Go There & Back Dave & LeeAnne Travel the World in 2007

The Cult of Lonely Planet – Lodging in India

Our time in India is starting to wind down, so we would just like to pass on a few words about lodging here. We’re using the latest edition of “Lonely Planet – India” as our main guidebook and it’s great of course, very well documented, written, and well thought out. The trouble is it’s a bit too good. Every tourist here uses it and as a result everyone starts to visit the same sites, restaurants and hotels.

The hotel situation can be frustrating, because once a place gets in the book, it’s like getting “Made” in the Mafia. They can do whatever they want, raise their prices, stop taking reservations, whatever; if you don’t like it there will always be another tourist getting off the next train holding a Lonely Planet that tells them to go to hotels X, Y, or Z.

At the start of the trip, I never thought I’d say this, but sometimes it’s better to listen to the Touts at the Bus or Train station and check out the people they want to take you too. A perfect example for us was in Rishekesh. All the hotels that LP recommended were booked, all of them – I have no idea what was going on – so we ended up following a tout to a home stay a few doors down from where LP had sent us, and it was great!

The guy was just starting out, all the rooms were brand new and clean, it had a great bathroom and it was cheaper than anything Lonely Planet had recommended, we scored. Sometimes it pays to Zig when LP Zags. Rather than the overpriced room with no AC and a shared bathroom that Lonely Planet has recommended, sometimes you need to check out the place next door that has AC, is cheaper has a private shower and a staff that want to make you happy. Just because it’s not in Lonely Planet doesn’t necessarily make it a hole in the wall.