Ladakh Hotels : Whispering Willows, Shey
Located just off the highway that runs south to Manali, Hotel Whispering Willows in the village of Shey is part of the Banjara Group of camps & retreats in the Himalayas. When we got there what immediately struck us was its tranquil setting. It’s located in a quiet lane by the highway and is surrounded by wheat and barley fields – it felt like a true retreat! Of the hotel’s 3-storey structure, the top floor’s rooms are yet to be renovated and prepared for use. But the lower floors are completely ready and we stayed in a double-room on the first floor. It was a lovely, airy room with neat furnishings and plenty of storage space. The extra thick comforters and soft bed were downright luxurious! Large windows looked out into the fields behind the hotel – it was a gorgeous sight! The bathroom was also spacious and well-appointed. Hot water was available every morning until 10am.
But the nicest feature of the hotel was the lounge areas provided outside every room on our floor. Sofas and coffee tables were placed here and Madhu and I spent quite a bit of time curled up on the sofas, reading or working on our laptops. Windows in this gallery overlooked the hotel’s grassy lawns. Rooms on the ground floor open out into these lawns where chairs have been placed to enjoy the outdoors. Rishi, the host of Whispering Willows said that he holds barbeques at times in these lawns.
Meals are served in the hotel’s dining area, which is near the stairs at the center of the hotel. And each meal was always a sumptuous spread. By 7 every morning, tea and biscuits would be laid out and a proper breakfast would follow an hour later. Lunch was an all-vegetarian, simple affair while dinner was more elaborate with a non-vegetarian dish and dessert. But apart from food, one thing we’ve experienced at all meals at the Banjara retreats is great conversations; there are always like-minded travelers around for us to converse and exchange stories with.
Then, of course, there was Rishi, the host. He has immense knowledge of the Kashmir and Himachal area and we loved talking to him about our travels and his experiences. He was always more than willing to help as well. We enjoyed his company thoroughly and he made our stay in Shey quite special!