An Escape to the Naini Retreat Uttrakhand
By Natascha Shah
The Naini Retreat
Overcome with sulk induced by the failure to go for my morning jog; thanks to the alarming levels of pollution, I checked my email and saw something that seemed God sent. It was an invitation from Leisure Hotels to visit their property Naini Retreat in Nainital, Uttrakhand
After a six hour drive, a few pitstops and a day spent mostly snoozing with our heads bobbing all over the place, we finally reached the mountains. The mere sight cheered us all and the windows were rolled down to feel the fresh air that smelt of pine trees. We stopped to grab a cup of tea and try Pahadi Butta (corn) and savoured both the view of the mountains and the flavours of our snack. It felt so good to sip the hot, sweet tea while the cool breeze tickled our noses.
Refreshed and refuelled we continued towards the hotel. It had begun to drizzle and the sky looked even more romantic. There is something about the grey sky, it seems to be wrapped in nostalgia and brings with it a sweet melancholy, as if the entire world is engrossed in thoughts of lost lovers. It is with this feeling that we entered the â€˜Naini Retreatâ€™ and it only increased with the first look. With its creeper clad exteriors, old world interiors, black and white pictures adorning the walls, it exuded nostalgia.
There is something about the grey sky, it seems to be wrapped in nostalgia and brings with it a sweet melancholy, as if the entire world is engrossed in thoughts of lost lovers.
Popularly known as The Royal Retreat, this erstwhile â€˜summer palaceâ€™, built in 1927 under the patronage of Maharaja Sahu Harprasad, was reimagined as a heritage hotel in 1989, when the new wing was added to the original Tudor-inspired architecture. This palatial building is situated on the picturesque Ayarpatta Slopes, and provides a breathtaking view of the Naini Lake.
Our room was in the new Maharaja Wing, secluded from the main wing of the hotel, this structure is a sanctum of peace and tranquility. On offer are five expansive rooms furnished to perfection, shrouded in elegance, crowned with invaluable modern amenities.My room had a slanting wall which gave it the feel of an attic, there was a huge window through which I could gaze at the stars and the moon shimmer in the night sky; right from my bed, before sleeping. This was one of my childhood fantasies as I am a big fan of Heidi, the cartoon. Those who have seen it know about her soft, warm hay bed in her grandfatherâ€™s attic and the window through which she saw the clouds and the moon.
If you want to indulge more in yourself, spend your time reading, drawing, meditating out in the open, take walks in the wilderness, get a spa session at the Tattva Spa within the property or simply watch natureâ€™s spectacular show as you sip coffee and feel your energy re-align with the universe.
We ate most of our meals at the property itself because they were freshly prepared with local ingredients and served to us with a lot of warmth. All the dishes tasted great, it was like having home cooked food. Naini Retreat offers a multi-cuisine restaurant called the Gurney House, Garden CafÃ© 'n' Jim's Grill, the perfect venue to grab a quick bite or laze around for an outdoor brunch or dinner and Stella Bar, where we gathered each evening before dinner. The hotel takes pride in offering the specialities of Kumaon region, a favourite feature on the menu.
There are plenty of activities to do in Nainital, take a trek into the mountains, go on a golfing date at the regal hundred-year-old Raj Bhawan Golf Course where one needs to pay a mere sum of INR 200 to rent a golf set, enjoy a special cultural evening featuring performances by traditional kumaoni artists or take a yacht ride at the highest sailing club in the world. If you want to indulge more in yourself, spend your time reading, drawing, meditating out in the open, take walks in the wilderness, get a spa session at the Tattva Spa within the property or simply watch natureâ€™s spectacular show as you sip coffee and feel your energy re-align with the universe.
One can drive down or rent a car- a six-seven hour drive from Delhi.
The nearest railway station is located at a distance of 34 kilometres at Kathgodham, which enjoys good connectivity to important places such as Delhi, Lucknow and Howrah, with daily trains running to New Delhi.
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The first whiff of fresh air
Our room in the Maharaja Wing
Creeper clad walls
The Lake View Room
Enjoy outdoor dining
Be it day or night, the view is stunning