As most of you know already, I recently got back from spending two months in Himachal Pradesh and during the course of that time, experienced a lot of places to stay – some worth recommending and others, never to speak of again.
So whether you’re a backpacker looking for a clean, comfy place to set up your base for a few days, a slow traveler looking to savour this beautiful paradise, someone with a taste in the finer things in life or simply a family or group of friends who set off on a weekend getaway, you’ll love putting your feet up at these great hotels and home stays that really stood out among all the places I stayed at.
SHIVADYA RESORT AND SPA, MANALI – Shivadya Resort and Spa has jumped to my list of faves, not just in Himachal, but in the country! Built in commune with nature, every corner of, and every detail is designed to serve a purpose – be it to further the knowledge of dying Himachali arts, for environment sustainability or to pay tribute to Himachali style architecture. The rooms don’t fall behind in terms of luxury, and the food is absolutely fabulous (the mutton rogan josh is the best I’ve ever had)! This boutique little property is sure to steal your heart – with a variety of colourful flowers everywhere you look, well kept gardens, a sanctuary of a library, a spa and even a ‘gup shup room,’ a place for chit-chat, that offers the best views of the surrounding landscape that the property has to offer.
Pet Friendly – No
TALL TREES RESORT, MANALI – Located a few kms before you enter this commercial tourist hot-spot, Tall Trees in Manali is removed from the bustle, surrounded by – you guessed it – really tall trees! While resorts like this one offer a very different experience as compared to the ‘flop and drop’ destinations, you won’t be cut-off from the action if you want to go exploring – it’s easy to reach the main city or set off on a trail through the acres of deodar forests surrounding it. While the rooms are a tad dated and minimally done, they are super cosy and flooded with natural light, both things that always make me happy! Walk out to one of your dual balconies, sip a cuppa and be serenaded by the sound of the stream as it flows through the resort and the rustle of the leaves on the trees around you.
Pet Friendly – No
OFFBEAT FOOTPRINTS ECOSTAY, JIBHI – A little place with a big heart, Offbeat Footprints is a place that is proverbially off the beaten track! A half an hour trek from the road will bring you to this rustic cottage made of natural elements – mud, wood and the like. The rooms are extremely basic yet super clean and only contain a double bed. There are 3 double bedrooms, 3 Swiss tents and 2 common washrooms on the property.
An open kitchen is the hang-out spot where Duruji, the cook, will either be making a pot of tea or hard at work on the next meal of the day, and Mena Ji, the helper will bring you sweet, juicy peaches and plums straight off the trees! You can mingle with other guests, play an instrument or be inspired to write and paint! Bring along your tent and pitch it outside, if you like – it’s just the kind of spot that campers would love! Brajesh, the owner-manager is constantly thinking up more creative things to do – whether it’s a BBQ, a ‘movie under the stars’, an invigorating swim in the ice-cold rock pool in the river, treks, bird-watching, or even a visit to the neighbours house, a 10 minute walk away, where you can see a water-powered flour mill at work.
Pet Friendly – Yes
SUNSHINE HIMALAYAN COTTAGE, BANJAR – There’s something about this sunny homestay on the banks of the Tirthan River that just exudes happiness! The hosts are a warm, welcoming couple, the rooms are unusually cool and smell faintly and pleasantly of mud, and when you open the doors to your breezy balcony, you’ll be looking straight down into the river, just meters in front of you! Some incredible home-style cooking await you during the day, and at night, watching sparks of fire from bonfire fly off in the breeze is quite magical! Don’t miss out on sitting on one of the large rocks in the river and letting the freezing water tickle your feet or snacking on a large pan-fried stuffed trout – it is exceptional! A stay at Sunshine Himalayan Cottage will definitely make you slow down and be mindful of the little, everyday things in life that we miss out on.
Pet Friendly – No
THE HIMALAYAN VILLAGE, KASOL – You’ll feel like you stepped back in time to a slumbering Himachali village when you reside at the Himalayan Village! This luxury resort in Himachal Pradesh offers accommodation in enchanting cottages or ‘machans,’ which are watch towers sort of structures offering a birds’ eye view of the property! The Parvati River roars alongside the street in front of it but the property appears inconspicuous behind a reception that acts like a barricade, its beauty privy to only the hotel guests. It was one of the first resorts to incorporate Kathkunhi style architecture during its construction, and the place is a treasure trove for art and antique lovers! The food here is amazing too – do try out the Himachali Dham!
Pet Friendly – Yes
JYOTI NIWAS COTTAGE, PALAMPUR – This charming little homestay, Jyoti Niwas Cottage, is located in Palampur and is a good stopover if you’re travelling between Bir and Dharamshala. This heritage villa was once a royal residence in the 1930’s and it is still immaculately kept today – so much so that it doesn’t feel like a guesthouse at all – you’ll feel right at home at once. Wake up a cacophony of birds chirping; indulge in a leisurely breakfast in the balcony overlooking the private, well-kept garden and spend some quiet time just being one with yourself! If you’re reaching a point in your life where you just need to break away from it all, this is a fab place to just that!
Pet Friendly – Yes, however, pets aren’t allowed on any furniture.
NORTHMOON GUESTHOUSE, FAGU – Located 20 kms from Shimla, Northmoon at Fagu is a no-frills yet comfy homestay overlooking beautiful apple orchards. Colourful rugs and quilts add colour to its rustic wooden interiors and the food is home-cooked as per your liking by the owners themselves. In between meals, the best thing to do is to drink copious amounts of tea while enjoying views of the stretches of apple orchards that lay before you!
Pet Friendly – No
MARIGOLD, PULGA – Decent (and by that I mean clean, well ventilated and inspiring) home stays in Parvati Valley are few and far between, because many of the folks who visit are just looking for a place to crash at night and nothing more. If you like backpacker-style places, there are plenty to choose from, but for something a little more up-market, try Marigold Homestay. Clean sheets, a comfy bed, a spacious spotless washroom and good food in their restaurant are what make it my pick for one of the best stay options in Parvati Valley.
Pet Friendly –No
SYLVAN VILLA, DHARAMPUR – Sylvan Villa is a luxurious, pet friendly villa located 50 kms from Chadigarh and 60 kms from Shimla! Elegant and well-maintained, it offers guests lip-smacking food made by the in-house chef, plenty of space to unwind, a lovely balcony in which to kick back and relax and a lot more. This 100 year old villa was once Dharampur’s first and only school – but you’d never be able to tell from its posh, vintage interiors!
Other places I stayed at that had nothing noteworthy to speak of, but were clean and comfortable nonetheless; include Hotel Vansh in Kasol, Mountain Dew in Manali and Winter White in Spiti. They are budget places to park your bags at, but at least you won’t have weed stuck to your blanket and grainy floors to walk on.
Some of these hotels and home stays in Himachal Pradesh come at the end of a quiet, leafy trail through the forest. Others allow you to open your windows to views of the mist rolling over the famed Himachal apple orchards. Since there are plenty of options to choose from and you may find it overwhelming to shortlist a stay for yourself, you can rely on these – all experienced firsthand and recommended by moi!
I’ll update this list on my next trip to Himachal Pradesh! In the meanwhile, comment below and let me know if you know of any great places to stay around these parts.