There are two things that make me the happiest–french fries and long weekend getaways! Of course, combining both is a win-win situation but for now, I’m on a diet that avoids fried food. Sigh. But hey, a long weekend is approaching this Holi, so that’s something to be excited about. Personally, I’ve outgrown the festival of colours and don’t enjoy celebrating it as much as I did in my childhood. But the upcoming long weekend means I get to plan a mini vacation. Just like me, if you have no plans to play Holi but make use of a three-day vacation and you’re relating to every word I’m saying, I’m here to help you make your job easy. Whether you want to saunter in pristine robes, sip on some mimosas by the beach or soak in breathtaking views, this list of hotels and resorts will help you achieve that much-needed mindfulness and relaxation you need.
1. The Postcard Mandalay Hall, Kochi
While Kerala’s beach resorts are beautiful, there are many hotels with artsy interiors showcasing the state’s beautiful culture and heritage. Say hello to one of Postcard’s latest properties. Nestled in the lanes of Kochi’s Mattancherry, the Postcard Mandalay Hall is a 200-year-old landmark building that was once a residential Jewish quarter. Its charming yet luxurious rooms (five in total) exhibit artwork and installations, so don’t be surprised if you feel like you’re staying in an artist’s home. If this isn’t enough, you can also head out for historic and art walks as well as explore the town’s creative spirits through its markets and cafes, located at a suitable distance from your stay. And let’s not forget the food! Indulge in authentic Kerala cuisine at the hotel’s in-house fine dining restaurant Aah.
2. RAAS, Chattrasagar
Picture this: you’re sitting on the verandah of your luxurious tent, with a book, sipping on some sparkling wine and taking moments in between to enjoy the breathtaking view of the Chattrasagar Lake surrounded by lush greenery–RAAS, Chhatrasagar in Rajasthan gives you this experience. The sound of your annoying alarm clock or the busy street down the road of your home is replaced by the sweet sounds of birds, which you’ll even spot in plenty as the property houses over 200 species of birds. You can also choose to explore the wildlife safari, bush lunch, farm visits, or a private cooking session with the chef. And after all the adventure, you can head back to the wellness retreat to rejuvenate yourself.
3. Taj Bekal Resort & Spa, Bekal
If relaxation is the ultimate love language for you and your partner, Taj Bekal Resort & Spa is your best bet! The Jiva Spa here offers a variety of Ayurveda therapies, beauty treatments, body scrubs, among others to help you align your mind, body and soul. And once you’re done immersing yourself in wellness treatments, enjoy romantic moments in your laterite villa whose design is inspired by the design of Ketuvallam houseboats, or head to the Kappil beach for a romantic dinner under a star-lit sky. Trust us, you’ll leave the serene space feeling energised.
4. Coco Shambala, Sindhudurg
The vacations where you can just relax, do nothing and simply enjoy your stay are the best kind of vacations, especially if you have a hectic work life. Searching for a place that lets you escape your busy life? Head to Coco Shambhala in Sindhudurg. It’s a two-three hour drive from Goa, and is perfect for couples or families seeking seclusion. Set amongst tropical gardens overlooking the beach, the four-villa property is designed as an inclusive, barefoot retreat featuring earthy interiors. Each tropical villa is complete with its own infinity pool with mesmerizing panoramic sea views and unforgettable sunsets. Everything you need is available inside your villa, from the infinity pool to a bar to meals being prepared fresh by the chef.
5. Khem Villas, Ranthambore
Safari enthusiasts, if you’re planning a trip to the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve this long weekend and wondering where to lodge, here’s our suggestion. Head to Khem Villas, a jungle camp on the outskirts of the reserve and designed to provide tranquility within its luxurious and personal atmosphere. Until a few years ago, the land on which the property stands was barren with no vegetation. Now, the 30-acre property is one of the green patches in the area. It is almost like an extension of the forest. While you can head to your tiger safaris from here, don’t be surprised if you don’t end up spotting wildlife in the jungle and outside your villa.
6. Summertime, Goa
There are two types of people–those who love going to Goa to party and those who like going there only to chill. Today, we’re catering to the latter’s taste. Perched on a hilltop just outside Calangute overlooking paddy fields and a lush tropical garden is a holiday rental bungalow, Summertime. The luxury villa is close to Goa’s beaches but away from the crowds. A large infinity pool that overlooks the gardens and the valley awaits you along with a waterfall and a koi pond–a fascinating and unique sight from a Goan villa. Inside, a double-height living-dining area is filled with light and breeze. The three generous master suites have large dressing areas, palatial bathrooms and choicest of furniture sourced from travels to Bali and places in India. Fully staffed with a cook, gardeners and security, palatial interiors and memorable scenic views–luxury is an understatement at Summertime Goa.
7. Rokeby Manor, Landour, Mussoorie
Experience 19th century India at this 154-year-old mansion. According to some testimonials, the country estate hotel is one of Sachin Tendulkar’s secret getaways and a place where Ruskin Bond loves to meet his old friends. Rokeby Manor is a quaint English country-style hotel. The uniquely designed hotel retains its old-world charm with cosy fireplaces, traditional wooden beams and quiet nooks–you’ll feel like you’re in the era of Victorian England. Some of the rooms offer a glorious view of the Doon Valley far below, others of the snow-capped Himalayas.
8. Rah Bagh, Harwan, Srinagar
Situated near Dal Lake, Rah Bagh promises a holistic and luxurious experience amidst its apple orchards and poplar trees. You can choose from its 33 sunlit rooms and suites with balconies that offer picturesque views of the Dal Lake while you sip on some Kashmiri Kawha. There’s lots to see within the three-acre space. Having said that, heading out to some of the popular tourist attractions in the city is quite convenient. For instance, the Shalimar Bagh is around four kilometres away and the Nishat Bagh on the banks of the Dal Lake is about eight kilometres away. Got the Dal’s floating markets on your itinerary? You can easily access the lake without having to enter the city. Once you’re back to your haven, you can relax your tired body in the open-air swimming pool with a hot tub or head to the spa for a steam and sauna sesh. And if the local food is something you fancy, you must try the lavish Kashmiri Wazwan at the resort’s all-day multi-cuisine restaurant, Wan Posh.
9. Neeralaya, Kullu
While there are some places that look beautiful depending on that particular season, Neeralaya is an exception to the rule–whether you head there in spring, summer, fall or winter, be rest assured you’ll have a different experience each season. Located on the banks of River Beas, close to Kullu-Manali, Himachal Pradesh, Neeralaya, is both the quintessential ‘little house by the river’ and that ‘secret place’. Basically, it’s heaven on Earth. Away from the stress and the chaos of city life, with its charming timber and stone cottages and villas, fresh home-cooked food, simple natural attractions, tranquil but mesmerizing views, Neeralaya is perfect for a long stay or a quick stopover.
10. Birdsong, Karjat
Just a few hours away from Mumbai, this 4BHK riverside villa is everything serene, splendid and luxurious. Aside from its super cool interiors featuring a spacious room with a hot tub inside, there is also a space where you can sit and listen to the sounds of fresh water flowing on river rocks while the birds chirp right over you! Isn’t that what you want–an escape from the city life in a world surrounded by nature?
11. Jungle House, Shimla
Bringing together history, luxury and comfort, the wooden and stone cottage has stood the test of time, from being a witness to British Raj to being the home of royalty–HH Princess Kusum of Bharatpur. If this doesn’t convince you enough, there’s more! Nestled 7700 feet on Jakhu Hill, this boutique homestay provides that old-world charm with its modern colonial architecture, a rose garden for picnics and a quiet reading area for book lovers. The rooms are vast and if you peek outside the windows, you are blessed with the sight of pine trees, a lush green garden and the deep jungles. Given the fact this was once a princess’ home, expect nothing short of royal treatment here. Your personal butler will take care of all your culinary needs. Indulge in some nostalgic and homely dishes made of family-secret recipes.