Of all the big capital cities I have visited in the world, Islamabad feels least like a crazy bustling metropolis. The lack of big-city chaos means that finding the best hotel in Islamabad should not be too difficult, right?
Set against the backdrop of the green Margalla Hills, Islamabad is sure to be on your itinerary at some point while traveling in Pakistan. The city provides the perfect base to rest between adventures, offering very comfortable accommodation, an abundance of food options, and the holy grail for travelers in Pakistan… FAST wifi!
One peculiar thing about Islamabad is that there is not really a proper city center. The city is broken up into sectors and a car or Uber is needed to pretty much go anywhere unless you are based within walking distance of a big market area. From that perspective, exactly where to stay in Islamabad is less important. What is important is that you choose the best hotel in Islamabad for your budget, needs, and travel style.
Let’s jump right in…
At a Glance – The Best Places to Stay in Islamabad
Breakdown: The Best Hotels in Islamabad
Now that you’ve had a sneak peek at the top picks for where to stay in Islamabad, I’ll go into more detail about what sets each hotel apart. There’s a lot to see and do in the capital of Pakistan, so picking a good hotel is key to making your most of the time in the city.
$$ | 3-Star | Close to E11 Market | Restaurant On-site | Rooftop Patio and Outdoor Seating
Travelers looking for a balance between comfort and price in a hotel in Islamabad will be happy to find a spot like the Grand Islamabad Hotel. Located in the E-11 sector, it’s a little farther from the central downtown attractions, but also a lot more budget-friendly.
Rooms also have air conditioning, which is something I’d definitely recommend having in accommodation in Islamabad since the summers can get very hot. Pretty much a must! A nice addition is the roof terrace, where you can sit outside and get a decent view of the city when the weather is pleasant.
The continental or buffet breakfast included in the room price is all you can eat, a bit too spicy for my taste, but good fuel to get you going for the day, and the on-site restaurant is a convenient place to grab a bite to eat after a day of exploring the city.
$$$ | 4-Star | Next to Shakarparian National Park | Huge Swimming Pool | Fitness Center and Sauna
Sure, it’s a bit pricier than other hotels in Islamabad, but the Serena definitely takes the prize for comfort and luxury. If you’re the type of traveler who’s hoping to spend time at a spa or swim around in an amazing outdoor swimming pool, then I’d definitely recommend the Serena Hotel.
Of course, amenities like air conditioning and Wi-Fi are a given, and the Serena also tosses in some extras like fancy bathrobes and free airport shuttle service. Another bonus is the great view the hotel has of Rawal Lake.
The Serena Hotel isn’t far from the downtown Blue Area of Islamabad, so there are plenty of restaurants nearby, but there are also 4 on-site restaurants serving truly amazing food. The several times I have had the breakfast buffet – it was amazing. My favorite restaurant there is the Lebanese place near the main entrance!
The only downside is the price, but that’s to be expected from one of the best luxury hotels in Islamabad.
Note that if you are traveling with a drone, the staff will make you check it with the security team.
$ | 2-Star | In E11 Sector | Shared Kitchen | Fast Wifi
Expenses can add up quickly while traveling, but sometimes finding a budget hotel can be difficult. You don’t want to be stuck in a place that makes you wish you coughed up the extra cash for the more expensive option.
To prevent you from finding yourself in this situation, I’m here to recommend the Backpackers Hostel & Guesthouse. It’s a bit farther from the downtown area, but it has everything you need all under one roof. Backpackers Hostel is where almost all independent traveler / backpacker-type folks stay when in Islamabad. The owner Haris is also a leading figure in Pakistani tourism and is a wealth of knowledge on where to go and what to do in Pakistan.
Since it’s both a hostel and a guesthouse, there are dormitory rooms as well as private rooms making it a good hotel in Islamabad for solo travelers, couples, or even groups who are looking for a nice place to stay that falls within their budget limits. You can also rent motorbikes from Haris if you’re keen on the ultimate Pakistani road trip up north.
$$ | 3-Star | Next to the Centaurus Mall Islamabad | Restaurant On-site | Fitness Center
If you’re looking for something romantic and with more privacy, then these classy serviced apartments near the center of Islamabad are a great pick. The units have a tasteful combination of modern style and comfort, plus there are great on-site services, like a buffet breakfast included in the room rate and a fitness center with a hot tub and sauna.
Unlike many hotels in Islamabad, the Centaurus Apartments offer you more autonomy thanks to the homey amenities, like an equipped kitchen and cozy living space with a fireplace. It’s a comfy place for travelers who want to do some sightseeing, but who also plan on spending more time at their accommodation in Islamabad instead of just crashing for the night.
In terms of location, it’s hard to find a more central spot since the Centaurus Apartments are right next to the Blue Zone. This makes it easy to visit some of the city’s most famous landmarks, like the Shah Faisal Mosque and the Pakistan Monument, during your stay.
$$ | 3-Star | Close to Shakarparian National Park | Free Airport Shuttle | Fitness Center
One of the best 3-star hotels in Islamabad, the Regalia Hotel has a nice combination of comfort, affordability, and a touch of romance. The location is also excellent, not far from the central Blue Area and right next to some of Islamabad’s most popular hiking areas.
Some of the larger rooms at the Regalia Hotel have living spaces with sofas and refrigerators, and even the smaller rooms have a desk.
One thing I like about the Regalia Hotel is that most of the bases are covered for travelers. There’s a paid airport shuttle service, you can hire a car on-site, and the front desk has a currency exchange. Dining is taken care of too thanks to the included breakfast and restaurant onsite.
$$ | 3-Star | Close to Safa Gold Mall | Free Airport Shuttle | Breakfast Included
Bringing kids along on a trip adds a degree of complexity, but also offers the opportunity for some unforgettable family memories. Blue Moon Residency is one of the best hotels in Islamabad for those looking for homey comforts combined with good vacation service.
The buffet breakfast included in the room price makes it easy for everyone in the family to find something they like to fuel their day, and room service is also available for other meals.
Although there’s certainly still a “hotel” vibe, Blue Moon feels a bit less formal than other establishments, which can be nice when traveling with kids. Rooms all have a seating area and a TV to help entertain kids while you finalize travel plans for the day.
In terms of location, Blue Moon Residency is close to downtown attractions and is just five minutes by car from the Blue Area, but the neighborhood is a bit quieter and the terrace and garden on-site help create a more relaxed ambiance so you can get away from the city traffic.
$$ | 3-Star | Close to Sandaymar River | Restaurant On-site | Free Airport Shuttle
A trip from the Islamabad International Airport to the center of the city can take up to an hour depending on traffic and conditions. If you have an early morning flight or won’t be arriving until late, it’s not a bad idea to look for a hotel in Islamabad that’s a bit closer.
The downside is that it’s also farther from Islamabad’s top things to do, so it might not be the best pick for travelers staying for a longer time or hoping to explore.
Sometimes when I’m in the position of needing to catch an early morning flight, I’ll book just one night at a hotel closer to the airport and find accommodation that’s better situated for exploring for the rest of my trip.
$$ | 3-Star | Located in the Blue Area | Terrace With Views | Business center
Being able to sightsee from your hotel room is always a plus. Situated right in the Blue Area and close to top attractions like the Safa Gold Mall and Saidpur Village, Viridi is one of the best hotels in Islamabad in terms of location and vantage point.
Each room has large windows and some rooms also have a balcony with a city or mountain view. Plus, it’s not exorbitantly expensive, so even travelers who are on a tighter budget can enjoy the touch of luxury and class that comes with staying at Viridi Hotel.
To top off a great location, Viridi also covers the basics for travel needs by providing a free airport shuttle and a buffet or continental breakfast included in the room price.
The Best of the Rest
If you still haven’t found the right hotel in Islamabad for you, then here are a few more excellent options to consider. These hotels offer a good balance of service, price, and location for your time in the capital of Pakistan.
The Magnolia Boutique House stands out among other hotels in Islamabad for its great garden. Each room has views of the garden, and the property itself is about halfway between the central Blue Area and Lake View Park so you can explore both city attractions and outdoor areas.
One thing I like about Magnolia is the simplistic style – things aren’t lavish or overdone, but there’s also a homey charm other hotels lack. Other plus sides to this great 3-star hotel in Islamabad are the breakfast and the airport shuttle service included in the room price.
For budget travelers looking for something with more privacy than a hostel, the Raine Boutique is the perfect option. All rooms have air conditioning and a private bathroom, but there are also nice public spaces to socialize like the lounge, the terrace, and the garden if you want to hang out and meet other travelers.
Reina Boutique Hotel also ranks as one of the best 3-star hotels in Islamabad for location. It’s very close to Fatima Jinnah Park and only a short drive to the Blue Area and attractions like the Centaurus Shopping Mall and the Pakistan Monument.
By now, hopefully, you have found what you were looking for from this list of the best hotels in Islamabad.
Most people will find the best comfort to price ratio at the Grand Islamabad Hotel – which is exactly where our clients stay when I lead Epic Backpacker Tours trips, but if you have the financial means to go with something fancier you might want to check out the Serena Hotel.
If you know you’ll be heading to the airport to catch an early flight to your next destination, then the Trivelles Executive Suites might be the hotel in Islamabad for you.
If you’ve got a favorite hotel in Islamabad that I missed or have thoughts or questions you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to reach out and comment below! Cheers guys and happy travels.