With Diwali falling on Monday, October 24, 2022, it’s the perfect opportunity to head out for a long weekend and celebrate the festival of lights in a different location. We pick some fascinating hotel options in India — all the way from the Himalayas in the north to destinations in the west and south — that will take up the festive spirit a notch.
1. The Grand Dragon Ladakh, Leh
Leh’s first luxury hotel, which opened over a decade back, is still one of the best options in this town. From the heated teak wood floors to pine wood balconies, it spells grandeur all the way while the Ladakhi and Tibetan motifs and paintings give the rooms a lovely local touch. But nothing can beat the jaw-dropping, gorgeous view of the Stok Kangri range. An in-house bakery and restaurant serve traditional Ladakhi and Tibetan food. Do not miss their delicious local butter tea and momos.
2. Kahani Paradise, Gokarna
At this gorgeous boutique hotel villa, one does not need to choose between the hills and the sea. Surrounded by the Western Ghats and located on a hill by the coast, it offers a stunning view of the Arabian Sea. The 20-acre property is home to six suites that have vintage doors and are decorated beautifully with traditional antiques and local artwork. All the suites are designed differently but what stands out is the architecture with arches, the marble bathtubs, the outdoor deck and the views, of course. The food is local and the view from the pool is gorgeous.
3. Larisa Resort, Manali
Set amidst apple orchards, this resort is ideal to connect with nature. There are so many things to do — dine under the stars, go on hikes, enjoy a picnic, try fishing or just gaze at the mountains. It has 22 beautiful rooms with stone walls and wooden floors. The suite comes with a jacuzzi overlooking the mountains while the spa offers Ayurvedic treatments. There is no need to leave your pets at home because they are allowed here. It is about a 45-minute drive from Old Manali while the closest airport is Kullu, which is a little over an hour-long drive.
4. The Leela Palace Udaipur
Royalty meets luxury at this opulent yet modern palace hotel on the banks of Lake Pichola in Udaipur. There’s a touch of Rajasthan in every aspect of this palace — the domed havelis, jharokha balconies, art by local artisans that adorn not just the walls but every corner. Each of the 80 rooms and suites offer stunning views — either of the lake, the Aravalli mountains or the landscaped garden. Some rooms have balconies, others four-poster beds and private plunge pools. Wine lovers will be happy to know that there’s a walk-in wine cellar here while Sheesh Mahal, their open-air fine dining restaurant, makes one fall in love with Indian food all over again. Do not miss pampering yourself at the spa with one of their luxury treatments. After all, it's a festive time and what a great way to enjoy the Diwali long weekend.
5. Radisson Resort Pondicherry Bay
Nestled between Paradise Beach and the backwaters of the Ariyankuppam lagoon, this is the first resort by an international hotel chain in Pondicherry and has a stunning location. Pick from 51 chalets and five villas that have a private pool for a great Diwali holiday escape. The hotel’s architecture is a mix of Tamil and French and it has the only saltwater pool in the area. There’s a spa and two dining options including the famous The Great Kebab Factory.
6. Mansion Haus, Goa
A former family home that dates back to the 18th century, it is now a gorgeous nine-suite boutique hotel in Anjuna. Some of the suites have a private plunge pool, others come with direct access to the main pool while some are equipped with jacuzzis. Done up in muted colours, there’s a lot of focus on healthy eating. So the mini bar is stocked with healthy snacks, local superfoods and pro-biotic drinks made in-house. The produce used to prepare the meals is all organic. At the bar and bistro, The Angler, the menu is regularly updated. Mansion Haus promises a number of interesting experiences — from cooking with the chefs, sound meditation, and exploring Goa in a vintage car to a private dining experience with wine pairing. Also, note that it’s an adults-only hotel.
7. Ri Kynjai – Serenity By The Lake, Shillong
Overlooking the Umiam Lake, this is the prettiest resort in the region. What works for it is the gorgeous location. The cottages are built on stilts and have traditional Khasi thatch hut architecture with upturned boat roofs, pine walls and floors. Perfect for a family of four, each cottage has a private balcony overlooking the lake. The in-house restaurant and bar, Sao Aiom, offers a range of cuisines, but what you should have at least once is traditional Khasi delicacies like smoked pork in bamboo shoot, Cherrapunjee chicken and more.
8. Bori Safari Lodge, Betul, Madhya Pradesh
Nothing like spending some time in the wilderness and jungle to spot wildlife for Diwali instead of being stuck in the city. At this hotel, located near Bori Wildlife Sanctuary and Dhapada village, each of the eight luxury rooms is decorated in muted tones and local materials, thereby creating a perfect blend of sustainability and luxury. There’s a spa, plunge pool and library, but most of the time is spent on safaris at the sanctuary. For a taste of the local culture and life, go to the village close by and interact with the villagers.
9. BrijRama Palace, Varanasi
Nothing can be more soothing than waking up to the view of the ghats and Ganges river at this former palace, especially during Diwali. Traditional paintings, silk furnishings and hand-printed frescos adorn the 32 rooms and suites here. You may end up spending a lot of time at Udayan, the terrace overlooking the river. Evenings are for the Ganga aarti and live classical music is undoubtedly the best way to spend the Diwali long weekend. When it comes to food, their main restaurant Darbhanga offers a range of cuisines including local specialities. Do not miss the Banarasi paan.
10. The Postcard Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat
Escape to Gir this Diwali long weekend and wake up to the sound of birds tweeting amidst mango orchards at this pretty luxury boutique hotel. Surrounded by mango trees, the 15 rooms at The Postcard Gir Wildlife Sanctuary are done up in neutral tones and some have a patio area. If you don’t want to wake up early for that morning safari, then pick your date with the lions named Simba, Bhuro and Allauddin in the wildlife sanctuary later in the day. The hotel has three daily safaris. While a sighting depends on chance and luck, there are more than 600 lions here, so the odds of spotting one are quite good. Apart from safaris, you can go for a picnic in the forest, to the beach in Diu or for a nature walk. When it comes to food, try the local cuisine like the Gujarati thali or pomfret from the coast of Veraval.