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Head In The Clouds: Luxury Living 4,500 Feet Above Sea Level

Marriott’s gorgeous hill-top property — The Westin Resort & Spa Himalayas is a 12-acre-large hotel in Rishikesh that packs uber-luxury with pristine views and good food

At 11:50 pm, on the brink of midnight, as the moon turns a blood orange, Dehradun, Rishikesh and Haridwar twinkle like a million diamonds scattered on a dark-blue velvet cloth. Even though the Ganga is 17 kms away from this magnificent property, the lulling murmurs of the plunge pool in room 2408 transport you to the banks of the holy Indian river. No frantic work call can switch you out of the trance that the Himalayas put you in. More so, at Marriott’s gorgeous hill-top property — The Westin Resort & Spa Himalayas.

Overlooking the Shivalik Range, it offers 141 guestrooms, ranging from uber luxe Garden Suites and Villas and swanky Classic and Executive Suites to Deluxe, Balcony, Family, and Valley View Rooms. Lush green, manicured gardens circuit the resort that’s a 45 minute drive away from Jolly Grant Airport, making it fairly accessible. Our suite offers jaw-dropping views of the hills, but its plush bed — upholstered with natural materials — is hard to get out of, for the most part. It also has a sprawling washroom, fitted with a diminutive, but functional closet. And of course, a bathtub that perhaps might be a better place to enjoy a long bath in, than the pool in the garden-balcony (which despite being temperature controlled, is a tad too chilly in these climes). With that, TV screens available in the living area and bedroom, and 24×7 room service, you’ll hardly want to venture out. 

Except to grab a bite. The food here really does make you reconsider things. After more than a decade of chef-led standalones toppling over five-star kitchens in the culinary food chain, this resort’s F&B programme makes you sit up and take note. Three restaurants are spread across the 12-acre property — Akasa, an all-day dining space; Pebbles, a poolside grill and barbecue restaurant; and Toya, a progressive Asian diner, alongside Haven Lounge in the hotel’s lobby.

Of these, Toya shines the brightest. Centred around Teppanyaki — a post-World War II culinary technique prevalent in Japan that’s akin to barbecue — this experience comes packed with giddy (albeit sometimes gimmicky) theatrics, where the chef entertains their guests with animated knife skills, including grilling, broiling, and pan-frying fresh scallop, meats and umami-rich fried rice, all hacked with much ado on a metal plate i.e. the teppan. Also noteworthy is the Garhwali Thali served during lunchtime at Akasa. The meal brings together regional specials from different towns and hamlets in Uttarakhand, and features homespun staples, like the comforting Gahat Ki Daal from Uttarkashi, Aloo Jakhya from Nainital and finger-millet bread from Tehri, better known to Indians as Mandua Ki Roti. Breakfasts (also at Akasa) are abundant with choices — you could start your day with desi favourites like paratha and idli-dosa, or enjoy the fresh air with a side of smoothie bowls, made with plump fruits. 

For those who like being active or enjoy commercial forms of wellness, there’s a spa, guided morning yoga sessions and a fitness studio that have been crafted to cater to a certain segment of travellers. I, for one, though, believe that true wellness lies in the ability to switch out, even if it’s for a brief moment before the phone starts ringing like a death knell from work. And for that, this spot is pretty perfect.  

Things to do at Westin Resort & Spa Himalayas:

  • Drop by for the Westin Saga hi-tea experience for tea, coffee and snacks 
  • Book yourself a spot at the Westin Heavenly Spa for R&R
  • Sign up for the Hilltop Picnic, which will involve a short and easy trek, chai and Maggi
  • Treat yourself to something sweet with their Signature Hot Chocolate experience at Haven Lounge
  • Check with the main desk to book a car and plan a day in Rishikesh to go see the Ram and Laxman Jhulas, peek into yoga centres, and check out the wildly popular Beatles Ashram

Images: Marriot International Inc.