If there are destinations that can be called complete in itself, then Shimla would definitely head the list. The ‘Queen of Hills’, Shimla, the capital city of Himachal Pradesh embodies everything that you can refer to as natural beauty. A stay in this marvellous hill station not only refreshes your body but even rejuvenates your soul. There are many attractions in Shimla such as architectural wonders, gardens, different points that offer great view of the surroundings, shopping destinations, snow-capped mountains, clean air and so on. No wonder that it was the favourite summer capital of British. Another feature unique to Shimla is that it can be visited on any season and it stands as beautiful as ever in each season. In summers, Shimla offers a cool haven to people coming here in the hope to getting a respite from heat while winters present Shimla as a beautiful bride clad in white. The snowfall in Shimla has to been seen and felt to know about its charm.
Shimla offers many budget-friendly and luxurious accommodations for visitors. But on any day, homestays in Shimla remain more popular for the exclusivity and warm hospitality they offer. Here are 15 of the most popular homestays in Shimla:
1. North Moon Homestay
Located in Kufri, in Shimla, North Moon is located amidst the beautiful green valley, named Fagu, and offers a splendid view of snow clad mountains of Himalayas. It offers a luxurious stay but at the same time, a peaceful atmosphere. Its location on a hill top ensures a pleasant climate with fresh air that is sure to rejuvenate your whole self. Those who need a quiet time but at the same time, wish to enjoy the beauty of nature around the area, North Moon is a perfect place to stay. Many couples on their honey moon stay at the homestay as it offers them privacy and yet ample opportunities to visit places of tourist importance. North Moon Homestay is owned by Suresh Sharma who personally looks after each guest and since he knows the tradition of the place and the history of the Pahari community, he is the perfect guide to know about the place and its culture.
2. Aapo Aap Homestay
Owned by a government personnel retired from IAS and his wife, a retired college principal, Aapo Aap Homestay is one of the most popular homestays in Shimla and is also a part of the homestay scheme started by the state government tourism department. The top floors are occupied by the host family, who looks into the day to day administration of the homestay. It has a beautiful architecture with a lovely terrace and each room offers an amazing view of the surrounding forests and hills. The rooms are well-furnished and offer modern amenities. Its location on a hilltop and away from the crowded areas makes it a peaceful place to stay in. The Shimla Municipal Corporation office is also near to it. They provide home-cooked vegetarian fare and for those having any special diet requirements can inform in advance for the same. Even Jain food is served here which is in fact cooked in a separate kitchen. The Aao Aap Homestay is situated in Sargheen village and lies on NH 5.
3. Cedar Hill Cottage
Perched on a hill top, Cedar Hill Cottage offers a pleasant and peaceful stay. The Cedar Forest Sanctuary which lies around it is another reason to stay at the beautiful Cedar Hill Cottage. It is an ideal staying place for all those who need peace amidst nature’s beauty. Be it writers, adventure lovers, couples, bird watchers or photographers, Cedar Hill Cottage will give the ultimate living experience that will add zest to your likes. Situated on a hill top at an altitude of 8200 ft., the cottage offers breath-taking view of the surroundings. It is listed under the homestay scheme of Himachal Pradesh state government. Home cooked meals are served and also all amenities are provided. It is 12 km from Shimla and is located in the Chharabra village.
4. Vardaan Homestay
Vardaan Homestay can be reached from Delhi via road, which takes around 7 hours’ drive via NH 1 and 22. Kalka-Shimla toy train track which is a part of the World Heritage list is situated above Vardaan. It is located in Shoghi town which is a beautiful place and the Shoghi Railway Station lies at a distance of just 1 km from the homestay. Vardaan promises respite from crowd, proximity to nature, delicious food and a beautiful ambience, all in together which promises a great stay, the memory of which you can cherish for long. It is a perfect homestay for all types of people, be it honey moon couples, families with children, business visitors and so on.
5. Ridhabhi Homestay
One of the USPs of Ridhabhi Homestay is its location amidst apple orchards and deodar forests. Just imagine waking up to the sweet songs of birds and trees swaying and opening your eyes to the beautiful greenery. Being away from the city and just 15 km from Shimla, the homestay offers a cool and peaceful stay. Many adventure activities such as hiking, rock climbing, trekking, camping are organized for the guests. Bird watching and jungle exploring too can be undertaken.
6. Deepjyoti Homestay
Sanjeev Kumar Sharma, the owner of the homestay, personally looks into the arrangements for the guests and has great knowledge about local customs and traditions. It is a homestay approved by the State Tourism Department. Located on the foothills of Tarab Mountain, Deepjyoti offers all the basic amenities for a comfortable stay. Deepjyoti is located on Mohri village and is near to Shoghi town as well.
7. Aastha Homestay
One of the tempting reasons to stay at Aastha Homestay is its proximity to many famous tourist destinations in Shimla such as the sulphur springs, Naldehra, the highest golf course and so on. Aastha Homestay is registered under the state government tourism department. It is a beautiful cottage that has well-equipped rooms with or without kitchen. It is owned by Naresh Sharma and Nisha Sharma who are personally available for the service of the guests and offer simple home-cooked fare, which includes delicious himachal cuisine. Aastha Homestay was the recipient of the Best Homestay Award in the year 2010 by the State government.
8. Sunrise Villa
An approved homestay under the State Tourism Department, Sunrise Villa is located on the Anandpur Road which is near to the Shoghi Railway Station. The famous Tara Devi Temple is just 10 minutes’ drive from the villa. Apart from being located in a calm and serene atmosphere, the Sunrise Villa also offers a great living experience and splendid view of the surroundings. The rooms are well-equipped and offer great view of the surrounding valley. Other facilities include home-cooked food and even kitchen for those who wish to prepare their own food.
9. Karan Kutir
It promises a memorable stay that include comfortable living, beautiful view of the surroundings by the day and a spectacle of a star-studded night. Personalized service is the highlight of the stay at Karan Kutir. Some of the activities here are trekking, camping, jeep safari, nature walk, bonfire, rock climbing and more. The visit to apple orchards is another attraction. Karan Kutir Homestay is registered under Himachal Pradesh State Tourism Department and is located in Kashaini village in Rohru Tehsil in Shimla.
10. Jandev Castle
A stay with a royal touch that is what Jandev Castle Homestay offers. It is a heritage homestay property located in Ghorna village in Shimla in the Theog district. The property has marvellous architecture as it is built in wood and stone and was built in the 1930s and served as a guest house for visiting British officers and other guests of the palace. Elaborate wood work is another attraction of the place. Nearby attractions are the green Cedar forests, beautiful orchards, the serene Giri River and so on. Activities that are organized are walks in apple orchard, cooking workshops, day camping, jeep safari and visits to places of interest in the locality.
11. Vatsalyam Homestay
Located in Ragyan near Bharari in Lower Dudhli, Vatsalyam Homestay promises a happy and cosy stay that you will cherish for a long time. Vatsalyam means ardent affection and that is what this homestay is all about. It has very beautiful and comfortable rooms with an attached terrace, which serves as the beautiful place to sit and have tea while taking in the beautiful view. There is also a beautiful garden which can be the perfect setting for a family get-together for a tea time and at the same time, enjoy the beautiful flowering plant and the fruit trees. Mouth-watering Himachal cuisine is served which makes the experience complete. The food is vegetarian and is cooked at home. Camping and trekking facilities are arranged and those who wish to cook can do so at the kitchen. Mini bar, recreation room, in-house library and bonfire are other facilities.
12. Aditya Homestay
The cosiness of a home plus the serenity of nature, this is what you get at Aditya Homestay located at Taranchalam, in Shoghi near the FRU Office, in Shimla. It is located amidst beautiful mountains and offers the perfect getaway location for those who want to immerse themselves in the lap of nature and luxury. It is a beautifully designed home with well-furnished rooms. A stay at the Aditya Homestay means you have all modern amenities at your disposal but at the same time, you are surrounded by the real beauty of nature. A wonderful combination for a memorable weekend! Apart from visiting the nearby tourist attractions, you can also indulge in activities such as trekking, mountaineering, nature walk and more.
13. Green Valley Homestay
It is located at Bhattakuffar in Sanjauli and is close to many excursion points. It provides a homely atmosphere and has rooms with all modern facilities. Staying at Green Valley Homestay not only rejuvenates you but also fills within your energy and freshness. It is also easily accessible via road, rail and air. Famous tourist attractions such as the Jakhu Temple, Kufri town and the Mall Road are also nearby. The well-equipped and cosy rooms along with excellent hospitality makes you feel at home while staying at the Green Valley Homestay.
14. Marley Villa
The British style architecture is one of the main attractions of Marley Villa Homestay which is a 19th century structure. A boutique syle villa with 8 cosy rooms, Marley Villa offers a perfect getaway from the crowd and noise of city and lends a cosy environment to relax and take in the surroundings. The famous Shimla Mall, the epicentre of Shimla tourism, can be reached with a 20-minute walk. Surrounded by slender pine trees and the view of the famous Tara Devi hill, a stay at Marley Villa is something that you will cherish for a long time. It is located on Mall Road at Chotta Shimla. Many famous tourist spots lie close to Marley Villa such as the Ridge, Jakhu Temple, Taradevi Temple, The Mall and so on. It is owned by the Lal family since 1966, after it was purchased by Justice Jindra Lal who was a judge at the Punjaby High Court then.
15. Fair View Homestay
Located at Kamyana in Shimla, the Fair View Homestay offers you a home away from home amidst nature’s boundless beauty. It is built on the edge of a beautiful valley which gives it a location that is hard to describe. It has to be experienced for its sheer beauty. Stand outside the home and you will get a panoramic view of the surroundings. It is located away from the hustle and bustle of the city and yet all it takes is a drive to reach the city. The Mall Road is also just 10 minutes away. A penthouse, Fair View Homestay offers cosy rooms with terraces and lounges which gives you an opportunity to spend your time with family or your partner in privacy. It is owned by Varun Swarup and his wife Indu, both ardent travellers and who are very knowledgeable about each and every place worth visiting in the entire Himachal Pradesh.
Since homestays are the perfect place for tourists not just to stay in but also to know the local culture and traditions, the state government has been promoting homestays since quite some time. Because of the initiative, not only the local culture and nature is preserved, but it also offers a safe and comfortable staying experience to visitors. Also, most of these homestays are budget-friendly, which is another reason to choose homestays over hotels.