Houseboats on the Dal Lake in Srinagar have always been a significant tourist attraction with an element of glamour attached to them. They have been showcased in various Hindi movies, which has helped popularize them across several decades. Houseboats are a unique form of accommodation associated with the peaceful feel on the beautiful and serene Dal Lake. So, your trip to Kashmir, perhaps, is regarded as incomplete if you don’t stay on a houseboat!
However, amidst so many houseboat options available on the banks of the lake, how do you choose the best one? Here are five tips that answer the question and help you make the right houseboat choice.
How to Choose the Best Houseboat in Srinagar?
Every houseboat is a unique experience in itself. However, factors such as accessibility, the houseboat’s size, food, etc., prove instrumental in choosing the best one that resonates with your needs. Let us look at each one.
One of the first considerations is accessibility of the boat. Many boats are accessible by a small rowboat, termed ‘shikara’ in the local language. However, a few can be accessed by road as well. If you do not want to distance yourself from the city and move in and out of the boat freely and quickly, you may opt for the houseboat, which can be reached by road.
2. Size of the Houseboat
Houseboats cater to varying group sizes. The size of the boat is graded by the tourism department of the government. The categories include Deluxe (the most common one) to D-grade boats.
While the cost may vary from season to season and is subject to inflation adjustments, the average per night of an excellent quality houseboat could be somewhere in the range of INR 8,000 to INR 16,000. On the other hand, the per night tariff of a decent budget houseboat might be in the range of INR 5,000 to INR 7,000. Although yes, it is recommended you get the per night price confirmed with the owner before factoring it into your trip’s budget.
The largest houseboats comprise three to five bedrooms to accommodate larger family groups. However, if you are in Kashmir on a honeymoon, you may choose smaller houseboats that offer a higher degree of privacy.
3. Position of the Houseboat
Remember, Kashmir’s houseboats do not move. They are stationary on-water accommodation. Hence, it is imperative to consider the boat’s position to enjoy the spectacular view of the lake that these boats offer. Boats positioned adjacent to one another provide a spectacular view of the lake from their bedrooms. If not, you may have a houseboat facing the bedroom of the neighboring boats; however, with balconies facing the lake.
4. Houseboat Owners
This is a factor not many consider. Houseboats in Kashmir are often owned and operated by local families. Some families are concerned enough to provide personalized attention to their guests. You may want to choose families that offer such personalized services, as they’ll also be of significant help regarding local insights.
But then, how do you know if a family that owns a houseboat is friendly and honest or not? One of the best ways to find it out is to check online reviews. It will help you determine the owner’s reputation, service, merits, and demerits, etc.
5. Facilities on the Boat
Over the years, houseboats have evolved significantly. Accordingly, the houseboat you choose should have several amenities that plug you into tranquility yet keep you connected with the outer world. One of the first considerations in this regard is whether the houseboat has a generator backup or not. That’s because power cuts are a frequent concern on houseboats. Other amenities to look for include 24-hour hot and cold water, televisions, and the internet.
Additionally, you must check if the transport from the shore to the houseboat by a shikara or by road is included in the package, or if you will have to pay extra for it. Nevertheless, the importance of facilities and amenities is subject to one’s interests. If you are okay living without any of the above facilities, you may make a decision accordingly.
One Extra Tip!
Don’t fail to negotiate! Houseboat rates during the winter plummet by 40% to 50%. So, bargain adequately to reduce the cost initially quoted to you. Furthermore, try connecting with the houseboat’s owner for the best rates instead of booking everything online. Again, that’s because you cannot negotiate online. Besides, if you plan to visit Kashmir during the summers, you must book your houseboat well in advance.
Staying in a home that floats on water is an incredible experience; words can’t describe enough. It is like a cherry on the cake that contributes to the overall tour experience. We hope these tips enable you to choose the suitable houseboat for your needs and preferences. We wish you a memorable houseboat stay in Kashmir!