Hotel Wangchuk

Built new in 2008 with 32 rooms, Wangchuk Hotel is the largest accommodation in Mongar district and a popular stop for tour group travelers passing between Bumthang to the west and Trashigang to the east. It's the farthest east in a chain of five Wangchuk hotels in Bhutan, all of which combine traditional Bhutanese design with modern amenities.

Hotel Wangchuk sits atop a prominence, and many of its 28 standard and 4 deluxe rooms overlook Mongar town (population: a little over 3,500) with its large prayer wheel, where elderly villagers can be seen praying and chatting from early morning to late evening. Rooms are placed around a flag-stoned central courtyard. (Ask for a room on the second or third floor — on a corner, if available — to get the best views over the valley.) All rooms have twin or double beds with thick, comfortable mattresses, an attached bath with a tub and separate shower featuring plenty of hot water and good water pressure, cable TV, air conditioning and portable electric heater, and a personal safe and minibar. Dry cleaning and laundry services are available. A spa in the basement offers massages and has a sauna and a steam room.

The restaurant and bar have indoor and outdoor seating with expansive views of the mountains and the terraced fields in the lush valley below. The staff is friendly and attentive, and the front desk is 24 hours. A business center has a copier, printer, and internet access (and this is where to get online — the wifi in rooms rarely get enough signal).

Idyllic, little Mongar is an easy walk from the hotel, as is Mongar Dzong, one of the newer and smaller fortresses in the country, which is the administrative headquarters for Mongar district. Yagang Lhakhang temple on the outskirts is Mongar is also close by; built in the 16th century by a son of the great tertön Pema Lingpa, it contains rare religious treasures including a statue of Buddha famously discovered by the tertön at Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake) in Bumthang, as well as ancient armor and weaponry.