Looking for a peaceful break in high-altitude settings but away from the increasingly crowded mountain settings of the north? Look eastward at these charming heritage stays, which offer panoramic views of the eastern Himalayas and indulgent afternoon teas. And they are the perfect base to explore their historical settings.
This award-winning boutique hotel is a refurbished English country home that sits on a ridge overlooking three world-renowned tea estates Makaibari, Castleton, and Ambootia. The rooms have period furniture with views of the Balason Valley. On clear days, you can see the Kanchendzonga. Opt for the deluxe rooms located in the building's original wing and named after peaks in the eastern Himalayas. The hotel provides sightseeing trips and tea estate walks. Get more information here.
About Kurseong: Also known as the land of white orchids, Kurseong is a sleepy little town in the eastern Himalayas that has attracted several well-known people, such as Rabindranath Tagore, Subhash Chandra Bose, and even Mark Twain. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway runs right through the town. The railway, a British legacy and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, runs between Siliguri Junction and Darjeeling via Kurseong. An archive on the railway can be viewed inside.
Built on Tibet Road in the 1950s, Netuk House in Gangtok is located on what was once the main route for people journeying to Tibet. The hotel is owned by the Denzongpas, a royal Sikkimese family with deep roots in this picturesque town. Netuk House was constructed in the traditional style, employing traditional construction methods and local resources. You can choose from both traditional and modern rooms. Some feature large balconies and sit-outs with stunning views of Kanchendzonga. A highlight here is the local specialities offered by their in-house restaurant. The dishes have unique ingredients like fiddlehead fern and stinging nettle. Do try their millet beer. Get more information here.
About Gangtok: Gangtok lies at a height of 1676m along a mountain ridge. On clear days, you can see the legendary third-highest peak in the world, the deeply venerated Mt Khangchendzonga, towering above all else in the distance. Sikkim's capital served as an important transit point for those travelling between Tibet and India. Sikkimese monarch Thutob Namgyal shifted the capital from Tumlong to Gangtok and built a new palace along with other state buildings here. Today, Gangtok is considered to be a centre of Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning. It is the administrative and business hub of Sikkim and a town with a very cosmopolitan vibe that has its share of multiplexes, shopping complexes, cyber cafes, nightclubs, pubs, and cafes.
Once the residence of the Maharajah of Cooch Behar, this heritage building was constructed in 1887. It served as a club under the British before being converted into a hotel. Period Burma teak furniture, oak floorboards and panelling, crackling fires, and candle-lit tables reflect the colonial vibe. Check out the sketches on the walls by renowned artist Goray Douglas. The hotel has played host to well-known personalities from the art and literature worlds, like Dominique Lapierre and Mark Tully, giving the place a pleasingly bohemian feel. Get more information here.
About Darjeeling: Darjeeling, located at an elevation of 7,000 feet, was given to the East India Company by the King of Sikkim in the 1800s. Darjeeling, like many other hill stations in India, was primarily created by the British as a sanatorium for their troops. It also functioned as a summer retreat for Raj officers from sweltering Calcutta, which served as the capital until 1931. The creation of tea estates in the area resulted in a massive influx of workers. Today, it is a multicultural place with a nice blend of languages, cultures, and religions, surrounded by the gardens that produce the GI-tagged Darjeeling tea, the 'champagne of teas'. You can travel between Darjeeling and Ghoom on the UNESCO-designated Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) or the "toy train". Sometimes the toy train and the motorable road run alongside each other, evoking sequences from the films Aradhana, Parineeta, and Barfi.
Thengal Manor, located in the village of Jalukonibari, features opulent, lavish single and double rooms in a classic Assamese plantation setting. The heritage hotel, constructed in 1929, hosted the launch of 'Dainik Batori,' the first daily newspaper published in Assamese. The hotel offers one double bed and one single-bedroom with adjacent dressing rooms and an attached bath. Sleep in a four-poster bed, go for a walk on the verdant grounds or to the local hamlet and speak over afternoon tea in the living room. Get more information here.
About Jorhat: Jorhat is an ancient town with a long history. As the name suggests, it was also an important economic centre Jorhat, or Jorehaut, refers to the twin haats (markets) of Macharkhat and Chowkikhat, which were located on opposite banks of the Bhogdoi River in the 18th century.