I had traveled to this hotel with my in-laws for a couple of nights (Sunday and Monday). We drove down from Guwahati in about 4.5-5 hours. Since my in-laws and their family are originally from Guwahati, Assam, they were quite familiar with the place,
We traveled in 2 cars, my wife and I in one and 2 couples in the other. The drive was pretty comfortable and the highway, which is under construction in parts, was impressive on the finished patches. The highway should be complete in a 1-2 years and I predict, it will make commuting from Guwahati much easier and the drive, a good 1-1.5 hours shorter!
On a side note, we stopped at this dhabha (local restaurant) which shows up just a couple of km before IORA on the left. Its name was 'the pelican', or something of the sort. The food there was spectacular and the place pretty clean by any dhabha standards. I recommend the chicken curry and paranthas and also the potato fry! Absolutely heavenly!!
The Low Down:
Rooms- are nice and very spacious with private balconies. Every room has a smallish TV which should suffice as you would most likely not be watching TV in a place like Kaziranga. Bathrooms are clean and fitted with fairly modern fittings. I would've liked a little more water pressure though and the towels seem to be getting old. However, the housekeeping staff is very nice and more than happy to get you fresh ones. They should look into replacing the entire towel though.
Food- the hotel has a multi-cuisine restaurant (where they serve a pretty decent breakfast which is usually included in your stay) and a assamese cuisine specialty restaurant called 'Bhatbaan'. The food at the assamese rest. was really good. A few of us had the dish (forgot the name) which has pork cooked with a little bit of veggies inside a hollow bamboo whcih is baked in the fire. I highly reccomend that you give this a try. Also, place the order beforehand, since it takes about 45 mins to prepare and ask them to call you in your room when its ready or just take a stroll around the property and come back in time when its ready. My wife had this dish with bamboo shoots and I opted for without. I tasted both- preferred mine!
We tried some of the room service menu and it was average. The continental cuisine in general should be given a pass at this hotel in my opinion. The chicken stroganoff, chicken al-a-kiev and a couple of other Italian dishes were atrocious.
Service- can be slow at times but in general, the staff is congenial and efficient. They are pretty accommodating about organizing the jungle safaris.
The safari- We did both- the elephant safari and the jeep safari. Having been on jeep safaris before (in Ranthambore and Corbett); I would say this was not the best as the kaziranga is a dense forest area akin to a rain forest and the visibility of wildlife is somewhat harder due to the thick foliage, such as, elephant grass, a variety of grass that grows as tall as the elephants! I would definitely recommend the elephant safari in which the animals are at ease and the elephant takes you through the dense jungle. If you do have the time, you should def try and do both. We saw wild buffalo, wild boar, plenty of Rhinos, wild elephants, the Alexander parrot among other things. And yes, one rhino did a short warning semi charge at our jeep, exhilarating!!
The hotel- property is nice in that it is somewhat on a landscaped hill adding to the wilderness feel. It has a very nice pool, a badminton court plenty of open area, yet they have not gone overboard with the landscaping and retained the wilderness feel of the place, which in my opinion is essential.
We also had the opportunity to grab lunch at the Grassland resort and explore it. The rooms were a little nicer in the sense, they had newer fitting and amenities but were significantly smaller. The resort is on flat ground and beautifully landscaped and has a big swimming pool. Though, it did give me a more commercial feel and I would pick IORA any day for the ambiance. The meal we had there was north Indian and quite good.
All in all, I would recommend IORA, if not whole heartedly, then kindheartedly. It was a good experience and we had a great time there. I wouldn't go as far as to call it a resort (like a earlier reviewer had protested) but it is definitely a nice well deserving retreat justifiably holding it's rank as no.1 in Kaziranga.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC