With summer knocking at North India’s door, it’s time to plan the annual escape and head for the hills. But unlike the past, this season discover an unexplored side of the most popular hill stations in India by staying in a homestay.
1. Make the most of Manali
A short drive from the main Manali town is Manali Meadows (pictured above), a homestay enveloped by serenity and undisturbed natural beauty. The peace of the surroundings is carried into the décor of the house, which is soothing and warm. This homestay in Manali has three spacious and distinctly styled guest bedrooms, each with an ensuite bathroom and a balcony, which affords guests a different view of the region’s beauty. Tucked away in the foothills and surrounded by infinite cedar trees the homestay’s offers different vistas with every season. The homestay’s front lawn has a small camping tent for those who wish to rough it out for a night. The main Manali town, many monasteries, the snow clad Rohtang Pass and the over 400 year old Hidimba temple are all nearby the homestay. Treks, skiing, white water rafting and other adventure sports can be easily arranged for guests. For a more relaxed interaction with nature, you can go to a farm to enjoy orchard farming, honey collection and other rural activities.
2. The best of Bhimtaal
A testing climb from Bhimtaal will take you to an oak forest beyond Jangali Gaon (Wild Village) where you will come across Emerald Trail (pictured above), a homestay perched on the highest edge of the village. All the rooms in this homestay are large and offer enchanting views of the region’s grand hills and deep valleys. The home is bedecked with antique furniture and the generous use of wooden panels enhance the warm feel radiated by the home. The house has lots of open sitting areas, where children can run around and play for hours. At the homestay you can lend a hand in the daily chores which include milking the cows, picking vegetables and feeding the animals. Tours to the revered Kailash Mandir, Ranikhet, Naukuchiyataal, Bhimtaal, Saattaal and more can be organized with ease. Many nearby trails offer opportunities for walking, cycling and treks. Stargazers will find the family’s telescope handy when it comes to spotting bright constellations. Paragliding can be enjoyed from a site near the homestay.
3. Homestays in and around Nainital
Set in 8 acres of land The Cottage (pictured above) radiates grace, peace and history. The homestay’s living room is believed to have been the site where Swami Vivekanada meditated under a tree. The home began hosting guests fifteen years ago with just one room but now five exquisite rooms are available for guests. Other than the sprawling home, the property also houses a fruit orchard and animals like the barking deer can be seen from the house. With many echelons the homestay is reminiscent of a playful maze, which surprises you with each turn and corner. Rare paintings done by famous artists as well as previous visitors adorn home and speak of the bond formed between the guests and the host. The bathrooms, much like the home, are cheerful, creative and aesthetically done. The homestay is close enough from Nainital, Bhimtaal, Sattaal and Naukuchiyataal for day tours to be comfortably undertaken then, in the evening, return to The Cottage for a bright bonfire and to see the lights of the region make an “Aum” symbol.
The Hive (pictured above) is a buzzing homestay, which was built in the 1860’s. It boasts of a British colonial architecture complemented by impeccably maintained landscapes. The home has a rich history as it was the home of Christopher Corbett, Father of Jim Corbett. Today The Hive serves as a prestigious homestay for guests of Nainital. Perched on the Ayarpatta hill, The Hive is within walking distance to the Mall road but far enough from its noise and chaos. The homestay has four large and welcoming suites, all with ensuite bathrooms. From the patio you can enjoy picturesque vistas of the region that’s rich with flora and fauna. The home has an old world charm with a warm and earthen ambience that’s enhanced by the generous use of wood and sunlight. The homestay has a private restaurant but also an outdoor verandah – perfect for enjoying snacks and tea in the company of vibrant flowers. The home is just 100 meters away from the protected forests of Ayarpatta hill allowing you to be close to nature and protecting the home from the ill-effects commercialisation. Major attractions near the homestay are the Naina Lake, Nanda Devi temple, St. John’s church and Naina Peak. The Mall is an ideal place for walks, shopping for locally produced goods and trying lip-smacking street food.
Cloaked by the majestic Shivalik range is The Nest Cottage, a peaceful retreat overlooking the Jim Corbett National Park. The homestay has seven lovely private cottages perched on different echelons of the property, offering divines sunsets to guests. A charming fireplace and use of stone and wood in each room augments the natural feel of the property. A rain water harvesting pool feeds the homestay’s greenhouse. Organic cereal, fruits and vegetables are grown on the owners’ farm nearby which are used for self-consumption and sale. The region is rich in trekking trails, which are also suitable for quiet strolls. Picnics in the jungle are great fun followed by bird watching in Kumaon. Popular sightseeing destinations like Nainital, Bhimtaal, Naukuchiyataal, Sattaal etc. are a short drive away. Lesser known gems of the region like natural springs and the ancient caves of Pangot are also nearby. Horse riding can be arranged for children who also enjoy picking fresh produce at the family’s farm.
4. Where to stay in Shimla
Deep Jyoti (pictured above) is a quiet homestay, just 15 kilometers from Shimla town. Located at the base of Tarab Mountain, the homestay is neat and comfortable. The common dining area has a large attached kitchen where vegetarian delicacies are served. The homestay’s three cozy rooms have en-suite bathrooms and all the rooms have large windows to let guests interact with nature. A trek from the home to the top of the Tarab Mountain will lead visitors to the Tara Devi temple, which offers panoramic vistas of the region. A visit to the nearby villages and sightseeing to Solan’s many forts, sanctuaries and temples can be arranged.
Mid Hills homestay is perfectly located between areas of protected forests, protecting it from development so it retains its peace. The homestay is set to the background of rich forests, apple orchards and more. The homestay is split into two with one section is for the hosts and the other a dedicated area for guests. This affords guests privacy but keeps them in contact with the family. The guest rooms are modern and charming. Their large windows allow sunlight to filter in and wake up guests with a glorious view. The homestay’s two balconies are available for the pleasure of guests and from here one can soak in divine vistas of the region around. Village tours can be organized for guests’ cultural education and walks.
Find out more about staying in a homestay
Find out about the homestay experience and don't forget to check out our ideas on things to do in India or browse our India homestays.