Not all of us are cut-out for long and difficult treks in the mountains. That doesn’t mean we don’t deserve the beauty and the pleasure of staying around them. Sometimes, let’s admit, even if we could, we don’t want to rough it out at all. Sometimes, it’s all about enjoying the terrain, the fresh air and the solitude without exerting a muscle. In other words, a pampered sojourn in the mountains. Yes! We do like to be spoiled once in a while, don’t we? Therefore, we are going to tell you just how to experience this thing we call a “Holiday with a View”!
So, here’s a list of boutique hotels in the Himalayas, that have taken indulgence to a whole new height!! (LITERALLY)
SHAKTI 360 ° LETI, BAGESHWAR.
Some 8000 feet up in the Himalayas, overlooking the white peaks of the Heeramani glacier and the snow-capped mountains of Nepal are the four luxury ensuite cabins of the very exclusive and deluxe Shakti Kumaon holidays. Mind you, these are very traditional and eco-friendly cottages made with the local technique and materials likes stones and wood. But it is the Glass windows (more like walls) in each of these cottages that steal the show. If you have ever wondered what exactly blending with your surroundings means, the glass windows do the same for you. It just puts you right in front of the surrounding mountains and hills within the warm and luxuriously cozy comfort of your room (Need we tell you it’s out of this world). Yes, these rooms are insulated with solar-heating systems and the soft Pashmina throws and feather duvets. Oh! Imagine gazing at twinkling stars as you lay down at night or just doing nothing but unwinding by your private firepit.
The food is gourmet (not to mention organic and mostly homegrown), the services are definitely nothing short of a 5 star; all this in a remote, secluded region of Kumaon. They also arrange for local village treks with halts in some very elegantly and lavishly furnished huts. So, if you thought, going off the radar, into the remotest parts of our country is for the rough and tough, this place is all set to prove you wrong with all its pampering that it has up its sleeves.
ITMENAAN ESTATE IN THE HIMALAYAS, ALMORA
A boutique lodge in a rural set up, the Itmenan estate is a 10-acre estate in the Kumaon region of the Himalayas. With great care, much hard-work and conscientious efforts a hundred-year-old traditional Kumaoni cottage was restored and refurbished for a luxurious getaway in this small village of Himalayas. The cottage, known as the Oak House, has 3 alluring ensuite rooms and a courtyard that overlooks the mountains and the valleys. Surrounded by orchards, forests and terraced fields, the “Oak House” cottage is every bit the perfect slice of idyllic countryside haven.
Coming to other, relatively newer cottage called the “Deodar Cottage” which was built over a period of one year, completely in the traditions of the typical Kumaoni architecture; the end result, is a blissful 2 storeyed cottage with a dreamy view of valleys and the Himalayan peaks.
The itmenan estate is the perfect place to just let go of your hectic lives and indulge in the simpler things in life like reading a book or just letting yourself get lost in the beauty of the surroundings. Should you feel the need to use those relaxed muscles, you could participate in some gardening in the estate fields or hike up to the highest point for a more spectacular view of the area or walk into the nearby village (Just Saying!) oh! The food! needless to say, the ingredients are either home grown or locally sourced. The chef whips out the freshest and tastiest cuisine (not just Kumaoni but almost everything) and what better place than the semi-open dining space or the courtyard to enjoy your meals? To save the best for the last, the Kitchen is always open and running are no restrictions in terms of food timings. Now, that’s a perfect, lazy and relaxing holiday.
MARY BUDDEN ESTATE, BINSAR.
Within the premises of the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, perched at a height of 8000 feet above sea level lies a beautiful 19th-century heritage property called the Mary Budden estate. Mary Budden, FYI was the name of the previous inhabitant of the Bungalow. Needless to say, the estate is privy to a spectacular view of the mid-Himalayan range and the lush greenery of the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. To ensure that the guests make the most of its environs, there are nooks and corners (read sit-outs) at different sections of the property for you to take in every aspect of the surroundings. The Mary Budden heritage cottage, retains its old-world charm and is at same time well equipped with modern and luxury amenities. The newly added Rhododendron Cottage is rather more contemporary yet it imbibes the essence of the old heritage cottage. Trees everywhere, Fresh air, surprise visits by the local wildlife, clear open skies as far as you can you see, a mesmerizing world of stars at night, hills and valleys; these are all you will have for company. What’s more? They will serve you food in any corner sit-out you are bundled up in or your room and yes! Don’t you forget the high-tea by the hillside. Bonfires and barbeque dinner are definitely the “thing” in the cool mountain night. They really have some awesome organic and homegrown Indian and Continental food that are worth a try. When, you are done with all the cuddling, snuggling and lazing around; just remember it is a wildlife sanctuary all around. So, can take guided walks to the jungles and nearby villages (all within the sanctuary, actually 5 of them only!). The Mary Budden estate has a wonderful Homestay at Dalar Village that is embraces the essence of Kumaoni village life but comes equipped with the right amount of modern influences. Birds watchers are sure to go nuts in this village!!
THE BIRDCAGE, MUKTESHWAR
It’s called the birdcage because of the odd 300 species of birds that are known to flock in the region; just in case you were getting any wild ideas! The Birdcage sits at a height of 7500 feet above sea level and it’s perfectly placed to present 180 degrees view of the Himalayas. The cottages are rustic, made with stone and wood but have all amenities for a comfy and luxurious stay. The architectural planning of the cottages ensure that it blends in with the entire mountainous surroundings. The wide bay windows, skylights in the rooms (to watch sunset or sunrise from the bedrooms), well places sit-outs and an open sky bathroom (in one of the suites). So, you don’t miss the fantastic view no matter where you are in the property. There are in total 7 cottages, 7 private gardens and a hanging restaurant (now that’s a beauty, considering the picturesque surroundings et all). They also have their own fruit orchard and a herb garden. They spread out a mean English breakfast menu, awesome mouth-watering continental food for lunch and the perfect combo of tea and cookies in the evening. To keep you from getting too lazy, there are walks into the forests, bike rides to the nearby waterfalls and many other leisure activities.
JILLING TERRACES, NAINITAL
A 40-acre property that houses an 80 years old bungalow amidst the dense forests of Uttarakhand in the South Gola Himalayan Range. Yes, there are trees all around the beautiful Nandi Devi and its surrounding peaks at its background. The house has an interesting history. A scholar of Sanskrit had made it for his Polish wife who seems to have been missing the cool weather of her country. Sigh! How romantic and thoughtful of him no? Well, now thanks to his sweet gesture, even us mere mortals have the access to the solitude, the bliss and the beauty of the mountains. There are 2 very spacious suites, 2 rooms and all the rooms have an attached anteroom (and not to mention they are each a room with a view). The most interesting part is that the place is literally off the radar. The last road halt is at the nearby village called Matial, from where it’s a 45 mins hike up to the Jilling Terraces. No cringing! There are porters to escort you and basically carry your stuff (and the best part is, the place is worth the walk). Would it make it more attractive, if we told you that you could get your little puppy along as well? (read pet friendly) yay! A holiday in the mountains with your furry little munchkin. We like the sound of that! Oh! Let’s not forget the food, its yum (obviously), because it’s all fresh and locally sourced. Kumaoni food is their speciality and the chefs can whip up some mouth-watering Indian and continental stuff as well. So, eat your heart out and then go for those beautiful walks and hikes into the nearby river and forest trails. Oh! Bird watchers are gonna love this one.
Already feeling the tug in your hearts, are we? The calmness and the blissful quietude beckons! If the pictures and the words stir in so many emotions, imagine how would it feel for real! so, the most probable solution is to pack some warm clothes and head straight to the place that will reset all your worries and troubles.