Want to get away from it all in the mountains? These budget guesthouses and homestays in the Indian Himalayas don't cost a fortune, and are located in serene spots where you won't be disturbed.
In addition, take a look at these top homestays in Leh, Ladakh for more places to stay as well.
A short walk down the valley (porters are available to carry luggage) on Binsar Road will bring you to peaceful Khims Guest House. The guesthouse has been around for decades but was renovated in 2012 and has a loyal and eclectic following, especially foreigners (including aging ex-hippies) who return year after year. One of them donated hundreds of books about the local Kumaon region to the guesthouse's extensive library, which specializes in spiritual and philosophical literature. There's also a rooftop restaurant that serves amazing vegetarian food (meat is available as well), wireless Internet, and fantastic father and son hosts. And, of course, outstanding mountain views from the accommodations! The cottages are basic but great value.
- Rooms: 10 individual cottages with attached kitchens and bathrooms, plus additional rooms with common bathroom.
- Cost: 400-700 rupees per night for a room, and 1,000-2,500 rupees for a cottage.
Chaukori, between Almora and Munisyari at the gateway to the eastern Kumaon region, is an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts. Kaaphal Hill aims to provide guests with a sojourn that combines adventure with education, and a true taste of Himalayan life. This inspiring rural homestay is situated on an organic farm, surrounded by forest and lofty mountain peaks. It's named after a native wild fruit that's plentiful on the property. The host is a certified mountaineer and naturalist, with with an avid interest in sustainable eco-friendly living. Numerous immersive activities are offered including birding, short and long walks, village and temple visits, and sunrise and sunset experiences. Or simply, admire the sweeping view of the Kumaon Himalayas. The location is a convenient base for exploring upper Himalayan valleys such as Darma, Milam, Namik and Pindari as well. Healthy local vegetarian cuisine is served, prepared using organic ingredients grown on the farm.
- Rooms: Three.
- Cost: From 1,300 rupees per night for double room.
Situated inside Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, this boutique village homestay requires a lengthy hike of about 40 minutes to reach but the solitude will be worth it! (A porter or mule can be arranged to help you with your luggage if necessary). It provides an exceptional opportunity to stay in a village, completely off the grid, with only 10 families there. The hosts are brothers who are passionate about rural living and generating an income for projects to improve the lives of people in their area. (One of them is a renowned naturalist, bird-watching guide, and eco-tourism specialist that runs an adventure outfit called Outdoers). The property has been renovated to western standards, including bathrooms with skylights. Pure pollution-free air and the pristine environment will revitalize you in no time.
- Rooms: Four.
- Cost: 1,700 rupees per person, per night, including all meals.
Less of a hotel and more of welcoming home, the Pink House is popular with travelers and creative types. This arty guesthouse is covered in murals and sits at the top of a flight of more than 100 stairs (yes, you do have to climb them, there's no lift). This enables it to have some of the most superb views in McLeodGanj though! The property's standout feature is undoubtedly its rooftop cafe, encased in glass to take full advantage of the views. Choose a book from the hundreds available in the in-house library, and sit back and soak it all in. It's worth splurging on a superior room in the new wing for the best mountain views.
- Rooms: 14.
- Cost: From 1,600 rupees per night for a double room. Expect to pay 2,500 rupees for superior room.
Cheap and cheerful, this small stand-alone cottage is tucked away in the middle of an apple orchard near Hadimba temple in Manali (yet only 200 meters from the road). Go there in winter and you'll be greeted with your own private snowy wonderland (be prepared to walk through the snow to get there though). During the hectic tourist season, from May to July, it provides an exclusive escape from the crowds. The cottage has a kitchen but the hosts may provide meals upon request. Understandably, it's hugely popular so do book well in advance. These 12 budget guesthouses and hostels in Old Manali are more great options nearby.
- Rooms: One.
- Cost: 795 rupees per night for the cottage.
Experience the bliss of being right next to the Parvati River at this homestay, where the water will flow right past your balcony and sooth you with its melodic roar. The cottage has a magical private forest setting, located a 30 minute trek from Jari near Kasol. There's a rooftop cafe on the property that serves a simple but tasty range of dishes. The hosts specialize in camping and trekking to offbeat places. However, you might not want to tear yourself away from this restorative paradise. It's even more special on a full moon night. Facilities are basic but the experience makes up for it!
- Rooms: Four.
- Cost: 1,999 rupees per night for a double river view room. (Cheaper rooms with shared bathrooms are available in another building set back from the river).
Recommended for those who want to stay by the river but don't want to trek to get there, TreeSouls Hostel is a project with a mission -- to fund the planting of trees on roadsides and other spaces. The property is situated in the remote Banjar and Tirthan Valley near the Great Himalayan National Park (a little-known UNESCO world heritage site), where the only road in the village (to Jalori Pass) receives just a handful of vehicles passing through it. It has clean and comfortable river-facing rooms, a kitchen that guests can use, and a private waterfall. Guests can go bird watching, trout fishing, or chill by a bonfire and play a musical instrument at night.
- Rooms: Five.
- Cost: 1,500 rupees per night for a double room.
Wayward Inn is another inexpensive gem near Jibhi (on the border of Ghiyagi and Sojha) in the Banjar and Tirthan Valley. The ambient cottage is made of stone and wood, and tended to by a warm-hearted host who is a qualified local mountaineer and trekking guide. He has intimate knowledge of the area and the best hiking trails, and will take serious hikers on multi-day treks through the Great Himalayan National Park. The food and fresh juices are all prepared according to guest requirements, with traditional regional specialties included.
- Rooms: Four.
- Cost: 1,350 rupees per night for a single room. 1,700 rupees per night for a double room.
True to its name, Ira's Hideaway is a cute and cozy traditional mud house in a quiet village in the Kangra Valley. It sits at the foothills of the Dhauladhar Himalayan mountain range, with the tea town of Palampur only 15 minutes drive away. You can choose to interact with the local villagers (many of whom belong to the Gaddi tribe), go on picturesque walks, or enjoy the divine space in solitude. The cottage comes with a fully equipped kitchen and two guest rooms.
- Rooms: Two.
- Cost: 1,000 rupees per night for the cottage.
Mansarover Homestay is nestled into the foothills of the eastern Himalayas at Kalimpong, near Darjeeling in West Bengal. It's ideal for adventure lovers, with activities including trekking, cycling, and golf. Delicious meals prepared with ingredients from the host's extensive organic vegetable garden are a highlight. Some rooms have private balconies, where guests can sit and enjoy the mesmerizing views of surrounding snow-capped mountain peaks. There's also a shared kitchen and free wireless Internet. Pets are welcome!
- Rooms: Four.
- Cost: 2,500 rupees per night for a double, including breakfast.
Situated about 30 minutes drive from the hustle of Gangtok, Soenam la Homestay is blessed with a dramatic view of Mount Kanchenjunga (it's better than what you'll get at famed Tashi View Point) and other mountains. The homestay is named after the host's little daughter, Soenam. The family provides superb Sikkimese hospitality, going out of their way to look after guests with home-cooked organic food and assistance with travel plans. Guests are welcome to use the kitchen and cook their own food too. Those who want to introspect will appreciate the meditation room.
- Rooms: Three
- Cost: From about 2,000 rupees per night for a double.
Eshab Homestay offers guests an immersive tribal experience in densely forested Sribadam village, where various Sikkimese tribes reside. This "dwelling of peace" is about two and a half hours north of Darjeeling in West Bengal, and two hours south of Pelling in Sikkim. (Foreigners must enter Sikkim via Melli). The hosts, who belong to a tribal family, are focused on responsible tourism that preserves the local tribal culture but offers guests an opportunity to learn about ethnic customs and rituals. Accommodations consist of traditional tribal huts with western facilities, including attached bathrooms and hot water. Sikkimese food and homemade plum wine is served. Guests can participate in farming activities, as well as visit village homes, meditation center, monasteries, holy water wheel, rivers and waterfalls. Those who are particularly active can also trek to Varsey Rhododendron Wildlife Sanctuary and Singalila National Park. Alternatively, the homestay has hammocks and a small library for people who prefer to relax. Try and catch the Phurpa Thordo Puja festival and masked cham dance in December.
- Rooms: Three.
- Cost: 800 rupees per night for a single. 1,200 rupees per night for a double.