Gone Fishing Cottages, Tirthan Valley

Gone Fishing Cottages, it is what the word getaway was aptly made for. Located in beautiful  Deori village of Tirthan valley, by a gushing stream is small cluster of wooden cottages designed and conceptualized with love to every detail. Golden marigold bloom everywhere, an in-house café and a hammock right in the middle of courtyard was my glimpse of the property.   

Perfect for anyone who wants a tranquil getaway and enjoy a far away feeling (from the busy world) be it with your family, friends or go solo (like me). From lazy afternoons spent having juicy local fruits, soaking in winter sun by a water stream (or in it) that is just few steps away from the cottage, to nights spent on private deck having perfectly grilled trout and heap of mashed potatoes, my stay at Gone fishing cottages was a mountain fantasy come true.  

The beautiful property is enveloped by step farming fields and blooming orchards on one side, while on the other side, a thick forest of tall cedar and pine trees rests. Gone fishing cottages is both private and welcoming with its incredible host (mother hen- Dimple) She runs the place making sure every little detail from crisp curtains to aromatic toiletries (which she makes employing local women) delicious dishes on menu to surprise desserts.

 This family-run homestay comes with a whole lot of grandeur and warm hospitality – If you love dogs, there are five of them, if you love books, they are racks full of them in the cottage, and if you like nature well take a walk and you are surrounded by best of panoramic views.  

Its cottages, with their bare stone walls and rustic, wooden furniture add to your experience of wilderness living. The rooms are spacious with hint of coziness and pool of natural light flowing in, in mornings and long glass doors that open to your own little private balcony. You can book the entire cottage that comes with 2/3 rooms each or a room in one. The cottage comes with a kitchenette, table with high stools and living space where you can spend lounging around or you could spend hours gazing at the stars at the private deck right outside the cottage. The hosts not only love nature but are also conscious about it, you will notice multiple recycled things all over the property – utilisation of empty alcohol bottles as light shades, twine-entwined lamps, soap stands out of pipes and more.

Whether you’re working from home, a bird watcher, group of friends or two people in love – if you are looking to spend time in nature, I assure your experience at Gone fishing cottages will be nothing short of a rejuvenation.  

Know more: http://gonefishingcottages.com/

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Norwood Green Resort, Palampur

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View from the villa at Norwood Green Resort, Palampur

Palampur  has been known as ‘The Tea Capital of North India’. A small city 3600 ft above sea level is a popular hill station of India, rich in historic temples, forts and  its spectacular Himalayan views. Palampur is a plantation getaway situated in the Kangra valley overlooking Dhauladhar mountain Ranges. the town is less explored and least commercialized and that’s exactly what beautifies it.

I was staying at the Norwood Green by Lamrin resort, a place where you could enjoy both- the view of  tea garden when you lower your sight and Dhauladhar range when you see up from the backyard of your private villa. The experience of spending leisure time amidst beautiful Palampur Valley of Himachal Pradesh that is yet unexplored by most tourists, waking up and spending your days so close to nature was a heart warming experience. I was here with my family and we din’t feel a need to utilize the available tv, or play any games. we spoke, went for walks, fed the pet who wondered in our backyard and revisited old memories. I think it was in the air and vibe that all we wanted to do was just hold back and breathe, an experience we haven’t had in a really long time.

Norwood Green provides you an exquisite resort that has a experience similar of a luxurious home stay, amidst the serenity of the Himalayan ranges and sprawling tea gardens. Its charming aristocratic architecture will transport you to a different era, while providing you with every modern amenity you need and your own butler, who bring everything to you on call.

There is a dedicated team at Norwood Green will take care of you from arrival to departure, your food to laundry and also help you plan any activities and walk if you wish to indulge.  Their concept is simple, they offer guests a home away from home, a place to switch off and unwind, to re-connect with each other and with nature. For all the time we were there, we all had one common thought, if ever owned a home in hills, it would exactly be like this.

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The beautiful living room at Norwood Green Resort, Palampur

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The other side of living room that extends to dining area and opens up to the backyard at Norwood Green Resort, Palampur

Rooms– If you are a group of four or six or more, you can have an entire villa to yourself, we were four and since the other room wasn’t booked, we had the villa all to ourselves. Each of their exquisite villas has four rooms, all of which have flat screen TV, four well equipped bathrooms, private dining area, private kitchen and living area. Apart from this one of the room comes with a spacious balcony, the others have view of the tea gardens or mountains and the whole cottage at Norwood Green has access to rear garden at back overlooking tea gardens along with mighty snow covered Dhauladhar mountain ranges.  Our evenings included sipping hot ginger lemon tea or have aloo parathas, play music and make the most out of the little moments.

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Room with a view at Norwood Green Resort, Palampur

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The spacious balcony outside my room at Norwood gGeen Resort, Palampur

Charming and spacious interiors, to beautiful panoramic views of the mountainside, every moment at the Norwood Green, Palampur is peacefully delightful. While you feast on authentic, local Himachali dishes, the warm hospitality of the staff will help you retire after a fruitful day.

Activities in Palampur At Palampur you will find yourself surrounded by lush greenery and abundant rivers and streams, and a very pleasant climate that will draw you in, and make you never want to leave. And when it comes to tourist attractions, Palampur has more than enough to offer. Just a walk around Palampur will let you enjoy its beautiful colonial architecture. The tea factory, St John’s Church, Bundla waterfall, Neogal Park are interesting places to visit. The village of Andretta, 13 km from Palampur is known for its pottery. The town of Baijnath, 16 km away is famous for its Shiva temple, and the Tibetan monastery at Tashijong, is 12 km away. Adventure seekers will find trek routes leading out of Palampur and into the Dhauladhar mountains. The towns of Bir and Billing have gained international reputation as paragliding sites. Dharamshala and Mc Leod Ganj are also popular tourist places near Palampur.

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Coco Shambhala, Goa

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Ariel view of Coco Shambhala, Goa

Coco Shambhala, Goa is sister property of the one in Sindhudurg and a collection of 4 luxury vacation villas in Goa, for exclusive holidays. Set in a tropical garden with a free form jungle swimming pool in their midst, the villas are a blend of architecture, design and service to excite your senses. Their villas in Goa sit in complete harmony with the local landscape. Each luxury villa has a stunning tree top living pavilion, a private plunge jet pool, 2 large bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, a kitchen and a complimentary car and driver.

Lounge area in the villa at coco shambhala, Goa

Jet pool at coco shambhala, Goa

In the jet pool area, the architect has used his penchant for relaxing and sensual spaces. By day, this tranquil space is a shady haven cooled by a ceiling fan whirring softly overhead and by night, a richly cloistered space with artistically lit pillars, flickering candles and dappled reflected light on the walls.

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Work space with a view at coco shambhala, Goa

The bedrooms at Coco Shambhala, Goa are designed to provide natural light and boast of vintage Indo-Portuguese furniture, sitting alongside the modern amenities of a television set, Wi-Fi and an i-pod docking station. Some of these come with open air shower area.

Local thali at coco shambhala, Goa

Breakfast at Coco Shambhala, Goa

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Food: I was amazed with the most with Malvani meal i was served here, apart from which they bring to you the tastiest breakfast, lunches, and dinners right to the villa and set it all up for you. A lot of evo friendly cutlery has been used and all their food ingredients are sourced locally.

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Relax: I spent most of my time within the property until late evenings, relaxing in my villa, spending day by the beautiful free form pool, surrounded by so much natural beauty, what is even more special about this resort is that that both properties offer a range of Balinese and western massages in collaboration with Forest Essentials.

Free form pool at Coco Shambhala, Goa

Coco Shambhala has a bespoke tropical vibe that help you leave the stresses of modern life behind. This is a hidden slice of paradise and a perfect getaway for those who want to enjoy Goa, for its natural

For more visit- http://www.cocoshambhala.com

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Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

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Aerial view of Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Goa has for long known as to be the party capital of India, but there is so much more to it. The exotic landscape, virgin beaches, water sports and luxury indulgences. Named as one of the best beach villas by a leading magazine ‘Coco Shambhala’ as personally experienced is a tropical paradise with best of hospitality, amenities and privacy.

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Open air villa at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Mezze  platter served with Goan poe  bread and wine overlooking monsoon rain at coco shambhala, Sindhudurg 

Coco Shambhala has two properties, one in Goa and the other tucked away on the border of Maharashtra in a small town- Sindhudurg luckily i had my fair chance to experience a stay in both in leisure. Set in a tropical garden, barely 200 meters off the beach, Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg has villas designed as inclusive, barefoot retreats, each with their own infinity pool looking out to the sea. Coco Shambhala is a place of peace, happiness and tranquility.

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Room with a view at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Monsoon getaway at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg 

There is a lot i love about this place, but what tops it is privacy that nurtures a sense of balance, much needed in the hectic lives of today in combination with ample of nature all around us. Each villa has a stunning sea facing living area, 2 large bedrooms also facing out to the sea, a well-stocked bar in the living pavilion and its own infinity pool where i spent my day and night, sunrise and sunsets, floating in he pool under rain and stars giving me some of the most breathtaking moments of my life so far.

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Spacious lounging area in villa at coco shamabhala, sindhudurg

read, eat, play all at the luxury of your privacy at coco Shambhala, Sindhhudurg

The villas are spacious and are spaces designed for dining and lounging. It works beautifully for quiet reading, intimate and family dinners alike and group bonding over games all at luxury of your villa, while providing a sweeping vista of the sea just below, and the tempting turquoise waters of the infinity pool in front. The bedrooms are designed to provide natural light, just as the entire villa with stunning sea views and boast of artfully designed coconut wood furniture, sitting alongside the modern amenities of a luxury bedroom.

Breakfast by the pool at coco shambhala, sindhudurg

A taste of Malwani cuisine at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

The kitchen team prepares everything ahead of your arrival; Their head chef got in touch with us, post our booking confirmed to discuss our culinary preferences and make tailor menus based on your feedback. Their complimentary car and driver are at hand, to not only take you around but also, run errands for you. We were also provided with free usage of the pre-programmed cell phone in each villa to contact anyone on the Coco Shambhala team for any assistance.

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Missal Pav  for breakfast at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Their menus showcase the best of Goan cuisine, fresh local produce and sea food. From the mezze platter that’s served with Goan poe bread on welcome (which i have repeatedly ordered every evening) to the delectable spread of Malwani cuisine everything left me craving for more. They also had carefully curated an alluring collection of wines, single malts and craft beers, in the comfort of our (each) own villa. Their Director of Cuisine, Shagun Mehra, crafts new menus each season, which are further tailored to your preferences and palate.

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Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg is a destination in itself, calm beaches, water sports in the season and if you fancy being a little more energetic and can tear yourself away from the sun lounger the hotel offers option to venture out and visit local villages. After a full day of exploring, the one place we desperately wanted to get back to is the ocean followed by a sun downer at the privacy of our villa.

Infinity pool that overlooks beach and endless ocean, Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg 

For more visit- www.cocoshambhala.com

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J W Marriott Resort & Spa, Jaipur

J W Marriott is one of the most recognized hotel brands in the world, and at their all new property- J W Marriott Resort and Spa, Jaipur we experienced most energized hospitality and were treated to some incredible meals. The property has a welcoming atmosphere, right from the traditional welcome and breathtaking lobby, there is incredible attention to detail that made our stay full of utmost comfort.

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JW Marriott Resort and Spa, Jaipur- Royal and Splendid

The Resort

It can be rightly said that J W Marriott Jaipur Resort & Spa is a modern day palace. I mean if i was a queen today, i would want my palace just this way, away from the hustle of the city, surrounded by the hills with all modern amenities and architecture that displays the best craftsmanship. A white tone follows throughout the property with breaks of blue and metallic at various places, well manicured paths, artistically done fountain spaces (indoor as well as outdoors), grand arches that are perfectly apt for a modern day royalty; and staying here we got treated exactly like that. When touring the property I was awestruck by the doors, the hand-painted patterns by local artisans, paintings and the architecture on the whole.

Food & Restaurants

Food at these restaurant are curated by executive chef Yogender Pal, i was delighted to meet him as i have known him for years, from when he was at The Marriott in Hyderabad. Sukh Mahal restaurant offers modern world cuisine but multi-cuisine delicacies are rustled up as adeptly as marwari meals in this all day restaurant.

On our last day we had a special surprise dinner at Mohan Mahal, just being there was a special experience, it was like dining in sheesh mehal. Mohan Mahal restaurant, is a gorgeous, tenderly-lit restaurant that serves up Rajasthani and Mughlai thali, open only for dinner. The design and beauty of the restaurant is architecturally reflective of Amer Fort’s Sheesh Mahal. Lit by candles, with Rajasthani music and gurgling fountains within the restaurant, provides a beautiful background score. Taking a notch above the meals are served in silver-plated tableware and local delicacies left us with a most found memory, one that will definitely add up to best dinner experiences i have had.

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Chai and Musical evenings by the pool at JW Marriott Resort & Spa, Jaipur

Evening tea, in khullads (they also have cup options but obviously we preferred the desi khullad and masala chai) are best enjoyed while witnessing the performance by the pool that included folk music and folk dance. They also have a lot of fun activities like henna application, puppet show, pottery, elephant rides for kids and relaxing SPA sessions (read here), J W Marriott Jaipur has something to keep everyone indulged.

Room- Royal Courtyard Room

Our villa was bright, lively and equipped with amenities like cable tv, safe, coffee/tea maker, walk in closet and an attached bathroom with a tub and forest essentials toiletries, i love forest essentials; period. But our room and outdoor lounging area was not that got me excited, i mean it was beautiful but what i loved the most was our private outdoor plunge pool.

I spent an entire day and night right at the property to soak in all the beauty and luxury, i even spent a freezing few hours out in the lounging area watching the night sky and gazing the stars. If it wasn’t for January and winters, and the fact that it was more colder because it was at the outskirts, i would have spent the night out in the open.

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The landscape of this place has been done so amazingly that I absolutely enjoyed strolling around the property. The resort has a massive swimming pool by itself for all the guests.

We spent 3 days at this property, but it still felt like it wasn’t enough. The hotel is quite secluded from the city but the helpful staff had a car ready for us whenever we needed (on request), that made travelling totally hassle free for us. Finding cabs might get little tricky in the area so I suggest you book in advance. Being winters the nights were freezing, but I enjoyed my visit both to Jaipur and J W Marriott to the core.

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Retreat in Wilderness of Bandipur

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The Windflower Resort & Spa, Bandipur

Bandipur National Park is regarded as one of the most beautiful and better-managed national parks of India. The moment we entered the grounds of Bandipur the tranquility of nature engulfed us. We were greeted with hundreds of deer’s freely roaming around, as if welcoming to their sanctuary.

The experience of wildlife safari is something everyone must go through once in your lifetime. They have open jeeps and busses with set timings, but no private vehicles are allowed for safaris. We obviously chose the Jeep, as we were four and it gave us our own private vehicle. You are not allowed to step out of the vehicle though. Going to the wild is always exciting and soothing – the excitement of watching the wild animals and the tranquility of being in the lap of mother-nature.

Post the initial trail into forest we, knew we finally pierced into the ‘real’ forest when we started noticing countless deer’s, langoor’s hopping, peacocks wandering and wild boars boaring around.  This place is located amidst the picturesque surroundings of the towering Western Ghats Mountains. You will be lucky to spot a leopard but keep your hopes up, sadly we dint.

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The villa room at Windflower Resort & Spa, Bandipur

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The Windflower Resort & Spa, Bandipur

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A true retreat, disconnected from the world where only source of indulging myself was a good a spa, books, infinity pool, bonfire and lots of games. Being in the digital age you just don’t know the peace that comes with disconnecting the world until unless its forced upon, in this case it was a gift.  

Stay: The Windflower Jungle Resort & Spa

Windflower resort in Bandipur is one of the best and right amidst jungle landscape. You will see herd of deer’s coming in and out of the, the resort as the name suggest encourages wild life and is safe, you will see monkeys and some wild pigs once in a while too. The guests are recommended to stay indoors post 7:30 and mornings are begun with nature walk, where an expert takes you on a natures trail, introducing you to most amazing facts of nature.

The resort is more like a retreat where Television is available only in a common room, the internet and mobile phone connectivity is nil, except for wi-fi in the lobby. It truly helps you reconnect with yourself and your loved ones. We assure there will not be a dull moment, with an infinity pool overlooking endless forest, games room with numerous games like snooker, carom and even play area for kids outside, wildlife documentary aired in T.V room, bonfire in evenings and Spa to pamper yourself.

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Infinity Pool and wine at The Windflower Resort and Spa, Bandipur

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Spa at The Windflower Resort and Spa, Bandipur

Service at the Windflower is impeccable, and so is the food. Rooms are done quite elegantly while retaining rustic look from outside. The staff is well trained mostly local people, who were more than willing to can guide us with anything needed.

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Breakfast at The Windflower Resort and Spa, Bandipur

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Lunch at The Windflower Resort and Spa, Bandipur

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Dinner at The Windflower Resort and Spa, Bandipur

Food

There are no options available beyond your resort in Bandipur. Windflower resort usually offer buffet meals, but if there are limited guests, the chef will personally attend to you and extended his hospitality by serving you what suits your taste buds the best, luckily for us, the chef indulged us with a mix of local cuisine and some really good food and desserts, all of which is made in house.

The food is outstanding, tastes very home-cooked.  The Courteous & friendly staff ensured our stay is pleasant and kept surprising us with their deep knowledge of the nature around them with impressive knowledge about the animals and birds.

I was looking for some quality time with my family and this resort was the perfect solution for us. The facilities are basic but the location, well equipped rooms, in term of design and privacy is just appealing. It was an amazing hassle free stay, and the Safari too was organised by the staff (on request) and we just dint have to worry about waiting in lines or anything, with a pick and drop from our resort to the tourist office where the safari starts from, was all taken care by the staff at Windflower Resort.

Loved: What i loved the most about the resort was the private seating area, the infinity pool and the fact that we dint have any network and it helped us enjoy the holiday to the core and courteous staff.

Know: Little known is the fact that these Bandipur forests once belonged to the Mysore Maharaja’s personal Game Preserve. Steps were taken to preserve this priceless reserve since the beginning of this era when all other reserve’s and natural habitats abundant with wildlife were on the verge of extinction.

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Incredible route to Bandipur

Getting There
By Road: You can reach Bandipur from Bangalore town via Mysore and the distance is just 220 kms. You can take the Coimbatore route via Ooty which is hardly 168 kms.
By Air: Nearest airport is Mysore. Located at a distance of 80kms and Bangalore is the next nearest airport located at a distance of 190kms.
By Rail: Nanjangud is the nearest railway station. Mysore railway station

Book:  www.thewindflower.com

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Staycation at Novotel Hyderabad Airport

Ah vacation.  How many of us don’t sometimes wish we could escape the hustle, bustle, & day-to-day responsibilities of our normal lives for a week of fun and relaxation somewhere far, far away? But There’s nothing better than a staycation when you don’t want to splurge on air tickets or you don’t have time for a long vacation or waste time commuting, and yet enjoy unwinding in luxury for a few days.

Between restaurants, hotels, and transportation, travel costs can add up fast especially when those costs are multiplied for a family.  But that doesn’t mean when vacation time rolls around you can’t still have a great time! This year, why not plan a vacation in your own city?  A true Staycation is more than just a week at home; it is an intentional time of fun and relaxation for your whole family.  It does take a little effort to do it right, but can ultimately be just as satisfying as going somewhere far away.

I spent my extended weekend having an amazing staycation with my mom. Between work, I hardly get time to spend with her. When Novotel invited me for an experiential review I knew my mom would be a perfect company.

Hotel: The hotel is strategically situated in Hyderabad to accommodate both business and leisure travellers. It is well connected to the International Airport and the location makes you feel like you are away from the city, amidst endless greenery and fresh air. I began my staycation from the very beginning, how? Well by giving up driving and stress of traffic, we opted to choose to travel in car by the hotel and enjoyed our long drive. The fact that it crosses the long stretch of airport road really made me feel as if I am travelling away.

Room:  Our room had a pool view with a sky that often witnessed landing and taking off of flights. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in complete relaxation. Their full menu of activities and services helped me meet my travel goals, whether its productivity, fitness, relaxation, or simply wellness of being, just lazying around in front of your TV screen, with room service pampering you endlessly. Novotel is perfectly away from the city offering a cosy abode to unwind in.


Culinary experience: Take a culinary trip around the world without leaving your hotel.  Novotel Shamshabad offers a unique dining experience that will delight even the most discriminating palettes. From traditional Indian dishes from the Northwest frontier, to the vibrant flavours of Italy, their restaurants, cafés and lounges showcase the best of global cuisine in inspiring settings.

End the day with a nightcap at the bar or by the picturesque poolside, I loved my Vietnamese coffee that was a perfect end to a long yet relaxing day.

Indulgence:  Soak yourself in a therapeutic massage or sip a cocktail in style at the bar or by the pool, where you can enjoy your beverage between laps. well i opted for both, a spa for a much needed pamper session of an Ayurvedia Indian therapy follwed by dinner and drinks by the pool.

Just a button click away lies your weekend of eternal bliss. All you have to do is pack an overnight bag and take off!

Novotel Visakhapatnam Varun Beach

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Visakhapatnam Beach, One of my Favorite Beaches in India

I have always loved Novotel properties; with two in Hyderabad itself my visits to their restaurants are quite often (they have some the best food festivals in town). This however was my first stay at one of their properties.

If you are following me on Instagram you would know the trail of this trip was Araku Valley and Vizag. This was a trip that took me ages to plan; it was kind of a reunion with my college friends but with lovely additions as many now came in category of Couples.

My stay at Novotel Varun Beach was second part of our travel plan. The hotel is just 30 minutes from the Airport and walking distance from the beach giving Novotel Visakhapatnam Varun Beach a great reachability and accessibility factor. The moment I stepped into the hotel through huge glass doors, the foyer was bustling with people, mostly looked like a conference just winded up.

Post our easy check in and welcome drink; we were led to our rooms. The moment our elevator door opened I could see a spacious lounging area with beautiful sea view, only hoping my room would have the same; And it did. The hotel had a very urban vibe – modern decor portraying minimalism without lacking on quality. My room was bright, spacious living room, beautiful washrooms, walk in closet and cozy room- designed for a modern traveler. I loved the view and the coffee machine in my room the most (ah, the coffee addict in me)

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Breakfast with view at Novotel

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Breakfast in Bed, Perfect Leisure Holiday

Food: The Square, an all day dining restaurant serves global cuisines. We had our lunch here and the service and food was just splendid.  Breakfast is also served at the square where you can choose from cooked selection, juices, continental, fruit bowls and choice of eggs and of course Indian selections as well. Well I had mine in bed. Thanks to the courteous staff for making my holiday a perfectly leisure one.

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Cheesy Pizza at Novotel, The Square

 

Vue -The lounge is great place to chill and since had an early morning flight we decided to chill at the hotel lounge for our last night. The interiors were pretty but we preferred our drinks outside by the pool overlooking the endless sea.

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Vue Lounge, Novotel

Zaffran: Zaffran is the second restaurant at the property and the cuisine is regional, they a five course Menu of the Day with all seats overlooking the ocean. I was really honored when the chef had us try some of the dishes from their new menu and the food was just incredible. My favorite was definitely the ‘Chuza Khas Tikka Masala’ that was finger looking good, special thanks to Chef Mrinmoy Pal, for extending his hospitality. Indian travel blogger, Indian lifestyle blogger, best Hyderabad blogger

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Lunch at Zaffran, Novotel

The infinity pool is another feature of property which will enhance your stay (experience) at this property, a dip in the pool and view of Bay of Bengal is just stunning.

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All in all it was a great stay, the view and food is definitely the factor I will most likely visit the property again. so go ahead an make your monsoon plans as its great time of the year to visit Vizag. Hyderabad food blogger, Indian food blogger, lifestyle blogger India

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Filter Coffee and Beach view – Perfection!

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