If you’ve ever wished for a home in the hills—with a lovely view of the mountains, a cosy fireplace, chai and pakoras on call, reading nooks and big picture windows—here’s your chance to stay in one. Well, at least for a few days. It will be a bit of a stretch to call Two Chimneys a ‘hotel’, though. An hour from Kathgodam station in Nainital district’s small hamlet of Gethia, Two Chimneys is a charming 19th-century Raj-style bungalow with creaky wooden floors and pruned lawns, offering an unobstructed view of Kumaon hills.
Of its eight bedrooms, the ones with sit-outs (such as Willow and Nest) are ideal, though most of your day will be spent at the Deck, a common area at the heart of the hotel, from where you can see the most glorious sunsets.
There is also a new wing with three modern rooms, if you prefer that. Irrespective of where you stay, food at Two Chimneys is delicious. One day it will be rustic, spicy Kumaoni chicken curry and another day you will enter the dining room to find a row of little bowls containing colourful condiments and garnishes to help you concoct your own steaming, hearty portion of khao suey.
But food and beautiful home apart, there is another reason to visit a place like Gethia: to do nothing. Even though it is barely 30 minutes away from Nainital city, it hardly finds a place on the map. And exploring Gethia need not entail haring here and there, doing this and that. Instead, go for walks, pet a stray as you amble along, chat with locals, have tea with the chaiwala round the corner, indulge his curiosity about the city you come from and engage in politically charged conversations that will inevitably ensue. Form a bond with the place.
India is full of places such as Gethia where life goes on unnoticed, where life is beautiful not just because of nature’s bounty but also because of its uncomplicated people. This New Year, take a little time out and enjoy a piece of that delicious life.
Essentials www.twochimneysgethia.com; doubles from Rs8,000.
Kalyani Prasher is a freelance writer and editor based in Delhi. She was executive editor of India Today's travel magazine till end-2013 when she decided to get out of the office routine for a few months to see what having a life feels like. She never went back.