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The Retreat, Bhimtal

Jones Estate Near Butterfly Museum, Bhimtal 263136 India
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Room & Suite (52)
Dining (42)


#2 of 52 Speciality lodging in Bhimtal

The Retreat is a 19th century colonial bungalow set in an oak, pine and deodar forest estate in the Lake District of Kumaon. The welcoming Indo-German family do their best to share their home, lifestyle, and the fascinating history of this 1860s house that include British influences of the colonial owners, of Fred Smetacek, who came next and who had escaped the Nazis, and Shaheda Smetacek who was a descendant of Tipu Sultan and the Mughals. Delicious home-cooked meals are prepared every day, ranging from Indian to European to colonial specialties. The area is ideal for barbecues, nature walks, birdwatching, and excursions to the forest and lakes (for we are at the very heart of the best and most unspoilt part of the Lake District of Kumaon). The hospitality and personality of Paddy Smetacek and her children make The Retreat an ideal place to be. The Retreat is particularly suited to writers, artists, naturalists and people working from home, who are looking for a long stay in a safe and comfortable environment. Birdwatchers will see almost all the species they look for in Sat Tal.

The Retreat is the ideal place for children to romp around in the open, play with lively and friendly dogs, spend quality time with their parents and enjoy nature and unstructured play time outdoors in our gardens, sprawling grounds and forest.

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Property amenities
Free parking
Free High Speed Internet (WiFi)
Free breakfast
Car hire
BBQ facilities
Outdoor furniture
Complimentary tea
Complimentary welcome drink
Kids' meals
Outdoor dining area
Special diet menus
Walking tours
Board games / puzzles
Taxi service
Picnic area
First aid kit
24-hour check-in
Clothes dryer
Laundry service
Washing machine
Ironing service
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Room features
Interconnected rooms available
Wardrobe / wardrobe
Clothes rack
Private bathrooms
Room types
Mountain view
Non-smoking rooms
Family rooms
Good to know
Hidden Gem
Languages Spoken
English, German, Hindi
134Reviews7Q+A32Room tips
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Popular mentions
Gaurav Kapoor wrote a review 6 Jun
New Delhi, India2 contributions
The Retreat is certainly one of the best homestays that you will find in Bhimtal, Uttarakhand. Located in Jones Estate and just about 10 minutes from Bhimtal Lake, it is a British era bungalow that is nestled in the lap of nature. We visited The Retreat in June 2021 and it had everything we needed to feel at home and more importantly it is an ideal place for nature lovers and foodies. At the Retreat, one can enjoy the serene surroundings, long treks, work remotely enabled by a decent Wi-Fi connection, or spend quality time with family or friends. The Retreat is run by Padmini (Paddy) who is truly a Superhost and a wonderful lady! Paddy along with her family and staff treat you to sumptuous meals and I must say that the food prepared by them is way better than the Cafés or Restaurants that you find in Delhi NCR. Furthermore, in case you’re a Dog lover then there are six lovely Dogs that are energetic, friendly and love you unconditionally. My family has carried many unforgettable memories of The Retreat and of course, want to visit it again soon!
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Date of stay: June 2021
Response from Padmini Smetacek, Owner at The Retreat, Bhimtal
Responded 1 week ago
Thank you so much for the fabulous review -- especially we are touched by your praise of our beloved dogs! :-) It was a pleasure having you and your lovely family here, and to make good food for you. We all look forward to having you here again, soon! Just as guests value good hosts, hosts value good guests, and so you and your family are valued by us. We are indeed fortunate we get so many absolutely wonderful people like you for guests, who become friends for life. It is the greatest bonus in running The Retreat!
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Aayushi Thakur S wrote a review Oct 2020
New Delhi, India6 contributions6 helpful votes
We were three friends who visited Paddy and her lovely family in October 2020 (with all precautions in place against COVID) and it was a memorable time! The colonial estate itself is striking and full of stories, you feel enchanted the moment you arrive. Paddy's family, including her six happy dogs, are warm and welcoming, and we were so lucky to spend quality time with all of them. However, as many have pointed out, the kitchen is remarkable and we were absolutely delighted with the food and bakes-- both done with skill and care. The whole ambience feels spiritual almost, with enough beautiful pines and butterflies for company. I personally cannot wait to see Paddy and the house again, and am very grateful for the hospitality.
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Date of stay: October 2020
Sleep Quality
1 Helpful vote
Response from Padmini Smetacek, Owner at The Retreat, Bhimtal
Responded 17 Oct 2020
Thank you, Aayushi! It was a pleasure having you and your friends here. Hope to see you here again soon!
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Caravan196 wrote a review Feb 2020
New Delhi, India2 contributions
First of all let me apologise to the Owner (Paddy) for this late post. We went to stay over a weekend at Bhimtal with the most gracious host, who runs and keeps this 19th Century Colonial House in its original Shine and Spark. Upon checking in, you would be greeted by the most cute ensemble of dogs who guard/play/sleep/eat with you around the estate. If you like breaking bread with the owner, while discussing Hugh Laurie and his musical adventures, or just taking a conversational leap into the then days; then this is the place for you. The food is sumptuous, the company is relishing, the ambience which the estate holds is something which is a feast for the eyes. The rooms are extremely cosy and living there feeled like a marshmallow floating on top of hot coco. The staff is indulgent and takes care of all your needs in the most polite fashion. Upon my request, paddy baked a cake for birthday of my girlfriend and also prepared a special dine-in for us. The scenic beauty of the arrangements not only made the birthday extremely memorable, but also reduced the pain of the aging birthday-girl. Not only is paddy a great baker/chef, her staff is equally trained in handling the flame. You could witness it in the morning where you would indulge with the varied types and flairs of eggs,marmalade and en entire entourage of flavours plucked from the estate's own gardens . We also managed to chart a trekking route suggested by Paddy to Sattal from the estate. Which was another feather in the hat of the Host, as she is also a navigator. In short, we were hosted by an entire family of great people, with their own stories, and their passion towards making us feel at home. Tip: If you are lucky enough, Paddy might allow you to have your wine, in her vintage goblets. Regards Piyush
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Date of stay: July 2019
Sleep Quality
Response from Padmini Smetacek, Owner at The Retreat, Bhimtal
Responded 17 Oct 2020
Thank you so much for your lovely and descriptive review - “a marshmallow floating on top of hot cocoa”! - I love it. :-) It was a real pleasure having you come and stay - and hope we will get a chance to renew our acquaintance and share food and conversation.
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Amruta wrote a review Nov 2019
1 contribution
The Retreat is a decades old heritage bungalow set amidst the lap of nature far off from the crowds of Nainital or Bhimtal. The homestay is an excellent choice for those looking for some quiet and solitude. I was lucky that I happened to go during a time when Padmini, the owner, was there. She is an amazing person to talk to and a great host as well. We had some great conversations at the food table and she happened to tell me about the history of the estate which is quite interesting. The Retreat is basically meant for people who want to reconnect with their own selves or Nature without fussing much about luxuries available at other luxury resorts. I spent my entire time reading, writing or just relaxing! I was mainly drawn by the responsible tourism and sustainability exhibited at The Retreat. Food is amazingly delicious at The Retreat. They serve homemade preserves for breakfast along with the toast. They had cooked a pahadi meal for lunch on one of the days and the taste was very earthy yet exquisite. Dinners always are continental and were my favourite meal! Be it the pasta or the home baked bread or pie or honey roasted chicken, each meal was truly lovely and lipsmacking good! The property has 4 dogs who are very well trained and are an absolute delight to be around. In fact, cuddling them turns out to be one of the greatest stress busters. A small hike up the hills and you reach the ridge which has an surreal view of the Kumaon range. This was my favorite spot where I could sit for hours together without a soul in sight. And guess what! Padmini and her staff can pack you a mini picnic that can be relished up at the ridge. Overall, this place is quaint, cozy and comfortable for people who need some place and time to take a break from their otherwise hectic lives. Padmini and the entire staff make you feel at home during the entire trip. Special kudos to them for doing their bit for maintaining the balance between humans and nature. This place probably has become one of my favorite destinations to unwind.
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Date of stay: November 2019
Sleep Quality
Response from Padmini S, Owner at The Retreat, Bhimtal
Responded 12 Nov 2019
Thank you so much, Amruta, for your wonderful review! Also for recommending us to friends -- some of your friends will be here next month. We love it when our guests send -- or better still, bring -- friends and family to The Retreat. Looking forward to seeing you again some time soon! All the best, Paddy
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Suchi G wrote a review Oct 2019
36 contributions28 helpful votes
The Retreat is a stunning and lovely heritage home set amidst nature. I use the word "home" deliberately here. Would recommend for those who prefer birdsong over TV, and the warmth of a real, lived-in home over commercial properties. The food here is exceptional and of a level that most restaurants can only aspire to. Our only complaint was that we could not eat as much quantity of it as we wanted to. :) I had heard about the place from my cousin, and it seemed enticing from the time I emailed Padmini. The documents she sent listing food options and hikes and picnics sealed the deal for me and my friends. We were surprised to find the place even better than we'd hoped for. The home is old and lovely, and furnished with care and love -- even the smallest shelves are laid with pretty crocheted linen and table-cloths; there are beaded covers on flasks of water and dishes of butter, and all manner of interesting pieces of art on the walls. We visited at a time when Padmini was travelling but we were well looked after by Victor and the rest of the family, as well as Aslam, the cook (I hope I got his name right!). Every meal was generous and incredibly tasty. We had requested some of their special meals in advance and were quite touched when the young daughters stepped in to make us tarts and cupcakes and scones for an exceptional high-tea service. Special kudos too for the soups and croquettes and home-made bread. The staff were all very polite and helpful and would remember small details. For example, one member of our group had a sore throat and had asked for warm water with lunch on the first day. At every meal thereafter, a cup of warm water appeared to materialise before she could ask for it! If you're a writer or an artist or just someone who appreciates the arts, you will love this place. The story of the house itself sounds like something out of a fabulous book! We ended up spending most of our time reading and relaxing in the home and garden, with the lovely dogs for company. We only knew that time had passed because of the arrival of birds -- this is a birdwatcher's paradise with the Himalayan Treepies, Blue Whistling Thrushes, Sunbirds and Laughing Thrushes being daily visitors to the garden. There are books everywhere in the house for every age-group and interest. I was especially biased by the excellent collection of Wodehouse books. On the one day we drove out elsewhere in Bhimtal, we instantly regretted it. We had been incredibly spoilt by the quality of food and the charm of The Retreat. :) Hope to go back there and explore all the hikes, do picnics in the woods, and experience more of The Retreat's magic.
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Date of stay: October 2019
Room Tip: The yellow and green rooms have beautiful window-seats!
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1 Helpful vote
Response from Padmini S, Owner at The Retreat, Bhimtal
Responded 14 Oct 2019
Dear Suchi! Thank you so much for your absolutely stupendous review, which deserves to be in a travel magazine for sheer quality of writing — of course, the warm praise and appreciation of every tiny detail (from warm water to Wodehouse!) makes it particularly lovable to us! Thank you very much indeed, and we hope you will be back again very soon. I hope I am there next time! Warmest regards, Padmini (Paddy)
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US$96 - US$105 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
IndiaUttarakhandNainital DistrictBhimtal
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Frequently Asked Questions about The Retreat, Bhimtal
Which popular attractions are close to The Retreat, Bhimtal?
Nearby attractions include Kainchi Dham Neem Karoli Baba Ashram (4.5 km), Naukuchiatal Lake (5.1 km), and High Altitude Zoo (7.7 km).
What are some of the property amenities at The Retreat, Bhimtal?
Some of the more popular amenities offered include free wifi, free breakfast, and free parking.
What food & drink options are available at The Retreat, Bhimtal?
Guests can enjoy free breakfast, barbeque facilities, and complimentary tea during their stay.
Is parking available at The Retreat, Bhimtal?
Yes, free parking is available to guests.
What are some restaurants close to The Retreat, Bhimtal?
Conveniently located restaurants include The Kumaoni Farm Cafe - By Reservation Only, iHeart Cafe Himalayas, and Cafe By The Lake.
Is The Retreat, Bhimtal located near the city centre?
Yes, it is 0.6 km away from the centre of Bhimtal.
Are any cleaning services offered at The Retreat, Bhimtal?
Yes, laundry service and a clothes dryer are offered to guests.
Are pets allowed at The Retreat, Bhimtal?
Yes, pets are typically allowed, but it's always best to call ahead to confirm.
Which languages are spoken by the staff at The Retreat, Bhimtal?
The staff speaks multiple languages, including English, German, and Hindi.
Are there any historical sites close to The Retreat, Bhimtal?
Many travellers enjoy visiting Governor's House Raj Bhawan (9.2 km).