The Grand Dragon Ladakh Review
I was told that Hotel Grand Dragon Ladakh is the finest Luxury Hotel in Ladakh. The reviews on various blogs and sites also said the same. So I was looking forward to staying at The Grand Dragon Ladakh. I was prepared for the luxury, but I had no idea that I have been given only half the information. None of the reviews I read before heading to The Grand Dragon Ladakh had prepared me to the other side of Ladakhi Hospitality. Don’t get me wrong, the hotel Grand Dragon Ladakh is for sure the finest luxury hotel in Ladakh and I can say this because I have stayed in a few hotels and guest houses in Ladakh and nothing even comes close to The Grand Dragon. So while I was prepared for the luxury I was totally unprepared for the pampering that was showered on me and other guests who were traveling in our entourage.
Is The GRAND DRAGON The Finest Luxury Hotel in Ladakh?
You see luxury is something that is a function of something you can pay and buy but personalized pampering is something that has to come from the heart and that is where the staff and the owners of the Grand Dragon win your heart. Their gestures that come straight from the heart and as part of Ladakhi hospitality is what makes you go Ah and Oh and sometimes you are so much in awe that you forget you are living in a hotel and feel like you are at dear friend’s home.
Let me try to explain the small gestures that made a big impact on me and made me feel pampered at every step of our stay at the Grand Dragon Ladakh making me believe that The Grand Dragon is not just the finest luxury hotel in Ladakh it is much more than that it offers personalized pampering to the guests.
The Grand Dragon Ladakh proudly showcases the very best of Ladakhi Architecture, that incorporates ornate wooden pillars, designs that take inspiration for Buddhist monasteries and local homes that warmly welcomes you to the hotel. The hotel grounds are well kept and when we visited mauve/lilac/light purple? ( take your pick of color for I am unable to describe these delicate blooms ) Apple blooms were in season
When you arrive at a luxury hotel you expect great welcome, luxurious lobby and a room with all the amenities, etc. but what makes you feel totally welcome is a hot bowl of local garlic soup served in the comfort of your room to acclimatize you to the thin air of Leh. As you must be aware when you fly into a high altitude place like Leh the danger of AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness is real. There are a few things that you can do to acclimatize your body to the same and enjoying a hot garlic soup while looking at snowclad mountains having a conference with powderpuff clouds is one of them. Then we were given a small silky pouch with some camphor in it that aids in breathing in case you feel a problem on day one.
But this was just the beginning, after some rest, we had a meeting with a Doctor who checked each one of us for blood oxygen level, Blood Pressure and once again gave us instructions on what to do and what not to do on day one in Ladakh. Most of the folks in our group were fine thanks to the hot Garlic Soup, the rest and was ready to start exploring the beautiful city of Leh with the wonderful folks from Grand Dragon Ladakh
You can read more about AMS in my earlier blog post here based on my earlier visit to Ladakh
The rooms with view at Grand Dragon Ladakh
There is no doubt that the rooms at Grand Dragon Ladakh are ultra luxurious, from the room amenities that are given to you in abundance like all kind of luxury toiletries, a large comfortable bed, Tea Coffee Maker, welcome snacks, etc. what gives you a feeling of care and pampering is things that you don’t expect. Just to give you a few examples like besides toiletries you are also given sunscreen lotion to protect your skin from the harsh Ladakh Sun, then you have 4 bottles of water as you need to keep yourself hydrated at high altitude. But what totally had me in awe was the view from the room. The hotel has been designed in such a way that majority of the rooms offer wonderful views of the silvery mountains in distance and the large windows make you feel that you can just reach out and touch those peaks. Some of the high-end rooms also have a sit out area outside where you can enjoy private moments looking at the peaks. The best part is irrespective of what room or what floor you are staying you get unobstructed glorious views of mighty mountains. Every day when I got up in the morning it was nothing like bliss to open your window curtains and see these peaks and just before going to bed I will open the window once again and look at the peaks. I am telling you looking at these peaks can be addictive, but I highly recommend it 🙂
The Food At Grand Dragon Ladakh
Most of my meals at the hotel I had was in the ground floor multi cuisine restaurant/coffee shop starting from the lavish breakfast that spoils you for a choice that ranges from Indian, South Indian, Continental, and god knows what else cuisine because most of the days I was full even before I tried a small fraction of what was on offer. While we had many wonderful meals at the Grand Dragon two stand out in my memory. The first one was a full meal of Khow suey, a specialty one dish meal from Myanmar. But calling it one dish meal is actually a misnomer because you have an assortment of veg and non-veg garnishes to add to your soup accompanied by various sauces, herbs, and condiments, etc. This was by far one of the best Khow suey I have had in a long time.
The second meal is even more special as it was a dinner on the Buddha Purnima night & we all were in the hotel lawns waiting for the moon to make a grand appearance. We were all interested in some Moon Photography before starting our dinner. As it happened it was also the holy month of Ramazan and the chef at The Grand Dragon has made a special 7-course Ladakhi Meal for us that started with soups, various bread, Ladakh style momos, different curries ranging from lamb to wild mushrooms, etc. While each course of this special Ladakhi meal introduced us to new flavors and textures of Ladakhi cuisine to us, what made the meal extra special was that Mr. Anjum Qadir made special arrangements for us with a large telescope to see the moon closely as it rose behind the barren mountains making them shine against a dark sky. Then a special experience awaited us, as the courteous staff of the Grand Dragon brought our Ladakhi dishes, Mr. Anjum who had just had his iftar meal sometime back, explained each dish to us, what it was made of how it is different from the similar dishes in other parts of Kashmir or Tibet how the ingredients are sourced and stored to keep the flavors intact. So I learned a few things like the Ladakhi Momos are juicy and need to be enjoyed with yummy simmering juices that are waiting to flood your taste buds. The Ladakhi Biryani is totally out of this world and the fragrances come from locally grown fruits like apricot etc. that are added to it. The Ladakhi bread served as a small succulent loaf is fragrant with fresh earthy flavors and is soft like cheese if eaten fresh.
I don’t think I am able to do justice to the variety of flavors, textures and stories that Ladakhi food takes you through, what enhanced the experience was Mr. Anjum Qadir, explaining to us about each dish in a very proud and passionate manner. I am telling you having a 7-course ( or was it 9 course? But who was counting ? Not me 😛 ) meal in the finest luxury hotel in Ladakh is one thing, to get to learn about the same from the hotel owner’s son himself is a priceless experience. I must say I count my blessings to be able to experience it first hand and this meal is definitely in my top ten meals ever while traveling.
Ah so many things and as you know when it comes to food I just have no patience to take pictures so I am sorry folks you have these few pics clicked with my SST phone ( Sasta Sunder Tikau Phone ). But I am sure I have intrigued you enough to try Ladakhi cuisine when you are in Ladakh & best place to have it is without a doubt The Grand Dragon Ladakh
GYM, SPA & Other Facilities at Grand Dragon Ladakh
The Grand Dragon Ladakh is a popular choice among those seeking a luxury stay in Ladakh, it is not uncommon to bump into movie stars, VVIPs, etc, it is also a popular choice for meetings and conferences. A 200 + seater centrally airconditioned hall caters to these. We were also given a tour of the spa and the gym at the hotel. While I was impressed with both, I could not believe that people will be exercising in the thin air of Leh, but as it turned out there are a lot of health and fitness conscious travelers who do not want to miss daily exercise routine so Grand Dragon takes care of there health with modern equipment and trained staff in the gym and spa.
The hotel has a full-service business center, meeting rooms and even a large conference room that can seat 200 people for meeting and conferences. The curio shop at the Grand Dragon Ladakh has some of the most amazing handicrafts, jewels & artifacts from Ladakh and can easily function as a museum showcasing Ladakhi Culture.
But what impressed me most at the hotel was the various paintings of the day to day life of Ladakh by none other than Mr. Ghulam Mustafa a well-known award & heart winning artists and one the two brothers who are the brain behind this beautiful hotel.
The Grand Dragon Ladakh was developed and conceptualized by the brothers Gulam Mustafa also known as the first modern artist of Ladakh and Gulam Mohiuddin. As you enter the lobby beside the ornate wood designs on pillars and roof you also notice the beautiful paintings adorning the walls and you learn each one of them has been made by Mr. Mustafa himself. He loves to paint life in Ladakh on his canvas and showcase it in the Grand Dragon Ladakh. I think fellow traveler and writer Ayandrali Dutta has put it much better than I ever would be able to check this out here >
Overall it was a wonderful trip and I must thank the wonderful team at The Grand Dragon Ladakh to make this trip extra special.
My this trip to Ladakh was on the invitation of the only star luxury hotel of Leh > The Grand Dragon Ladakh. I really enjoyed my stay with The Grand Dragon Ladakh. You can check more about them here > The Grand Dragon Ladakh