A very good friend of mine just became a mommy. She loves to travel, and wanted me to suggest a few places to go with her newborn. Suddenly I went into a time machine.
I've always been very spontaneous about travelling. Getting to Jakarta and then wondering which island we would fly to - that's classic us. Or leaving for Manali without any plans and then deciding to carry on to Spiti Valley, and buying winter clothes on the way, that's us again.
But when you have a baby, things change. Suddenly, you find yourself calculating the transit time, and calling the hotels for early check-ins. As with everything, there are no right answers but I'll share my recommendations and where all I took Sayuri in her first year and a half.
We decided to stick to places with direct & short flights, so we pretty much travelled within India. And we decided to stay at places where we would be just luxuriating. This is the time when your best friends are in-room dining, swimming pool and your suite. And of course, we love aesthetics so we made sure to choose places that were aesthetically rewarding, have beautiful interiors that we could sit, observe and be inspired by.
We took her to Taj Lake Palace,Udaipur; The Lalit Grand Palace, Srinagar; Khyber, Gulmarg; Taj Bekal, Bekal (make sure to get their private pool villa, you would really utilise it); Samode Palace, Samode; Oberoi Cecil, Shimla; Siolim House, Goa; The Claridges Nabha Palace, Mussorie and endless trips to Taj Mansingh, Delhi, and even snuck a trip to Agra and Lucknow.
Samode Palace, Near Jaipur - The one place that we have visited maybe six times. The hand frescoed rooms, beautiful view of Aravalis, the exceptional food and brilliant service makes us coming back for more.
Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur - This place is iconic for a reason. There is not a single bad angle here. You could place your camera in any direction and something stunning would come out. The cool breeze on a warm day is a big added plus. A dinner or two at Neelkamal is a must. Their stunning Versace for Rosenthal dinnerware is stunning.
The Lalit Grand Palace, Srinagar - This lives up to it's name. It is grand, it's a palace, has resplendent lawns that you can stroll for hours ever day, and of course it's Kashmir. You could walk down to the mystic Dal lake. My recommendation - get a suite in the palace wing. Their little horse carriage will charm you as much as your baby.
And here's our little connoisseur inspecting handwoven Kashmiri Carpets the way it should be.
Khyber, Gulmarg - Breathtaking views of stunning Himalayas, walks in meadows and nice tea salon in a hotel that feels like right out of Wazwan fantasy, what's not to like. What's even better is that it's only an hour from Srinagar Airport.
Taj Bekal - Laid back, chic mixed with Deccan furniture, this place is an eclectic mix of modern and the old. A pool villa is the perfect way to kick back with your little baby. And the colour scheme of just white and dark brown is oh so appeasing.
The Claridges Nabha Palace, Mussorie - My daughter Sayuri's birthdays have been spent at this little beautiful victorian palace. It's so intimate with brilliant furniture, classic decor and probably some of the finest chandeliers that I have seen.
Siolim House, Goa - Away from the party crowds, in a small sleepy village of Goa is this little gem. An old Portugese villa with their own pet dogs walking around the villa. You just get the picture, don't you. Added plus, They've done their Chinoiserie right.
Oberoi Cecil, Shimla - This beautiful wood panelled property is all that you want from a mountain retreat. The food is excellent, the serve ware is even better. And the English - French furniture is just awe inspiring. Can't complain about the swimming pool either.
And like I mentioned earlier, Room service is indeed your best friend.
Some other places that were short weekend getaways for us - Agra, Lucknow, Mussorie, Jaipur and endless trips to Delhi. What I'd recommend, anywhere your car takes you.
I feel that travelling with your family is phenomenal. The kind of bond that you develop, and the time that you can dedicate to each other, you never can in your daily life. Even if you are a stay-at-home mom, actually specially if you are a stay-at-home mom, you really need to unwind, luxuriate and bond. Vacations are the key to it.
And like I always say, if you can go to places that are aesthetically pleasing and impart a good taste, it's even more rewarding.
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