Places I Stayed in Pakistan

Howdy all. Well, today’s post is a bit of an ol’ ‘Retro Review’, and today I am turning the clock back not to 2011, but another 7 years further back to 2004, and I want to look at the places I stayed in Pakistan. They were all memorable in their own way, and the reason I am doing this post now is that I recently, in the midst of lockdown, decided to see if I could find a copy of my favourite Lonely Planet – Istanbul to Kathmandu.

This book helped me navigate my way from Bangladesh to Europe in 2004. More Specifically from Varanasi to Istanbul as I didn’t head to Kathmandu. Anyways, I don’t have any notes or diaries or things I wrote from the trip, so I really couldn’t remember many of the places I stayed at. However, I am pretty sure that most of them were in this Lonely Planet, and with it back I compared the names of various hotels to pictures on the internet. Some of the hotels do not appear to exist today. They were all budget options, I wouldn’t have paid more than $15USD a night anywhere in Pakistan. But they all hold memories so I decided to go through them for you because, well, it seems like a good idea. I have to say that in addition to being budget choices, they weren’t the best places I have stayed! If I was to return to Pakistan I would be looking mid-range for sure!

Lahore

Badshahi Mosque, Lahore.

Regale Internet Inn

My first night in Pakistan I stayed at the Regale Internet Inn. This was NOT in the Lonely Planet coincidentally. This might have even been the first hotel/inn/guesthouse I booked online! So how about that! Well, only through an email. It appears to still be up and running today, there’s a listing on Trip Advisor for it. It was really the only place I stayed the whole time in Pakistan with other travellers staying also. I stayed just the fight night there before moving on to Multan. It was okay, I had a spot on a mattress on a floor with probably a dozen others. Many tourists then were heading north to the Karakoram Highway, very few travellers ventured south of Lahore in 2004.

It had some reviews I saw that suggested it wasn’t that female-friendly, but they organised to take people around Lahore including to this event where motorbikes were ridden around and around inside a barrel. It was nice to meet other travellers, but I couldn’t have known I wouldn’t meet other travellers until I hit Iran from this point. Sharing with so many, I guess I didn’t feel so secure with my bag and so on. I moved on after one night anyways. But it really was fine, nice common area and friendly peeps.

Parkway Hotel

So when I returned to Lahore, this is the hotel I THINK I stayed at. I put photos online against photos I took (well one I think) and it looked pretty much the same (after all this time). I remember it had a western toilet which I was thankful for and actually, despite the photos looking like it’s a bit grotty that’s partially down to the dim lighting I think and I remember it as a pretty decent place to stay all told. This was my last stop before taking the epic train through the desert to Quetta and Balochistan. This photo I have says it all I think, I was preparing for the most epic crossing of the trip and I had to go through my stuff and see if there was anything I needed to throw out. Found it also on Trip Advisor.

Multan – Guild Hotel (?)

So this one is the one I am least sure of. But I am fairly sure that I stayed at a place in the Lonely Planet and so this is the one that best matches my hazy memories. What I remember is having a room on the top floor. Very poorly lit. Shower was a bucket shower and the toilet was western without a seat. The room had a large bed. I did loads of washing by hand here. The place was possibly the least clean hotel I have ever stayed in and there were used condoms under the bed. There was no room service. But I think reception was friendly, there was actually a nice grassed area and possibly a restaurant attached, and somehow in Multan around the hotel I met a lot of local Multanis and instantly became friends. I can’t find any real trace of this one online.

Rawalpindi – City Inn

found a couple of different images online, this feels like the one but I could be wrong.

From Multan I headed north to Rawalpindi. I think this was the hotel. Small room, made a new friend there in Rawalpindi who perhaps was a little clingy. Cleaner than the Guild or Parkway Hotel, and a bit of walk from the hotel and there was an interesting market, a bit further on I crossed a river and found the area where truck art was made. Don’t really remember reception or anything like that. I think it wasn’t that far from the bus station but could be wrong on that one.

Peshawar – Rose Hotel

So this in the book is described as ‘mid-range’. The room was okay, on the seventh floor from memory (maybe the fifth?) and all the rooms circled (well, in a square shape) the inside courtyard. It’s a very common place for visitors to say in Peshawar, journalists and the like, there was, I remember, some sort of sports team (hockey?) staying there. From the window I got a view of the bustling town. The room was more spacious, the only drawback was a squat toilet.

Peshawar from my Rose Hotel Window

Then at around 2am the first night, there was an earthquake. Quite a big one too, everything shook it was pretty scary. I left the room and walked the inner balcony trying to calm down. Chatted with a guy who had something to do with the sports team. We waited 30 minutes, he declared the earthquake over. I also missed the dodgiest guide in all of Pakistan in the hotel lobby – Sohail – who took me for a trip along the Khyber Pass which I paid way too much for. Awesome experience though!

from Google.com.pk

Quetta – Hotel Bloomstar

Hotel Bloomstar – picture courtesy of Agoda

From Peshawar I went back to Lahore, then the train I mentioned to Quetta where I stayed at the Hotel Bloomstar which today has a bit of a reputation for trying to fleece travellers by charging way too much for the room. I know I didn’t pay anywhere in the region of what some have reported paying here in more recent years.

Today, there are like two hotels that take foreigners in Quetta, and those making a crossing from Iran since around 2017, when it became possible again (albeit with a police escort the whole way), and the Bloomstar is one. They offer camping on the grass too. It’s not a bad setting at all, I had a ground floor room which wasn’t too bad, but again squat toilet. Look about the squat, it’s not really an issue and they are said to technically be cleaner than western toilets. In 2004 it didn’t bother me at all. When I first had to use one, I hated it, but then I learnt how to use it. I stayed here two nights. The reception were actually really nice (unlike reports from recent years) and actually I stupidly had an ice cream from a street vendor when in Quetta and unsurprisingly was soon sick with food poisoning.

I had to move my bus ticket 24 hours to the next day – bought in a little booth on the same street, the hotel reception referred me to the children’s hospital which ran anti-biotics through me on a drip for a few hours, the guy changed my ticket for no charge, and by the next morning I was good to go. It was reasonably clean the room and there was room service from the attached restaurant (not here but this has been a bad experience for me in general, hotel restaurants in this part of the world especially India).

So there you have it, some interesting and memorable stays and experiences! All on a pretty tight budget. I definitely have Pakistan on the radar these days as a place to return to, so I look forward to the chance to review a few more places for you in the future! Thanks for joining me today – May the Journey Never End!

4 thoughts on “Places I Stayed in Pakistan

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