This year has been rough for a lot of us. It started on a great note but soon turned into a nightmare for the world, with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We must be grateful to the divine providence if we have managed to just survive. And we must make sure that the year ends on a hopeful note. By Karan Kaushik

10 staycations in India to spend the upcoming Christmas holidays

Taking a Christmas staycation with your friends and family in the hills may exactly be what the doctor prescribed. If you are looking forward to witnessing fresh snowfall, destinations like Auli in Uttarakhand, Gulmarg in Kashmir and Theog in Himachal Pradesh could be some of your best bets. We have prepared a list of ten of the best staycations in India you could embark on with your loved ones. These properties not only promise a memorable Christmas vacation but will also allow you to indulge in several interesting activities and explore the great outdoors. 

 

1
LaCasa Luxury Cottage, Shoghi

If you are looking for a quiet and comfortable time in the hills, look no further than LaCasa. Hosted by the Verma family, this luxury cottage is blessed with peaceful vibes at every corner.

Guests who have stayed here have only nice things to say about the hosts Ayush and Praveen, and their friendly staff. Expect freshly cooked meals prepared with the harvest from their own farm.

You can spend your time exploring the wooded trekking routes around the property or enjoy a game or two with your loved ones in special dedicated spaces. There’s a cute doggo too to keep you company.

2
Heevan Retreat, Gulmarg

A hot favourite among couples, this majestic retreat will leave you smitten with its hilly charm. What makes Heevan an ideal choice is its proximity to the famous Gondola Cable Car and Gulmarg Golf Course.

Guests also praise their in-house restaurant Dilkhusa, which serves an array of cuisines, ranging from Kashmiri to Gujarati to Chinese and continental. They have a coffee shop too. It’s called Samavar and makes for a great unwinding spot.

When done appreciating the natural vistas, you could find a bit of thrill in horse riding, golf, skiing, and billiards. Sightseeing shuttles are also available.

3
Mary Budden Estate, Binsar

Don’t call yourself a Binsar veteran if you haven’t stayed at the iconic Mary Budden Estate yet. The classy and elegant stay continues to be a top choice for Binsar frequenters.

Thanks to its location amidst the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, locals often term the property as Kumaon’s best-kept secret. There are two cottages here and they’ll invite you with their colonial charm. You could also stay in one of their luxurious en-suite rooms, which come with spacious dining and drawing rooms. And most importantly, cosy fireplaces.

Bird watchers must keep an eye for some of the most gorgeous species they’ll ever spot.

4
Grand View Hotel, Dalhousie

Dalhousie may be known as one of the most visited hill stations of India, but the incredibly picturesque town also has its share of solace and silence.

Grand View Hotel is one of those places, where you can soak in the quaintness, while still being close to the Mall. Dating back to the early 19th century, the resort once served as a preferred getaway for British officials.

Evenings can be spent at The Viceroy Lounge Bar, followed by dinner at Tiffins Restaurant. Coffee lovers must visit their beautiful terrace coffee shop. Kids can enjoy board games, PlayStation, pool, and table tennis.

5
Magnolia Residency, Darjeeling

Definitely one of the most sought-after stays in Darjeeling, this property is conveniently located at the Mall, Chowrasta. The blissful residency is owned and managed by Chewang Sherpa and Sonia Devi, who will go to any extent to make sure you have a perfect staycation.

The rooms here are adorned with Tibetan murals and are a tasteful blend of modern and traditional. The multi-cuisine restaurant serves Indian, Chinese, Nepali, Tibetan and continental. Also, you can’t afford to miss the breakfast here, which is much talked about by travellers.

Quick tip: Head out to the nearby Jhandi Dara Sunrise Point, hardly a kilometre away, to catch surreal sunrises.

6
Mountain Rover Resort, Auli

You must have already planned that late December skiing trip to Auli, if you are a regular. And if you still haven’t, we suggest, you must spare a thought for the newly opened Mountain Rover Resort, while booking your stay.

Surrounded by the grandeur of Nanda Devi, Barmal and other majestic Himalayan peaks, the property serves as a great base to embark on your winter adventures in Auli.

They could also arrange treks, day hikes, jungle walks, night trails, bird watching and photography trips, village tours, and much more. You may also enroll yourself in their skiing and snowboarding lessons.

7
Raju Bharti’s Guest House, Tirthan

Environmentalist Raju Bharti is a respected name in Himachal, thanks to his sincere efforts towards the conservation of Tirthan river. Encompassed by the gurgling Tirthan river and gorgeous apple and cherry orchards, Raju Bharti’s guest house is managed by him and his family.

Please take note that utmost importance is given to sustainable and eco-friendly practices here. They don’t use disposable plastic water bottles. They segregate their waste into recyclable and nonrecyclable, while wet waste is fed to their cattle.

Staying here is a one-of-its-kind experience. You can indulge in hiking, camping, trekking, mountain biking and angling. The hosts will be happy to arrange these activities for you.

8
juSTa Mukteshwar Retreat and Spa, Mukteshwar

If you are willing to splurge, you must consider this five-star resort, a recent addition to Mukteshwar’s list of grand stays. On offer here are well-equipped and super comfy rooms that offer great views of the surrounding Himalayas.

There’s a spa, there’s a jacuzzi, there’s a temperature-controlled swimming pool overlooking the Nanda Devi range and there’s their in-house restaurant Sabor. Apart from evergreen Kumaon delicacies, they also serve Chinese, continental, and Indian preparations.

The prime highlight of your stay would be embarking on fantastically designed and well-organised outdoor treks and jungle walks. The staff is extremely friendly and will make you feel at home.

9
Neerlaya Ranch, Kullu

Those looking to rent a villa in Kullu can trust Neerlaya Ranch for its tranquil vibes. The property stands on the banks of river Beas and provide breathtaking views of the Himalayas.

Neerlaya Ranch is one of those places where you don’t feel guilty for enjoying an undisturbed afternoon nap. You can go on fishing trips, take soulful morning walks, have a cute little picnic with your kids or do absolutely nothing and simply be.

There’ll never be a dull moment during your stay here. Made of timber and stone, the cottages here are as comfy as they come.

10
Taj Theog Resort and Spa, Theog

If you’ve had enough of Shimla, we suggest, you must make your way past Kufri and Fagu to reach the charming little town of Theog. Taj’s property at Theog has been drawing guests from all corners of the country thanks to its excellent service and ethereal surroundings.

You will get a 180-degree view of the magnificent Churdhar peak of the outer Himalayas from your room. The property has 97 rooms and suites, which stand as testament to the craftsmanship of the skilled local artists.

If you are travelling with kids, you can enroll them in their Explore Taj Kids program, which is based on adventure activities and aims to make learning fun.

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