We visited Natadol, Maini's Cottages after due diligence with the owner, found it same as photos and descriptions on his website.
Beautiful, serene, calm, laidback hamlet of Natadol and Dr. Maini's cottages reminded us of old world RAJ era charm with ultra-modern amenities we are so accustomed to.
There are 2 cottages on the property, both identical with great views of the Himalayas, both cottages have one master bedroom and two 1st floor rooms, total 3 double rooms, a functional kitchen and sitting area with heating(hearth). Car parking is available, safe and inside the compound.
We were pleasantly surprised to find no TV and felt great being away from the hub-bub of city life.
Dr. Maini himself has metamorphosed into an avid nature/ wildlife aficionado. He has vast knowledge of the local flora and fauna which we experienced first hand on the many nature walks/ Treks we took along with him.
The property itself is vast and dotted with apple, Pear, Apricot orchards along with various herbs. The owner is kind enough to let us/ children pluck fruits directly and eat to hearts content.
Apart from the various juicy fruits, i must congratulate Dr. Maini on his personal culinary skills which i experienced first hand, delicious, lip-smacking food served piping hot at the Gazebo near the open kitchen. Best part is you can order what you like, when you like, no holdups of any sort.
The Mini-golf couse is possibly the only one in Uttrakhad private property, we were lucky enough to have a few sunny days during the rainy season in August to have a go at the 18 HOLE course. Wow, what an experience.
Even without TV and dotty cellular network, we, adults and the kids had no problem in keeping ourselves busy with the limitless collection of books, comics, indoor games (phew!) what an exhaustive collection and of Couse just sitting out on the beautiful deck outside the cottage and looking at stars or just...looking far away at the horizon.
Al in all, concluding, Maini's Hill Cottages are a great Luxury homestay for someone in love with the outdoors and wishes to be left completely alone for a few days.
Some properties are destinations in their own right, & this is one of them.
Completely free of any noise, crowd, yet with all sorts of modern comforts, views which are a comfort to the eyes, the choice to do nothing, or lots - indoors, or out ... & great food. There is (as a conscious decision) no TV, but NONE of us actually realised that - till pointed out.
It's not for people who don't want to leave their city/work habits behind when on a holiday.
The rooms are truly big, 3 bedrooms (two in the first store with a skylight actually into the sky), a lounge, a dining space & 2 bathrooms to each cottage. The dining area is separate, where food's served, outdoors, & with great views. It was cold outdoors in peak winter, but still beautiful.
The mini golf is an amazing thing. It's not miles & miles on like the actual sport, it's completely in-house, you get a posh feel , you spend automatic time in the
pretty, wildflower-y outdoors, in the sun, & away from screens, & since none of your group has played golf before, it's pretty fair game! This too, is unlimited. SO, if you set your mind to it, you can actually develop your drive!
There is a huge stock of books & indoor games, from UNO to carrom, & plenty of nooks & crannies, as well as open lawns & wicker chairs, to hide away or to sprawl around, as it takes your fancy.
There's a fantastic "un-Menu", fab cooks who cook up mainly fab meals, unlimited beverages, be it milk-chai, lemon-chai, coffee, or chocolate milk, or black coffee ... or soups - even by your own description like " I feel like a veggie clear soup with a bit of lemon", & they'll serve up your craving ...
We did not go on very long walks, but even the short ones are beautiful. There's always something to find on the ground ... frost, stones with a lot of mica, acorns, with caps on & off, rosette pine-cones (you gotta walk!) The kids even saw an "orange fox with pointy ears" (foxes are totally scared of humans, more so of dogs, they won't come near, the kids saw it from afar). Th huge trees are awe-inspiring.
The sky is so clear black at night, you would've forgotten that it's actually that way. Depending on the phase of the moon & the time of the year, one can see the stars, & if enthusiastic, one can consult a sky atlas ...
Ah! The bonfire! It's just like any bonfire you attended, only better :) & the fireplaces in the cottages, well! curling up on the carpet in front of a fireplae ( The ventilation of which has been personally designed by Dr Shivam) adds a little something, both to a heady cackle of friends, & to the experience of losing yourself in a piece of fiction.
Maini's Hill Cottages is not just a place to stay, but it can easily be a complete holiday, planned to a t, which we did not, because of small kids & unpredictable weather. The best part about the experience is Dr Shivam, who is at the same time your host & a friend, always putting another woodblock in the fire, taking the kids to search for four-leaf clovers, or joining you for a round of anecdotes! He has the beautiful manner of becoming a part of you, irrespective of age, or interests!
A major part of the food is locally grown & organically grown & really fresh. Dr Shivam & his staff are really environmentally conscious & run an almost zero-wastage facility, which is not only spic- &-span, but also energy efficient, & green in environmental, & not just ornamental sense.
Stay here for a real feel of peace & really deep lungful of fresh breath!
We stayed for our anniversary celebration, and within a few hours, we got a succinct hunch that this was going to be our best vacation. With an air of relaxation and ease all around, there are so many great things about Maini's Cottages. The silence of hills is meditative. The vibe of the place is subtle, pristine and rejuvenating.
A high standard of cleanliness is maintained inside. All areas are spacious and endowed with facilities for a comfortable homely stay. I enjoyed meditations and reading on a cushion in one of the attic bedrooms. Looking outside the window, the glimpse of snow-clad peaks was cherishable.
The meals served are sumptuous and palatable. The chefs and staff are willing to provide as best an experience as possible. We tried both regular Indian and local cuisines and were not disappointed even once. Our requests in regards to meals were met with the utmost care. Organic pickles and fresh herbs added newer dimensions to flavours.
The garden is a delicate balance of wilderness and cultivation. For lovers of plants, there is so much to learn. The host, Dr Shivam, knows well how to live with nature. He has an in-depth knowledge that is so easy to overlook due to his humility. Caterpillars, Himalayan birds, apples, pears, dandelions; and the list is endless. Symbiosis is maintained, and it feels like a thriving ecosystem here. As an add-on, there is a mini-golf with nine greens!
The fruits taste natural and wholesome. We had some best apples and pears of the season during the stay. There is so much to explore and exprience here. Dr Shivam suggested us a few treks in the nearby hills, which we sadly could not go for. But then, there is always a next time!
6 hours out of the madness that is Delhi, you come across the beautiful Bhimtal lake which, unfortunately, has lately become the scene of a commercial explosion, just the sort that you were hoping to escape. If you were to take the Left prong of the fork in Bhimtal you'll find yourself descending into further madness that is called Nainital. Taking the right prong, however, would be slightly more rewarding because you will gradually leave civilised madness behind. 7 hours out of Delhi, you would then hit a town named Dhanachuli, from where taking the left prong would lead you back to the hustle-bustle of Mukteshwar, but I highly recommend persisting with choosing the right prong once more, and moving up towards Nata Dol. This is when you will truly leave behind the organised madness called civilisation and begin to find the solace that your soul would have been seeking. The drive is immensely rewarding with Oak forests, Devdar forests and Pine forests dotting your drive, rhododendron blooms lending a colour and the continuous views of an expanse of snowpeaks (Nanda Devi, Trishul, Panchachuli etc.) giving you a great backdrop, while you amble along lazily.
Mr. Maini's cottages are currently about the only luxury option of staying in Nata Dol. If you were to choose one of his cottages, you would immediately be rewarded with quite a unique experience. Mr. Maini has built only 2 identical cottages in a vast property that stretches down the slopes beyond what your eyes can make out.
Each cottage has 3 bedrooms, appointed quite like what you would expect in a 5* hotel, a full sized kitchen and a comfortable drawing room and dresser. The cottages have been tastefully furnished, replete with books, board games and a fireplace. Mr. Maini has stocked the refrigerator and kitchen, and unlike what you'll usually expect, does not charge any premium. Both cottages afford an immediate view of the entire valley in front, and the full range of snow peaks. You can amble around the huge property dotted with a variety of fruit trees and flowers, and Mr. Maini will be happy to give you a full tour of the property and neighbouring trails. They also run a neat kitchen and are happy to support you with any of your gastronomic demands, made to your culinary specification.
I went with my family and spent 4 days. Initially we thought we might move around a bit, but once we arrived, we were just content to laze around in and about the property. I am now planning a repeat visit soon with my extended family as well.
Overall, I am quite pleased to find a hidden retreat like these cottages. Highly recommended.