Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh, is India’s quintessential holiday destination in the hills. On your next vacation, arrive in the Queen of Hills to embrace the comfort and charm of these luxurious and boutique hotels ensconced in the lofty Himalayas. By Ananya Bahl
1. The Oberoi Cecil
Hark back to the colonial era in style.
The Oberoi Cecil has been the epitome of classic elegance and luxury in Shimla for more than a century. With gorgeous wooden floors, fireplaces, spectacular mountain vistas, and a grand lobby, this heritage hotel houses not only colonial style rooms with modern amenities but also offers personal butler assistance and round-the-clock bespoke services. On the culinary front, it offers guests both the local Himachali as well as global flavours at The Restaurant. Enjoy bar nibbles and your favourite tipples at The Lounge & Bar. The hotel also boasts a children’s activity centre, replete with a library, gaming zone, foosball table, and a daily timetable of exciting events. Some of the other experiences on offer here include a walk in the nearby Annadale woods, candlelit dinners, colonial heritage tours, swimming in the hotel’s indoor temperature-controlled pool, and holistic therapies at the Oberoi Spa. Starts from INR 12,980/ USD 182; oberoihotels.com
2. Wildflower Hall, An Oberoi Resort
Stately luxury at 2,515 metres above sea level.
As the former home of Lord Kitchener, who was once commander-in-chief of the British army, Wildflower Hall has a majestic ambience that pleases the discerning traveller. Luxuriate in this gorgeous hotel, which has rooms and suites offering garden, mountain, or valley views along with teakwood flooring and luxe baths. A nature lover’s haven, it is the perfect abode for families and couples who want to enjoy their time away from the humdrum of city life. Relish quasi al fresco experiences and winter bonfires with multi-cuisine fare at The Restaurant, and enjoy single malts and a variety of inspired drinks at The Cavalry Bar. The Lutyens Room is apt for private parties of up to 20 people. The hotel offers signature experiences like dinners at its private cedar-lined gazebo, a colonial heritage tour of Shimla, mountain biking, and picnics at a British-era bungalow called The Peak. After sightseeing and trekking in the hills of Shimla, taking dips in the property’s indoor temperature-controlled pool and al fresco infinity whirlpool is the perfect way to call it a day. Starts from INR 20,650/ USD 290; oberoihotels.com
3. Taj Theog Resort & Spa Shimla
Provincial chic decor and classic luxe hospitality in a magical setting.
This beautiful property is located in Theog, a small town about 28 kilometres away from Shimla. It comprises five ghats (or ridges)—Rahi Ghat, Deori Ghat, Prem Ghat, Janoghat, and Bagaghat. Located on the edge of a ridge, this property boasts 180 degree views of Churdhar, the Outer Himalayas’ highest peak. The setting is magical, enhanced further by the fine eyes of the local craftsmen that built the property. Each if its 99 rooms is set in such a way as to showcase the surrounding conifers, cedars, oaks, apple orchards, hamlets, cultivated terraces, snow-fed lakes, and gurgling rivers. Make sure you try Himachali fare at the all-day restaurant, Tragopan, and Sichuan and Cantonese cuisines at Peony. Theog Junction, the Gastro Pub is inspired by the famous toy train running from Kalka to Shimla. Stop by the signature Jiva Spa to get pampered with holistic treatments. The hotel is the perfect overnight pitstop for travellers heading to Narkanda, Hatu, and Lahaul-Spiti. Starts from INR 14,160/ USD 199; tajhotels.com
4. Larisa Resort Shimla
An ode to the erstwhile summer capital of British India.
Described as a ‘sun-kissed hotel in Shimla’, this property is located amid jagged Himalayan peaks, a mere four kilometres away from the Shimla Railway Station. The Viceregal Lodgen and famed Shimla Mall Road are just a few minutes away from the property. Choose from the Boulevard, Deluxe, and Valley View rooms, or the Junior Suite, each of which combines modern luxury and the hotel’s philosophy of ‘maintaining the natural essence’. The hotel’s Reading Room is lined with books of various genres while its Kids Room keeps your little ones entertained. Conclave, its boardroom, and Convocation, its banquet hall, are apt for formal gatherings. Enjoy Indian, Chinese, and Continental cuisines at the restaurant, Popina. Spirit, the bar, is wonderful for a nightcap while Solja, its tea house, is perfect for a cuppa over quietude. Starts from INR 3,815/ USD 54; larisaresort.com
5. Radisson Jass Shimla
Business and leisure mingle to offer a modern take on Shimla.
Located just off National Highway 22, with Shimla airport at 26 kilometres and popular attractions like the Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex, Jakhu Temple, and Christ Church a few minutes away, this hotel is convenience personified. Offering a modern take on historic Shimla, it provides well-appointed rooms and suites, free Wi-Fi, quick check-in, and 24-hour room service. If you wish to host a destination wedding or business conclave in the hills, look no further than the Radisson Jass Shimla, which boasts 297 square metres of event space, which can accommodate up to 200 people. Its in-house restaurant, Café Valley Vue, offers a range of cuisines, and its bar is a ideal for cocktails and conversations with mountain views. Try some of their packages—the ‘Romance Experience’ offers champagne and breakfast in bed, the ‘Relaxation Experience’ includes a healthy breakfast and spa visit, and the ‘Family Experience’ offers customised kids’ menus and activities. Starts from INR 9,149/ USD 128; radissonhotels.com
6. Hotel Royal Tulip Shimla
Combining international standards and local flavours.
Situated in the skiing haven of Kufri, this hotel blends modern amenities and local hospitality. With 24-hour room service and spectacular views of the surrounding cedar filled valley, the hotel offers Deluxe and Premium Rooms, as well as Luxury Rooms with a balcony. There is also the option of a Deluxe Family Suite, Luxury Suite, and Presidential Suite. You can indulge in Indian cuisine at Promenade, the hotel’s all-day restaurant and cocktails downed in the classic wood decor of cedar is sure to make for comfortable evening entertainment. For Middle Eastern flavours, North Indian dishes, Asian fare, and Western cuisine, you can head to the Peaks restaurant. This property oozes comfort and warm hospitality, making it the perfect refuge after a day of skiing, trekking, and horse-riding. Starts from INR 4,061/ USD 57; goldentulip.com
7. Hotel Marina
A centrally located charming boutique property.
As the only hotel on the Mall Road with a drive-in facility and a parking capacity of 60 cars, this boutique property is perfect for those who want to be amid all of Shimla’s action. It is spread across one acre of lush vegetation overrun with cedar and pine trees, giving it a relaxing ambience despite its central location. The hotel offers 48 rooms, including nine Deluxe Rooms, 15 Superior Rooms, four Superior Garden Rooms, 18 Executive Rooms, one Suite Room, and one Executive Suite Room. The Hill’s Edge restaurant serves delectable cuisine from around the globe and Sixteen 69 Lounge Bar is the place to sample fine wines. The Open Garden Terrace Restaurant is an al fresco dining area with live barbecue. When you don’t feel outdoorsy, stop by the pool table, gymnasium, or video-game zone. The in-house M-Spa will help you rejuvenate in between all the sightseeing and shopping jaunts on the Mall Road. Starts from INR 6,071/ USD 85; marinashimla.com
8. Marigold Sarovar Portico
Blending together the classic and the contemporary.
A retreat ideal for families and honeymooners, this tranquil property is perched on a quiet slope in Mashobra. Enjoy the beauty of colonial-style architecture as you check into one of its Premium Rooms, Superior Rooms, Executive Suites, or cottages. Signature Sarovar hospitality makes sure even your most whimsical wish is taken care of. A spa, fitness centre, complimentary Wi-Fi, and 24-hour room service are reasons enough to try it on your next Shimla vacation. There’s more. Relax with a drink at Glen, the hotel’s bar; let a dedicated team of experts help you host your dream wedding at one of the many banqueting spaces; or head to Craignano—the multi-cuisine restaurant to enjoy a candlelit dinner in a snug setting. Starts from INR 6,159/ USD 86; sarovarhotels.com
9. The Pine Cottage Estate
Home to classic colonial wonders.
This charming B&B was once a private property. Constructed over 130 years ago in the local Dhajji Dewari-style that employs stone and wood plastered with mud, this stunning estate offers modern comforts steeped in antiquity. Gorgeous attics, balconies with breathtaking views, huge corridors, cosy fireplaces, wood burners for outdoor barbecue sessions, and lush lawns are the hallmarks here. Al fresco dining right in the cottage’s courtyard or garden is an absolute must-do. The decor comprises classic four-poster beds, consoles, and tea parlour furniture in keeping with the cottage’s distinct heritage vibe. The rooms are named after trees common in the hills— think Deodar, Cedar, Pinus, Rhodo, Pine, Oak, and Fir. No matter which one you choose, two things will be offered for sure—warm hospitality and spectacular views from your window. Starts from INR 5,820/ USD 82; thepinecottage.in
10. Fortune Select Cedar Trail
The perfect bleisure destination.
In Mashobra, spread across 24 acres and circled with oak, cedar, and pine trees, this sprawling property epitomises luxury and bliss. Twenty four-hour dining, banqueting facilities that can host up to 300 guests, and high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity are some of the facilities to be enjoyed at this hotel. It works well as a venue for honeymoons, solo trips, family holidays, and corporate offsites as it is located in Mashobra—known for its
apple orchards. The property boasts 47 types of accommodation, which include Deluxe Rooms with Mountain View, Fortune Premium Rooms with Valley View, and the Cedar Suite–Valley View. Zodiac, its all-day dining restaurant, and the Neptune Bar & Lounge ensure your gastronomic needs are taken care of. Approximately 296 square metres of event space spread across two halls translates into hassle-free meetings and
gatherings. Starts from INR 6,795/ USD 95; fortunehotels.in
Related: Here’s Why Shimla Will Always Remain The Queen Of Hill Stations In India