“Perched on Darjeeling's Observatory Hill, the Windamere Hotel was originally a boarding house for young bachelor tea planters and the establishment retains its colonial charm. Turned into a hotel in 1939, the bedrooms, which can't have seen much change since their plantation days, are comfortable and spacious with fireplaces and hot water bottles, and bathrooms well appointed. Room names – such as Prince Peter of Greece, Princess of Siam and Chogyal of Sikkim (who met his wife Hope Cook here) – are just one sign of the famous figures that have graced the hotel. Pictures and letters adorn the walls, and photograph albums, depicting endless society gatherings, sit in piles, longing to be flicked through. The colonial scene continues in the dining room where Thirties music plays and Western and Indian cuisine is served by white-gloved waiters with impeccable manners. Think watercress soup, roast beef (with all the trimmings) and an assortment of delicious home-cooked curries... And then there's the tea, which comes from various plantations in the area. Weather-depending, the grounds offer great views over Darjeeling with the hotel a short walk from Chowrasta (the town’s main square) and yet it’s also removed enough to offer a peaceful break from the urban din. Superb service completes the experience meaning that when it’s time to move on, you feel like you’re leaving a delightful time warp.”
Written by Helena Hamlyn
“Why do people love staying in your hotel?
It is a very peaceful part of the old British Raj history and reminds guests of “coming home to the way things used to be”
What is there to do in the area?
Visit 20+ monasteries; see the remarkable Himalayan Zoo & Tenzing Norgay’s Mountaineering Institute; wonderful treks; Tea-Tasting in the surrounding Tea Gardens; ride the world famous narrow gauge Toy Train; soak up the old British Raj history, found at Windamere and finally – just “be” sitting on what is a very holy, vibrational hill
What kind of breakfast do you offer?
English breakfast (bacon, sausage, etc.) or Indian, with fruits, cereals, porridge, the best Darjeeling Tea or ground coffee
Do you offer other meals? And can you recommend good places to eat out locally?
A full- board establishment, with breakfast, luncheon, Afternoon Tea & Dinner. Lunch & Dinner are 5-course meals. Fruits and vegetables are fresh every day and bread, cakes, biscuits, etc. are baked in our own kitchen
Which are your most popular room types, and why?
All rooms are popular, but our original Ada Villa ‘Royal Suites’ (where royalty stayed) + + our cottages
What facilities do you have for children and can you fit extra beds in your rooms ?
We can fit extra beds into most rooms + we have a special early lunch and dinner (if needed ) + high chairs + a play area (swings, etc.)
What message would you like to give Hotel Guru readers?
Pronounced by one of our guests: “it’s like one big house party”. Another said: “it’s like coming home and being looked after by Nanny in the Nursery”. If guests love history and just being looked after, like a welcome and favourite guest, then this is the place.”