Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Wildflower Hall

India

A fairytale setting in the Greater Himalaya range, amidst acres of pine and cedar woods

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Wildflower Hall
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Wildflower Hall

Location

Set within 23 acres of protected cedar forest, with panoramic views of the Himalayas

Travel Information

Chandigarh airport and railway station - 4 hours (the roads are picturesque and winding)

Top Tips

March to April is a spectacular time to visit - the region is awash with colour

5-Star X-Factors

Views, views, views from every window!

Spring surprise for sore eyes

Rising up some 8,250 feet in the Himalayas near Shimla is Wildflower Hall, once the retreat of Lord Kitchener and now a proud Oberoi landmark. The grand residence offers an almost unparalleled vantage point to witness the glorious manifestations of Earth's most decorative season, spring. Here, wild flowers spread spectacularly across the side of the lower slopes of the mountains which are covered in aromatic cedar and crowned in the distance by snow.

Most international airports fly direct to Delhi and from there a train journey through exhilarating countryside will take you up to Shimla where a hotel transfer will be waiting to drive you up to Wildflower Hall.

This really is a place for springtime sprucing: not only can you recharge by simply sitting out on the terrace by one of the highest swimming pools in the cosmos, lapping up the views and sipping something special, but you can also slope off for some spa heaven.

You can experience an energising recharge in sublime surroundings with treatments inspired by the very nature you lie down with. Trained therapists will pamper you with holistic treatments and massages encompassing both Ayurveda and Western techniques. All this blissful, healing and caressing care is carried out in the confines of your own private spa suite surrounded by the cedars and the mountains from one of God's most spectacular creations, the Himalayas.

There are acres and acres of unspoilt countryside surrounding the hotel, and the wild flowers in spring are the inspiration that nominate the grand residence that lies among them. There are mapped-out trails available to walkers, and the degree to which you wish to exert yourself will be made clear from the start.

So, you can either wander at a leisurely pace or take what is called the Sanctuary Trail with a fitness grade of 'challenging'. Either way, it is so beautiful and packed with wonderful foliage, delicate flowers and alpine glory. The animals here are so rare they will bring out your inner David Attenborough.

Queen of hill stations

The British called Shimla the 'Queen of Hill Stations'. In the days before independence, Shimla was the most important British hill station and it became the summer 'capital'. It was 'discovered' by the British in 1819, and the first permanent houses were erected in 1822. Although the days of the Raj are long gone, the richness and architectural splendour stand as a reminder of this legacy.

Shimla is surrounded by the pine, deodar, oak and rhododendron forests, and, if you have seen the Merchant Ivory production of the film Heat and Dust with the gorgeous Greta Scaachi, you will have an idea of Shimla both in the Raj era and modern day. Not a great deal has actually changed in appearance.

The Mall is where it all happens: it runs along The Ridge and is a teaming mass of traders and tourists picking out antique pashminas and wonderful Tibetan trinkets. The Mall also retains some of the largest names in the garment and textile industry from India. You can purchase a silk shalwar kamise, the famous Himachali hat in various colours, sculptures crafted from fruitwood and, if you are lucky, some genuine chunky turquoise and amber Tibetan one-offs. To avoid fakes, purchase items from government-approved emporia.

The Jhaku temple dedicated to Hanumanji, the attendant of Lord Rama, is in the east of Shimla at the highest point of The Ridge, with extraordinary panoramic views of the city. Christ Church and St Michael's Cathedral are the second oldest churches in northern India, built between 1846 and 1857, and are renowned for their magnificent stained glass windows. There are many other cultural hot spots around Shimla that are worth visiting.

Reminisce with a picnic complete with Champagne and strawberries, put together by the kitchen at Wildflower Hall, at the infamous Annandale, beyond the Glen. This was the playground of Shimla; surrounded by deodar forest you can imagine the British being entertained with polo, cricket, racing and eating delicate cucumber sandwiches while laughing at their good fortune.

Suite talk

The suites at Wildflower Hall are stylish, sympathetic to their predecessors, and have some of the most spectacular views available to humankind. The thick cedar forests spreading across to the glorious mountains and valleys will be one of the best reasons you have ever had to open your curtains. There are 85 suites and rooms, all with marble bathrooms and a personalised butler service.

If you are feeling flush, or indeed have won a small lottery, then the Lord Kitchener Suite will send your luxury hotel standard barometer through the highest point of the Himalayas i.e. Mount Everest. Here, you not only have the ubiquitous four poster standing proud on polished teak, you also have an additional marble bathroom and a grand fireplace in the sitting room being stoked regularly by your attentive butler.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant


Luxury Explorer

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