15 Beautiful Homestays and Hotels in Shimla

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One of Shimla’s first colonial houses, Chapslee has been welcoming guests since 1976. The large two-storey house was the secretariat when Lord Auckland was Governor General. He saw the British signing the Simla Manifesto in 1838 to reinstate the deposed king of Kabul. One hundred years later, Raja Charanjit Singh of Kapurthala bought and renovated the stone building as a summer residence. His grandson Ratanjit “Reggie” Singh, now the owner, says there has been no renovation since. Chapslee has the jaw-dropping qualities of a time machine, despite being only a short walk from the town centre. A stunning blood red Murano chandelier fills your vision as you enter. Old hunting trophies, weapons and family portraits line the walls. Sleek powder rooms flank four-poster beds with sparkling fireplaces. Meals are also a production with silver service and staff in livery. And there’s always time to play croquet on the lawns, watched over by Chapslee’s friendly dogs. Website; double from Rs12,200, breakfast included

Aira Holme Retreat from Sanjiv, Chotta Shimla

Aira Holme Retreat from Sanjiv, Chotta Shimla

An idyllic pocket of charm in Chotta Shimla, Sanjiv’s Aira Holme Retreat is a 10-minute drive from the city center. It started as a pool hall and guest house in 1920. In 2012, owner Sanjiv and her husband, Birinder “Billy” Singh, opened it to guests. After Sanjiv passed away last year, Billy continues to perform it in his memory. Both tastefully decorated bedrooms have plenty of well-appointed sofas and nooks to gaze at or sink into a book. Soothing mountain views include the surrounding deodars sighing in the wind. Nap in the sun in the garden, spend hours in the bright and cozy attic, snuggle up with the three little dogs and linger over the mystical landscapes of Billy. An artist, photographer and founding member of the Shimla chapter of INTACH, Billy retired as head of the state chapter. It is a mine of information on the myths and heritage of the region. Before leaving, he asked us to add that he can be a grumpy host, as he doesn’t want too many visitors – well, be warned. Website; double from Rs6,000 including breakfast

Ballyhack Cottage, the mall

Ballyhack Cottage, the mall

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