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The charm of colonial glory

Swaati Chaudhury |

For those smitten by the travel bug and planning a trip to Darjeeling, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as a stay at the Windamere Hotel. Best-known as a colonial hotel nestling in the lap of the Himalayas, the luxury property offers the unparalleled ambience while making its valued guests feel at home.

Windamere is not any hospitality group and differs from other properties. This old-world place began way back as an English boarding hotel for the British tea planters in late 1880 and became Windamere Hotel only in 1939. 

Elizabeth J Clarke, managing director, Windamere Hotel explained, “Our hotel still remains the warm and friendly boarding house and recreates the magic of the bygone era when British tea planters halted here along with the royalty and dignitaries. It dates back to 1841 and came to be known as Ada Villa in the later part of the 1880s. Our hotel harks back to the good old days of personalised service in the dining hall. We flaunt an authentic old-world look and design, and treat travellers as our own privately invited guests during their stay.”

There are a number of plush hotels in and around the Darjeeling Hills but the unfading bygone charm of Windamere makes its stand out from the crowd. Clarke said, “We are one-of-a-kind in our style and intention. It is the only property that is truly colonial in nature and essence. Based on the lines of a private boarding house, our hotel makes visitors step back in time.”

Given the increasing willingness of Indian travellers to splurge with rise in disposable income, these days more domestic tourists are heading to Windamere Hotel. Clarke further said, “Once upon a time, we rarely had domestic tourists apart from the well-heeled class. With the change in economy, we welcome travellers from across the country. On the other hand, we have global seasonal travellers during spring and autumn. Once Indian tourists used to arrive during the rains but with changing times, they come all the year round. Both global and domestic tourists come during our Christmas and New Year revelries and that something that is much-awaited.” 

At Windamere, one can get to choose the style of accommodation based on personal preferences. Clarke said, “There has been a rise in booking of rooms from domestic visitors and we plan to expand our accommodation facilities in the upcoming period. The hospitality scene in Darjeeling is quite vibrant and a number of hotels have come up over the last few years. There are many options for travellers and there is something to suit everybody’s budget.”