Shimla, also known as the queen of hills, is by far one of the most popular hill stations in India. Every summer, thousands of tourists flock to the British summer capital for a few days of cool mountain air and breathtaking views.
Amidst this busy hill station, there are still secrets to be discovered, especially when it comes to boutique stays. During my recent trip to Shimla, I had the fortune to experience two spectacular stays - a beautiful cottage perched on top of a hill behind the famous church and a charming, luxury homestay located away from the town.
1. COTTAGE ON THE HILL
Owned by Karandip and Nawaz Sandhu, a sweet couple from Chandigarh, the Cottage on the Hill is a beautiful space full of flowering gardens, lush greenery, warm and cosy rooms and breathtaking views of the church and snow clad Himalayas. The location of the house is just perfect, far enough from the maddening crowds, but also close enough for short walks through the famous mall road and the ridge. The house is ideally located above the church, making it a quiet haven of peace amidst the otherwise loud and chaotic streets of the summer capital.
The cottage has 4 rooms and 1 family suite. Each room is beautiful decorated with a very aesthetically pleasing feel. Wooden floors and ceilings, massive glass windows, subtle lighting and balconies offering lovely views of the church peeping though the tall pine trees.
The family suite has one double room, on the ground level, one on the attic level and an additional attached single bedrooms, making it an ideal space for families or a small group of friends.
The house has four crew members, all working towards ensuring your stay is a memorable one. While Maya cooks up some delicious food for you, Prakash, Prem and Maali Bhaiya ensure you have anything that you need. They work hard to ensure that all is kept clean and tidy and that the gardens remain full of flowers and lush greenery for you! Their efforts combine to make your stay a special one :)
The Cottage is an amazing space for big groups of friends and families (10-15 people) looking for a quick getaway from Delhi and Chandigarh. Absolutely love the tasteful decor and the charming green spaces surrounding the house.
2. FAIRYTALE HOME
Originally built in 1890 when Mr. Kitchlu came to Shimla to work with the British government, the cottage still exudes an old world charm with all the comforts needed to make your stay enjoyable and absolutely wonderful! The hostess, Madhavi who now owns and runs the show at the cottage is a beautiful soul with extensive knowledge about various flora around her estate and does not hesitate to share this knowledge with her guests while she takes them on strolls around the estate. She's a true flower child happy amidst the wilderness and the serenity of her gorgeous estate.
There are 4 rooms at the cottage, each done up in the most charming and aesthically pleasing manner. Wooden floors and ceilings, Windows offering stunning views of the the surrounding forest and the flower filled garden, antique wooden furniture, gorgeous floral apholstery, that all adds up to make you feel like you're still living in the colonial times. Every room has a study because you're bound to be inspired to write, draw or read whilst your stay at the estate.
The house has a spacious living room overlooking the garden, a small tv lounge and a dining area where the hostess serves her guests some delicious home-cooked meals with ingredients sourced from her own estate. Whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner, each and every meal is well thought of and served with utmost care and passion, making every meal a culinary delight!
Originally from Delhi, Madhavi moved to Shimla five years ago to care for the estate that her great-grand aunt left behind. When she got here, the house was in shambles and the locals would refer to it as Bhoot Bangla because it was a an absolute wreck. She took it upon herself to fix up the place and has now successfully transformed this abandoned estate into a magical, flower filled estate that seems to be right out of fairytale! Madhavi lives on the estate with her soul friend and cook, Madhu who moved with her from Delhi, the care-taker Motilal and her three dogs - Bhusa singh, Bholu and sweety and one cat named Milkha. All their energies and efforts combine to make this a truly magical and unforgettable experience :)
The cottage is ideal for couples and solo travellers who are looking for a quiet and authentic homestay experience in the mountains. The house is perfect for writers and artists looking for a few days of solo time to dedicate to their creative skills. The flowers filled, magical gardens, the charming rooms, the food and everything about the house is bound to inspire you!