Athithi Parinay (Ratnagiri, Maharashtra)
With cottages and tents tucked into a four acre plantation, Atithi Parinay (from Rs3,500 doubles; atithiparinay.com) is the perfect place to get away from urban chaos. Go for a walk among the mango groves and banana plantations, indulge in a spot of birding, learn about the different herbs grown at the homestay or simply sit with a book by the stream that runs along the far end of the property. The people at Atithi Parinay can also arrange for water sports activities at the scenic Arey-Ware beach, only 5km from the homestay. On the other hand, go for a half-day excursion to the pilgrim town of Ganapatipule, which also has a great beach, only 15 km away. The homestay is run by the mother-daughter duo Vasudha and Medha Sahasrabudhe. You can stay at their residential bungalow or at the separate cottages, tents or the lone tree house. The food here is strictly vegetarian.
Athithi Parinay is located in Kotawade village, about 15km from Ratnagiri which is connected on the Konkan Railway. Kotawade is about six hours’ drive from Mumbai.
The Secret Garden (Calangute, Goa)
A plush homestay in a restored bungalow built in the Indo-Portuguese architectural style, The Secret Garden (from Rs4,000 doubles; thesecretgardengoa.com) is guaranteed to take you back in time. Hide yourself away from the world and while away your time lying in hammocks, romping with the pets in the garden or with a dip in the pool. If you choose to, then the nightlife of Calangute and Baga beaches are nearby. The sumptuous breakfast served here has earned rave reviews from visitors. There are three guest rooms, so book in advance.
The Secret Garden, owned by the Menezes family, is located in Saligao in north Goa. It is about an hour’s drive from Dabolim Airport and about 20km from Thivim railway station.
Gorkha Homestay (Kumai, West Bengal)
Take a break from the Darjeeling round at little-known Kumai, a hamlet tucked way up in north Bengal, surrounded by hills, the Neora Valley forest and tea gardens. The Gorkha Homestay (from Rs2,400 doubles; kumaigorkhahomestay.com) located adjacent to the motorable road, offers a pleasant view of the rivers and plains below. It can also be your gateway to visiting the nearby attractions of Samsing and Suntalekhola. It’s a great spot for bird watching as well. Guest rooms are simply furnished but with all basic amenities. There is free car parking facility and driver’s room on extra payment.
Run by an ex-military gentleman from the Gorkha Regiment, Kumai Gorkha Homestay is about 80km from New Jalpaiguri Railway station and a little over two hours’ drive from Bagdogra Airport. It’s also quite close to Gangtok.
Gurung Homestay, (Pelling, Sikkim)
Daragaon Village Retreat, also known as Gurung Homestay (from Rs 2,600 doubles including meals; sikkimvillagehomestay.com), is your window to the charming hospitality of Sikkim. Located in the predominantly tribal village of Darap, perched at 5,790 feet, the homestay is surrounded by hills and forests. Take the help of the resort owners, the Gurung family, to chart out a trek or a village tour, some birding and local sightseeing.
Gurung Homestay is about 10 minutes’ drive from Pelling, a popular destination in west Sikkim. It is located on the Yuksam-Khecheopalri road.
Juniper, (Bhimtal, Uttarakhand)
Perched at 6,000 feet, staying at Juniper (from Rs4,000 doubles; welcomes.wixsite.com/juniper) is like living next to a gallery opening onto the lower Himalayan forest. Explore the pine and oak forests, the peach and plum orchards, the lemon groves, and meadows that lie all around this beautiful property. And then fall back on the excellent breakfast and meals provided by the homestay. If you are looking for some activities, go paragliding, or boating in Naukuchiatal (7 km away), Bhimtal and Sattal (18 km). Juniper has six bedrooms, with garden and valley views. The living room and dining area is in the ground floor. Another small dining area is on the first floor for the convenience of guests staying upstairs, along with a kitchenette for making tea and coffee.
The Juniper homestay is about a seven-hour drive from New Delhi. Kathgodam, the nearest railway station, is about 29km away.
Ek Chidiya Cottage (Nathuakhan, Uttarakhand)
Ek Chidiya Cottage (from Rs4,700 doubles with breakfast; ekchidiya.com), located near Nainital, as the name suggests, is all about birds and nature. Surrounded by pine forests, you will be immersed in a world of quiet charm in this cottage built in the middle of an acre of verdant land. Go for walks in the hills or visit a nearby hamlet to learn about Kumaoni lifestyle. Journalist couple Anurag Tomar and Pallavi Srivastava have taken care to set up their home and farm in the most eco-friendly manner while managing to give you first class amenities. There are four bedrooms in the cottage. Meals are served in the common dining area. With its many orchards, Nathuakhan is renowned as the fruit bowl of the Kumaon Himalaya.
Nathuakhan is approximately a seven-hour drive from Delhi. The nearest railway station, Kathgodam, is about 60km away.
Casa Coorg, (Virajpet, Karnataka)
Tucked inside Karnataka’s coffee country, Casa Coorg (from Rs3,800 doubles with breakfast; casacoorghomestay.in) will be especially attractive to golfers as it lies very near the 18-hole Coorg Golf Links. Run by an ex-army couple, Pearl and Bharat, the homestay is surrounded by the misty hills of the Western Ghats and coffee plantations. There is little to disturb the trabquility here except the wind in the trees, bird calls or the distant murmur of a spring. The owners can help with hiking in the hills and local sightseeing. The Coorg Institute of Adventure Sports is located nearby. The homestay can accommodate up to six people in their two deluxe rooms and one country cottage. You need to give prior notice for meals.
Casa Coorg is located inside the Chevur Estate, about six hours’ drive from Bangalore airport.