I have always done the Himalayas as the rustic traveller, boarding in Government Lodges (very attractive locations), hiking public trails and being touristy in general. Always. Until in early 2014, when destiny, with a little nudge from a benevolent corporate sponsor, landed me in the lap of luxury at 8250 feet. I stayed for a couple of days at the Wildflower Hall Shimla. I am not big on luxury travel. I would much rather do two moderate trips than one exorbitant one. But if you ever do spend $300 a night for lodging in the Himalayas, this is where it should be and why:
Location of the Property
This is almost as high as Shimla could offer you. Not really ‘trekking in Tibet’ high, but high enough to prohibit lodging of children below 8 years. No Child Below Eight in the Vicinity, are you imagining the quiet already? Housed in the middle of a forest reserve, closed to the public, but get this – open to the guests of the Wildflower Hall – you are at huggable distance of the beautiful cedar forest on three sides and luscious snow-capped peaks on one.
The Mesmerizing Trails
The property gives you access to the most picturesque, ‘right out of a hollywood chick flick’ trails that you can imagine. The roads, literally less traveled, wind up and down unrelenting peaks and twist round and about tall proud trees. You could keep trekking all the way to Kufri – a distance, obviously, my lungs didn’t have the horsepower to cover. Whatever I could traverse, though, of the fascinatingly named “Wild Strawberry Trail”, was beautiful beyond words. The only let-down possibly was the absence of wild strawberries that I had fantasized plucking en-route. But wildflowers in plenty will keep you company as you walk up and down the mesmerizing trails.
The Magnificent Castle
The building has a rich history and has been built and rebuilt three times through the ages. The latest edition that stands proud atop a peak in Mashobra most definitely looks like the Indian cousin that Hogwarts didn’t know it had. Every inch of the building is adorned with Burmese teak installments. If I had any magic in me, I would teleport with a piece of that divine, handcrafted staircase railing and spend my life staring at it. Amidst the sunrise deck, the card room, the living room with the grand piano, the snooker table and the big spacious guest rooms, you might start expecting an Agatha Christie story to unfold in every turn.
The Swim of a Lifetime
There are a few things in life that are priceless, for everything else you need someone else’s credit card! The experience of taking a dip at this property is one of those things. First up there is this gorgeous, indoor, temperature controlled pool. The tiles, the lighting and the ambiance are perfect to warm up for the real experience that is – believe it or not – outdoors. So, you step out of this beautiful pool, wrap yourself and step out to a chilling 6 degree Celsius – and literally run in to the Jacuzzi, 40 degrees and bliss! As you settle down, it takes a little time to get used to the beauty that is this jacuzzi. Cold out, warm in and looking over a precipice to the sight of breathtaking, snow-capped mountain range. That really is how heaven should be!
Absolutely recommended experience, especially with your special someone. I missed my family and plan to make this trip with hubby darling to enjoy the couple’s spa in the woods, the wine and dine on the deck and the barbecues under the starry, clear sky!
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