Waking up to the views of the snow-clad mountains punctuated by coniferous trees, warming up with hot Kahwa, breakfast in bed with a stunning view, scenic stroll along tranquil trails, hearty conversation with fellow bloggers andsnowmobiling in Gulmarg are some of the moments that are etched in my memory forever…
Perched on a mountaintop overlooking the magnificent Apharwat Range, the resort is one of the most popular ski resorts in India and offers views like no other. After postponing and canceling my trip twice, finally, I made it to Khyber. I had an early morning flight from Bangalore to Srinagar via Chandigarh. It was a familiarization trip and I had some of the top Indian travel bloggers for the company.
As we snaked our way to the hotel from the airport, we could not stop getting awed by the insanely beautiful panoramic views that accompanied us throughout our journey. I was there during the second week of April and all thanks to the heavy snowfall in Gulmarg a week prior to it, the entire valley looked straight out of a postcard. After an hour-long drive, we reached the resort and were greeted by the staff at the entrance who whisked us to the lobby.
As soon as you enter the lobby, one of the first impressions is that of space: generous proportions; dark-wood paneling, furnishing, fabrics, loads of cushions artfully scattered, carpets and not to miss the exemplary design that echoes the use of local elements.
The check-in formalities were done over a hot cup of Kahwa and post that we were promptly whisked to our Himalayan Luxury rooms overlooking the snow-clad mountains.
Boasting 85 rooms across 7 acres perched at 8,825 feet above sea level in the Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas, the resort is the epitome of understated elegance.
The use of local elements as you look around. Be it Khatamband ceilings on walkways, carpets winding all around, wooden panels, use of Wagu mats on doors of the spa, or jharokhas. Even the wood from Deodar trees is used for the construction of the resort. Floor to ceiling glass window revel in the view and beautifully frames the stunning landscape bringing in the right amount of light to the dark furnishing.
There are covered moving walkways to ensure guests don’t have to walk in the snow. Spa, gym and other recreational activities are all interconnected. The highlight of the hotel is the indoor heated swimming pool with panoramic views of the valley and a state of the art gym.
The rooms have been designed with comfort and luxury in mind. The Himalayan Luxury Room that I was put up in was quite spacious and was peppered with bespoke furniture and had a patio that overlooked the surrounding mountains.
As soon as you enter, the first thing you notice is a huge wall-sized mirror and on the other side a walk-in closet that leads to the bathroom. The highlight of the bathroom apart from luxurious touches is the super amazing bathtub with a VIEW.
Kidding not. And ya, it was no ordinary view that you could just pass on but the view of snow clad Affarwat Peaks.
Most of my mornings were spent in the bathtub daydreaming.
If food is what floats your boat then you are in for a delectable treat here. The food is a combination of modern flair with traditional Kashmiri cuisine. One thing not to miss is the elaborate meal — Kashmiri Wazwan meal.
If you are a non-vegetation you are going to love feasting on a typical Kashmiri Wazwan that is steeped in tradition and is heavily influenced by Afghan and Asian cuisines. The mouth-watering aromas and a heavy influx of cinnamon, saffron and other spices are hard to ignore.
The meal is served on a beautiful Tarami (serving plate) with a generous portion of rice that is accompanied by Doon Chetin — walnut chutney ( ..nom nom ), Tamator Panner, Ghustaba, Rista, Nadru Yakhni – a dish made with lotus stem, Haak Saag, Tabak Maas and Dhaniwal Korma.
The lamb here tastes way different than other parts of the country. It is more juicy, chewy and amazingly cooked. It was so heavy and rich that I could not finish the entire plate served but skipping the mouth-watering Phirni was hard.
Cloves – The buffet and a la carte for lunch, breakfast, and dinner are served at Cloves. South Indian dishes especially Idlis and Dosa were also quite good at the breakfast buffet. If you don’t want to leave the comfort of the room, you can also opt for breakfast in bed like I did.
Chaikash is a wonderful place for nibbles and tea/coffee or just to linger with a book.
Calabash is their sheesha lounge.
Imagine sweating out with unparalleled views of the mountains in front of you. Or perhaps gazing out across snow-covered scenery while you float in a private indoor pool.
Besides the perfectly heated indoor pool, the spa facilities are also top notch and so is the gym with all latest amenities. I wanted to use their equipped gym but was too lazy for that. Well, if you are a fitness freak then you won’t miss sweating it out with a view like this.
If you don’t fancy stepping out in the cold all the time, there are enough activities that will keep you glued and warm. The resort has its own dedicated cinema room for 12-15 people and boasts of a collection of both Hollywood and Bollywood movies.
Back at the hotel, I took advantage of the hotel’s spa facilities – The Khyber Loaccataine Spa — ideal for unwinding after a day of sightseeing, or for a bit of pampering. I opted for a sublime Almond Detox massage which started with a foot massage and later being slathered in heavenly aromatherapy oils and being gently massaged all over from scalp to toes. The masseuses did an impressive job digging out every knot of my body.
On the second day of our stay, after a pretty late breakfast, we opted for sightseeing. We visited the famous 500 years old shrine of Baba Reshi, St. Mary’s Church, Rani Temple and Maharaja’s Palace.
On the third day of our stay, we ventured up to the famous Gondola ride which was just minutes away from the resort. We met our guide at the lobby who steered us to the starting point from where we boarded the cable car to reach the phase 1. If you love winter sports activities then you cannot miss this place – be it sledding, skiing, ATV rides or snowmobiling, you have it all here.
I had so much fun snowmobiling for the very first time.
Gondola Ride is a must and if weather is favorable, do not miss the phase II
Maharaja’s Palace – A beautiful palace of the last king of Kashmir, Hari Singh
Rani Temple – 100-year-old Shiva Temple
With the reputation for being one of India’s best ski resort, The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa has a lot to live up to….and it does! Impeccable service, beautiful scenery on offer, heated pool with a stunning view, world-class spa facilities and delight guests with luxurious extra touches.
There are very few resorts that you want to visit in every season and The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa is one of them. To sum up in just one sentence —
The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa is an unspoiled retreat for conscious escapism.
Alcohol is not served at the resort so please do carry your own.
The Resort is minutes away from Gondola
Car can be easily hired for day trips and sightseeing from the resort itself.
Best For Couples & Families
For best views, book Himalayan Luxury Rooms or in case you want to splurge and need complete privacy, you can also opt for Presidential Suite.
Most of the places might be closed in winter depending on the weather condition so check with locals and plan your itinerary well.
Winter – December to April
Fall Colours – September to November
Spring & Summer – April to August
Tulips – 1st to 15th April
The Khyber Himalayan Resorts & Spa is just 62 km away from Srinagar. From the airport, it takes around 90 minutes to reach the resort.
Nearest Airport: Srinagar.