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Best Places to Stay in Srinagar

Srinagar, the largest city and the summer capital of the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, exemplifies beauty and romance. Srinagar is located on both sides of the Jhelum River in the core of Kashmir Valley. We spent few weeks in Srinagar hopping around different areas with a single objective in mind – to discover and share the city’s best kept secrets in terms of stay and local experiences. In this article we help you understand different stay options available in Srinagar, recommend some places to stay and share with you some highly rated accommodations for you to consider.

Best places to stay in Srinagar, Kashmir, India
Srinagar has variety of options to consider for stay. Read this article to identify the right place for you

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Where to stay in Srinagar?

Finding the right places to stay could be quite confusing in a place like Srinagar which has more than 1500 stays listed online, and out of that more than 200 stays have more than 4 star reviews out of 5. The prices for these accommodations range from Rs.500 per night to upwards of Rs.30,000 per night. It becomes all the more complicated, as seasoned travellers might notice, that many properties and house boats have high ratings on google that are paid for or bought. Let us help you break this problem down.

What are the Prime Areas to Stay in Srinagar?

Our travel guide to Srinagar highlighted all the places of interest summarized in map below. If you just zoom in and see where most hotels are located in Srinagar, you would find 4 areas that are pretty concentrated. You can plan on staying in one or more of these 4 prime areas based on your preference and purpose.

1. Around Boulevard road
Prime areas to stay in Srinagar, Kashmir, India
Areas in purple are prime areas where you would find number of options to stay

As you enter Dal gate, you would find yourself on a buzzing and beautiful lake side road called Boulevard road. On your right, you would find hotels, restaurants, and shops, and on your left across the water, you would find houseboats lined up. This area is very popular amongst tourists who like to stay in happening busy areas. While the Boulevard road goes on for ~13 kms, we refer to first couple of kms here till around Nehru park area.

2. Around Nishat Bagh & Shalimar Bagh

As you continue driving on the Boulevard road on the lake side, you will find the crowd fading. Once you get closer to some of the popular gardens, you will see many accommodations popping up on the hill side. This area has some well known names in hospitality as well as a number of new hotels/guest houses/homestays located in and around towns of Nishat and Shalimar (While these names are famous as gardens, they are also towns where these gardens were made). These areas are far more peaceful than the areas around the Boulevard road, yet have easy access to Dal lake. Also, you should have your vehicle pre-booked if you are staying in one of these areas. On-the-spot booking of cabs or autos for transportation can be challenging in some of these areas. This is a good area to stay for long term.

3. Nagin Bagh and Nasim Bagh area

If you visit the western side of the Dal Lake, you will pass quite busy and trafficky area called Rainawari, and then find a bridge, where on the left lies Nigeen Lake and on the right lies portions of Dal lake. Beyond this bridge, is the Nagin Bagh area, where you will find a number of stay options from Kashmiri houses converted into guest house/homestays to Kashmiri houseboats. Moving further, beyond Hazratbal, lies the Nasim Bagh area, which primarily is an area where you will find more locals than tourists. This area still has quite a few hotels, resorts, and homestays. Hence, this could be a good area to stay for long term as well. Both these areas are ideal to stay if you want easy access to both Nigeen and Dal Lake. Also, these are peaceful areas without many hawkers and commercial haggling.

4. Around Raj Bagh and Lal Chowk area

Both Raj Bagh and Lal Chowk are slightly away from the lakes of Srinagar. Raj Bagh is one of the most posh residential localities of Srinagar, while Lal chowk is a commercial market area and historically significant city square. Both these areas have a number of hotels and some homestays to stay. The general rates for Raj Bagh hotels, as you would expect, are on a higher side than a similar hotel in Lal Chowk. These areas are ideal if you tend to spend a lot of time in shopping and are okay staying a little away from the lakes. If you are using Srinagar as a base to do day trips to nearby destinations, staying in these areas will help you enter and exit the city much more swiftly than the other areas avoiding many trafficky parts.

Should you stay in Houseboats in Srinagar?

As a central point for tourism in Kashmir, Srinagar is fairly urban and has all types of accommodation options. From backpacking hostels to high end luxurious chain of hotels, from cozy homestays to boutique accommodations, you will find a number of options to stay in Srinagar. A unique kind of stay that you will find in Srinagar is a houseboat.

What to expect from Houseboats of Srinagar?

It’s a no-brainer that if you are in Srinagar, you must spend at least one night in a houseboat. Houseboats are not just accommodations, they are an experience in itself! The houseboats on Dal Lake and Nigeen Lake are the best places to stay in Srinagar if you want to experience the local way of life. Based on how basic or luxurious houseboat you have chosen, you would find traditional wood carvings, carpets, chandeliers, and décor. Note that the houseboats in Srinagar are anchored and they do not move as the houseboats in Kerala do. You may not realize you are on water till you gaze outside or a motorboat passes that creates strong ripples that you may feel.

Houseboats in Srinagar, Kashmir, India
Houseboats are unique experiences to stay in Srinagar, Kashmir

You would usually have to reach a ghat (few steps leading to the lake) and ring your houseboat host. They arrange for a shikara boat to pick you up along with your luggage. Note that, while booking, you confirm if the cost of the pick-up is included in your room rate or not. Most houseboats have common areas, such as drawing or TV room, dining area, small kitchen, followed by rooms depending on the size of the boat. The rooms tend to have common walls and hence they can have less privacy, as these are wooden structures without much sound proofing.

So, should you book a houseboat stay on Dal Lake or Nigeen Lake?

We stayed in houseboats in both Dal Lake and Nigeen Lake and can tell you all about the stark difference we observed in the two.

Dal lake is huge but most houseboats are concentrated in a small area. On Dal Lake, houseboats are anchored vertically and they are so many in number that they are placed very close to each other and packed bumper to bumper. When you try spending some leisure and relaxed time on the deck of the houseboats on Dal Lake, you are constantly approached by hawkers selling little trinkets in their small boats. So many that, after some time, they interfere/ruin your peace and you start getting irritated. It will also help if you check with your host beforehand, the ghat number where you should reach to get on to the houseboat. Dal Gate (point where the Dal Lake starts) is Ghat 1, and till about Ghat 12, you will find the area pretty busy.

Houseboats on Dal lake in Srinagar, Kashmir, India
Though Dal lake is huge, the houseboats are concentrated in an area close to Dal gate

On Nigeen Lake, many houseboats (not all!) are anchored horizontally, which means you get the view of the lake not just from the deck of the houseboat, but from every room, including the bedroom. Though much smaller in size, Nigeen Lake has far less houseboats and is more peaceful and serene than Dal Lake, making it one of the best places to stay in Srinagar. You can enjoy time with your friends and family here without any interruptions, as there are very less or close to no hawkers in this lake. We highly recommend booking rooms in a houseboat in Nigeen Lake, but if you are in Srinagar for a very short duration and Nigeen Lake is not a part of your itinerary, renting a houseboat in Dal Lake is also satisfactory and not that bad. Just try to stay away from peddlers.

Houseboats in Nigeen lake in Srinagar, Kashmir, India
Nigeen Lake is smaller than Dal Lake but the houseboats are relatively less and spread out

Recommended places to stay in Srinagar based on our experience

While areas around Dal Lake still remain the most popular areas to stay in Srinagar for the tourists, we ventured out two to three lanes beyond the touristy circle and found some wonderful gems in terms of stay. We recommend booking a stay at one of these accommodations and explore the Srinagar city amidst warm hospitality.

Mascot Houseboats

There are plenty palatial tourist accommodations on land. There’s even a ‘Palace on Wheels’ - the luxury tourist tra