A small hill town flanked by a gorgeous river, snow-capped mountains, rolling hills with lush green meadows…with so many elements of nature in synergy, you wonder can your experience of just being in nature and letting it infuse your soul with unbridled freshness get any better. Check into the Pahalgam Hotel, and it does.
The hotel situated in the middle of Pahalgam’s main market, overlooking the Lidder River and the hills on the other side, is the perfect nest of bespoke luxury built in the lap of nature. Established in 1931, this sprawling property spread over two acres of land, has stood the test of time. It’s every nook and cranny still poised to bowl you over. Our two-day stay at the Pahalgam Hotel on a recent trip to the Valley of Shepherd remains the highlight of the experience:
The Pahalgam Hotel Property
We arrived at the hotel during our trip to Pahalgam, Kashmir, past lunchtime, in the pouring rain, our original lodging arrangement having met a rather anti-climactic end, thanks to some shoddy work by MakeMyTrip.
Having seen the pictures online and heard so many great things about the property, we were expecting some grand billboards announcing Pahalgam Hotel’s arrival. By that measure, the property is easily missable. Sandwiched between two of its own road-front eateries – the Trout Beat and Cafe Log Inn – the entry to the hotel is narrow but the carved wood facade with the words ‘Pahalgam Hotel’ makes for a heartening first sighting.
You roll into the parking area, which once again is a rather contained space with a wooden hedge separating it from the rest of the property. Walk past that hedge, and a whole new expanse opens up in front of you. The hotel is built in small blocks spread around its generous lush green lawns that have been done up with small gazebos and reclining chairs.
There is no clear marking, indicating what’s what, so we had to walk around a bit before one of the staff guided us back to the reception, located in the first building to the right of the entrance. The reception leads to the in-house restaurant, so we ditched check-in formalities to treat out grumbling tummies to a sumptuous lunch of Waza Lal Chicken, Steamed Rice and Naan. Oh, heavens!
As the check-in was underway, I wandered about, letting the lush green grass and the soft patter of raindrops work their magic to revive the holiday spirit that had taken quite a beating earlier in the day. That’s when two cute little shops selling books, gifts, and renting out holiday essentials such as golf sets caught my eye, and without a moment’s hesitation I ventured into what makes my own little wonderland to browse through shelves stacked with books, as well as little trinkets and souvenirs that perfectly encapsulate spirit of the land. I could have stayed here forever, but my indulgence was cut short by an update on our room being ready.
Apart from 25 rooms and 20 suites spread over different blocks, each offering a splendid view of the Lidder River and mountains in the distance, the property also houses a swimming pool, a cosy Stone Age Lounge where a complimentary high tea is organised for guests every evening, and the Pine Retreat restaurant that specialises in Bhat-Waza cuisine served in a traditional Kashmiri setting for groups of six or more.
Our room was on the left-most flank of the Pahalgam Hotel. With wooden interiors, white and beige furnishings and internal heating, and a generous glass window offering the most spectacular view of Pahalgam’s hypnotic landscape, it made for the perfect retreat.
The bathtub was the absolute cherry on the cake and we each enjoyed our share of soaking up a hot bath after day-long hectic explorations and Pahalgam sightseeing.
Pahalgam’s food scene leaves you a little underwhelmed, especially if you are looking to dig your teeth into some decadent meat and in comparison to other tourist places like Srinagar or Gulmarg. Curiously, there are more vegetarian options here than restaurants serving Kashmiri cuisine or non-vegetarian delicacies. Of the handful of good restaurants that there are, four – the in-house restaurant, Pine Retreat, Trout Beat and Cafe Log Inn – are part of the Pahalgam Hotel, so you are pretty much sorted on that count.
Everything from coffees and cakes to trout, Bhat-Waza cuisine, Kashmiri delicacies is available within the hotel. On the flip side, their room service is rather limited, so you have to step out of every meal. Also, like most other properties in Pahalgam – or most of Kashmir for that matter – the Pahalgam Hotel does not serve liquor. If that’s a must-have on your holiday list, be sure to carry your own.
If I had to rate this gorgeous, sprawling property, I’d give it a 4.5 out of 5, and go back there in a heartbeat.
Pro Tip: Instead of making your booking online, call the number listed on the hotel website to reserve your room, ask if they have any discounts running, and might just land a stellar a decent deal. We did!