15 Boutique Himalayan Getaways Off the Beaten Track in India

Boutique Accommodations to Really Get Away From it All in the Himalayas

Hotel in Indian Himalayas, Shakti 360 Degrees Leti
••• Shakti 360 Degrees Leti. Chris Caldicott/Getty Images

The Indian Himalayas are an ideal place to relax and unwind in fresh mountain air. These boutique Himalayan village getaways will take you off the beaten track and away from the crowds. They offer a range of activities for enjoying the great outdoors (or, you can simply do nothing at all). Some have cottages with multiple bedrooms, making them the perfect escape for groups of friends or families.

If you're wanting to pamper yourself in the Himalayas, you might also be interested in these 12 Top Himalayan Spa Resorts.

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    Evocatively named Soulitude nourishes the soul with abundant tranquility, mesmerizing views, and scrumptious cuisine prepared with ingredients from the organic orchard. Perched on a quiet hillside around an hour northeast of Nainital, in the Kumaon Region, it has 10 rooms and suites. Choose the rustic style Bliss suite, with fireplace, sunken bathtub, and skylights for stargazing. Or, if you prefer extra privacy, the Nirvana suite has its own entrance away from the main building. A day trip to Soulitude by the Riverside (a 45 minutes drive from Ramgarh, followed by a 30 minute hike through a tiny mountain village) is highly recommended. This restored rural home, adjoining a glacial stream and natural rock pool, also offers two bedrooms for guests who wish to stay there.

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    Also near Ramgarh, Neemrana has six well-preserved 19th century Colonial style bungalows with 15 guest rooms, spread out over the property. They're surrounded by fruit orchards and guests can help themselves to the fruit on the trees during summer when it's ripe. Neemrana uses the fruit to make delicious preservative-free jams. There's a butterfly garden nearby, and as well as trails for birding, trekking and nature walks. Apart from that, guests can simply relax and enjoy the rustic old-world charm of the property. 

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    The delightfully secluded Oak Chalet is situated deep inside the forest about 2 hours northeast of Nainital. The cottage is only reachable on foot and requires a 10-15 minute walk. It was built in traditional style, using stone and wood, on ancestral land. There are four bedrooms, each with private entrance, bathroom, and wide windows overlooking the valley below.  Or, if you'd prefer to camp out, Oak Chalet also has luxury tents (with electricity and bathrooms) in the forest on their property. Facilities include dining room, library, outdoor barbecue and campfire, and games.  Local organically grown ingredients are used where possible in preparing meals, and solar energy and rainwater harvesting are in use. Guests can go walking and trekking, bird watching, and visit nearby villages.

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    Opened in 2017, The Birdcage is tucked into to the hills on an orchard near Mukteshwar. It's the new venture of the team from popular Drifter's Inn and Cafe in Old Manali, which is now closed. They've upped the ante, as this property is gorgeous! It's been specifically designed to take advantage of the views and provide guests with a comfortable stay. There's one suite and six guest rooms, in three categories. Although the rooms are similar in size, the costlier ones are positioned higher up and have better views. The property is environmentally-friendly and pet-friendly. Of course, there's a restaurant serving wholesome fresh food as well. Visit their website for more information.

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    Te Aroha, located around 2 hours east of Nainital, is an inspiring example of someone following their passion and turning dream into reality. A Colonial-style summer house converted into a boutique hotel, its apt name is derived from the indigenous maoris of New Zealand and means mountain of love. There certainly has been a lot of love put into handcrafting the exceptional Te Aroha experience. The owner is a collector of antiques and this is reflected throughout the house and in the quirky Flashback Cafe, where treasures and memorabilia from all over the world are on display. Te Aroha also has the first spa of its kind in the Kumaon region. You can go on picnics, treks, bicycle rides, play games, or simply relax with a book from the library. For real indulgence, the sprawling Master Bedroom suite, in the old wing of the original summer house, has a 19th century king size bed, living room with spellbinding views, study, and private garden.

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    Shakti 360 Degrees Leti is truly off the beaten track -- it's situated high on a ridge almost in the middle of nowhere and used to be only accessible on foot, although recent development has seen the construction of a road nearby. To get there, it's a 4 hour drive north of Almora in Uttarakhand. Accommodations are provided in four luxury cottages and meals are cooked by a resident chef. Stay in the Hiramony cottage for a view of snowy peaks. Gola, the second best choice, has superb mountain and valley views. Shakti Himalaya also offer Kumaon village experiences that enable visitors to experience village life in the little known Kumaon region. Visits to local schools, temples, and markets unravel the culture of the region. (Note: The hotel and village walks are operational seasonally, from around October to April depending on weather conditions). See their website for more information.

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    Dunagiri Retreat, located about 2 hours north of Almora and an hour north or Ranikhet, is more than just a tranquil getaway. It's a nurturing place for spiritual seekers, artists, poets, writers, and nature lovers in a center of deep spiritual energy. Dunagiri has been the meditation spot of many realized souls, and several sages of ancient India had their ashrams and hermitages there. Dunagiri is also the birthplace of Kriya Yoga. Swami Yogananda Paramhansa gives a vivid account of this in his famous book, An Autobiography of a Yogi. The accommodations at Dunagiri Retreat are provided in four lovingly restored houses, with a total of 11 rooms. All buildings have a view of the cave where Mahavatar Babaji, of Kriya Yoga, mediated for thousands of years and initiated his first disciple. Fresh organic vegetarian cuisine is served. Dunagiri Retreat conducts various focus tours as well, with themes such as photography, cultural heritage, yoga and spirituality, and arts. See their website...MORE for more information.

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    Picture-perfect Itmenaan Estate is located on 10 acres of forest at Chalnichhina, 1.5 hours east of Almora, with fields full of seasonal produce and a small private natural spring. Guest accommodations are provided in a 100 year old traditional Kumaoni style house, made out of stone and painstakingly restored. It has three bedrooms, all with attached bathrooms and daybeds by the window so you can relax and soak up the endless mountain views. If you want to get active, you can choose from activities including village walks to share tea with the locals, hiking, and farming and gardening on the property.

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    Kosi Valley Retreat is situated alongside the Kosi River, 45 minutes north of Almora and midway to Kausani. A four bedroom bungalow made of stone and pebbles, it's been built with the theme of "peace". It's a place where you can be at peace with yourself and the outside world, in a tranquil and soothing environment. The only noise you'll hear is the chirping of birds and flow of the river. This destination is perfect for an active vacation as Walk to the Himalayas (the company that owns the property) has a variety of things to do outdoors including hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and rappelling, trekking, and village walks. You can also camp out!  Fresh organic food, reflective of the philosophy of healthy living, is served.

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    If you want to focus on wellness, this is the place for you! AyurVAID Kalmatia is another boutique Himalayan property that harks back to the Colonial era. It has 10 cottages, spread over a hillside just north of Almora on the periphery of Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. On offer are Ayurvedic treatments from qualified doctors, yoga, meditation, Ayurvedic cooking, and village walks lead by local guides. Customized health holidays are a specialty.

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    Another wonderfully restorative getaway, Van Serai Forest Lodge is situated near the entrance to the holy town of Jageshwar. It's ideal for anyone wanting to introspect or just take a break away from it all. This atmospheric lodge was purpose-built with great care over a number of years by its owners. It has five arty guest rooms with big porches, restaurant, yoga and meditation room, and massage room. Various wellness programs are available throughout the year. The spiritual energy surrounding Jageshwar is considered to be high, as legend has it that Lord Shiva came down from his abode to meditate there. The lodge is within walking distance of the Jageshwar temples. Only vegetarian food is available at the restaurant, as Jageshwar is a pilgrimage site. It's made using fresh ingredients from local villages, and cooking lessons are possible.

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    One of the region's best kept secrets, the curiously named Mir Bahay is the culmination of the owner's desire to escape the rat race of Delhi city life and create a sanctuary close to nature. Mir means "Peace" in Russian and "Bahay" means "Home" in Filipino.  This "Home of Peace" is situated 30 minutes north of Almora, and a little further on from AyurVAID Kalmatia.  It has a main bungalow with three levels, and two independent cottages. Highlights include library, sun-drenched deck over the living area, porch that runs along the front of the bungalow, two furnished watchtowers (where you can also dine), and outdoor fire pit. It's worth trekking to Zero Point in nearby Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary for scenic views.

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    Tall Trees is a boutique riverside resort on 30 acres of forest about 20 minutes before Manali. The reinvigorating experience starts from the moment you arrive, with the refreshing aroma of pine and oak trees filling the air. The resort has two different types of accommodations -- cabins, and luxury tents for glamping. The campsite with the tents is a 10 minute walk through the forest, while the very spacious cabin rooms sit atop a hillock. Whichever you choose, you'll be surrounded by nature and birdsong. Guests can choose from activities including treks, river rafting, mountain biking, fly fishing, and meditation. A team of local chefs prepares yummy international cuisine and will even serve a candlelit dinner in the outdoors. So romantic! 

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    The exquisite, family-run Ramgarh Heritage Villa was built in 1928, and operated as a luxury hotel from 1945 to 1955. It has a stunning setting among apple and pomegranate orchards by the Beas River at Raison, around 30 minutes before Manali. Photos really don't do it justice. Guests are accommodated in five suites and two separate honeymoon cottages. Numerous adventure activities can be arranged. Other possible activities include a walk though the orchard, village picnic, massage, dinner by the campfire, local music, yoga and meditation, excursion to visit Buddhist monasteries, and fruit picking.

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    ••• The Sonaugi Homestead

    If you're looking for a reflective space and NOT a tourist destination, then The Sonaugi Homestead is the place to go. Many guests say the property and its surroundings have a healing energy. It's somewhere that you can just relax and "be" in contemplative silence. There's a small library that guests can read from and numerous walking trails as well. The rustic guest accommodations are extremely spacious and are more like small apartments, with living and lounge spaces, and reading corners. Long stays are possible and encouraged. Do note that only vegetarian food is served.