Pelling, Sikkim

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!

For a few additional pics and info, go here.

Udaipur, Rajasthan

Rajasthan — and specifically Udaipur — was our home away from home while in India. We came to town with the intention of staying five nights. We stayed two months. Hey, plans change! The Royal Retreat was one of five different hotel properties we stayed in while in town. A popular destination to celebrate extravagant India weddings (see image below video), the Royal Retreat is chockfull of art with sprawling grounds and three pools. In a bucolic setting just outside of town — we loved it. The artistic flair left a lasting impression.