Staying at the Grand Dragon Ladakh in Winter

By Mridula Dwivedi January 14, 2016 39 Comments , , ,
frozen-waterfall-ladakh

When the Go Air flight started to taxi at the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport at Leh, they announced that the outside temperature was -3 degree Celsius. I am no stranger to temperatures in minus but I never get used to them. I was happy that I was staying at the Grand Dragon Ladakh in winter because it is centrally heated.

On our arrival to the Grand Dragon Hotel, Leh, we were offered the Khata (the white scarf) as a welcome. The lobby was warm, I knew I would survive the cold. However, Leh is 11,500 meters above sea level and I was wondering how the altitude would treat me this time. It was my first experience of flying into such a high altitude. I felt fine at arrival. I didn’t take Diamox before, during or after the trip.

A Late Breakfast

hot-chocolateAs soon as we arrived we were invited to a late breakfast. Out flight landed at 10.35 am and food was what I was looking for! We were offered garlic soup as it is said to help in acclimatizing. It tasted good as well! The breakfast at the Grand Dragon is an elaborate affair. They have Indian, continental and some local jams and butter as well. I would start with fruits, go on to porridge and finish it off with their South Indian spread!

Tea, coffee and juice was also there. I enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate too. It tastes so good in cold weather. I tired the apricot apple jam and quite liked it as it was without any artificial sweeteners.

The Room with a View

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The Heated Room with a View!

After breakfast I headed to my room which was on the second floor (207). I immediately fell in love with the view of the Stok Range from my room.

After the view I searched for tea. I had Twinnings tea bags, creamer and a kettle for hot water. There were, cookies, dry fruits and fruits in my room. I was all set to enjoy my stay.

There was a comfortable double bed in my room. The room was heated. The windows would open, so I could take pictures of the Stok Range at will.

The bathroom didn’t have a bathtub. But then wasting water in Leh anyway is a bigger crime. So I was happy not to have the temptation. There was hot water and I was happy with it. The floor of the bathroom is heated for the guest’s comfort. Now that was luxury!

Lunch

dining-area-grand-dragon

On the first day I was the only person to go down for lunch after that late breakfast. I had a soup and noodles, both were good. All the other meals I had at ‘Zasgyath’ were well done. The high tea was served at Tusrabs. Kahwa was my hot favorite.

Meeting the Doctor

On the first evening a lady doctor visited us. She told me that my oxygen level was 93, and I had already acclimatized. I was happy to hear that. My BP was also normal. However, that said, I still had mild headache by the night. The first night I woke up many times. The second night was more peaceful. By the third night I could happily sleep through the night.

I have a mild nose bleed from the trip but I am sure it will go away in a few days. I also realized that it is better to take the Diamox if the doctor prescribes it! I am happy that I didn’t need it as usual!

Bonfire Dinners in the Chilling Cold Weather

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Bonfire on the Terrace

We had two bonfire dinners out at the terrace of the hotel! It was a barbecue. The hot rum and the fire helped a lot.

wine-by-the-fire
Muddle Wine by the Fire!

I was wrapped from head to toe. But it is doable, to sit out in -15 degrees around fire and enjoy food and drinks!

Conversations

The owner of the hotel Mr Ghulam Mohiuddin sat with us had a long conversation about his family’s journey into hospitality. He said Ladakh was opened to foreigners in 1974 and 60 ‘hippies’ visited Leh that year! I wonder who they were and if they can be traced! In 1976 the family took the first foreigners in their home! The first guests were 3 foreigners who stayed with the family. They extended the home to 30 rooms eventually which was the old Dragon Hotel. Even now the family lives next to the new Grand Dragon Hotel.

We saw the paintings done by his elder brother, Gulam Mustafa. Many film crew stay in the hotel when they shoot in Ladakh. A big star wanted to buy a painting but Mr Mustafa refused as he does not sell his art!

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Gaggan and Sanjit the Friendly Staff at the Grand Dragon Ladakh

I also enjoyed talking to the hotel staff. They were from Nepal, Solan, West Bengal, Srinagar among other places. I could see the staff quarters behind the hotel. When I asked Gaggan about heating in his room, he told me they too have heaters and cold was not a problem. The young drivers on payroll too.

Food

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Dessert- My favorite Part of the Meal!

I quite liked the food at the hotel. They did the dishes mildly for me. As I do not like too many spices, the food was perfect for me. I particularly enjoyed marshmallows by the bonfire as it was a first for me. The jacket potatoes were done to perfection. Desserts were awesome too!

Sauna and Steam

I enjoyed the steam and sauna for one evening. They go well the cold weather. They are located next to the gym. There are separate areas for men and women.

Gym

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The Gym at the Grand Dragon, Ladakh

I saw the gym and I happily gave it a miss. My head anyway was protesting against the altitude. But if you need it, there it is.

Excursions 

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Ladakh in Winter!

You can book your excursions with the hotel. We did two long trips, one to Alchi and Lamayuru and the other to Thiksey and Chemdey. The hotel uses heated Innovas and their drivers are courteous.

Overall, I had a great time at the Grand Dragon, Leh, Ladakh. The central heating helped a lot to deal with the severely cold weather.

PS. I was invited by the Grand Dragon Hotel on this trip.

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39 thoughts on “Staying at the Grand Dragon Ladakh in Winter”

    1. I normally don’t do it even on altitude but it was the hotels practice. No harm in getting a consult if you are at a high altitude.

  1. Now you are almost an expert in Leh Ladakh trip and I know whom to ask anything if I plan some day. Great post as always, great pics, and the hotel is beautiful. What is that dessert name that looks like a burfi in coconut shaving? Please tell me the name globetrotter 🙂

    1. Shilpi it was lemon something and it was yum. You are right about the coconut shaving and it added to the taste. Next time I will write down the name!

    1. Sushmita Spiti not having an airport is working to its advantage, not too many people who want to brave the backbreaking journey. You could try Ladakh in winter it is beautiful and it is minus the crowd.

  2. This looks perfect place to stay. The best thing is Mr Ghulam Mohiuddin started attending guests from home initially, he must be a good host. Our experience the places run by owners are always have some warmth.

    1. Yes Sandeep even though the hotel has a lot of rooms the staff is a treat! In summer they are booked solid I was told.

  3. Mystic Ladakh!! Beautiful pictures I am planning to go this year(probably summer) but going through the posts i realised i might face too much of crowd 🙁

  4. That first photo… how stunning! Looks like a lovely hotel. We stayed in a local guesthouse on our trip to Ladakh. It was a big house with many rooms and there was another building that had the restaurant, kitchen and that housed the family. The highlight was their little garden with an apple tree. But the hotel was so basic that I did miss my clean sheets after a while. 🙂 Your hotel looks amazing.

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Mridula Dwivedi

I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quite my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!

If you wish to collaborate with me, please check out my media kit. You can write to me at mridulablog@gmail.com

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