Monday, February 16, 2015

Tripura Castle, Shillong - Luxury in the North East

Once again we had a student's wedding to attend and this time it was in Guwahati. Since we were going all the way to the North East for this I insisted that we spend a couple of days going somewhere nice nearby instead of spending all our time in Guwahati. We considered Kaziranga (that's what always comes to mind first!) and I looked at Google maps to see how far we'd have to travel. That's when I realised Shillong was quite nearby and to me, it was much more appealing. A quick search online, and a couple of phone conversations with friends convinced me that Shillong had much to appeal to us.

The first thing to do was look for a hotel and as I looked at the options I chanced upon a photo of a huge carved wooden bed set in an alcove in a huge room with shiny wooden floors. I was hooked.

This was in the Tripura Castle in Shillong and I was sold. I checked out their website thoroughly and then K and I booked ourselves in for a couple of days. As much as I looked forward to the wedding, and spending a few days staying with my college buddy in Guwahati, a part of me just couldn't wait to get to this gorgeous, romantic, old worldly hotel in Shillong.

After a fantastic 5 days in Guwahati we finally set out for Shillong. I was looking forward to a really beautiful scenic drive. Work to broaden and extend the highway is on full swing and thus the drive wasn't all that scenic. Still, we did see hillsides covered in tall betel palms, banana trees, bamboo thickets and eventually, pines.

The hotel is located high up inside Shillong, a little away from the main market areas and city centre, and took us a little while to find since our taxi driver was a little clueless. But what's an extra 15 minutes here or there when you're on holiday? Once we arrived we were welcomed warmly, seated at the open reception area, and we relaxed immediately. We were given a choice of two rooms - the one with that gorgeous bed, and another sumptuous room that opened out into a little private garden. I stuck to the one with the bed, of course!

From the Reception area

The property is a small one. It has a beautiful intimate feel and is just the thing if you're looking for a quiet time. It's just perfect for a romantic getaway! 

This what the rest of our room looked like. 

I loved that there was wood everywhere - old style. No formica, no modern metal or mirrors, just vintage style solid furniture.

 The room also had bits of Art Deco furniture which were quirky and reminded me of my childhood when these were all the rage.

The dressing table in the bathroom. 

The rest of the bathroom

As soon as we had freshened up and unpacked a bit we set off to have lunch. There's a restaurant in the hotel and while it's small, it has a big menu. With a wide choice of Indian (Punjabi/Tandoori) and Chinese there's enough to satisfy everyone. We tried out the Chinese items and were happy to not that most of the options were unique to the area, not at all the stuff we get in Mumbai. 

I loved these crisp pork fritters. 

I also had noodles, accompanied by a pork dish that had beaten egg white to recreate clouds. The dishes had fanciful names I am ashamed to say I have forgotten, but the food was good and the service attentive. 

The restaurant also serves breakfast, which, incidentally, is included in the room charges. Fresh toast, eggs to order, sausages, a selection of teas, coffee, fresh fruit, juice, etc., are all available along with Indian options like parathas, masala omlette, and more. 

The restaurant dining room

We stayed in at the hotel the day we arrived. Though it's just a three hour drive from Guwahati we weren't in the mood to go into town. It was also colder than we'd expected, a sudden cold wave scuppering our plans a bit. Our beautiful room, room service on call, all our needs taken care of, we weren't complaining at all!

Our room had a fireplace and I had every intention of making the most of it. We had it lit early in the evening and spent a lovely cosy evening in, doing nothing, our noses in our books, snacks ordered in, and the fire blazing merrily. Life was perfect.

I must have taken a hundred photographs of the flames... so mesmerising, so beautiful, so magical! For a city slicker like me who's only lived in apartments, and that too in Mumbai that barely has any seasons, staying in a room with a fireplace lit up was on my bucket list of things to do in this life time. Well, that one's ticked off the list now!

The hubby catches up with the news of the world outside

The verandah outside our room 

Rooms that lead out to the garden. It's lovely here on chilly mornings with the soft sun to thaw you.

A view of Shillong from the hotel garden

We wandered around in the city in the morning of our second day there and decided to come back to the cosy comfort of the hotel. Frankly, it was too cold to stay out in the evening and the hotel was so lovely, it was no sacrifice at all. 

We went up to the bar on the first floor for pre dinner drinks and then went down to the Shillong Cafe, situated in the Garden Wing of the hotel, for dinner. 

The bar on the first floor. 

The Shillong Cafe. We grabbed the table right next to the fire place!

We had an amazing dinner here and if we're ever back we're going to eat many more meals at this restaurant. Though I'd been told it serves Continental cuisine only, it turned out they serve a lot of local cuisines too. I had a kickass spicy and flavourful pork thukpa which warmed my frozen bones nicely. K had the roast pork with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables which was also excellent. I don't have good photos of the restaurant or the food - it was so cold I didn't think I could have managed to fiddle around with my camera, and the photos on the phone didn't come out all that well. 

Shillong itself is a bustling city with lots to appeal to a tourist. Shop for local handicrafts, buy local food products, feast on local cuisine or enjoy Chinese with a North Eastern flavour, walk around Laitumkhrah market or trawl the Police Bazaar streets, chill out in any of the numerous coffee shops, or go sight seeing to places around. Taxis are easily available but be sure to bargain to fix the fares.

The stay at Tripura Castle was really lovely. We're the kind that likes to go someplace and just chill. Maybe go out for a bit but mainly just get comfortable in our room and be. Rest, recover, read, catch up on sleep, and let others take care of us. 

We found the service to be prompt, efficient and friendly. Room service is good and there's an extensive menu of snacks and meals that can be ordered in. The hotel has free wifi, and in case it doesn't work they give you a plug in dongel to use. There's hot water in the bathroom and the our room had two electric heaters apart from the fireplace. We were warm and comfortable. 

The staff will arrange for a taxi if you want to go into town. They also arrange for pick up and drop from Guwahati airport, and back. The rates are the same as outside. The hotel will also arrange sight seeing trips around Shillong if you require it. Cherrapunjee is perfect for a day visit, especially in the monsoons. 

While the Tripura Castle property doesn't boast of the usual swimming pools, discos, spas, etc., it's small and intimate, very well maintained, and guests are exceptionally well taken care of. I'm hoping to go back for a longer stay. 

You can check out more details (and loads of photos) about this gem of a property on their website here - Royal Heritage Tripura Castle

Marathon Bloggers 


Anjali Koli said...

Loved this travelogue. I would love to experience it. I love boutique hotels. They give an intimate experience and one does not feel overwhelmed luxury! I followed you thru the trip on FB and this post rounds it off.

Dimpy Roy said...

Lovely hotel. Pictures are very beautiful. The capital city of Meghalaya, Shillong is called the Scotland of the East because of the rolling hills and meadows which are quite reminiscent of Scotland. Explore best 26 hotels in Shillong also.