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Six beautifully designed hidden gems to book in the mountains

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With the rise in mercury levels and the opening up of travel once again, summer is the ideal time to plan a vacation to the hill stations of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Think pleasant weather, pure air, misty mountains and a whole lot of privacy in the midst of nature. Ditch those touristy spots and hotels, and book yourself at these offbeat stays that promise comfort in a beautifully designed setting.

Design and Architecture in Himachal and Uttarakhand

“Himachal Pradesh's indigenous architecture is primarily influenced by its climate conditions and local materials. The use of locally available stone rammed earth, mud, bricks, and wood is carried out in compliance with indigenous construction methods, which aid in structural stability in the earthquake-prone area,” reveals Anil Badan, principal and founder of Studio B Architects, who has designed many hospitality projects in northern India.

He adds, “In Uttarakhand, buildings are constructed with locally available resources such as stone-filled solid surfaces and wood, which are extensively used and have exceptional benefits over other materials against earthquakes. These structures are typically 7 to 12 metres in height above ground level.” His latest project, Radisson Blu Dharamshala is influenced by British architecture with breathtaking views of the hills.

If you are looking for something unique and stays that give you a glimpse of the region’s local design aesthetic, these properties are perfect for your next vacation.
 

The Hideaway Cottage, Kasauli

A perfect refuge from the din and chaos of cities, The Hideaway Cottage is a chalet in the cantonment town of Kasauli. One of the most popular hill stations of Himachal Pradesh, it is often described as a hiker’s paradise, surrounded by lush greenery and majestic mountains. The four-bedroom property is a structure made out of stones and wood, staying true to its surroundings. The rustic charm is elevated with the addition of modern amenities like a Jacuzzi, spa, home-theatre system in-house, bonfire and barbecue provision in the lush lawn. One of the highlights here is the view of the verdant Himalayan slopes that are visible from all the bedrooms through the large windows. When here, wake up to 

The Hideaway cottage in Kasauli

the chirping of birds, catch the sunrise, and enjoy the peace that this secluded stay in the hills has to offer.
Book it on StayVista

La Belle Vie in Nainital

La Belle Vie, Nainital

Made using natural stone and reclaimed wood—as a home should be in the hills—this three-bedroom house is located in the quaint hill station of Naukuchiatal in Nainital, barely 100 metres away from the lake. Tucked between a forest and an eco-resort, La Belle Vie offers picturesque views in a lovely cottage-like setting. The house comes alive with its old-world charm, but isn’t too far away from amenities like the local market, restaurants, and recreational activities like nature walks, treks, boating and more. From the sloping roof to the wooden flooring, the attention to detail given to its interiors is noteworthy, making one’s stay memorable.
Book it on Airbnb

Araiya, Palampur

A boutique resort in the hills of Palampur, which is famous for its tea estates, Araiya opened just before the pandemic in 2020. Often frequented by celebrities who are seeking a moment of calm and seclusion, the resort has only 25 rooms but with luxury amenities including a rooftop restaurant opening to mountain views, a rejuvenating spa, a bar, swimming pool, and a fine-dining restaurant serving different cuisines including local delicacies from Kangra. Built using construction techniques local to the region, the property offers well-appointed rooms that blend Pahadi and colonial style of design with majestic views. The resort also offers a host of outdoor activities that one can explore in the surrounding region—from treks to tea estate visits and more.
Book it on Araiya Hotels

Araiya in Palampur

El Sueno in Mukteshwar

El Sueno, Mukteshwar

If you are looking for something rustic, secluded, and surrounded only by natural beauty, this property checks all boxes. El Sueno is far away from the hustle and bustle, giving you complete privacy in the midst of nature. With only two bedrooms to offer, this house, made in the typical style of Koti Banal architecture with thick wooden logs and stone, is ideal for small groups. The log cabin-like house also has a lawn, a walking track, farm, and offers cycles, board games, bonfire sessions and more to keep visitors busy. Mukteshwar is known for its treks that you can explore, or go sightseeing to nearby attractions that are a couple of hours away.
Book it on SaffronStays

Taara House Luxury Cottage, Manali

Opening to views of the Himalayan range and a pine forest in the backdrop, this cottage with two bedrooms is a labour of love by the host and their family. Done up in classic and mid-modern style, the house is made using reclaimed or recycled wood like Burma teak, English oak, and pine. It also features a glass house perfect for dining under the stars or indulging in some sunbathing. During winters, one can make use of the Indian fireplace or Bukhari, giving it a traditional Himachal touch. Taara House Luxury Cottage is perched on a 6,600-feet hilltop, but is just 3 km away from the city centre giving you access to local tourist attractions.
Book it on Airbnb

Taara House Luxury Cottage

Anand Kashi by the Ganges in Rishikesh

Anand Kashi by the Ganges, Rishikesh

Opened in April 2022, this new boutique hotel in Rishikesh offers just 24 themed-rooms, and is nestled on the banks of holy Ganges. What was once the erstwhile residence of the Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal, is now a stay conceptualised on the Vedic ‘Panchamahabhuta’ philosophy of touch (Sparsh), taste (Kesari), sight (Dhrishti), sound (Ujala) and scent (Mehek), with breathtaking views of thick forests, lofty mountain ranges, lush fruit orchards and the Ganges. The hotel showcases Garhwali architecture with a contemporary touch. It also has an all-day diner, spa, rooftop bar, Ganga deck, infinity pool, and experiences like Ganga Aarti by the resident priest and access to a private beach.
Book it on SeleQtions Hotels

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