Newa Chen

After walking through Patan’s ancient Durbar Square, Newa Chen gives you the delightful experience of actually getting a chance to go inside one of these red bricked ancient structures with their intricately hand carved windows, doors and beams. Forget going inside one of them – at Newa Chen you can actually stay in them the way they have been lived in for hundreds of years.

Newa Chen was built during the Malla dynasty rule in Nepal – an era characterised by an immense flourishing of art, architecture and culture. From the private houses to the temples (and often, it is difficult telling the difference between the two!) they are so unique and rich in architectural value, they have been granted World Heritage Site status by UNESCO.

The house was left exactly as it was 250 years ago except for the introduction of bathrooms into the rooms and the addition of a few wooden beams to give some more support. Otherwise, the house has been built so well, everything is still in running order. Like in any typically Newari home, the family lives all together sharing communal space. At Newa Chen the beautiful courtyard with its outdoor sitting area and the upstairs attic that is now the dining room allow for this important requirement.

Everything is traditional and real. The house feels lived in and it is reassuring to hear that the manager was actually born in this house! At the same time, the house has a kind of zen modernity to it and the rooms are very beautiful and well kept. The bathrooms with their wooden flooring are state of the art and there is even free wireless internet available through out the guesthouse.

The ceilings might be a little low and my window was facing the street but this is a once in a lifetime experience to live in a home like this and not one that you will forget soon.

Hotel Newa Chen Patan Lalitpur Nepal Kathmandu Nepal Ecotourism

Stay & DineSee & DoBeing ResponsiblePersonal InsightsPack Your BagsFind Your WayAbout The OwnersPress ReviewsGuest Reviews

Newa Chen

After walking through Patan’s ancient Durbar Square, Newa Chen gives you the delightful experience of actually getting a chance to go inside one of these red bricked ancient structures with their intricately hand carved windows, doors and beams. Forget going inside one of them – at Newa Chen you can actually stay in them the way they have been lived in for hundreds of years.

Newa Chen was built during the Malla dynasty rule in Nepal – an era characterised by an immense flourishing of art, architecture and culture. From the private houses to the temples (and often, it is difficult telling the difference between the two!) they are so unique and rich in architectural value, they have been granted World Heritage Site status by UNESCO.

The house was left exactly as it was 250 years ago except for the introduction of bathrooms into the rooms and the addition of a few wooden beams to give some more support. Otherwise, the house has been built so well, everything is still in running order. Like in any typically Newari home, the family lives all together sharing communal space. At Newa Chen the beautiful courtyard with its outdoor sitting area and the upstairs attic that is now the dining room allow for this important requirement.

Everything is traditional and real. The house feels lived in and it is reassuring to hear that the manager was actually born in this house! At the same time, the house has a kind of zen modernity to it and the rooms are very beautiful and well kept. The bathrooms with their wooden flooring are state of the art and there is even free wireless internet available through out the guesthouse.

The ceilings might be a little low and my window was facing the street but this is a once in a lifetime experience to live in a home like this and not one that you will forget soon.

Stay & Dine

Stay

The rooms in this hotel are unique and quite delightful. This 250 year old home has not been changed in the slightest in all these years – with the exception of adding the very modern, wooden floored bathrooms complete with a bathtub! My room was very large with cosy straw matting and images and feelings of farm life and joint family life surrounding me. There are cute little ornaments made out of rice stalks adorning the walls and intricately carved wooden windows looking out to the green courtyard below.

The ceilings are low and the seating is all on the floor. The small ancient doors require you to bend when entering your room like in all Newari homes because it signifyies a symbolic offering of respect to the place where they dwell. The lounge area has large, comfy cushions to sit on with a low ‘zen’ table and the adjoining room has two mattresses made neatly on the straw mat flooring. There is also a beautiful wardrobe in my room and an adjoining bathroom with a Japanese (though it could well be Newari!) style sliding door. The beds have mosquito netting to allow you to open your windows and let the breeze in. Unfortunately this means that the sounds of the street will come in as well but hopefully you’ll wake up to the chirping of the birds instead of the chaos of the street! There are lovely little details like Buddha’s in every corner and some of the most intelligent lighting I have seen in a hotel room in a long time – definitely helpful to create a ‘mood’.


Dine

Newa Chen only provides for breakfast – and there is a different breakfast everyday! A nice mix of Indian, Nepali and Continental surprises everyday. I was there on a Sunday when it was ‘aloo paratha’ (potato stuffed Indian flat bread) which I enjoyed immensely. Though what my personal favourite was the traditional Newari breakfast of a rice pancake made with tomatoes and spices, served with a potato curry. Piping hot and delicious, I washed it all down with a typical Nepali ‘masala chai’ – sweet, milky and spiced before taking off on my grand tour around Patan.

Patan has several restaurants to try out from – the top on the list (at least for lunch) being the serene and very beautiful café inside the Patan Museum, one of the best in Asia! You can eat at the café without paying to visit the museum and the snacks here are superb. There are also plenty of restaurants around the Durbar Square form which you get nice views of the temples from up above while you have your meal. Try Jwojalapa or Who Nacha for authentic Newari cuisine or La’soon in Pulchowk for more standard fare. This is a favourite with the foreign NGO crowd with great sandwiches and an interesting African peanut soup.

See & Do

It is said that Patan was designed and built after the Buddhist Dharma Chakra (the wheel of righteousness). It is surrounded by four big stupas – one at each corner of the cardinal point. These are said to have been built by the Indian Emperor, and devout Buddhist, Ashoka when he came to the Kathmandu Valley on his pilgrimage tour some 2,250 years ago. Walking around the town is like going back centuries back. There are 1,200 Buddhist monuments scattered in and around this city alone.  Of course, the most important part of the town is the Patan Durbar Square at the centre of the city which has now been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The town is also filled with several Hindu temples since it was founded by King Veer Deva in 299 AD. Several historical records indicate that Patan is the oldest of the three cities in Kathmandu Valley.

Patan also houses one of the most beautiful museums in Asia. It is also widely renowned as a treasure of information on Buddhism and Hinduism, with priceless and very old statues and paintings. The café inside is a worth a visit too – all of which are located inside an ancient palace in the centre of Patan’s Durbar Square.

Patan also has quite a nice zoo, the Jawalakhel Handicraft Centre within the Tibetan refugee camp where you can see the spinning, weaving and dying of Tibetan carpets and several places for hiking.

Being Responsible

Honestly Newa Chen is not a very environmentally friendly property but its UNESCO sponsored status and the fact that it is the only heritage Newari home to be preserved for tourism makes it into our list. In an interesting project, UNESCO gave funding to the Patan Tourist Development Board (the town of Patan is a World Heritage Site) to restore a traditional Newari home to encourage the ‘right’ kind of tourism in the area. After much research, Divendra Shrestha’s home was chosen to be the most well preserved and conducive to turn into a guesthouse. PTDB gave him a loan to convert his 250 year old family home into a guest house – with the money that he will make and return to the board, they will commission another property in Patan to restore its building and create an income in whatever way possible. The second project under this scheme is being made into a restaurant. This is the hope that eventually most of Patan will be preserved and funded by tourism.

However, the guesthouse still does its bit using solar panels for water heating and using CFL bulbs through out the property. They often have up to 18 hours of load shedding and no electricity but rarely use the generator – offering candles instead.  The insides of the rooms of course are traditionally decorated using local materials with the floor covered completely using straw matting that is locally made. Some clever design ideas like using old Nepali cooking utensils as basins in the bathroom show a skill for recycling. All products used in the hotel are locally bought and produced.

Personal Insights

What's Hot!

  • The house with its ancient doors, low ceilings and intricately carved wooden panels will make you feel like you are living in a different time. It is a one of its kind experience in Nepal.
  • Fast and free wireless internet through out the hotel!


What's Not!

  • If you are tall, you will find the low ceilings a little bothersome.
  • Also, nothing in this house has changed for 200 years (except for the inclusion of bathrooms) so some of the rooms might be a little dark.
  • The hous ei sright on the street so depending on yor room, you might be looking out straight at it.

Pack Your Bags

Ideal For Whom

Newa Chen is ideal for a romantic break away from Kathmandu city. The rooms are cosy and unique and the royal town of Patan is beautiful. Historians, artists and wirters will also find the atmosphere conducive to work and contemplation. Newa Chen is perfect for anyone looking for an insight into the typical life of a Newari.

If you have always wondered what went on behind those beautiful traditional Nepali houses, come to Newa Chen to find out!


When To Visit

Kathmandu Valley has a mild climate most of the year, situated at an altitude of 4,297f. Summer temperatures from May to July range from 19-27°C, and in winter from November to February temperatures are between 2-20°C. During the rainy monsoon season between June and August, there is an average rainfall of between 7.8-14.7 inches (200-375mm) in Kathmandu. May and June can be very hot and humid until the monsoon rains bring relief. In spring (March to April) and autumn (October to November) the temperatures are pleasant with occasional short bursts of rain, while November to February are dry, but can be very cold, especially at night.


How Many Days

A stay at Newa Chen is perfect for a quiet weekend with a loved one, taking in all the sights at Patan. Three nights and four days is perfect for you to do all the sightseeing, do some shopping and just enjoy some time in the hotel and its unique environs. However, it is close enough to Kathmandu city to be used as a base if you are planning to stay there. There are plenty of people who stay here on a long term basis and there are special packages available for them.


Things To Bring

Pack according to the weather. Nepal can be sweltering in the summers, so if you have to come here during then, carry your coolest whites and beiges and keep it to cotton and linen. Monsoons can get humid, and an umbrella and heels to keep your feet away from the puddles!  In the winters, temperatures drop to the single digits – so carry something warm. Most of all make sure you have enough space to bring back all the shopping you will do!

Find Your Way

Newa Chen is located 500 metres behind the Patan Durbar Square. Patan is 8 km and a short 20 minute drive south of central Kathmandu on a plateau across the Bagmati river. It is also known as Lalitpur.

About The Owners

Divendra Shrestha is a good natured man who once worked in a bank, knows the last thing about housekeeping but was given the arduous task of managing Newa Chen. Traditional Newari women manage their homes but his wife died of brain haemorrhage some years ago and he now lives in the home with his daughter and father. Having run the guest house for 2 years now, he ha mastered the art of it and has now even got himself another job in Kathmandu city working for a television channel!

Press Reviews

"The two inns have modern amenities, but keep the traditional ambience of Newari houses with their low ceilings, mortar and brick walls, warm subdued lighting and quiet courtyards. Newa Chen and The Rajbhandari House are open to tourists as well as long-term residents. But more than just preserving two houses, Debendra and Udaya both hope other old buildings in Patan can also be similarly restored." ‘They Deserve to be Preserved’ Nepali Times, June 2006

'Today the house is a charming bed-and-breakfast facility that includes ensuite bathrooms, furnished with hand-loomed weavings and carpets, and traditional handmade Newari furniture. A world removed from the constant human activity of the street, Newa Chén has its own small private museum on the ground floor, which adjoins reception and function rooms that open out to a meditatively still interior courtyard lush with the last flowers of late summer. The Patan Tourism Development Organization and the National Federation of Unesco Associations of Japan assisted the Hyaamo family in converting their residence to a comfortable eight-room guest accommodation, which has proven itself successful enough that it is now encouraging neighboring families to convert their homes into similar facilities.

After all, where else can a tourist have an experience as authentically Newari as living a few blocks off Patan Durbar Square, enjoying family hospitality in a historic house furnished in the traditional manner while living the traditional life?" Inquirer.net , October 2008

Guest Reviews

‘Excellent hotel, we have stayed here three times before and can’t recommend it enough!’ Laura B.

‘Anyone looking for a place to stay in Nepal could not find a more beautiful guesthouse than yours, and the warmth and hospitality extended by your family makes everyone’s stay extra special. I think of you all often and plan to see you again.’Amanda Driscoll

‘This is a great opportunity to share with other people in the world about the wonderful time I had in Newa Chen, I felt like home during my long stay, the food was delicious, the rooms very beautiful and clean and most of all the kindness of everyone.  Thank you so much for everything and see you soon. Adios Amigos!!’Ivonne Igueravide


 

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