Died and gone to heaven! We truly found "hotel shangri-la" at the Elgin Hotel in Pelling, Sikkim! And it's not mythical! When we walked into our room, it was warm, the lights were on and waiting for us. Seems like a “no-brainer” to have the bellman run up while we were checking in and just do some little touches like this. It was a long journey (for us, five hours) from Gangtok. What a welcome! While not fully visible during our visit, the room view is of stunning Mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. Drinks before dinner each night in the lush, inviting lounge adjacent to the entry lobby. For Paul, the room decor alone prompted a whiskey with a beer chaser. Basudev is the consummate butler. He worked for the Elgin group for 12 years at their Darjeeling location and now 6 years in Pelling. Our room rate included a spectacular dinner both nights we were there. Tied for best service *ever* (with an evening we once had at Michael’s restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada USA). What a well-run hotel! (It didn’t hurt we got cherry brandy upon walking in the door...) Now this is the hotel lobby we want to walk into every time!
We stayed three nights at the Lemon Tree Hotel in Gangtok, Sikkim. We drove from West Bengal and stopped at the State border to be issued, free of charge, the mandatory Inner Line Permit required for our visit.
We arrived in Darjeeling, West Bengal at the end of August 2019. We spent a month at the Sushma Villa (photo below), a 3 BHK house (‘bedroom, hall and kitchen’ in local real estate vernacular) an often cacophonous 20-25 minute walk away from the main tourist area (we paid $975/month on Airbnb).
Tea! We are fine tea lovers and drank our way through the surrounding tea plantations — making a road trip to Sikkim (see separate posts this page) from here. These simple accommodations were a relatively low-cost base for our first-time exploration of northeast India.
We created a cooking video in our kitchen posted below.
Our early morning flight from India's Bangalore Airport was a comedy of errors. We are seasoned travelers in India. The Hotel Guys know better! But the traveling teen elders — who now, incidentally, both qualify as senior citizens on India Rail — are still learning new lessons. And India is an excellent teacher for global travelers! Video episode #103 briefly recounts the palm-sweating, sunrise story of getting from point A to B — Bangalore to Darjeeling. Lesson learned!
In October, we are taking a train to Guwahati, Assam. There, we will secure the necessary Protected Area Permit necessary to explore the State of Arunachal Pradesh. We will then venture from Guwahati into Meghalaya to visit Shillong, Don Bosco Museum, Cherrapunji, Living Root Bridges, Nohkalikai Waterfalls, Mawphlang Sacred Forest and Elephant Falls.
We expect to be in India for three months. We will also likely visit Kolkata, Varanasi, Jhansi, Orchha, Khajuraho, Jaipur, Udaipur and more.