Trekking lodges are still sometimes called “teahouses” in guidebooks, though the traditional bhatti, or teashop with basic dormitory behind, is rare on the main trails. On all but the most remote routes, most lodges are efficient operations these days, with English signs, enticing menus, displays of flowers and usually an English-speaking proprietor.
Many are family homes, typically run by the matriarch with the help of local children, with a stone-and-wood annexe for lodging and a dining room off the family kitchen. In the Annapurna and Everest regions, however, fancy, purpose-built lodges are increasingly common: you’ll find glazed sun-terraces, electric lighting, kerosene heaters, telephones (satellite or otherwise, both with high per-minute prices), solar-powered hot showers, Western toilets and even wi-fi. An appealing alternative is the community lodge, set up on sustainable principles with the aim of spreading the benefits of tourism more widely.
Most lodges follow the Nepali tradition of providing inexpensive accommodation (anything from Rs50 and up for a bunk bed) so long as you eat your meals in house – though note that lodging (and food) prices in the Annapurna region are officially agreed, prices rise steeply as you gain altitude, and the Everest Base Camp route is relatively expensive. Lodges typically offer a basic wooden bed with a simple mattress or foam pad, a cotton pillow, and a blanket or quilt. On the main trails, many lodges now offer private rooms, though in busy seasons or at altitude these get full and you may find yourself sharing a dormitory. (Unroll your sleeping bag early to reserve your place, and relax: it’s surprising how quickly most people adapt to shared sleeping space, and being physically tired helps hugely.) You’ll find fewer comforts on less-trekked trails, where lodgings are likely to be basic teahouse dormitories, or even a bench by the kitchen fire, and meals are eaten amid eye-watering smoke.
The majority of lodges in the Annapurna and Everest regions have solar or electric-heated showers. Others will offer washing water that has been heated on a wood fire. Off the established routes or at higher elevations, you’ll have to bathe and do laundry under makeshift outdoor taps or in a tin bucket, using freezing cold water. Most provide outdoor latrines (chaarpi), and a few even have indoor flush toilets, but don’t be surprised if you’re pointed to a half-covered privy hanging over a stream or basic pit.
There is little to be gained by recommending specific lodges – in truth much depends on who is running the place on the day. It’s best to ask advice from other trekkers coming back along your chosen route.