MAYA MANOR Heritage and Elegance
With Victorian gazebos that bejewel the courtyard and balcony, Rococo décor that beautify the interiors, sturdy columns that dominate the verandas, and a mansard that caresses the sky, Maya Manor offers visual interest wherever the eye gazes. But it’s more than just eye candy.
Though Ranarchy is seen with frowning eyes, they light up at the sight of the palaces and mansions it left behind. Serving as grand abodes to then powerful families, these Baroque influenced architectural marvels are scattered throughout the valley. In their current state, some remain under private ownership, some serve as government offices, some remain as fascinating old ruins, and some are dressed up as elegant hotels.
This here is an example of the last type mentioned above.
The Hatti Shar Durbar was built for Toran Shumsher JaBaRa and his brother Balram Shumsher JaBaRa in 1935. The mansion is presumed to be built by Jogbir Sthapit due to his prominent contributions to both neoclassical and traditional architecture in Nepal, such as the old Narayanhiti Palace and the renovation of the Swayambhu Stupa. The property was then bought by Karna Shakya to be his family home in 1974. Shakya, of course, is the founder of the Kathmandu Group of Hotels, KGH, and is better known as the father of tourism in Nepal among other things (which we’ve brushed over when we covered Park Village Resort back in December 2018).
In 2004, the Carter Center set up shop in the premises to mediate conflicting factions of the Nepalese Civil War. And somewhere in between, the Chinese Ambassador too made the mansion his home for 10 years. But when the 2015 earthquake shook the nation, the building was partially damaged. Renovations took place, and an idea to turn the palace into a boutique hotel came to life.
Today, much of the mansion remains as a façade to a 7-story back end, and houses about 50 rooms. To a trained eye it is a manifestation of an architectural evolution, a monument that transitions from a classical French Baroque to a post-modern fusion.
“The butter-yellow and white of the building feels Parisian and is contrasted by the emerald of the expertly manicured garden. A tall majestic infrastructure rises upwards behind, punctuated with French windows looking out into the city.”
Betraying a rather narrow and unsuspecting driveway, the gates of the boutique open up to an immense and regal entry with 2 Gurkhali soldiers guarding the way. The butter-yellow and white of the building feels Parisian and is contrasted by the emerald of the expertly manicured garden. A tall majestic infrastructure rises upwards behind, punctuated with French windows looking out into the city.
The interiors match the exterior in equal regality as a hallway leads into the reception. With an enthusiastic staff, to the left of the front desk is the Maharaja Restaurant. Next to it stands the Regal Bar that bathes in the sunlight and a stellar view of the garden. To the left, an impressive stairway spirals up and towards the rooms and suites. But before we head up, it is worthwhile to pop into the museum.
The museum is lived in by three omnipresent occupants, Shakya himself, and his parents, in individual portraitures. And they’re surrounded by some of the artifacts and relics the family has collected over the years. We’re not sure if you can, but this would be the perfect room to sit in one of the high back chairs by oneself and contemplate with an Old Fashioned at arm’s length.
Climbing up the stair, or ascending the elevator, whatever you’d like, you’ll come to the 40 luxury rooms. In essence, they are facilitated to fulfill all of your basic requirements. Outfitted with an A/C, a big TV, a safe, WiFi, and a pantry with a serving of WaiWai instant noodles, a granite laid bathroom with comforting robes, and an uber relaxing king-sized bed, these rooms are made to rejuvenate travelers. Within this category, there’s another type of rooms Maya calls the Newari rooms, that are themed according to the Newari culture. We imagine that it’s for the ones who want an immersive experience of Kathmandu.
And if more rejuvenation and relaxation is asked, a full-fledged spa awaits at the 3rd floor.
But let’s say you want the crème de la crème of what luxury is. The 7 exclusive suites will surpass every expectation. 2 of these reside within the façade, and are dedicated towards the famous English primatologist and anthropologist Dame Jane Goodall, and the Japanese alpinist Yuichiro Miura, who is the oldest person to summit Mount Everest and first to ski down from the top. These two rooms are grand in every regard, paying homage to the Ranas and their love affair with Victorian art and décor.
To the south of the property is the Carter Wing that houses the remaining suites. These are more modernly styled but exude the same level of sophistication. In the same wing, a conference hall is situated as well.
Maya has a restaurant and a conjoined bar, and as their name suggests, the Maharaja Restaurant and the Regal Bar bring nothing but classy upscaled dishes and concoctions. We had the pleasure of dining with their offerings of Chicken Biryani, Grilled Fish with Lemon Butter Sause, and the Karna Shakya Special Sushi, and it was not but a trip around the world. To us, the Sushi stood out the most as not only were the ingredients fresh but how well balanced the flavors were. These, at least according to us, are fit to bear the founder’s name.
Maharaja also hosts the morning breakfast buffet, and as every other hotel serves breakfast buffet, they stand out with the items they off. With the regulars such as hash potatoes and grilled sausages, they bring Sushi and Crispy Fried Fish to the table.
All of these serve to fuel any traveler and make them come back for more. Which we feel perfectly parallels one of their tag lines: Welcome, and welcome back.
WRITTEN BY NIRVEEK PPJ SHAH || PHOTOGRAPHED BY GAURAV XHOMPATE SUNUWAR