The Big Six: Indian mountain retreats
Saturday 06 August 2011
Shakti 360° Leti, Uttarakhand
A collection of simple stone houses gathers at Shakti 360° Leti – a Himalayan retreat so remote that guests have to make an hour-long hike from the nearest road in Leti to reach it. The rewards include spending days reading in one of four cottages – all with views of the peaks; going trekking with a guide and porter; or curling up beside open fires at night as the temperature drops outside.
Shakti 360 Leti, Leti, Bageshwar District, Uttarakhand (00 91 124 456 3899; shaktihimalaya.com). Three-night packages start at US$1,916 (£1,178) per person, all inclusive.
Glenburn Tea Estate, West Bengal
A decent brew is guaranteed at the Glenburn Tea Estate. Founded in 1859, it offers eight colonial-style suites above Darjeeling Town. Each has a four-poster bed, embroidered quilts, free-standing Victorian tub and Darjeeling Green Tea toiletries. Spend a day on the "tea tour" watching how leaves are harvested. Or spend a night at the remote Glenburn Lodge & Campsite, which offers barbecues and bonfires beside the River Rungeet in the shadow of the Kanchenjunga mountains.
Glenburn Tea Estate, Glenburn Valley, Darjeeling, West Bengal (00 91 98 300 70213; glenburnteaestate.com). Suites start at Rs11,000 (£156), full board.
Ananda – In the Himalayas, Uttarakhand
This former Maharaja's palace now functions as a Himalayan spa hotel. Retaining its palatial splendour, reception rooms boast gilded ceilings and richly patterned rugs, while the 75 rooms and suites are located in a more modern building to the back. It offers a holistic approach to wellbeing, with yoga in the open-air pavilion, Ayurvedic treatments in the spa, nature walks and a menu of healthy regional dishes.
Ananda – In The Himalayas, The Palace Estate, Narendra Nagar, Tehri, Garhwal, Uttarakhand (00 91 13 7822 7500; anandaspa.com). Doubles start at US$466 (£286), room only.
Vivanta by Taj, Kashmir
India's northernmost state is home to the latest Taj by Vivanta. At 1,730m above sea level, it overlooks the Kashmir valley's dramatic peaks and Srinagar's Dal Lake below. Despite its remote location, all the five-star hallmarks are present. Try yoga in the fitness centre; relax in the outdoor pool; sip Kashmiri tea at the Rhythm lounge; or retreat to your room – all have private balconies – to take in the epic views.
Vivanta by Taj – Dal View, Srinagar, Kralsangri, Brein, Jammu & Kashmir (00 800 4 588 1 825; tajhotels.com). Doubles start at Rs11,000 (£153), including breakfast.
Serenity at the Kanam Estate, Kerala
Prize for the best on-site attraction goes to the Kanam Estate, where guests can spend a day with resident elephant Laxmi and his mahout. Meander through the grounds of this 1920s rubber plantation in the Western Ghats or borrow bicycles to explore the surrounding hillsides. The six bedrooms feature bright terracotta and lime hues and ornately carved wooden beds.
Serenity at the Kanam Estate, Payikad, Kanam, Vazhoor, Kerala (00 91 481 2456353; malabarhouse.com). Doubles start at €130, with breakfast.
Casa del Fauno, Kerala
Food is the one of the main draws at this cardamom plantation, which offers just three bedrooms in a stylish homestay setting. Amid the rolling tea terraces and spice gardens of the Kannan Devan hills, the owner Suni doubles as a chef, helped by a small team of staff. Traditional Keralan curries are served, using home-grown vegetables, meat from local farmers and fresh fish from the nearby lake. After, take in misty views from the veranda.
Casa Del Fauno, Peak Gardens, Chinnakanal, Muttukadu, Munnar, Kerala (00 91 484 312 6444; casadelfauno.in). Double rooms start at Rs7,000 (£97), full board.
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