Recently I spent a night in Nako while traveling on the Spiti Circuit and stayed at Hotel Zambala. This is a short review on how my stay at this hotel was; and whether or not I will recommend it to anyone. I will not get too much into details because my stay here was very brief; and to be honest there is not much to write about this small hotel anyways. It is located right next to the Nako Lake and probably offers the best view of it. That unfortunately is however the only advantage to it; and for the price you will pay here, you may be able to find a better place in Nako.
I was first in Nako about a decade ago. Back then, there was just one hotel and one camp site in the entire village. The only other place to stay was the HPPWD rest house near the lake. Much however has now changed. With the recent boost in tourism in areas like Ladakh and Spiti; more and more people have started to travel here. What once were destinations for the adventurous sort now also get considered for family vacations. Effects of this can be seen throughout the valleys in form of new hotels and guest houses; numbers of which continue to go up each year.
Nako is no exception to this. During my recent visit, I was surprised to see the number of hotels they now have here; and more were under construction. I actually wanted to stay at the HPPWD rest house again; but could not locate the caretaker anywhere. I was walking around looking for him; asked a guy about where the caretaker could be; and then one thing led to another due to which I ended up spending the night at Hotel Zambala. For a minute I also considered staying at the camp site at Nako; but they were asking Rs. 6000 for one tent which was way out of my budget.
So finally I ended up checking out the rooms at Zambala. There is not really much hotel to this place; just a series of 5 rooms in a row near the lake. The rooms were large and spacious, including the washrooms. Everything was quite clean. They have a kitchen in the hotel itself and the food was simple yet delicious. Staff was quite humble and even the owner of it was a very soft spoken guy. There is a large area right in front of the rooms and is a perfect setting if you want to have a bonfire with friends.
There are of course some negatives to this hotel. The mattress on the bed was rock hard and I woke up next day with a stiff back. This proved to be the biggest disadvantage. He initially asked me Rs. 2000 but the room was just not worth the price. He then finally settled for Rs. 1200. I wanted to get a bonfire going but he asked for another Rs. 1000 for it so I gave up the idea. The road to the hotel went through a narrow gali and could be a problem if you were traveling by an SUV.
Overall, my stay at this hotel was just about OK. Stay here if you want to have a bonfire in the open with friends for which this hotel is perfect. If not, then look for some other options. For Rs. 2,000 you will definitely get a better hotel in Nako. If you are traveling on a budget however, then Zambala could be a good place to crash at for the night; but you will have to negotiate with the owner to lower the price. I hope this information was of help. If you need any further details, please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.