The Indian Himalayas are an ideal place to relax and unwind in fresh mountain air. These offbeat boutique Himalayan village getaways (listed according to location) will take you away from the crowds in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Some have cottages with multiple bedrooms, making them the perfect escape for groups of friends or families. The rates started are for the main tourist season during summer (from March to June). Substantial discounts are often possible in the low season.
If you're wanting to pamper yourself in the Himalayas, you may also be interested in these 12 Top Himalayan Spa Resorts.
Soulitude certainly 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. Rates start from 12,600 rupees per night for a double, including all meals. Taxes are extra.
Truly off the grid and off the beaten track, it takes more than an hour of strenuous hiking to reach Jilling Terraces (a porter will carry your luggage). You'll be amply rewarded for your exertion though! This graceful four-bedroom mountain home was built in 1933 by a Sanskrit scholar for his Polish wife, who was missing the cool climate of her country. The rooms are spread over two levels, and all have their own attached bathrooms. The larger ones also have separate living areas. There's an independent self-contained cottage with space for a family as well. The property is set on 45 acres of forest near Matail village, about an hour east of Nainital, and offers full-day hiking trails with village hospitality (and some with day-camping). Rates start from 11,800 rupees per night for a double, including all meals.
Te Aroha, around two 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, stay in the sprawling Master Bedroom suite, in the old wing of the original summer house. It has a 19th century king size bed, living room with spellbinding views, study, and private garden. Rates start from 7,300 rupees per night for a double, plus tax. With all meals included, the rate is from 13,300 rupees per night.
Oak Chalet is blissfully secluded deep inside the forest, about two 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. Expect to pay around 7,000 rupees per night for a double, including all meals and taxes.
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 now has new owners). 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. Rates start from 5,000 rupees per night for a double including breakfast, welcome drink and cookies. Taxes are extra.
Here's something you might not expect to find in the mountains in India -- a property with Italian-inspired architecture. The Orchard at Peora Estates has been modeled on farmhouses in Italy's Tuscany region. The flooring has even been imported from Italy! This luxury boutique hotel is located around half way between Mutkeshwar and Almora, and has seven rooms plus a royal suite. As its name suggests, the property grows a lot of its own produce and offers guests a gastronomic farm-to-table concept. Sustainability is also a focus and numerous initiatives have been taken to conserve the environment, including from rain water harvesting, solar power, and organic farming. Rates start from 15,500 rupees per night for a double, including breakfast and dinner.
Shakti Kumaon proves you don't have to sacrifice luxury to have an offbeat village experience in India! This property is situated high on a ridge, almost in the middle of nowhere. It used to be accessible only on foot, although recent development has brought the construction of a road nearby. To get there, it's a five-hour drive north of Almora. Accommodations are provided in four exclusive cottages and meals are cooked by a resident chef. Shakti also offers guided multi-day village-to-village walks around Almora, staying at plushly renovated village homes, to enable guests to learn about local life. Bespoke itineraries are created for guests. They don't come cheap through! For example, a fully-inclusive five-night package for two people costs $10,400 (about 700,000 rupees). This incorporates two nights in village homes and three nights in the main property, plus transport, all meals and beverages, activities, private chef, guide, and porter. (Note: Shakti Kumaon operates seasonally, from early October to April end, depending on weather conditions). Shakti has properties in Ladakh and Sikkim too. See their website for more information.
Dunagiri Retreat is more than just a serene getaway. It's a nurturing place for spiritual seekers, artists, poets, writers, and nature lovers in a center of deep spiritual energy. Dunagiri, about two hours north of Almora and an hour north or Ranikhet, has been the meditation spot of many realized souls. 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 made up of 14 rooms in five beautiful and unique cottages. 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. Activities consist of walks through forests to temples and meadows of medicinal herbs. Rates start from 9,200 rupees per cottage, per night, including all meals. See their website for more information.
Itmenaan Estate is situated amid 10 acres of forest near Binsar, an hour north of Almora. The property has fields full of seasonal produce and a small private natural spring. Guests are accommodated 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. A new double-story cottage was recently built nearby with traditional local stone architecture. It has one large bedroom on the top floor and a living room below. If you want to get active, participate in activities such as village walks to share tea with the locals, hiking, farming or gardening on the property. Rates start from 5,500 rupees per night for a double room in the house, and 7,800 rupees per night for the cottage. Breakfast is included but tax is additional.
Exceptional Mary Budden Estate is one of only five privately-owned properties inside Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, about an hour from Almora. The estate has been named after its last known inhabitant in the 19th century, the daughter of a local reverend who dedicated herself to charitable works. It consists of two buildings -- the original Colonial-style Mary Budden Cotttage (with three bedrooms and a fireplace) and a new addition, the Rhododenderon Cottage (with four bedrooms). Both are magnificent, although Rhododenderon Cottage is more airy and modern. Privacy is assured, as none of the other rooms are let out if one room is occupied in a cottage. Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary will appeal to nature lovers, as it's possible to walk through the forest (unlike many other similar places in India). Expect to pay 22,000 rupees per night per room, including all meals. Taxes are extra. The property also gives guests the option to stay at a home in Dalar village, hidden away inside the sanctuary. It has been meticulously renovated to western standards and its decor, with bursts of bright color, is stunning.
Kosi Valley Retreat is ideal for active families who want to enjoy the great outdoors. The property sits alongside the Kosi River, 45 minutes north of Almora and midway to Kausani in Uttarakhand's Kumaon Region. A four-bedroom bungalow made of stone and pebbles, it's been built with the theme of "peace". There, you can be at peace with yourself and the outside world, in a soothing environment. The only noise you'll hear is the chirping of birds and flow of the river. Walk to the Himalayas (the company that owns the property) offers a variety of things to do 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. Expect to pay 5,500 rupees per night for a double room, including breakfast and two activities,
This contemporary new boutique hotel opened in 2017, and not surprisingly, it quickly caught the attention of architecture publications. It was built by award-winning Sri Lankan firm Zowa Architects, a partner of which trained under renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa. The hotel suitably reflects the firm's minimalist and elegant style that favors natural elements. It is situated on Kasar Devi ridge, about 30 minutes north of Almora, and looks out to the Nanda Devi Range. There are 10 guest rooms, clustered in pairs across five structures. All have spectacular floor to ceiling glass panes that open up to nature. It's guaranteed that you won't want to leave your room! Facilities include library, sun lounge, and gourmet kitchen that serves tasty local cuisine. Do note that this is another property that isn't accessible by road. It requires a 15 minute walk from the car park. Rates start from around 12,000 rupees per night for a double room, including breakfast.
Need to rejuvenate? AyurVAID Kalmatia is the place for you! This boutique property specializes in customized wellness holidays and provides Ayurvedic treatments administered by qualified doctors. It has 10 Colonial-style cottages nestled into 14 acres on a hillside about 20 minutes north of Almora. Activities include yoga, meditation, Ayurvedic cooking, and village walks lead by local guides. Expect to pay about 11,800 rupees per night for a double.
Another wonderfully restorative boutique getaway, Van Serai Forest Lodge is located near the entrance to the holy town of Jageshwar, about an hour northeast of Almora. It's perfect 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 four 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 its restaurant, as Jageshwar is a pilgrimage site. The dishes are made using fresh ingredients from local villages, and cooking lessons are possible. Rates start from 5,500 rupees per night for a double, including breakfast and dinner. There are also two small rooms for singles, priced at 3,000 rupees per night. Taxes are additional.
Tucked away in a quiet village near Palampur in the Kangra Valley, The Earth House is made completely of bamboo, mud and slate stone. There are actually two eco-friendly buildings, with six guest rooms in total. The property sits by a stream and is surrounded by fields where animals graze. You'll need to walk about 20-30 minutes downhill to reach it. The concept aims to get guests to detach from everything going on around them and rekindle the art of doing nothing. It definitely won't suit everyone but most people love it (and call it "Heaven on Earth"). If you're really keen to get out and about, you can go hiking, take a ride on the local toy train to Andretta to buy pottery, or go paragliding at Bir-Billing. Rates start from around 5,500 rupees per night for a double room, including all meals (freshly prepared in-house by the staff).
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 -- cottage rooms and luxury tents for glamping. The campsite with the tents is a 10 minute walk through the forest, while the very spacious and stylish cottage rooms sit atop a hillock. Nature and birdsong are all around. 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! Rates start from 5,600 rupees per night for a double.
Neeralaya has a superb, secret little location on the bank of the Beas River between Kullu and Manali. It's an enchanting place that changes with the seasons, from crisp snow to rustling golden autumn leaves. Guests are encouraged to be "luxuriously lazy" -- chill in a hammock by the river or take a nap under a tree. However, those who are adventurous can go picnicking, river rafting, fishing, mountain biking, and trekking to villages. The accommodations consist of seven super spacious one-bedroom cottages with sitting rooms or living rooms, porches, and balconies. There are also two riverside villas, each with two bedrooms. Rates start from 11,800 rupees per night for two people in a cottage. With breakfast and dinner included, the cost is 15,400 rupees.
For A While faces the Phalachan River near the Tirthan Valley, in a remote spot away from tourists in Banjar and Gushaini. The hosts are a husband and wife couple who decided to quit their jobs in advertising and move there, and (fortunately) share their patch of paradise with others. They've built two rustic and inviting cottages for guests, made primarily out of natural local materials, among the apple trees. Each can accommodate up to four adults (if two are willing to sleep in the cozy but comfortable lofts). Personal touches are evident everywhere, from the binoculars to the speakers. There's also an extensive collection of books and many reading nooks. Trout fishing is a popular activity in the area. Or, explore the ample trails around the property. A 20 minute trek will take you up to Galihar Village, where you can see homes with indigenous Kath-Kuni architecture and experience local culture. The hosts also have a pottery studio on the property and will be happy to give you a lesson. Rates start from 6,000 rupees per night for two people, with breakfast included.