Room with a view: 10 Offbeat Hotels in India I stayed at

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I’ve been extensively travelling around India since 2013. I may have fuzzy memories of some trips, but others have been very memorable. And most of them have had to do with the places I stayed at. Some had breathtaking views; few were about roughing it on the road. And while there’s a lot more to see, here are some of the most offbeat hotels in India I stayed at. These places range from budget to expensive so pretty much everyone can check them out. 

1. In the middle of nowhere in Jaisalmer

My trip to Jaisalmer on 1 January 2015 was special as I took a leap of faith to travel with people I hadn’t ever met before (one of them was through an online dating app!). I stayed at the Prince Desert Camp in the Thar Desert, which was literally in the middle of nowhere. During evenings, we watched performances to Rajasthani folk songs, followed by traditional meals like Dal Batti Churma, Ker Sangri and Gatte ki Sabzi. We climbed sand dunes to watch the best sunsets this side of India. And at midnights, we sneaked out to sleep under the stars, while discussing Italian slasher films and B-grade cinema.

Cost: Mid-range to expensive. Book here

Offbeat Hotels in India

2. On top of the world in Bhimtal

In August 2017, I ticked Uttarakhand – my 12th Indian state then. Ever since, I always suggest Bhimtal to people over Nainital, which is a 30 minute drive away but much more relaxed and non commercial. In Bhimtal, I suggest people to stay at the Fern Hillside Resort for no extra commission from the hotel. It’s pure goodwill because I loved my stay. The rooms offer an expansive view of Bhimtal town as the property sits on a hilltop. You literally feel like you’re living in the clouds, supervising Earth from up there. Nights used to look like twinkling stars beneath you. Morning walks around the property were fun strolling through deodar trees. And when we weren’t up to step out, we chilled in the infinity pool facing the valley.

Cost: Mid-range. Book here

3. Inside the Saptura Tiger Reserve

In 2016, I did a unique walking expedition in the Satpura Tiger Reserve with Reni Pani Jungle Lodge. By day, we hiked on foot in the core forest spotting animals in the wild. At night, we stayed in tents strategically placed within a kilometer of a forest office, albeit always locked up. I remember how I had stepped outside my tent one night to answer nature’s call but ran back inside on spotting a pair of shiny eyes with my torch. My imagination ran wild!

We hiked 21km over two days. When the heat got harsh, we jumped off gorges to cool off. Dinners were magical, drinking wine and eating kebabs under the naked sky while thousands of stars glimmered above us. And when we left, the camps left with us. There was no trace that we had lived there!

Cost: Expensive. Book here

Offbeat Hotels in India

4. Like chickens in the Andamans

I did my open water dive course with Barefoot Scuba in the Andamans in October 2018. The course itself is 28K which overshot my budget. So I compensated by staying at cheap accommodations including a chicken hut. Most dive resorts have this stay option for budget travellers. Chicken huts are unique but not for the faint hearted. For 400 bucks you get an A-frame bamboo hut with a mattress, pillow, table fan, solar lamp, mosquito net and one dust bin. Bathrooms, showers and wash basins are common, but typically clean. You’ll be surprised how many foreigners I saw stay at these chicken huts while doing fun dives.

Cost: Budget. Check it out here

5. Ganga kinare in Haridwar

In February 2018, I ticked bunjee jumping in Rishikesh (Read my experience) off my list, Haridwar was complementary. But I stumbled upon this lovely heritage property – Devnadi, which was once the holiday home of a Nepali queen, and later to Ramanand Sagar – the creative head of the legendary TV serial ‘Ramayana’. The haveli was more home than hotel with most of its interiors still intact including a quaint little elevator to the lower level leading to their private ghat with the Ganga River flowing calmly in its backyard. During evenings, I used to join in the Ganga aarti and dine at the private ghat soaking in the magical views of the river.

Cost: Mid-range. Book here

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Okay. You chose City Weekend Breaks. So here goes. The first in the series is a getaway to Haridwar from Delhi. 🚙 Just a 5 hour drive from the capital, spend a night or two in Haridwar in Uttarakhand for a spiritual break. Har ki Pauri is where all the pilgrim action is. Even if you're not a religious person, it's a great place for some people watching 😁 ✨ ✨ I would definitely recommend staying at @devnadihotel, which is a heritage property by the Ganga. And because it's a little away from Har ki Pauri, the setting is so much quieter. They even have a private ghat for you to take a dip in the Ganga at your leisure with complete privacy. 🏊 Fun fact, @devnadihotel was once the holiday home of the Nepali queen, and later to Ramanand Sagar – the creative head of the legendary TV serial Ramayana. ✨ Pic 1: Grabbing dinner by the Ganga, after a private Ganga arti ✨ Pic 2: Taking a holy dip in the Ganga with complete privacy ✨ Pic 3: Aloo paratha and dahi for breakfast at the hotel. I also recommend to try Haridwar's famous Aloo Puri when in town ✨ Pic 4: Travel around in the Vikram rickshaw that can easily seat upto 12 passengers ✨ ✨ I'm doing a series on City Weekend Breaks across India. Join me on this journey. Follow @wannabemaven for more updates. ✨ ✨ #uttarakhand #uttarakhandtravel #traveller #travel #haridwardiaries #travellocal #livelocal #staylocal #india #incredibleindia #ig_india #localscene #travelgram #instatravel #indiatravel #yourshot_india #indiagram #travellingram #mypixeldiary #girlswhotravel #passionpassport #windowseat #backpacker #backpackerlife #tripotocommunity #natgeotravellerindia #lonelyplanetindia #citylife #weekendbreak

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6. At a vineyard in Nashik

We owe Nashik a ‘thank you’ for shining as the wine capital of India. While Sula changed the game for Indian wines (read my experience of visiting Sula), let’s be honest, their commercialisation is working against them now. I prefer York or Soma Vineyards, within a kilometre of Sula, both are quieter and make great wines.

In September 2018, we rode from Mumbai to Nashik and stayed at the Soma Vine Village. The property is blessed with the views of the Gangapur Lake and surrounded by the Sahyadri mountain range. Our room opened to the view of sprawling vineyards and an infinity pool, where we spent our evenings guzzling bottles of white wine. They even offer a complementary wine tasting, and I brought home a Shiraz Cabernet.

Cost: Expensive. Book here

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Wine. I need more🍷 . Last month was my sixth trip to Nasik. Five out of six times I've visited the vineyards (and once for the Infant Jesus feast🙏). Gotta give Sula credit for bringing Indian wines to the fore. A lot of boutique wineries have come up since then. Personally though, Sula has got a bit commercialized for me. It's way too crowded, leaving little room for an immersive experience. But barely 500 metres ahead from Sula, we have York Winery and Soma Vineyards. Both, a lot quieter for you to relax and have a glass (or bottle) of wine😉 . _______________________________ PS . One day to go for my next travel destination🏖️🏊 . . PPS Chuffed to see people who have signed up from places like Siliguri and even UK to receive a travel postcard. After a long arse day at work, this really put a smile on my face 🙏 . 24 Oct (today) is the last day for you to sign up if you'd like to receive a travel postcard from my next destination. Link to sign up is in my bio __________________________________ #mavenvisits @mtdc_official @somavinevillage . #travel #traveller #nashik #maharashtra #travelgram #maharashtra_ig #instaravel #travelblogger #nashikdiaries #traveldiaries #travelogue #wine #wineyard #infinitypool #wanderer #wanderlust #backpacker #solotraveller #maharashtra_igers #india #indiatravel #indiagram #india_ig #cloudstagram #winelover #winestagram #outdoors #girlswhotravel

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7. By the backwaters in Poovar

Poovar was a holiday I gifted myself. It was pure indulgence, but it’s good to pamper yourself every once in a while. We were on a road trip in Kerala in March 2017, where our last stop was Poovar, a tiny island sandwiched between the backwaters of Kerala and the Arabian Sea.

Read about my road trip from Trivandrum to Poovar

We stayed at the Estuary Sarovar Portico in Poovar which was all things fancy – right from a swim in the pool under the moonlight to buffets on a floating restaurant. We also squeezed in a 30min massage after a stroll on their private beach. And if that wasn’t all, we took a drop to our car park by speed boat through Poovar’s backwaters. The resort was a world in itself, away from the hectic lives we lead in the city.

Cost: Expensive. Book here

Offbeat Hotels in India

8. Earning the view in Nongriat

In a heartbeat I said yes to hike to the Double-Decker living Root Bridge in Nongriat in May 2018, without realising what I had signed up for. A decent level of fitness was a huge plus, which I lack thanks to my sedentary lifestyle.

After 3500 steps, we reached Charlie’s guest house. A musty room with a single bed and an attached bath is all we got. Electricity conked off every now and then, and we ate dinner with a candle light. But boy, was that dinner good or what! It was a vegetarian meal but the veggies tasted like pork. Hot ‘lal cha’ (red tea) on rainy mornings were among the simple pleasures of living there, cut off from civilisation.

Cost: Budget. Contact:086522 25785

9. Window to the world in Omkareshwar

I love religious towns. I’m hardly religious but I enjoy watching people go about their faith. Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh had a lot more soul compared to Banaras. I stayed at the state run MPT Narmada Resort which was right by the Narmada River, and my room had the view of the Omkareshwar temple and the jhula pul. Evening temple bells and soft prayer chants were music to my ears over those two days. There are hardly any hotels in Omkareshwar, just dharamshalas and ashrams so this is a great stay option. If I weren’t pressed for time, I could have easily spent a week here; and I’m dying to go back!

Cost: Budget. Book here

10. At the edge of the southern tip of India

While flash-packing in southern Kerala in March 2017, we crossed the border into Tamil Nadu to visit Kanyakumari. We picked Hotel Sea View which was literally the last resort in the row at the southern most edge of the sea. Our room had a jaw dropping view of the Thiruvalluvar Statue and Vivekananda Rock standing tall in the ocean. Nights were magical with the monuments glittering under the stars. It was the last thing we saw from our room before we slept and the first thing when we woke up.

Cost: Mid-range. Book here

A version of this story was first published on Tripoto as Bookmark these rooms with a view for every type of traveller (April 2019)

  • For latest accommodation prices, check out Booking.com and Agoda. I typically book my hotels from these two sites. 
  • Looking for travel gear, packing essentials and books to read on your trip, visit Amazon
  • Need guidance to plan your trip? I’m here to help. Write to me 🙂

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Edwina D'souza

Read write watch, 2 left hands and feet, recluse, gazer and occasionally suffer from wanderlust syndrome!!

One Comment:

  1. Unique Post!!! I must say I have been to so many travel posts but its rare to find unique and good one. Thanks to this post for to giving the readers a little offbeat idea. Thanks once again.

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