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The Hotel on the Roof of the World: Five Years in Tibet

The Hotel on the Roof of the World: Five Years in Tibet [Kindle Edition]

Alec le Sueur
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'This read has been compared to Fawlty Towers and then rated as funnier. I'd have to agree.' (St Christopher's Live Your Life e-zine)

"Five years working in the Holiday Inn in Lhasa facing some pretty unusual challenges." (The Bookseller)

'Imagine moving Faulty Towers from Torquay to Tibet... Le Sueur has distilled five years of real anecdotes into one hilarious volume' (FOCUS Magazine)

'This is a rip-roaring comedy of a book... Underlying the story is a heart-warming and sensitive understanding of the Tibetan people' (The Himalayan Club)

'This title follows in the footsteps of author Alec Le Sueur, who worked at the Holiday Inn Lhasa in Tibet for five years, where he had to deal with fly infestations at state banquets and unexpected deliveries of live snakes.' (ABTA Magazine)

'witty, detailed and often hysterical account of the daily disasters that occurred within the hotel's rat-infested walls' (Wanderlust)

'hugely evocative and frequently hilarious' (The Good Book Guide)

'His entertaining tale provides a fascinating insight into the country.' (The Western Morning News)

Product Description

"The very aptly named Mr Pong had the kind of breath that could stun at over ten feet… This wasn’t just bad – there was something rotten down there. Something had crawled in and died. Gunter howled with laughter as he saw the look of horror on my face. It was the best entertainment he had seen since he had watched Chef chasing yaks through the kitchens."

Few foreigners are lucky enough to set foot on Tibetan soil, but Alec Le Sueur spent five extraordinary years there, working in the unlikeliest Holiday Inn in the world. Against the breathtaking beauty of the Himalayas unfolds a highly amusing and enlightening account of his experiences. Fly infestations at state banquets, unexpected deliveries of live snakes, a predominance of yaks and everything yak-related, the unbelievable Miss Tibet competition, insurmountable communication problems and a dead guest are just some of the entertainments to be found at the ‘Fawlty Towers’ of Lhasa.

Le Sueur, the only Westerner since the days of Heinrich Harrer to spend so long in Tibet, examines the country’s intriguing cultural background, providing a fascinating insight into a country that was only just opening up to the outside world.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1244 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Summersdale Publishers Ltd (7 Jan 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005LIB41A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #22,419 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Alec Le Sueur started a promising career in luxury hotels, with positions in London, Paris and St Tropez, until one fateful day he took the unusual career choice of leaving Europe to join the management team of the infamous Holiday Inn Lhasa. He spent five years in Tibet, the subject of his first book, The Hotel on the Roof of the World, and witnessed the opening of Tibet to the outside world. The book has spent time on European and Asian best seller lists and is translated into ten languages.

A further career change led Alec to swap VIP guests for lawyers and to acquire an MBA in law firm management. He gives frequent talks on his time in Tibet and has contributed to Food & Wine magazine and Thomas Cook Travel. He writes articles on management and strategy for exciting law journals and wrote a second book, Bottoms up in Belgium - Seeking the High Points of the Low Lands, which was published in 2014. Alec's interest in Belgium came as a result of marrying a Belgian girl, Conny, who he met while they were both working in Tibet.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I loved this book. I've read some of the more serious Tibet books which I find quite heavy going. This guy gives you a good understanding of the situation and the plight of the Tibetans while at the same time giving you a really good read. There is his 'British sense of humor' that evidentally kept him going through the strangest of situations and even a romantic angle arrives too. Definitley my favorite book this year.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I stumbled in this book my chance as I was browsing for reference material on health and hygiene. As the author and I share the same rather unusual surname, a hotel background and a love of travel to far flung places I thought this might be 'my kind of book'. I was not disappointed.
Alec Le Sueur gives us an accurate and extremely amusing behind-the scenes look at hotel life. Hoteliers will find memories come bounding back as Le Sueur's tales remind them of similar experiences. How little the guest knows as he obliviously whiles his days away in his 'luxury' hotel!
For the traveller - both real and armchair - Le Sueur takes us on a journey through his Tibetan life, sharing with us his thoughts and observations. He gives us a rare insight into this mysterious country as he is one of just a handleful of foreigners who have spent such a long period of time living in this closed world.
At times his tales are thought-provoking, sometimes poignent. For the most part they are so funny I found myself laughing out loud.
This book is a mu-rad for anyone with an interest in Tibet or an appreciation for the 'funny side of life.'
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 25 Dec 2002
What a delightful book this is. So many books about Tibet are worthy but not very readable. Alec Le Sueur doesn't preach or lecture, he entertains. He doesn't need to go into lengthy explanations of history or politics he just tells you some stories of life running a hotel in Lhasa... What is most wonderful about this book is that it exemplifies the very joie de vivre for which Tibetans are known. He shows us the oppression that exsists in Lhasa and yet somehow also reveals to us the atmosphere that a Free Tibet could and should enjoy. Magical and very very clever.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We fell out of bed laughing - more please! 14 April 2000
By A Customer
A delectable book filled with the devastatingly funny experiences of bringing western hotel standards to one of my favourite places in the world. The smells, sights and sounds of Tibet are laid before us to experience, without the altitude sickness. The adrenalin boosting flights on China Airlines, the soaring beauty of the Himalaya's, saffron coloured in the dawn light and the cultural complications of working with the delightful locals and cosmopolitans who are involved in the project are a literary feast. We fell out of bed laughing! What a gem!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The book starts well and gets better. Mr Le Sueur writes lightly and well, describing difficulties but making them seem funny. It is not as cringeworthy as Fawlty towers, but there are definite similarities. One of my favourites is the chapter about the "Miss Tibet" competition which is renamed into the fashion show. The book is also very informative about Tibet and the situation with China. Very human, very funny, critical and pure joy to read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I have never felt that i wanted to write a review on a book before, but this book is such a nice, honest story and one where you really want to keep reading... i have been reading all sorts of books about tibetan life but this one actually tells of characters just like the people i met on my travels, without delving into the politics.
i did thoroughly enjoy it as a read on my daily commute, and can honestly say i was still giggling during the day and telling colleagues about it, but also wish it had been longer.
Would recommend it as a great read about real people from a Westerners' point of view.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why couldn't this book be longer !!!! 29 Jun 2004
This is a must read for any traveller. You can anticipate whats round the next corner, but no that couldn't happen, yip it just did. My only negative point about it is that I took it to read on a two week holiday (I'm a slow reader), and I was half way through it by the time I landed in Kathmandu, you just can't put it down.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last, a seriously funny Tibet book 23 Jan 2003
By zonda
After reading "worthy" or serious, data-filled books on Tibet, it is a joy and a relief to find a book that's funny, so easily readable + yet still manages to make serious points which linger on after the laughter has passed. Lightweight, or just seriously lighthearted? Whichever, for me Alec's writing has breathed life into an alien world not experienced by most. I only wish there were a few more Tibet books out there like this.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
excellent read!
Published 5 hours ago by JILL FRANCES SMITH
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable...
Makes for a great easy read and has made me want to travel to Tibet more than ever!
Published 14 hours ago by jean.bee.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 9 days ago by misty
4.0 out of 5 stars An amusing but at the same time interesting observation of ...
An amusing but at the same time interesting observation of the Chinese occupation of Tibet as it affects the hotel. Read more
Published 14 days ago by adventurer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not bad
Published 19 days ago by cyclo
1.0 out of 5 stars laugh at the poor
yeah so funny - the objects of derision include people with low standards of English, who have no concept of "luxury'' hotels; poor hygiene and decomposing hotel guests. Read more
Published 27 days ago by atreyu
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
In excellent read that makes a visit to that country inevitable
Published 1 month ago by M.A.Phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars I found the book delightful to read. How he ...
I found the book delightful to read. How he stayed there for 5 years I do not know. The author has patience in abundance and is a born hotelier!
Published 1 month ago by
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very funny, love the translations from Chinese to English
Published 1 month ago by Pauline Willgoose
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the book as it's funny and it can be ...
Is Alec winding me up or are the staff in this hotel in Tibet really as dopey as he claims. I enjoyed the book as it's funny and it can be picked up and set down at will. . Read more
Published 1 month ago by Thomas Dunseath
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