I waited 25 years to finally get the opportunity to travel to Kashmir and stay on a Houseboat. I picked The New Golden Flower because of its great reviews on Tripadvisor.
I made contact by phone and talked directly to Yakub. He organised everything very efficiently and confirmed by email. He picked us up personally at the airport and gave us a good run down on the town, local situation and places to visit. He is a very gracious and thoughtful man. He has an interesting and balanced opinion of the local situation, he also takes a strong pride in his business and his community and how he presents it to visitors. He is a very impressive person!
We had planned 5 days and 4 nights in Srinigar and were looking forward to a nice relaxing time on the lake. We were not disappointed! The Golden flower proved to be in the perfect spot. It sits in the quiet and isolated Lake Nakim, but only a 10-15 min tuk tuk ride to other main parts of the city.
The houseboat has a wonderful balcony were we sat and Kindle’d away the hours. Our 8yr son dove, swan and boated right in front of us, so we could keep an eye on him. When Mustafa, Yakub’s nephew was home from school the boys played together, which was great. Grandfather and the Uncle’s also organised the boat for him, encouraged his role as a Shikara driver and Grandpa even took him on a trip to the barber’s and the shops. What a lovely family!
The boat had a living room with TV/Music and Wifi and a separate dining room. It had a lot more guest space than many of the other boats. Our room was spacious and traditionally furnished. It had an en suite, which I was really surprised to find and it had hot running water in the bath/shower. What more could you ask for!
Breakfast was simple, with little variation, but it was cooked fresh and to order. We had dinner two of the four nights. The first night they suggested the menu, but were happy to accommodate a different item for our son, who doesn’t like spicy food. The second night we ordered the local mutton Kofta dish, which was cooked beautifully. Service was always attentive and responsive. If there was no one around we would just shout down to the house and someone would be there quite quickly. On the second day we stocked up on fresh fruit/juice and snacks from the market. There is a large fridge in the dining room for guests to use.
Yakub advised and organised a driver for our trip to the mountains. We had a very pleasant day out in Sonamarg. My wife and I ran/jogged the trail to snow fields, while our son took the Pony route. We had the same driver that transferred us to and from the airport and everything was very easy and stress-free. He was very flexible and accommodating. When we arrived in Sonamarg we didn’t feel comfortable stopping at the general car park, it was very dirty and full of touts. We drove a little further along the valley and eventually found a nice hotel to park in.
In conclusion, New Golden Flower (and the two neighbouring family owned boats) is a wonderful houseboat, but what makes it so special is the family that run it. However, it is important to appreciate that this is a house boat, run and managed by a family, a working family. In the winter this is their home! It is not a 5* start hotel, run by an international corporate chain! If you want to spend some quality time, with quality people on a traditional houseboat in a beautiful place, then look no further!
Many thanks and good wishes for the future to Yakub and all his family! We hope your community will eventually find the peace you so richly deserve!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Houseboats are unique in the world to Kashmir valley. For the visitor to Srinagar, staying in a houseboat is an out of world experience. The houseboat came into being during the British Era, when the Maharaja of Kashmir refused them permission to build on dry land. The resourceful Britishers took to the water, living in ornate houseboats. The style has hardly changed from the first houseboat built by Mr. Conard in 1888 right down to boats being built today and since then the houseboat become mascots of Kashmir Tourism and gained a worldwide acclaim. If your dreams include a sojourn on a houseboat in Kashmir, Kingfishers darting between the blossoming lotus and snow-capped mountains lining the horizon and each day concluded by a sunset of copper and gold, then imagine yourself on Nigeen Lake. Nearly two miles in length and overlooked by the imposing ruin of the Hari Parbat fort. Our boats are categorized in the Deluxe category. For unsurpassed value and an unforgettable holiday, we invite you to relax as Kashmiri prince in the carefree atmosphere of the New Golden Flower Heritage houseboat and enjoy the timeless majestic scenery of the Himalayas for yourself. We take pride and pleasure in providing the finest of houseboats experiences blended with the expertise necessary to enjoy Kashmir to its fullest potential. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- New Golden Flower Heritage Houseboat Srinagar, Asia - Kashmir