Nothing can compare to staying in a old stone-and-wood hotel up in the hills in the rains. Nainital, unlike many other hill stations, is not dirty and as I was visiting in October, it was less crowded. But it was only when the car deposited me in front of the elegant Shervani Hilltop that I knew I was in for a treat. The hotel is spread across the terraced slope of a hill, with a beautiful flower garden stretching out on the lower terraces in front of the building. The pebbled driveway sweeps around the main structure; intimate cottages, located on a lower terrace, lead off from the driveway. Tables and chairs, some of them made of beautiful wrought iron, are placed strategically on the lawns for the guests to enjoy the views. And if it's raining, like it did throughout my stay, the dining room with its large glass windows offers an excellent alternative.
The hotel, owned by the Shervani group, was built in 1960 as a holiday home for the executives of GEEP, a brand that made batteries and torches and was owned by the same group. Once that business was profitably hived off, the group converted the beautiful property into a lodge in 1981. In 2001 it underwent a minor upgradation and early this year the hotel was shut down for a complete refurbishment and was unveiled as a high-end resort in April. They have retained the original building and, now, the rooms match up to the handsome exterior. They are airy and spacious, while the wood-panelled flooring lends them authenticity. The large cottage suites and premium rooms are ideal for families and larger groups. But my room (No. 225) came with the best views and is appropriately titled the Hill View room. It's right on top of the porch and partly projects out of the building providing an unparalleled 180-degree view. So each night, after a hard day's work haggling in the Tibetan market or driving from one hill temple to another, I went to sleep watching the hundreds of lights flickering in the town below.
Where: Mallital, Nainital
Accommodation: 1 deluxe room, 3 deluxe verandah rooms, 11 premium verandah rooms, 5 verandah suite rooms, 4 hill view rooms, 1 presidential hill view suite
Tariff: 2N/3D packages start at Rs 4,444 per couple. The package includes breakfast and dinner and transport to the Mall.
Contact 05942-233800, 9411197601, www.shervanihotels.com