Kashmir, with its snow-capped mountains, romantic shikara rides, tantalising apple orchards and lush meadows, enthrals and seduces in equal measure. Add to that some of the best trekking routes and skiing and you have the perfect holiday destination for adventure lovers, honeymooners and solo travellers. No wonder it’s often described as heaven on earth.
Here are some of the best resorts that will take your Kashmir vacation a notch higher.
1. The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, Gulmarg
This dreamy resort perched at 8,825 feet above sea level is as romantic as it gets. The pine and slate cottages studded with floor to ceiling windows and basoli paintings come with stunning views of the Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas. A sunken bathtub and a balcony over looking the astounding snow capped mountains are cute additions to the rooms. Lots to keep you engaged here. The world’s highest ski lift, the Gulmarg Gondola – which takes you to Kongdoori Mountain, is only a short walk away. Pack in your hiking shoes. The trek to Khilanmarg Valley to see spring flowers is amongst the most enchanting experiences here. Or you could tee off on the world’s highest golf course. Post that a massage at the spa with stunning views of the valley will be totally worth it.
Tariff: Rs 40,259 onwards
To book: Call 01954 350 666
2. WelcomHotel by ITC Hotels, Pine N Peak Pahalgam
Snuggled between pine trees and paths that lead to the shimmering Lidder River, Welcomhotel Pine n Peak occupies the loveliest spot in Pahalgam. Each room opens out to picturesque views of snow-capped mountains and the Valley of Shepherds. The chefs here lay out the most delectable barbecues under the starry sky. There is also a tea lounge for Kashmir’s much-loved kahwa and Lolaab a restaurant dedicated to Kashmiri specialties. Or better still take a picnic lunch by the Lidder or at Betaab Valley. Adrenalin seekers can trek or take a pony ride with a local guide to nearby places like Tulyan lake, Pahalgam Valley and Sheeshag.
Tariff: Rs 18,500 onwards
To Book: Call 01936 243 210
3. Rah Bagh, Srinagar
This intimate boutique hotel surrounded by apple orchards and poplar trees is a short drive from the heart of Srinagar. The 33 alpine chalet-style rooms (think sloping roofs, abundant use of pine and local timber) come with private balconies with stunning views of the Dal and Nigeen lakes. Golfing on your mind? The Royal Springs Golf course is close by as also the Dachigam National Park which is barely 10 minutes away. You could even combine a picnic with a horseback safari on the outskirts of Dachigam National Park. But stepping out might seem like a herculean task given the scope of R&R at the property. There is a hot tub in the room for a luxurious soak, a pool, spa and a café with stunning views. Don’t forget the wazwan at Wan Posh the multi cuisine restaurant. The breathtaking orchard here deserves a few hours at the least.
Tariff: Rs 15,000 onwards
To Book: Call 91 98213 96298
4. Sky View By Empyrean, Jammu
If you are looking to club your Kashmir getaway with some mind-blowing adventure then Sky View By Empyrean is your best bet. They have zip lining, gondola rides and tube sledging at the property. Each of the 25 rooms and suites come with gorgeous views of the sprawling Sanget valley and the surrounding Shivalik ranges. Some even face the gondolas. The manicured verandahs are perfect to hang out with a cup of noon chai and a bestseller. The food by chef Sanjay Raina focuses on Dogri dishes like Kashmiri aloo dum, khatta meat, pulao, phirni and more but there is a huge selection of other cuisines as well. Do ask for a barbecue under the sky. But the best thing to do here is to take a scenic gondola ride from Sanget valley to Patnitop. Trek to hills like Nathatop and Madhatop are equally recommended.
Tariff: Rs 8,796 onwards
To Book: Call 91 1992 350 000
5. Sukoon House boat
Staying in a house boat in Kashmir is the dreamiest of all Kashmiri experiences. Sukoon is set among floating lotus garden in a secluded corner of Dal Lake, with views of the misty Pir Panjal mountains, forts and temples. The rooms are a blend of old-world and modern – think ornate chandeliers, whirring fans, creaky pine floors and colonial style furniture with cool linens and colourful silks. Stay perched on Sukoon’s sun deck admiring the fabulous views of life on Dal lake and the mountain scenery or take a sunset shikara ride to explore the network of canals between local villages built on stilts above the lake with floating markets and shops. The green at heart will be happy to know that Sukoon is the first houseboat in Kashmir to be fitted with a bio-tank, which means that no waste is discharged into the lake. Plastic is banned on board. What’s more, there is even wi-fi.
Tariff: Rs 14,700 onwards for a night
To Book: Call 91 124 4010072
6. Hotel Highlands Park, Gulmarg
How about a room with a dose of vintage Bollywood? The Bobby cottage at Hotel Highlands Park is where six of Rishi Kapoor’s movies were shot. This heritage property has also hosted royalty, past presidents, prime ministers, and movie stars. But let that not be your sole criteria for choosing this chalet-style hotel. The 35 character-filled rooms and suites, views of the Aparhwat mountains from the sun deck, the exquisite gardens and the butler service are the real draw. The lounge and dining rooms come with tons of old-world charm. There is a separate card room with walnut wood and poster art.
Tariff: Rs 16,000 onwards
To Book: Call 91 9419413355
7. The LaLiT Grand Palace Srinagar
Everything about this heritage property designed and built by Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1910 feels intimate and magical. The antique furniture and fittings, rich upholstery, hand woven carpets and handicrafts seamlessly blend with the 5 Star amenities. Those staying in the Maharaja suite also have access to the hotel’s library, which was used during the time of the maharaja’s residence here in the palace. Meals are offered under the shade of magnificent Chinar trees with a serene view of the Dal Lake and Srinagar Valley. The tastefully decorated timber and stone Dal Bar stocks some of the finest malts, wines and liqueurs from around the world, along with an extensive collection of cigars. Though the hotel's main draw is its stillness and tranquility, there are still lots of activities on offer. Highlights include scenic guided nature hikes, mountaintop picnics and private dinners in setting locations.
Tariff: Rs 5,500 onwards
To Book: Call 91 194 2501 001