky soup usually made with celery and coriander leaves, but I was surprised at how yummy it actually was! Along with the momos, the kids also loved Zambuley, traditional flat noodles made from buckwheat flour.
We all loved the red rice but couldn’t really have much of the Nelakhachu Datshi – an asparagus cheese and chilli dish because we found it super spicy. But honestly, the entire meal was FABULOUS!
To wash it all down, the Churma bar serves a wide range of liquors, cocktails and mocktails including some amazing local Bhutanese whiskeys and beers and of course, the famous Bhutanese peach wine, Zumzin.
The highlight of the trip, though, would undoubtedly be the amazing experience we had at the Nor Spa. I was very curious to try out the Bhutanese Hot Stone Bath (which requires 4 hours of preparation so you need to book that well in advance) and also needed a nice massage so I booked the Nor Signature treatment for hubby and me.
The Bhutanese hot stone bath is very unique. The bath itself is made of wood (as opposed to conventional bath tubs that are made of ceramic) and the water is heated using river stones which are roasted on fire till they are glowing red. Khempa leaves are added to the water to help relax and detoxify the body. They are also supposed to help cure certain skin ailments when used over a period of time.
At the other end of the bath, is an opening from where the stones are rolled into the water (should you need the temperature to be increased) and there is a partition that prevents the hot stone from coming in contact with your body. Needless to say, after coming in from the cold air outside, the hot stone bath felt like heaven! And the aromatherapy massage after that was pure bliss..
But besides the amazing view, the great food, the awesome spa, there is one main reason why I recommend Norkhil so highly to everyone; and that is their hospitality and service. EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON who we met at Norkhil was incredibly courteous, always greeting us with a friendly smile, and doing their best to ensure we had a great stay. And that is what endears a hotel to a traveller. From the staff at the reception to the housekeeping to the charming ladies at the restaurant to the wonderful gentleman who had worked with Oberoi in India, each and every person makes you feel special. And that, along with all the other reasons mentioned above, is why I would recommend you to stay at Norkhil if you are planning a trip to Thimphu.