The first thing that strikes you about your room in Chonor House are the walls: almost every inch of space is covered with brightly coloured murals depicting Tibetan themes. The perfect vantage point to enjoy these is the comfortable bed, while cool mountain air drifts in through the windows. It is the ideal place to unwind after a hair-raising car ride up the mountains.
The artwork is not confined to the rooms, however. The entire hotel is also a gallery/museum in its own right that is well worth a visit on its own. In fact, the hotel is a branch of the Norbulingka Institute, which aims to preserve Tibetan arts and culture and should also be on your itinerary. The helpful staff can arrange transport to and from the institute, which is about half-an-hour away.
While it can be a little difficult to find the entrance to Chonor House from the street, the fact that the hotel is set back adds to the sense of being away from it all, despite only being a stone’s throw from the Thekchen Chöling Temple, which is next to the Dalai Lama’s residence, and a short walk to the shops and cafes of Mcleod Ganj.
For such a centrally located unique hotel the room rate is surprisingly affordable: rooms start at INR4,500 and top out at INR6,600 for one of the two suites. Our room, named the Voyage at Sea, was INR4,700.
The landscaped garden, with its views out across the Kangra Valley, is a perfect place to plan your day over breakfast, with some of the best coffee to be found in India. While we didn’t get the chance to dine in the Hummingbird Restaurant, they did prepare us a feast of momos to take with us on our car ride back down the mountain to the railway station – silky and warming, they were the perfect thing for a rain-soaked evening of travelling.