Every once in a while you remind yourself how blessed you are to have all your five senses in perfect working condition. See the Solang valley, touch the snow at Gulaba, taste the fresh Trout, inhale the scent of Deodhar trees, listen to the Cuckoo coo in the woods. Now picture a quaint little retreat nestled smack in the middle of these five senses.Thats Urvashi’s Retreat for you.
But first, the road trip. The Gurgaon-Manali distance stands at 589Kms approximately,depending on where you start from.It needs about 13 hours with comfortable stoppages and 11 hours with an intense hill climb drive.
Expect to spend about 7 hours on the hill climb ascent, at an average about 50kmph owing to a few less curvy stretches along the way.It really gets scenic when the road flows in parallel to the Beas river.Expect blind turns and road blocks as you get closer to the destination.
Once you reach Manali, keep going for another 6 kilometers towards Upper Manali and you will find “Nehru Kund” on your right, ask if you can’t find it, locals would know. The hanging bridge right opposite leads you into Urvashi’s Retreat in the Village Shanag.The bridge is narrow and only one vehicle can pass through at a time, so drive carefully.
The property has a spectacular view all around it because it is located at the foothills or valley view as many call it.The snow capped peaks seem to be in touching distance of the property. There is an open parking space and your vehicle will love the much needed rest after the tiring journey uphill.
The staff are friendly and check in process is fairly simple.As you enter inside, you begin to notice the attention to detail, whether it is the hanging fox in the corridor(stuffed toy)or the beautiful portraits,or the colonial style dining area. For those interested,the property has a television with cable and net connectivity. But the point is,when you are on a break,then enjoy it , rather than do what you do every day at home?
The dining area can seat up to 15 people comfortably and the service from the kitchen is brisk.Though the property is still opening the bubble sheets, there seems to be a good hygiene culture , which is good to notice among the staff.
The food options are limited but not less.Breakfast menu is rather modest, and they could do a bit better on that front. The lunch or dinner menu is usually a Buffett and if you need something specific you need to ask in advance.Likewise, the closing times are quite tight 10:30PM is what the staff would prefer. So for those planning for a long night party might have to plan accordingly.
This is something for the property to think about as well. Because the guest come to to relax and perhaps not follow the routine they do in their daily lives.Which means, there ought to be some amount of flexibility. Alcohol is available ,at a much higher cost , we almost got charged double for a bottle of blended scotch whiskey. So if you plan well, then there a re shops just outside where you can procure your own alcohol and make it much cheaper. But bear in mind, these small liquor shops have very limited variety, and almost no high end stuff at all.
The rooms are well appointed.They were the highlight for us. We liked the detailing of the design in the bathrooms, and the view from the room is amazing. If you care to get up at dawn, the the first rays of the sun on a snow capped mountain, a view you can enjoy right from your room. ( ours was room 3 on the first floor) Most rooms have the mountain view, but you might want to double check at the time of booking.
The way it is priced right now, is quite attractive, and does not pinch you pocket , so you don’t really demand a better experience.However, I do see that they will be increasing their services and with that the prices might go up as well. Which in my view is fine, as long as it adds value to the experience.
Overall, we had a great time, meeting locals, driving up towards Solang, and towards Rohtang Pass , a place called Gulaba to enjoy the snow. Bear in mind that these roads leading up to the destinations are prone to massive grid locks and you could stay put in one location for more than 2 hours as cars violate the single lane and try to overtake blocking oncoming traffic.
I would certainly recommend this property for those who are keen to visit and also give Kudos to the owners , Urvashi and family, to come up with such a nicely done property in the valley.I am given to understand they also have Khimsar Fort as another property owned by them.
Best time to travel is early March before the busy tourist season starts, or if you like and can brave a white out, then January would be stunning for those who like to be left alone with the Mountains.