As I clamber up and scamper down the cobblestoned alley, less than inebriated but certainly overcome after a swig of the local saunfi, this whole place feels faintly reminiscent of an old European town though you aren&rsquot likely to find any taverns or Christmas film crews here.
And that is because Araiya, Palampur&rsquos latest soak-it-all-in resort sprawls in the serenest corner of the Kangra Valley. Here mountain dogs thrust their muzzles into your pajama pockets and the beneficent Dhauladhars watch over you like towering grandfathers. I am already dreaming about settling into one of those window seats at the all-day diner and digging into the sumptuous breakfast spread.
At evening, sipping the Neugal Flow cocktail and taking in the darkening forest on the faraway hill, you almost forget you&rsquore at a resort where each one of your demands have been met. Even if all you do is flit from your cosy suite to the spa and the bar&mdashcheekily named The Old Fox&mdashand back, you will know Palampur. And if your bubble is greater than that, Sandeep, the Manager, will promptly arrange a day of café-hopping in Dharamkot and Bir or a peaceful village walk (both done courtesy the very capable Exsul Travel team).
The accommodation options (deluxe rooms, deluxe and executive suites, and duplex suites) spell luxury throughout the only pandemic here is joie de vivre&mdashto be spread among friends, family, and coworkers, thanks to the superb banqueting options available. I hope I return in better times, when I can stand in the pool and gaze away at the hills.
Pro Tip At its dedicated, state-of-the-art spa facility, Araiya Palampur offers Western, Oriental and Ayurvedic therapies to work your stress away. Or just take long, leisurely walks in the cosy sprawl of the resort and savour the stunning view from the al fresco bar area.