There are home stays and then there are home stays. Soulitude of course falls into the latter category. A jewel of a place nestled in the Kumaon Himalayas on a peaceful hill in Gagar (enroute Mukteshwar), Soulitude luxuriously takes you into the lap of nature. Situated close to the hustle bustle of the ever crowded hill-station of Nainital, this home cum resort is a discovery for most of the overworked city folks like me. The place is so serene, relaxing & hospitable that we, along with the kids, dropped the idea of visiting Nainital and take in the beauty of this place … though we still wished we could stay another day and then another.
Soulitude is not a hotel or a resort but a destination. Whether you’re are travelling in a group or as a small family the experience is similar to staying in a home, a vacation home to put it more aptly, with personalized service and attention to small details by the hospitable staff. Soulitude is owned by an enterprising and friendly Manish Chandra and you can get in touch with him through the property’s website or by giving him a call on his cell phone (which is also mentioned on the website). The property has 10 rooms, all done up differently and in a unique style. Four are very large rooms termed as suites and I would suggest while booking you should definitely try for one of these depending on your taste … Awakening for privacy, Bliss for blissful living and amazing views, Quietude for quiet and peace & Nirvana to literally attain Moksha.
The resort architecture has a very strong influence of hill architecture with extensive use of stone and wood, materials and elements which are easily available in and around the mountains. What makes the place more special are the use of small rustic elements and the cozy interiors, giving a personalized feel to the whole place and making one feel at home the moment they drive through the gates of Soulitude. Every corner and every detail of the house has not been left unattended. The use of colours on the wall, the heavy wooden beams supporting the wooden trusses and roofs and the perfect angles created by the amalgamation of various elements create a space which is difficult to express … don’t even know why I am trying. The landscaped areas and the terraces add to the rustic old world charm and you are in heaven for the duration of your stay. The property is very well maintained and both the main house and the cottage are very high end. We were lucky to get Bliss, which is on the top floor of the main house and done up in a bright shade of yellow, deodar coloured wood and brick tiles on the wall. Bliss has a 270 degree view of the mountains in front and you would be treated to fresh cool breeze when the windows are open. Lots of surprises in this room like the skylights above your bed looking into the sky or at night at the stars OR the sunken bath with a large picture window with a view of the mountains. The kids loved it and Bliss and Awakening are the only 2 rooms in Soulitude which have a TV, just in case you cannot stay without one.
The staff and the service make or break your vacation. The service however supersedes any expectation you would have had from a Home stay or even from resort. From the moment you book your vacation at Soulitude, a pleasant email greets you with all contact details, directions to the place and suggestions enroute in case you are driving. Feel free to ask and re-ask anything and Manish or Prithavi (the GM of the property) would be prompt with their replies. The day we were supposed to leave from Delhi, I got an early morning text message on my phone, explaining me the directions in detail, along with a suggestion to call them in case I was lost. The treatment is VIP and Prithavi called at least thrice on the way to confirm where we were and give suggestions for food on the way. The drive is magnificent and when you reach Soulitude, the staff is eagerly expecting your arrival. A welcome drink made from the local Rhododendron flower would greet you after a long drive. There are no conventional check-in procedures and Prithavi himself saw us to our rooms, delicately explaining the house rules and giving us a tour of public areas. Once settled, the check-in was done at leisure in the common TV room at my convenience.
The food as guest you have to consider would not be lavish like a resort or a hotel but closer to home food. Soulitude takes serious note of wastage and they cook as per the no. of residents or any guests if expected. Chef Rawat, is an amazing person, open to suggestions and constantly works hard to incorporate your tastes, preferences and occasionally your fancies. The first night of dinner I had some suggestions for Prithavi and Chef regarding the menu and the food and they surprised me beyond my dreams when they took pains to please me and every other guest with their efforts. Most of the veggies are grown on the property in an organic way. The quality of ingredients and the food was excellent and no complains there. The food would seem a little on the expensive side, considering the choices are limited, but the way the staff feeds you and the extra care they take in considering each individual’s preference more than makes up for it. The individual attention was quite visible when the Chef did a non-vegetarian barbeque only for me as the rest of the guests including my family were vegetarian one night. I would highly recommend letting the Soulitude team know your allergies, preferences and any special dishes you prefer and they would be more than happy to serve you.
Soulitude is a place to relax and I am sure Manish conceived it like a luxury home in the rustic Himalayas with all the comforts of a modern home but not the banes of the modern society. You can do a lot of stuff around the area, from Village walks to treks, driving to Mukhteswar Dham temple or just explore the area on foot and eat Maggi on a roadside shop. I would also suggest you do a complete research of the property on their website, www.soulitude.in which mentions every little detail, as it is not a conventional hotel.
Soulitude is definitely for people wanting to get away from the city madness, the over-crowded typical hill-stations and the pollution laden air.
You would not want to leave once you settle in and make sure you book a minimum of 3-4 nights when you stay there.