It’s not often that you’re spoilt for choice in a destination but in Darjeeling, nestled 6000ft up in the foothills of the Himalayas of India, you’ll need to search your own character for the answer to which of these outstanding hotels you’ll choose.
Each will take you back in time to an era of exceptional service and courtesy, attributes that have long departed elsewhere. Your choice will be based on just how authentic you want your surroundings to be and in what style. Read on…
We loved this hotel. Imagine a beautiful country-house hotel in England steeped in tradition and elegance on a grand scale – this is the Elgin.
Once the summer residence of the Maharaja of Cooch Behar, The Elgin Darjeeling is over 125 years old and now a luxury Heritage Hotel that’s been restored to its former glory. Situated in the heart of Darjeeling town, its décor owes more to the Colonial Era than to its origins.
The Elgin is very much a part of Darjeeling’s colonial history and it’s so easy to immerse yourself in its warmth, comfort and charm that you’ll almost be reluctant to step outside.
Its twenty-five luxury bedrooms reflect the same opulence and attention to detail as do the lounge, bar and restaurant areas – period teak furniture, oak floors, sumptuous furnishings, wall panelling and inviting open fireplaces.
We spent a little time after our buffet dinner with the owners, Diamond and Nimmi Oberoi (yes, of the same family) who were charming and lively company, whilst the pianist tinkled a discordant tune on the ivories of the old upright behind us.
You’ll be aware of the Elgin’s history but more content with the comfort and care that pervades its every corner – and you might just be rubbing shoulders with familiar faces as you snuggle up to the bar for a nightcap before retiring to your bed, already warming with its own hot water bottle.
A lovely quality hotel with an elegant ambiance.
This hotel is both fun and fascinating. Not because its frivolous but because it’s as if you’ve stepped back in time to the days of the young tea planters who are staying with you in this homely and comfortable ‘boarding house’ in the hills.
Windamere is a collection of period houses, each with its own unique charm, gathered together almost like a little hamlet, on the top of ‘Observatory Hill’; the highest point of Darjeeling and just seconds from the Mall and main town.
Established in the 19th century as a cosy boarding house for bachelor English and Scottish tea planters, it was converted into a hotel just before the outbreak of the Second World War. Such is the attention to detail at Windamere that it’s as if they’ve only just left. The furniture and furnishings are the same to the very last detail and rather than Windamere having been refurbished, it’s been restored, so that all comforts, beds, wardrobes, facilites and seating are exactly as they were in the 1800’s – truly authentic.
To differentiate between The Elgin and the Windamere you need perhaps to picture the difference between a property used by gentry and one for the young Turks of the emerging commercial community.
As with the Elgin, Windamere has had numerous dignitaries and society glamour stay under its roof over the years but its true appeal for us lies in the feeling that you’re actually genuinely living in a past era, rather than simply inhabiting a contrived film set.
To truly reinforce the overall experience of boarding house dwelling – and if you’ve elected to give the excellent Indian cuisine a miss for a day or two – you’ll inevitably immerse yourself in traditional porridge for breakfast, cheese and onion pie for lunch or Windamere’s Roly Poly Pudding after dinner, chosen from a menu written authentically on a clunky typewriter, as you chat with your companions; bathed in the natural glow of candlelight.
We can’t heap enough praise on the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate pudding we had one lunchtime – an extended stay here would create serious waistline issues!
Each of the ‘houses’ within the grounds has its own style, character, room configuration and facilities, as well as one being the seat of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway enthusiast club – but you can use it for your own soiree or private gathering, whatever your own pursuit.
A unique all-round period experience.
The Mayfair’s history lies in the mists of Indian princely power but has been thoroughly refurbished to offer exceptional modern luxury accommodation in traditional style.
Whilst Mayfair exudes old world charm it isn’t perhaps as authentic as the former two hotels in that it has been furnished and filled with quality furniture, fittings and antiques that have been introduced rather than retained.
Not that this should detract from your enjoyment of the hotel and for many this pristine finish will appeal more than the authenticity and patina of Elgin and Windamere.
Mayfair is perched on the side of a hill with beautiful views and sufficient green foliage and landscaping of its grounds to disguise the fact that you’re on the side of a well-developed gradient. The luxury accommodation provided at the resort includes spacious Family Rooms and lavish Suites.
There are various dining options include a grand buffet restaurant, an English bar with lovely sunset views and a charming multi-cuisine restaurant.
Facilities are as you would expect and the library contains many interesting mementoes and photographs donated by the family of Sherpah Tenzing Norgay who was a resident of Darjeeling.
This hotel has the benefit of slopes rather than steps from the entrances to the main hotel.
The Rooms and Cottages of Mayfair offer some of the finest modern accommodation facilities, all of which are adorned with fine woodwork and sophisticated furnishings, to create an opulent living experience.
Polished traditional values.
Why not download our guide brochure or give us a call today on 01202 030443, or simply click ‘enquire’ to submit your own personal itinerary request