Bespoke. Private. Rejuvenating. Boutique hotels have been gaining popularity over the years, gradually trumping cookie-cutter hotel experiences to become the choice of stay, be it your annual vacation or a fun, short getaway. With curated experiences, limited number of rooms, enchanting design and views, and exclusivity at its heart, it’s no secret why these properties are all the rage. We pick five of the best boutique hotels across India that will perch you in the lap of luxury.
Located on the pretty-as-a-picture Havelock island, Jalakara takes you away from the noise of modern life, and enables you to find joy in the lap of nature. With only three rooms, three suites, and one villa, and no WiFi or televisions, they take their digital detox seriously. Lose yourself in their infinity pool and spa, engage in the board and lawn games, yoga and cooking classes, bird-watching, the cinema library, and stargazing (not to be missed, they claim). One of the few places to have an alcohol license in the strictly controlled Andamans, they have a restricted menu of beers, wines, spirits, and cocktails, though they are happy for you to get your alcohol along.
Top Billing: A digital detox that’s true to its name.
Set by the eponymous dam in the desert state, Chhatra Sagar is steeped in the royal legacy of Rajasthan. Founded in 1890 by the Marwar noble, Thakur Chhatra Singh of Nimaj, the camp is run by his great grandchildren today. Their nine tents overlooking the dam and two atop a nearby hill present panoramic views and pink sunsets, as you sit encased in hand-stitched and block-printed tents. Expect farm-fresh produce and traditional Rajasthani dishes, which can be had inside the tent or under the starlight sky. Indulge in the camp’s understated luxury as you kick back on their wooden deck chairs for a sundowner with spectacular sights.
Top Billing: The pink sunset – it’s a view you don’t want to miss.
Yet another away-from-the-hustle hotel, Two Chimneys sits atop a hill in Gethia town — peaceful as it comes yet conveniently close to the popular Nainital. An over 100-years-old cottage converted into a stay, it houses 11 distinct rooms looking over the Kumaon Valley. An old pine tree hangs protectively over its two terraces, and there are games and reading rooms, and a pool deck to while away time. From Dum Aloo to Khao Suey to Banoffee Pie, they whip up magic in the kitchen and accommodate bespoke requests with ease. If you’re a dog lover, their two pets, Bijli and Badal, will steal your heart.
Top Billing: The food their kitchen whips up is magic.
Checking all the right boxes for 2018, The Machan is eco-friendly, niche, and removed from the city madness. About two hours from Mumbai, this treehouse resort has machans (cabins) 35-40 feet above the ground that are surrounded by lush greenery and open to the clear skies above. The founders have incorporated the existing landscape into the design, so don’t be surprised to find age-old trees bang in the middle of the treehouse as well. While you laze around on hammocks and go back to board games, also find time for some bird-watching and stargazing. They serve a set menu that changes everyday, and can fix private dinners and bonfires on request. Soak in the views with open-to-sky showers; enhance your culinary skills with a lesson with the chef; take your pick from separate family or couple friendly cabins, and let the serenity seep in.
Top Billing: The clear, starlit night sky.
Ri Kynjai translates to ‘serenity by the lake’ in Khasi, Meghalaya’s local language. True to its name, it sits on the outskirts of Shillong. Surrounded by Lake Umiam and a green hillside, its two rooms and one cottage offer splendid vistas outside and inside, with their Khasi architecture, red pine paneling, and fireplaces. They have the traditional Khasi massage at their spa, and the rejuvenating environs are made more luxurious by Sao Aiom, their restaurant serving Indian, international, and Chinese cuisines, as well as the must-try authentic Northeastern fare.
Top Billing: The local traditional Khasi spa.
All images: Courtesy brands.