Just two days at Wildflower Hall, Shimla in the Himalayas, is as good as being on holiday for a month. You may not come close to sampling all the treats of this pretty hotel set deep in the midst of one of the world’s densest cedar forest, but your spirits lift as you make the climb to its perch some 8,300 feet in the Himalayas and spy its Rapunzel turrets.
For those not up to the eight-hour drive from Delhi, the little Shimla airport will get you to this award-winning hotel faster (a short Delhi-Shimla flight and a 90-minute drive to Mashobra), or you can take the Shatabdi up to Chandigarh and motor three hours to your destination.
The drive is winding and the area lush and verdant, past the sad over-development that is Shimla and lots of lookout posts which, on weekends, are crowded with locals and city visitors keen to escape to the hills to beat the heat.
The Oberoi property is more stately country manor than glitzy resort and its charm lies in its history — it was the residence of the former British commander-in-chief, Lord Kitchener, during the British rule — effortless good service, a great spa and the natural beauty that rings the property.
There is a lot you can do when you get there — everything from white-water rafting to power hiking, archery, horse riding, mountain biking and, in winter, ice skating. But if you give in to the charms of this retreat, you will want to do nothing more strenuous than sip gin and tonic on the lawns, take in afternoon tea, curl up in front of the fireplace in the evenings and read, or eat far more than you should as you sit on the terrace, with its views that stretch across the cedar treetops all the way to the mountains.
If you are more inclined towards active pursuits, a game of croquet on the lawn, snooker or cards in the well-appointed games rooms are options. And if even such gentle endeavours exhaust you, you can lie prone on a massage table and have the staff knock out the kinks in your back.
The lack of young children — Wildflower does not allow children under 12 — contributes to making this a pleasant adult retreat, great for honeymooners and even girlfriends wanting nothing more exciting than time spent leaving urban angst behind.
Wildflower Hall’s most treasured asset is the cedar forest and a must-do while there is a forest hike and picnic. When you get to a high point, a picnic blanket is spread on the forest floor and little containers opened for an al fresco spread of sandwiches, cheese, breads and desserts. Under a sky fringed with cedar fronds and ringed by a mountain range, there is no finer setting to aid the imbibing of fine food.
Book your trip:
Address: Wildflower Hall, Shimla in the Himalayas, An Oberoi Resort, Chharabra, Shimla - 171012, Himachal Pradesh
Rates: Start from around Rs 22,000 for a double room but there is a 2 night/3 day weekend package available for Rs 27,000 (plus taxes) until September.
For reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org