If you're heading to Shillong, a popular British hill station and capital of Meghalaya in India's Northeast region, there are some surprisingly delightful accommodations to choose from. These five Shillong hotels with a difference, ranging from tribal to cottage feel, cater to all budgets.
Lakkhotaa Lodge, a privately owned and operated boutique hotel, was once a large residence. These days it has 9 guest rooms, dining room, gym, office, library, lounge, restaurant, and banquet hall. There's complimentary wireless Internet, and plenty of spaces to relax as well. The property was built according to Chinese Feng Shui principles, but it's very eclectically furnished with American, Malaysian, and Indian influences. It's really all about the interiors at Lakkhotaa Lodge, and they are magnificent. All rooms (named after various Native American Indian Tribes) are totally different and have different amenities and outlooks, which gives the hotel wide appeal. Rates range from around 5,000 to 15,000 rupees per night, plus tax. Breakfast is included in the price, and is made to order.
2. Ri Kynjai
If nature is your thing, you'll find Ri Kynjai a very appealing option. Meaning "land of serene environs" in the local Khasi language, this hotel is a resort spread over 45 acres of lush land by Umiam Lake, around 20 kilometers from Shillong. The approach will take you through pine trees, paddy fields, small organic tea gardens, and vegetable gardens. Architecture at the resort is tribal inspired, and built on the design of Khasi thatch huts. A stay there will give you a unique cultural experience. There's a textiles emporium featuring Northeast handicrafts at the resort, and folk music and dance in the evenings. Guests can also get a traditional Khasi massage and herbal treatments from the spa. Room rates start from 6,000 rupees a night, plus tax. Breakfast is included. A range of packages are also offered, including tours.
Aerodene Cottage is a very charming restored 60 year old home built in tradition Assam style, with wood panels and bamboo plastered walls. It's operated as a boutique guest house that combines heritage with modern amenities. What makes it a really special place to stay is that it has the perfect cottage garden, with plenty of private areas for reading and recreation. Another highlight is the Wellness Center, with yoga and meditation programs, as well as a day spa for Ayurvedic treatments. The cottage also has a very convenient location in town. If you're looking for a cozy and homely experience, this is your place! Expect to pay around 2,000-3,000 rupees a night for a room, including breakfast.
If you fancy a regal stay in Shillong, head to the Royal Heritage - Tripura Castle. It was built in the early 1920s by Maharaja Bir Bikram, who came to Shillong for his military training and fell in love with the place. The Castle, used as a summer retreat of the Maharajas of the Manikya dynasty of Tripura, was opened in 2003 as the first heritage hotel in India's Northeast region. The Castle's interior is filled with a collection of antiques and artwork, paintings, and photographs of the royal family. There's also an underground bomb shelter and tunnel, opening out into the rose gardens, dating back to World War II. The Castle has a hilltop location a short distance from town, and is best suited to those who have their own transport. Accommodations are actually located in the Castle's Annexe, and there are only around 10 rooms. Rates start from around 3,500 rupees per night, including breakfast. Tax is extra.
If you're on a budget and are looking for simple, centrally located (near Police Bazaar) accommodations then Hotel Rainbow is a great option. Its cheery interior is decorated with wood paneling, cane furniture, paint in warm shades, and plenty of plants. However, the best section of the hotel has been newly constructed on the terrace, and includes a small garden. Do try and get one of the rooms up there! The only drawback is that the hotel doesn't have a restaurant on the premises. Guests can still order food, but it's delivered from elsewhere. Alternatively, there are plenty of restaurants in the area to dine in. Expect to pay around 1,500 rupees for a room per night.