Hotels in Darjeeling, West Bengal, India

by Joanne Thomas

Darjeeling, a town high in the Himalayan region of India, attracts visitors from all over the world with its spectacular scenery, formidable hiking and mountaineering routes, and intriguing blend of cultures. While lodging options are available in Darjeeling to suit a variety of budgets and demands, a handful of the town's hotels are prominent for their historic value, opulent accommodations or prime locations with unmatched views all around.

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Fortune Resort Central

Fortune Resort Central, located near the Mall in the heart of Darjeeling, has been welcoming guests since 1905. The property features colonial-era ambiance with tartan upholstery and a grandfather clock in the lobby, while the decor of the guest rooms is contemporary with hardwood floors and bright jewel-tone accents. The hotel offers 46 guest rooms, 15 of which are club-level rooms that are more spacious than standard rooms and come with a complimentary fruit basket. There is also a two-bedroom suite available. The on-site restaurants are Orchid, which offers international buffets and a la carte menus with live musical entertainment; and 1910 - The Lounge Bar, which presents a happy hour every evening. Other facilities include a beauty parlor, a children's playroom and a 24-hour on-call doctor.

Windamere Hotel

The Windamere Hotel boasts a spectacular location on Observatory Hill, which is the oldest part of Darjeeling, boasting panoramic views of the Himalayas as far as Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal. The hotel began as a boarding house for tea planters in the 19th century, and was awarded the coveted title "Heritage Hotel of India" by the nation's Prime Minister. Its various wings are each suited to a different kind of experience: Rooms in the main house, Ada Villa, offer an absence of televisions and telephones for a peaceful stay; rooms in "the Snuggery" wing do include TVs and phones; and Tinker Belle's Cottage, which is set apart from the hotel, is an intimate, romantic retreat designed for couples. The Snuggery, a 19th-century stone cottage, is notable as one of the oldest buildings in Darjeeling.

Viceroy Hotel

Although it is a modern building constructed in 2001, the centrally located Viceroy Hotel takes inspiration from the colonial era with its staff decked out in stylized uniforms, fine art on the walls, manicured lawns and a snooker room. In addition to its 37 guest rooms, the hotel offers a hot tub, sauna and sun deck with 360-degree views of the Himalayas. Some of the standard rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, offering views of the Himalayas from the bed. The premium accommodations at the Viceroy are attic rooms, one of which is a pine-paneled, two-story unit with a fireplace in the master suite, a plush, round bed in the mezzanine and numerous pendant lights hanging from the vaulted ceiling for a warm ambiance. Others have one story and a private balcony with views of Mount Kanchanjunga.

Mayfair Darjeeling

Mayfair Darjeeling, once the regal summer home of the Maharaja of Nazargunj, consists of bright-hued buildings with ornate lattice trims, connected by terraces, gardens and column-lined walkways. Guests are accommodated in standard rooms, family rooms, suites and cottages. They are all spacious and include comfy, overstuffed chairs and sofas, historic photographs of Darjeeling on the walls, and valley or garden views. Other common features include fireplaces, personal bars, international cable channels and wireless Internet access. Some useful guest services include baby sitting, currency exchange, laundry services and a travel desk. In addition to the fitness center on site, hotel guests enjoy complimentary access to the tennis, badminton and roller skating facilities at the nearby Darjeeling Gymkhana Club.

About the Author

A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.