Hotel Ugyenling

Hotel Ugyenling lies in the heart of Bumthang's Chhoekor Valley, about 2km outside of Jakar town near Wangduechholing Palace, birthplace of Bhutan's first king. Reopened in 2009 as a new hotel after a complete renovation, the hotel combines traditional Bhutanese styling with modern open floor plans and high almost-to-ceiling windows in guest rooms.

The building is a two-story stone construction with balconies overlooking a central courtyard. Other balconies — every guest room has one — afford a view over the town and Jakar Dzong fortress beyond. The 20 rooms are deluxe basic: large, well maintained, with high ceilings and hardwood floors and walls, split into sleeping areas with comfortable beds and living areas with seating and wood-burning stoves. (Electric heaters are also available.) Attached bath and shower rooms offer heated floors and lots of hot water. Room service and laundry service are available, and free wifi is accessible in guest common areas.

The ground-floor restaurant serves decent fixed-menu Continental, Chinese, Bhutanese and Indian food, in a spare ambiance of stone columns and polished wood floors. The bar and lounge on the second level is well stocked with a variety of liquors, including the popular Red Panda beer made locally. The guest balcony, with its wicker chairs and couches, is another good place to chat with fellow guests. Hot stone baths are available on request.

A 20-minute or so walk away is Jakar's main marketplace — a prime place to interact with locals. Even closer is Wangduecholing Palace, originally built as a family residence by Jigme Namgyel, father of the first king and unifier of Bhutan's feudal regions at the end of the nineteenth century. The central temple in its courtyard houses a museum with precious texts, textiles, murals, and sculptures. Money from the World Monuments Fund is helping to restore this cultural heritage site to its former magnificence.