Words by Pallavi Pasricha
When heading out to a luxury hotel in the mountains, some seek peace and quiet, some want a mix of activities, while others don’t want to step out of the room and just soak in the sun and some breath-taking views from the balcony. Welcomhotel by ITC Hotels, Tavleen, Chail, located a couple of hours away from Himachal Pradesh’s capital Shimla, ticks off all these boxes.
Nestled among majestic oak and pine trees amid 6.5 acres at Chail, this hotel looks like a stunning white castle. Perched at 2,250 meters in the Shivalik range of the Himalayan mountains, the small getaway of Chail was the summer capital of the former king of Patiala and is home to the highest cricket ground in the world, Chail Cricket Ground.
Towering high on a hill, the hotel is spread over many levels, and a drive though the gate leads you uphill towards the main building which houses the superior and deluxe rooms, the restaurant, bar, library and recreation facilities. Another building houses the health club with the spa, the swimming pool and gym, while the cottages are scattered across the hill.
The massive sun-kissed lobby has a high ceiling and the moment I walked in a bright red piano grabbed my attention. Eye-catching paintings and pieces of art give the hotel a grand look, while the property has plenty of outdoor places where you can either take a walk or perch on a bench to enjoy some breath-taking view of the hills.
The hotel has 65 rooms which include 18 delightful cottages and one luxury suite. I split my stay over two rooms – the cottage and the superior room. The superior room, where I spent the first night, was massive in size with a huge balcony that is large enough to accommodate a sun bed, a table and two chairs and an umbrella.
The view of the Shivalik range from the floor to ceiling glass windows is stunning. I woke up to a gorgeous sunrise the next morning and found that the sunlight filters straight into the room, warming it up so nicely. The room has a king-sized bed and all the amenities that you would expect in a luxury room, such as a flat screen TV, touch panel switch board next to my bed, and writing table.
When I checked into the cottage, it reminded me of a fairy-tale cottage that we would dream of as children. It is not part of the main building but is spread out in a different part of the property with spectacular views of the mountains and the main building. The floor is wooden, the bed a grand four-poster one and the bathroom has a shower area and a bathtub as well. The luggage area is concealed, and an electronic fireplace gives the room, done up in beige and muted colours, a cosy touch. Some attractive paintings also adorn the walls.
Food and drink
The hotel has one restaurant called WelcomCafe Monal, and a bar named Swizzle, located at the lobby level. WelcomCafe Monal has a lovely alfresco area, where most guests, including me, find themselves at every meal, especially at breakfast, soaking in the sun and tucking into both international and local delicacies. The attractive white and red seating is a perfect contrast to the green hills.
It is a multi-cuisine restaurant, but the executive chef Chinmaya Paranjpe has made sure he includes a lot of local dishes and some which have been inspired by the British. I feel this is the USP of the restaurant because local Himachali cuisine is not easily available at restaurants. You can best savour it in a thali called ‘Welcomsthalika’ that consists of dishes inspired by the Himachali dham, a traditional meal served on festive occasions in the state of Himachal Pradesh. There are other local touches, for example, the cheese served at breakfast is sourced from a farm nearby.
Among the British classics there is Welsh rarebit, classic prawn cocktail, trout fish and evening high tea called ‘Chota Hazri’ – which is served with scones, tea cakes and churros. These are best enjoyed as you watch the sun going behind the hills. The bar offers cocktails and snacks, but it was so cold that I happily nursed a hot toddy by the bonfire each evening.
ITC Hotels are famous for their signature spas and this hotel is home to one named ‘K by Kaya Kalp’. I chose their most popular massage ‘Kaya Kalp Rejuvenating Therapy,’ a soothing aroma therapeutic massage done with essential oils. It was preceded by a steam and sauna and then for the next 90 minutes I was in heaven as I enjoyed the luxurious treatment. They even have a temperature-controlled swimming pool overlooking the mountains and a gymnasium that’s open 24 hours.
There is so much to do at the hotel that you don’t need to step out at all. The two walking trails within the property (oak and pine) take you to the highest point in the hotel – the meditation room, which is decorated in white and evokes a sense of peace, being perfect for yoga lovers. There’s an amphitheatre close to it as well, and the library in the main building is stacked with a variety of books while green leather chairs add that perfect colonial touch for some quiet reading.
The hotel has kept the little ones in mind too – there’s an indoor children’s room ‘Ollie’s Corner’ with a number of games and an outdoor area especially for them – Cubs Corner with swings, slides and games.
The billiards room has a pool table, a chess board, and many other games that adults can enjoy. Guests can go for a picnic either within the property itself or step outdoors into the woods or close to a stream which the hotel organises – they pack some tasty, snack foods like rolls and croissant sandwiches, badminton rackets, a hammock and even a tent if you want to snooze after the meal.
In a nutshell
Welcomhotel by ITC Hotels, Tavleen, Chail is a gorgeous hotel that enables you to imbibe the peace and calm of a mountain getaway in the most luxurious way. You can go for walks, sit by the balcony, curl up with a book in the library or go for a yoga or meditation session even as stunning vistas of the sweeping mountains keep you company at every corner.
Address: Bhalawag Forest, Chail Kufri Road, Chail, Shimla 173217, Himachal Pradesh, India
Phone: +91 1773501111