And finally you've arrived at Hampi! In all probability you've taken that 30 minutes local bus from Hospet to Hampi. Just get out of the tiny Hampi bus stand and walk towards that soaring temple tower located at a distance (less than ½ Kilometers or about 3 furlongs) west of the bus stand.
You would have gone through a wide but crowded street, reached the entrance of the soaring temple tower, then seen a white & maroon striped temple tank next to it & finally reached a stepped bathing ‘ghat’ by the riverside. It might've taken about 15-20 minutes to reach the riverside from the bus stand. Well.
The street you've just passed through is the Hampi Bazaar ; the large tower you’ve seen is of the Virupaksha Temple ; the striped tank is the Manmantha Tank; and the stepped bath spot by the river side is from where you can catch a coracle ferry to the other side. Let’s call this walk your first expedition in Hampi !
Regarding Hampi’s lodging locations a visitor has three options, in fact four, if you are prepared to cross the river by a coracle.
The first location is the Hospet town, about 13 kilometers from Hampi. This is where those of who can’t forego the regular luxuries of a hotel would prefer to stay. In this area luxury means no-nonsense comfy hotel rooms one typically find in a small town. And yes there are some upscale hotels are located in the Hospet area.
Also it is to Hospet to which the tourists overflow when lodges at Hampi hang the houseful sign during the peak seasons. Most of the hotels and lodges in Hospet are located between the main bus station and the railway station. This is a small town and can be practically walked across, though it means a bit longer walk.
On the other hand the negative point of choosing Hospet as your base is its distance from Hampi. You need to travel about 13 kilometers to reach Hampi from your base in Hospet. If you are keen on an early morning stroll at the ruins or to watch the sunrise from the hilltop, Hospet is not your right base.
Also Hospet does not have that eerie charm that Hampi has.
The second cluster of lodges, though not many, is located at Kamalapura about 3 kilometers from Hampi. The state run three star hotel (Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneswari ) is located in this area.
The third and probably the most popular & largest of all lodging scenario is located near the Hampi bus stand, the scene explained at the very beginning. This stretches from the Hampi bus stand to the riverside nearby and even beyond. They are basically located on the narrow streets around the Virupaksha Temple, whose tall tower you can notice from far.
The narrow alleys (you and a cow many not be able to cross at the same time despite, the best cooperation from you both!) are packed with guesthouses. The guesthouses are in fact simple houses with the glorified ‘gust house’ title glued to it. The households use it as their homes and the couple of extra rooms are rented to the tourists. Usually the family and the guests use the same public space in a house like the dining hall and at times even the bathroom. So if you are claustrophobic or a lot particular about privacy or sensitive about having non-shared bathrooms, it’s better to explore one of the homes before you check in.
With a few variations here and there, most of these are very basic backpacker type accommodations. That is, a tiny room with a metal cot and bedding, a mosquito net, fan and an attached or common bathroom completes the specifications.
The bucket of hot water supplied for shower (most of the guesthouses have solar water heater), TV in the room and the much touted rooftop restaurants (because little space left on the ground to serve dinner and the roof comes handy) are definite bonuses.
The rent for these ranges from Rs100 to Rs300. During the peak seasons, the rent typically doubles, faithfully following the supply-demand theory. Of late a number of tiny establishments functioning out of the Hampi Bazaar area was removed by the authorities. Nevertheless you'll find some guest houses functioning in the Hampi village.
The fourth refuge of the backpackers is at the other side of the river called Virupapur Gadde. You've to cross the river to the north bank by a coracle. This area too has a number of guesthouse type accommodations explained before. Apart from the typical guesthouse type accommodations, you can look for some kind of huts to stay.
The rates are comparable with the guesthouses. Some of the huts are provided with attached bathrooms and commands a small extra premium. Most of the accommodations are located adjacent to one another and practically you can walk from one end to the other to explore a bit before deciding on one. Generally the guesthouses & lodges here are on the edges of paddy fields, banana plantations or overlooking the boulder hills.
This is also the location for the few resort type of accommodations at Hampi. That’s the ones with some fancy facilities like a swimming pool.
The ferry point is next to the Virupaksha temple where the holy bath (the stepped bathing spot) is also located by the riverbank. Both the plus and minus of staying at Virupapur Gadde is its relative isolation. Each time, to reach the main ruins site and to go back to your lodge, you'll have to cross the river. Sometimes this is a bit hectic affair due to overcrowding at the ferry.
Also keep in mind, the Virupapur area is backpacker refuge and the base camp for those bouldering enthusiasts.
The funniest and sometimes greatly helpful accommodation is the Rs50 per person sleeping space available on rent. That is what typically happens when Hampi lodges bust at its seams during the peak seasons. The spaces offered on rent are typically a terrace or veranda or whatever can be made as a 6 feet by 3 feet kingdom to sleep on. Bring your own sleeping bag or bedspreads or whatever. It’s not unusual for the household of the guesthouses to demonstrate to you how to sleep on such cramped space. No, they don't fancy sleeping on the roofless terrace; their bedroom has just fetched them the best rent the season has even seen.
Though advanced booking is advisable, especially for the peak season, gatecrashing in style is the check-in rule in town. You can practically walk into a guesthouse and check yourself if it is okay for you. Do it with a few places to get a hang of the options available before you finalize. This is an acceptable norm.
The email printed on their business card is mostly a fashion statement. Most of the small guesthouse owners usually don't check their emails regularly, that is if their email account is still alive. Calling over phone to confirm things is essential if you are not getting a response after a couple of days. Call again to reconfirm your reservation after a few days or weeks. It may sound strange, but it is worth the effort.