Pahari Soul Homestay Darjeeling Category: Budget
This homestay is owned and run by Shoyeta Chatterjee, a young lady who was born and brought up in Darjeeling but moved on to Bangalore to build a career. In 2013 she decided to quit her corporate job as money was no longer motivating her. She needed time for herself and also to travel. She came back to Darjeeling, renovated the two storeys of her ancestral property and started Pahari Soul.
As you approach Darjeeling town along the National Highway-55 (i.e. Hill Cart Road), about 3kms before reaching the town area an uphill narrow lane on the right side leads up to the home stay. It's about 50-meters uphill walk from the main road, however if you ask the taxi drivers, they will usually take you up to the hotel. The Toy Train track runs alongside the Hill Cart road and therefore it requires crossing over the narrow gauge railway track to get on to the lane.
Just in case the taxi driver is unwilling to cross over the elevated track and go up the lane, you can walk. Just call up Shoyeta and she will send a staff to help with your luggage. Although the road is a bit steep, you can manage.
Once you enter through the gate, you are at the ground floor. There is an open space or a terrace here and you can see the main road below, the vehicles passing by and of course once in a while the toy train whistling its way through. So the homestay is actually nestled up on a hill overlooking the main highway and the valley beyond.
It's a three storey building and the guestrooms are on the ground and first floors. All rooms face the front side, i.e. towards the main road and have private balconies. Before I describe the rooms, I must fist let you know why should you choose this home stay to begin with. Here are the best things about Pahari Soul:
1) All rooms in ground and first floor have windows and a private balcony in front. And you get sweeping views of Kanchenjunga snow peaks from all the rooms and the private balconies. In fact you see the mountains while lying down on your bed. This is of course subject to a clear day. During monsoon you might see a white blanket of fog. On a clear night if you look out through the window, you can see the glittering lights of the town on the mountain ahead.
Pahari Soul Homestay
2) The home stay is slightly away from the main town area which means you are away from the noisy and touristy places. And therefore you can enjoy a quiet and peaceful stay here, at the same time you can walk down to the town center. The Mall (or Chowrasta) which is the main hub of Darjeeling, is about 4kms away. You can however take one of the frequently plying shared jeeps from the main road and reach the lower town in 15 minutes. From there you will need to walk uphill for a while to reach up to the Mall. This distance of being away from the crowded area of the main township is a boon for those looking for quiet and homely environment, while enjoying the mountain views.
View from a room
3) The host Shoyeta and all her staff are very helpful and friendly. You will not only enjoy a homely environment and service, you will also come to know about Darjeeling and how to go about enjoying your days here. Shoeyta lives in the property on the top floor and interacts with the guests everyday. She would ensure to chat up with the guests, handle check ins and check outs, and help you with all the information you may need.
Now coming to the rooms, the ground floor rooms are Deluxe Double Rooms and cheaper compared to the Luxury Room (with twin beds) in the first floor. There is not much difference, except that the luxury room upstairs is a bit better done up, have wood paneled floors, cupboard, dressing table etc. Other rooms do not have cupboards and therefore you will need to hang your clothes on the hooks provided on the door and keep your suitcases on the floor.
A Standard Double Bedded Room
There are actually 4 double deluxe rooms, 1 luxury room and 1 dormitory. Next to the last room in the ground floor, a stairway leads to the upstairs rooms. If you want to avoid climbing stairs, then stay at the ground floor rooms.
Rooms are small but cozy. Beds are comfortable. One good plus point is that beds have electrical bed warmers which is extremely useful during cold nights. They also provide room heaters and in-room electrical kettle to heat up water. There is flat TV in all rooms. However the channels are limited. If you need to catch up with your emails, there is also w-fi which is complimentary. Overall the amenities are nice when you consider a budget homestay.
Bathrooms are small and lack adequate ventilation. However they are well done up. There are shower mixers and most importantly geysers so that you can have hot showers.
As expected in homestays, food is homemade and simple. In breakfast you will get choices of toast with butter, sausages, beans, choice of eggs, canned juice etc. You can optionally take alu paratha, eggs etc. In lunch and dinner, they offer thalis such as Pahari (i.e. Nepali), Bengali and North Indian. They also serve common Indian dishes and Chinese food. You can ask them the way you want it (i.e. less spicy. oily etc) and the cook will try his best to suite your taste. Overall the food is simple and prepared in the in-house kitchen. They do not run a restaurant but there is a dining area.
A typical local thali
It's an overall clean and simple homestay. They offer to clean up the rooms and make the bed every day so that the rooms remain fresh. One problem with Darjeeling is its dampness. Cleaning up the rooms every day helps keeping the rooms fresh. Note that in the evenings there can be problems of moths and other insects getting into the rooms. So keep the windows closed after dark.
The large glass windows do not have iron grills. While this gives you an unobstructed views through the windows, some may be concerned about safety (particularly in the ground floor). Main gate however is kept locked at night and there is no safety issues reported so far on the property.
There is no intercom in the rooms. However a mobile number is given so that you can call them up for any service. There are a total of 3 staff - a cook, one person does housekeeping and a girl who handles emails, check ins, accounts etc. Moreover the girl would be there when Shoeyta takes a break during off season. One of the staff stays in the property at night and can cater to any emergency service should so require.
They also offer different kinds of packages combined with lodging and customize it to your requirement. One such offering is 'Honeymoon Package' for honeymooners which includes welcome chocolates, honeymoon cake, bottle of wine, toy train joyrides for two, dinner for two, sightseeing tours etc. Another one called 'Local Flavor Package' which includes homemade chocolates on arrival, local walking tour of the town, local house wine etc. They also offer several sightseeing tours, day trips, activities and even full package for trekking to Sandakphu
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Contact Info & Location
Pahari Soul Homestay
46, Hill Cart road, Dali, Near Dali Petrol Pump
Phone: (+91) 9800214163 and 7699899670
: The homestay is located close to the Dali Monastery
. It's a huge monastery on the roadside and perched on the hill. You can see the monastery as you approach Darjeeling. Next to the monastery there is a Petrol Pump. And close to it an uphill narrow tarred road goes up leading to the home stay about 50 yards away.
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