Are the great outdoors beckoning you? These homes are the perfect place to spend the weekend picking apples, practising yoga, setting out on hikes, curling up with a book in the lawns or simply mastering the art of doing nothing. Take your pick:
One Partridge Hill, Nainital
A 300km drive from Delhi, One Partridge Hill sits on the highlands of Satoli village in Uttarakhand’s Kumaon region. The owners have built this property with love and attention to detail, and it shows. The home is named after partridge birds; it’s the first thing they spotted when they zeroed in on the site filled with birdsong. The cottages that open up to views of the Nanda Devi and Trishul range are outfitted with handmade furniture, parquet floors and local artwork. It’s a cosy base to soak in Uttarakhand’s beauty, go on jungle treks and sit back and gaze at the stars. Doubles from Rs8,500, inclusive of breakfast. Website.
Sukoon Homestay, Almora
Kumaon’s winding roads lead you to the little town of Jalna, where this mountain retreat sits. The home of Dr Sushil Sharma, it is made of two stone cottages spread across three acres of land surrounded by pine, oak and rhododendron trees dotted with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Start your day with breakfast straight from the farms, spend the rest of your day exploring the nearby villages, and come back to a bonfire, some music and delicious Kumaoni food. Retire in a Kumaoni house with slate roofs and thick stone walls that will keep you snug in the cold. Doubles from Rs4,500, inclusive of breakfast. Website.
Chestnut House, Jilling Terraces, Nainital
There’s no direct road that leads to Chestnut House. It could take anywhere between 40 minutes to 2 hours of walking, and many short gasps to reach the home (porters are available to carry your luggage and a team member will guide you through the trail). But once you do, the arduous trek seems worth it. From this 80-year-old house surrounded by 80 acres of land, thick oak, rhododendron and conifer trees stretch as far as your eyes can see. The home was built in 1933 by a Sanskrit scholar for his Polish wife who longed for the weather she was familiar with. Now, guests from all over seeking some old-world charm are welcomed. The rooms are named after flowers and come with distinct features, some with bookshelves and others with desks. But each of them has an anteroom to loll in during the day or for the little one to snuggle at night. Water is sourced from a local spring and fruits and vegetables from local farmers. Enjoy your meals outdoors under a kaphal tree or the big dining area, which is perfect to spend quality time with the family. Doubles from Rs8,500. Website.
Himalaica is Shalini and Uttam Dave’s labour of love built over eight years. Set up by local artisans, the home marries traditional country-style architecture with modern comforts. There are two types of accommodation–a glass conservatory with a living room, TV and reading room, fireplace, dining room and four bedrooms. The other is a cottage with two bedrooms, a dining lounge and a verandah. A must-do here is the trek to Gagar View Point. Walk along the Ramgarh road to watch the sunrise over the snow-capped Himalayas, while you sip on chai from Sanju’s teashop. Back home, don’t forget to slot in some playtime with the resident doggos–Raja, Lama and Cyber. Maybe this is what a weekend of bliss looks like. Doubles from Rs5,850, inclusive of breakfast. Website.
Holm Farm Heritage, Ranikhet
Built pre-Independence, this heritage home comes with all the colonial trappings. It was bought by Kumaoni freedom fighter Madan Mohan Upadhyaya from Lady Abbot in 1947. The homestay, which retains its wooden charm, is now run by his son, Himanshu, along with his wife Uma. Walk around the home to stumble upon quirky memorabilia–a grand piano, Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi’s wedding invitation, Jawaharlal Nehru’s photos with the family. Plus, Himanshu will regale you with stories of his grandfather and Nehru’s visit to Holm Farm. Doubles from Rs4,144, inclusive of breakfast. Website
The Retreat, Bhimtal
A 150-year-old bungalow, The Retreat in the forest estate of Bhimtal was started by Fredrick Smetacek Sr in 1953 as a guesthouse for diplomats from Delhi. Fredrick escaped from the Gestapo in Germany after a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler, the story goes. Before the Second World War, he fled to India and built this home. His wife, Shaheda, ran the homestay for decades before her daughter-in-law Padmini (Paddy) and six children took over. While Paddy regales people with stories, her children whip up quiches, tarts, fish in lemon-butter and herbs, guide guests on treks and birdwatching tours and start bonfires in the evenings. But before you meet the owner and her kids, be prepared to be greeted by the three resident dogs. Doubles from Rs4,000, inclusive of breakfast. Website.
Fredy’s Bungalow, Bhimtal
City-weary souls looking to renew their spirits, this place is for you. A six-hour drive from Delhi and a two-kilometre drive along the bumpy road of Bhimtal Lake leads you to this colonial bungalow. It belonged to a German expat who arrived in Nainital in 1939. The home features four rooms, a library and den, perfect to spend quality time with family and friends. Surrounded by flora and fauna, chances are you’ll wake up to the melody of the whistling thrush and retire to the hoot of the spotted owl. Just 10 minutes away from Bhimtal Lake, this place also offers great hiking and bird watching opportunities. But should you not want to watch the flutters without stepping out, the gardens of the bungalow are home to an array of butterflies. Doubles from Rs5,200, inclusive of breakfast. Website.
Sitla Estate, Mukteshwar
About 350km from Delhi, Sitla is a breezy drive from the city, but far enough from the bustle. The house belongs to adventure buff and environmentalist Vikram Maira who quit his career in television and returned home to the hills and orchards of his childhood. When he realised how much he enjoyed sharing his space with friends, he opened up the home to guests. The 150-year-old home has a library, kitchen, dining hall and colonial-style rooms in the old building and contemporary-style, independent cottages. Meals comprise crispy salads, fresh-from-the-oven bread, fruit crumbles, and jams prepared with produce from their own gardens. Cosy up with a book under an apricot tree in the orchards or just spend the day gazing at the mountains, Sitla is the kind of place that will just let you be. Doubles from Rs7,800, including breakfast and taxes; Website; Contact: +91-9756560677
After working as a banker for 20 years, Achla Sawhney left the chaos of Delhi for the calm of the mountains. The result is this lovely two-bedroom bungalow built in 2012 in the little village of Satoli. Three years later Sawhney listed it on Airbnb. She saw it as a platform to meet interesting people and feed them, and she’s been welcoming people into her home ever since. Go bird-watching or on long walks, curl up with a book in the lawns or just sit back and master the art of doing nothing. Whatever your city-weary soul needs. Doubles from Rs2,405 per night, inclusive of breakfast. A minimum two-night stay is required. Website.
Peora Dak Bungalow, Shyamkhet
This bungalow dates back to the Raj-era when it served as an inspection bungalow situated along the silk route. Over a decade ago, Shubha and Pradeep Gupta moved in and opened it up to guests to experience a slice of history. The home features three rooms, a small kitchenette, and a verandah with sweeping views of the mountains; it’s the perfect spot to enjoy your cuppa. Water is sourced from a nearby spring and Shubha is happy to whip up some food on prior request. Doubles from Rs3,000; Email; +91-9719816154