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Since tea plantation began in Darjeeling in the mid nineteenth century its landscape was changed forever. Dominated by dramatic terraced slopes, the local agriculture is responsible for some impressive scenery. A world away from the rest of Northern India, Darjeeling’s variances are represented in the faces of its inhabitants, their culture and religion (there is a large Buddhist population). Our pick of the best places to stay in Darjeeling are ideally situated for immersing yourself in nature and completely unwinding.
Things not to miss:
- The scenery is quintessentially Himalayan, overlooking the majestic Khangchendzonga peak. Outdoor enthusiasts will be right at home as there are plenty of day and overnight treks available for every level.
- The Buddhist monasteries in Ghum, in particular Yiga Choling Gompa built in 1850 and the oldest in the area, are a must visit and a fascinating insight into Darjeeling’s religion and culture. The best way to reach Ghum is by the affectionately named “Toy Train” one of the few functioning mountain railways remaining in India.
- Early risers head to Tiger Hill for sunrise. There is something truly unforgettable about watching the first rays of dawn traverse this 250km stretch of Himalayan mountain, turning its snowy peaks from white to pink.
- Another absolute must, the reason that tourists flock to Darjeeling, is to sample a cup of its finest chai. Known as “the champagne of tea” Darjeeling’s plantations are abundant. At Happy Valley Tea Estate visitors can watch the process from start to finish (visit between March and November to see tea-pickers out in the fields, harvesting the crop by hand).
Our pick of the best places to stay in Darjeeling all embrace the local countryside whilst providing a historic and comfortable stay.
The best places to stay in Darjeeling
For an eco stay
- A functioning tea estate, Makaibari Homestays was the first in the area to employ women and use organic and Fair Trade practices. Plus at under £10 a night it’s an utter bargain.
For central location
- If you want to be in the centre of Darjeeling and don't want to break the bank, we'd suggest you go for the Dekeling Hotel. Here you'll find simple, spacious rooms and wonderful views both of mountains and over the town itself.
You are spoilt for choice for historic stays in Darjeeling but our favourites include:
- The Elgin, a former summer residence of the Maharajah, is a beautiful hotel a short walk from Darjeeling's town centre. Awash with charm and character, The Elgin is a throwback to a bygone era.
- Mayfair Darjeeling includes every amenity you could ever want. Overlooking the tea estates, the hotel features two excellent restaurants, a lovely spa and a pristine pool.
- Windamere Hotel oozes colonial charm right from the white gloved waiters to the English country garden. A great place to stay for people who like atmospheric, historic settings.
For all out luxury
- Whilst there are some excellent hotel options in Darjeeling, Glenburn Tea Estate stands head and shoulders above the rest (quite literally – it boasts some unbeatable views). With just eight suites, each more period perfect than the last, guests are spoilt rotten.
For a private apartment
- Explore the options at our online partner Booking.com.
- The nearest airport to Darjeeling is in Siliguri (60 miles). This is a regional airport serviced by daily flights to Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.
- Darjeeling is accessible via the Toy Train from New Jalpaguiri.
- Enjoying a temperate climate Darjeeling can be visited most of the year, from October – May. June to September however sees the monsoon rains and it is best avoided.
Still not sure which to book?
Best Hotels in Darjeeling
Mayfair Darjeeling 44 rooms from $156Darjeeling
It is clear that a lot of passion and a great deal of thought have gone into ensuring the ultimate satisfaction of guests at this beautiful heritage hotel. It boasts 2 restaurants, a bar, gym, spa, pool, games room, the list goes on. The rooms are spacious, tasteful and charming.Back to Nature - The surrounding countryside is world famous for its beautyViews - See the beautiful snow-capped KanchenjungaKids Club - Fully staffed.Great walks - Good for walkers.
Windamere Hotel 41 rooms from $159Darjeeling, West Bengal
Quirky and colonial: step back into the days of the British Raj. The Windamere offers a nostalgic stay in the heart of Darjeeling. The place oozes history with white gloved waiters adding to the atmosphere. A must visit for those who a love a slice of days gone by!Sights nearby - Located on Darjeeling's historic Observatory HillViews - Great views of the Himalayas and over DarjeelingGreat walks - Good for walkers.Quirky - An experience!
Dekeling Hotel 19 rooms from $39Darjeeling
Excellently located in the heart of Darjeeling’s tourist district with wonderful views of the town and the Kanchenjunga mountain range. This is a lovely hotel with a friendly, warm feel. The rooms are spacious & comfortable, with wood panelling, large windows & soft armchairs. Simple and cosy.Sights nearby - The hotel has a tour desk to help you make the most of your timeLocal markets - Good for local colour.Views - Great views from hotel
Tumsong Tea Retreat 4 rooms from $169Darjeeling (West Bengal)
Located on its own tea estate this homely property provides a classic stay in Darjeeling. With manicured lawns, quaint decor rooms feature antique furnishings and mountains or garden views. Delicious home-cooked meals are included in the price plus there are plenty of on-site and nearby activities.Country Escape - Quintessential Darjeeling stay on your very own tea estateBirdwatching - A the peace and tranquility makes this a perfect spot for twitchingGreat walks - There are plenty of great walks directly from the propertySights nearby - Take the toy train to Darjeeling
Glenburn Tea Estate 8 rooms from $397Darjeeling
A working tea plantation retreat with spotless service and delicious food. Eight beautiful suites - each individually designed and all with magnificent views of the Himalayas and Kachenjunga. The perfect destination for a luxurious back to nature experience & complete getaway-from-it-all relaxation.Views - Breathtaking views to the Himalayas and KanchenjungaBirdwatching - The ideal spot for seeing over 100 different speciesGreat walks - Superb walking straight from the doorRuralRecommended by - I Escape, Kiwi Collection
The Elgin 25 rooms from $119Darjeeling
This glorious former summer residence of a Maharajah is superbly located in the heart of Darjeeling, a stroll from the bars & cafes and with spectacular views of the mountains and pine forests. It has been wonderfully restored to its original grandeur. The rooms are elegant & beautifully furnished.Romantic - The Honeymoon Package: 4 day tour of the Himalayas. Jam-packed with great activites, beautiful sights, and romantic extrasSpa - Offers massages and beauty treatment. Incluing aromatherapy, Swedish, Indian Head and Shoulder Massage and facials.Great walks - A perfect base for exploring the spectacular mountain scenery, pine forests and ancient monasteriesSights nearby - Well located for major sights.