Windamere Hotel Darjeeling
Ada Villa of Windamere hotel was the original boarding house of the British planters who came to Darjeeling in the 1800s to make fortune from tea plantation. While away from home, the planters needed a comfortable place to stay. This house has been restored to its original state and the rooms in this building provide the original ambience and aura of British colonial time.
Appropriately, the rooms are called Colonial Suites having retained all the original furnishing and interiors. The only changes are in electrical and some bathroom fittings.
Ada Villa stands on one side of the Sunny Side open terrace facing the magnificent valley and the Eastern Himalayan Ranges. So expectedly the view from the rooms are stunning. As you enter the villa, there is a grand wooden staircase that leads to the upper floor. The staircase with two side arms is partially carpeted along the center. In the upper floor there are four rooms and all are triple bedded.
I was told by Shubhana, the General Sales Manager of the hotel that some people come here only to stay in these rooms, get disconnected from the rest of the world, and feel the old colonial charm. They don't even go out of the hotel premises. They at times go to the open patio outside, sit on the cane chairs watching the views and get back to their rooms. None of the rooms have even phones or televisions.
Staircase leading to upper floor of Ada Villa
When I asked her that after all everybody would have cell phones these days and this place is not out of the mobile range either, she said that those people simply switch off their cell phones as well. I did see a phone in a room that was of an old make and realized it was kept as an antique. Shubhana said that they once wanted to repair the phone but it did not finally work.
Room in Ada Villa, Windamere Darjeeling
As I looked at the tall wooden cupboards with many shelves in them, the single beds, wooden tables and chairs, I was trying to imagine the lives of the tea planters in those days. Three of them would stay together in a room that didn't even have room heaters, nor any television, phones, or water heaters.
Tall Cupboard. See the green phone
But they actually enjoyed. With the Gymkhana Club nearby, the Lebong race course which was the highest and smallest course of the time, afternoon Tea and dancing, there used be one big party going on. And you will need to stay in one of these rooms to feel and imagine what that might had been. All rooms are quite large with three single comfortable beds laid out. The walls have black & white photographs depicting the colonial history and background of the hotel. There are cushioned chairs and a round table on one side where you can have your tea and relax.
The rooms also have large fireplace framed with carved teak wood that add to the grandeur. There are round small mirrors with wooden frames and also tall ones that are fixed to the wall. They have been kept as they were. The Colonial Suites are named after special guests like Prince Peter of Greece, Chogyal of Sikkim, Begam Aga Khan Room, etc who once visited Darjeeling and stayed here. I heard that Chogyal or the King of Sikkim met an American lady in this property and married her later. The lady became the queen of Sikkim.
Bathrooms are spacious and done up really well to provide all modern requirements. This is probably the only visible contrast from what might had been there during the 1800s. There is a full size bathtub with golden stands and dark green exterior. All bathrooms are fitted with geysers. There is an wooden stand that has towels of various sizes.
Downstairs at the ground floor there are two large rooms with twin beds and having similar furnishing as the ones in the upper floor including tall huge cupboards.
Obviously these rooms may not be suitable for families with kids. Because with virtually no amenities, the kids are likely to run out of patience. For families and particularly Indian families, a better choice would be the Observatory House
. At the ground floor, there is also a narrow space where the Afternoon Tea
is served in traditional British style. There are lounges like 'Daisy's Music Room" where you can take your tea, relax near the fire place and have your tea with snacks. There is also a meeting room here.
A nice bar which is tucked at the corner of the ground floor. It has nice collections of Scotch Whiskeys and other drinks. The bar room has cushioned bar stools and comfy sofas with a typical English decor of early days.
Bar at Ada Villa, Windamere Darjeeling
The bar room is carpeted. At the end there is also a small round table with four chairs. I often wondered who would like to have serious discussions here over a drink. There are windows and a door at the end that open out to the views of the Mall road below.
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Windamere is located on Observatory hill and access is from the Mall road. It is just above the Mall (Chowrasta) and a minute walk from there.
Windamere Hotel, Observatory Hill, Darjeeling 734101, India.
Phone: +91-354-2254041 / 42
Fax: +91-354-2254043 / 2254211
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