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Homestays We Love

Friday, February 19, 2016

What’s better than staying at a 5-star hotel? A homestay that gives you few comforts, but several great experiences! The 48hrs Team tells you more about a few great homestays that are strewn across India

If you’re travelling with your family, or even with a small group of friends, homestays are great. Sure, they don’t come with all the comforts in the world, but they are economical and provide you with some or all meals. However, the best part is that they are located in some great places away from the stress and pollution of the city. If you’re planning a trip soon, here are our options.

Kannur Beach House, Kerala
At Kannur Beach House, you can experience a side of Kerala that will stay with you for a long time to come. If you’re artistically inclined, you can visit the Handloom Weaving Center and catch a Theyyam performance, or just take in some of the surrounding attractions such as St. Angelo’s Fort. It’s a great place to visit with your family and isn’t too much of an inconvenience either — Kannur railway station is 7km away.
Rates Rs 3,400 for double occupancy
Contact 9847184535/ 9847186330/ www.kannurbeachhouse.com

Sunnymead B&B, Shimla
You will never tire of staying high up in the hills, close to the clear blue skies and the misty weather. And, the Sunnymead B&B isn’t just a place where you can stay for one night and get going the next morning. It welcomes you to an exquisite Colonial-style ancestral home with a vast English cottage garden. The gourmet food at the homestay is prepared using fresh ingredients grown in their garden and is nothing less than a gourmet meal befitting a fine dining restaurant!
Rates Starting at Rs 6,000 per night
Contact 9736584045

Serene Waters, Goa
Away from the party crowd and chaos of Goa, Serene Waters is situated on the banks of the River Mandovi and offers a mesmerising view of the river and the landscaping hills. Ideal for budget travellers, families and couples, the floating casinos, river cruises, Panaji city and Miramar beach are nearby attractions. The main attraction, however, is the Goan hospitability extended by the owners, which makes you feel night at home.
Rates On request
Contact 9822488180/ serenewatersgoa@gmail.com

Samthar Farm House, Kalimpong (West Bengal)
Imagine waking up every the morning to an exotic view of Khangchendzonga! Nestled among the lush hills of Darjeeling, Samthar Farm House offers you unparalleled views, not only of the third-highest peak in the world, but also of trade routes to Tibet. Converted from an abandoned Lepcha farmhouse into a deluxe country-farm by Army General Jimmy Singh, and boasting of idyllic homesteads and views of thick forests and interlocking valleys, Samthar Farm House is a great option for nature lovers who are looking for a holiday on a budget.
Rates Rs 10,000 for 2 nights
Contact 035-52255204

Tata Plantation Bungalows, Coorg
It is no secret that man is his best self when he is surrounded by nature. The serene ambience, quiet wilderness and fresh air away from the craziness of the city are all inexplicably enriching. And, situated in the midst of bountiful nature are the Tata Plantation Bungalows, where you will be blown away by the comfort and beauty of nature. Sample the local cuisine or go for nature walks, bird watching, river rafting and an elephant interaction in this serene and tranquil space.
Rates Starting at Rs 6,550 per night
Contact 8274251428

Acres Wild Organic Cheesemaking farmstay, Coonoor (Ooty)
If you’re the artsy kind and want to bunk rustic-style, but also nibble on some delicious organic cheese, consider Acres Wild, a 22-acre, family-run farm in Coonoor, only 20km from the popular travel destination Ooty. It allows guests to try their hand at making organic cheese from the milk obtained from the farm’s animals. Located at a small hill-station of the Nilgiri Hills at an altitude of 6,000 feet, Acres Wild is for those who don’t mind experimenting during their holidays. And, you get to live among bison, wild boars and rabbits!
Rates Starting at Rs 3,000 per night
Contact 9443232621

Our Place, Himachal Pradesh
Our Place, owned and managed by Anita Khullar, wife of a renowned orchardist Ashok Khullar, has pristine, countryside cottages in Raison, in the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh. Each cottage offers beautiful views of the valley. Private sundecks look up to the grand Himalayas and down towards the Kiwi Vines and Plum Orchards or the gurgling brook flowing through the property. Not too far away, you can go mountain biking, white-water rafting and kayaking on the river Beas. Or just relax and take a stroll in their orchards.
Rates Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000 for cottages
Contact 9816245151/ anitakhullar2@gmail.com

Nature Zone, Munnar (Kerala)
Surrounded by a range of flora and the mesmerising wilderness, Nature Zone in Munnur, Kerala makes for a dream stay for anyone who wants to get intimate with nature. Grab your bag and make your way here to unwind with a stunning backdrop of pocket shrubs and lofty trees. Your stay at Nature Zone will be a peaceful blend of modern living and raw natural glory. You can enjoy delicious meals in the misty weather and have the best vacation you could have asked for!
Rates Starting at Rs 7,150 per night
Contact 9745433330

Spirits Unplugged!, Shimla
One hour and forty-five minutes away from Shimla, Spirits Unplugged! is a peaceful, photogenic farm retreat hidden amongst dense cedar and pine forests. And, it offers an enchanting view of the Himalayas! The stone cottage perched on the hilltop overlooks a majestic valley, giving you breathtaking views of pine forest slopes, waterfalls and organic farms, and is available year-round. A full-time caretaker whips up delicious meals made from local produce and you can enjoy a high-speed internet connection.
Rates Rs 3,350 per room (inclusive of all meals for two people)
Contact 9810932482/ 9971131122

Olaulim Backyards, Goa
You’d never think that a place like Goa, which has become so commercial, could offer you a rustic escape; but Olaulim Backyards will prove you wrong. Their elegant cottages are literally carved into nature, with walls of protruding rock giving a lovely (and an absolutely unique) feel to the place. These cottages are given names of Indian birds. The Sun Bird Cottage on the edge of a paddy field is just right for a family of three, while the Golden Oriole Cottage is perfect for a romantic weekend. If you’re worried about what to do, there’s canoeing and kayaking, river rafting, pottery, and you can try your hand at fishing in the local river.
Rates Rs 5,200 for double occupancy (which includes breakfast, all taxes and in-house activities)
Contact olaulimgoa@gmail.com/ www.olaulimgoa.com

The Hidden Forest Retreat, Gangtok (Sikkim)
If you’re aching for a retreat among the clouds and an escape into the lap of nature, look no further than The Hidden Forest Retreat. Thankfully, it’s located only about three kilometers from the main Gangtok city centre at an altitude of 5,000 metres above sea level. Gather up a chair and take in the expansive view of the valley; the fresh air will do wonders for your pollution-soaked lungs.
Rates Start at Rs 3,000 for room only and go up to Rs 4,600 with all meals included
Contact 9474981367/ 9434137409/ www.hiddenforestretreat.org

Doctor’s Farm, Kolad
While this isn’t really a homestay, it comes pretty close. It’s not too far from Mumbai, but because it’s located some distance away from Kolad’s main highway, you’re better off taking your vehicle. That said, the place is very tranquil. Because it’s located on the bank of a calm lake, you can take a paddle boat out. There’s even a swimming pool that’s filled with fresh water from the lake. Book the bungalow if you’re visiting in a group of eight or more. The place is quite Spartan though, so be prepared.
Rates Rs 1,750 per person (which includes breakfast, lunch, tea, evening starters and dinner)
Contact 9869049825/ 9322644510

The Bungala, Chettinad
The Bungala is a heritage bungalow that dates back to 1910. In its infancy, the bungalow was meant for entertaining VIP guests and it later became a club for formal dinner parties and tennis tournaments. The Bungala is all for promoting and preserving the culture of Chettinad and provides a great insight into it. If you are a history buff, you’ll fall in love with everything about this place! The streets are dotted with heritage mansions and the cuisine is brilliantly prepared!
Rates Starting at Rs 7,000 onwards per night
Contact www.heritagehotelsofindia.com

Gulzar Homestay, Murud
Gulzar is a 20-acre farm situated between the Arabian Sea and the Salav Murud highway, with the picturesque Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary as a backdrop. The property boasts of an untouched, private beach surrounded by mango, coconut, cashew and lime trees. You’ll be disconnected from the internet world, but there is a small library and you can use the kitchen to cook your own food. Places to visit include the Nawab’s palace, Murud Janjira Fort, Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary and Kashid beach.
Rates Starting at Rs 3,000
Contact 8097390997/ info@gulzarhomestay.com

Amaryllis, Wayanad (Kerala)
There’s a reason Kerala is a popular tourist destination — it’s a beautiful place. Amaryllis, another great homestay, is a mere six hours drive away from Bangalore. Shrouded in the misty mountains of the Western Ghats and looking down on the Karapuzha Reservoir, this luxurious property is in close proximity to overflowing dams, mysterious caves, wildlife parks and tribal villages. Couple Victor and Ranjini Dey who started the property tell us, “As a guest in our home, you will be treated as part of the family — fresh, home-cooked meals, spiced with plenty of friendly conversation, warm hospitality and attention to your individual needs.”
Rates Starting at Rs 9,000 (season dependant)
Contact 9847865824/ 9847180244

Holidaying In A Homestay
Ankit Arora, who works at LocalOye, has been to a few homestays and he prefers them to hotels. He tells us, “I prefer homestays to hotels because they are reasonably priced, you get delicious regional food and the facilities are great too. To find these quaint palces, my preferred sources are Wikitravel and Lonely Planet, but you can also find them on TripAdvisor and Team-BHP.”

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