Family Hotel Review: Itmenaan Estate, Kumaon Hills, Uttarakhand
Hidden in the Kumaon Hills, surrounded by crimson rhododendron forests and towering oak trees, this small hillside hideaway is the ideal place to get away from it all.
Best for: Unplugging and unwinding; big kids and teens (but all ages welcome).
Why You’ll Love It
We haven’t made it to officially review Itmenaan Lodges yet but we’ve been hearing such good things about this mountain retreat that we couldn’t wait to let you know about it. Hidden in the Kumaon Hills, surrounded by crimson rhododendron forests and towering oak trees, this small hillside hideaway is the ideal place to get away from it all.
The main building, which was once a crumbling, traditional Kumaoni farmhouse, is today Itmenaan’s hub. Here you’ll find three bedrooms comfortably furnished and with ensuite bathrooms. A second building was recently constructed to mimic the area’s local architecture and provides a two-storey cottage complete with bedroom and living room.
Itmenaan is the place to come to for fresh air, stunning snow-clad scenery and fantastic walks in the surrounding countryside. The property can organise guided walks ranging from a couple of hours to longer treks where you can sleep in local villages along the way. It’s a wonderful escape from busy modern life.
Why The Kids Will Love It
Itmenaan Estate is a wonderful place for families to spend time together. It’s cosy and with no TVs and limited Internet access the focus is on the Great Outdoors and all that this beautiful corner of Uttarakhand has to offer.
Walking is the main activity here and porters can be hired for families travelling with younger children or a pony ride can be easily arranged. For big kids and teens the countryside is a fascinating place to explore and a trained naturalist will happily guide you in search of the birds, bugs and – rumour has it – leopards that call this area home.
Back at the lodge there are badminton rackets and board games to play. You can even help the resident gardeners tend to Itmenaan’s organic veggie patch. Run in the garden, borrow a book from the library and then sit round the evening bonfire and gaze up at the crystal clear night skies.
Itmenaan Estate has three double bedrooms (Oak Room 1, Oak Room 2 and Kafal Room) housed within a 100-year-old traditional Kumaoni style stone house that was painstakingly restored. There’s also a newly built two-storey Deodar Cottage that was carefully constructed according to traditional architecture and building methods. Forests, orchards and terraced fields with stunning views of the snow-capped Himalayas surround both properties.
Oak Rooms & Kafal Rooms Located in the main house, these rooms have king-size beds with luxurious mattresses. The traditional architecture of the walls and the roof provide keep the rooms insulated, this is particularly important during winter months. The bathrooms are fitted with all modern fixtures and have running hot and cold water at all times. Each bathroom is fitted with a skylight. The Kafal Room is marginally smaller than the Oak Rooms.
Deodar Cottage Positioned 50 metres away in a separate building, this two-storey building enjoys a living area on the ground floor and a double bedroom with bathroom in the upper level. The cottage is very private and enjoys beautiful views.
Best rooms for families: Itmenaan Estate allows one extra bed per room. The rooms in the main house suit families with young children best as you are in monitor reach of them during the evenings. These rooms also work well for families with big kids, teens and larger families requiring more than one room. Itmenaan can provide baby cots.
Itmenaan Estate does not have a restaurant as such, but it does serve meals to guests staying here. Meals can be served in the lovely front courtyard, in the semi-open air dining lounge, your exclusive dining area that comes with your room or at a venue of your choice. The property uses fresh seasonal produce from either their own organic farm or sourced locally. Menus are designed around what is currently available and milk, meat and poultry are bought daily from the nearby villages.
A four-course breakfast is served daily.
Lunch is usually continental and dinner is a North Indian affair with homemade millet rotis, chicken cooked with coriander and smoky-flavoured dahl made from a small black bean called bhatt. The kitchen bake their own breads, make their own cookies, create their own shorba soups and serve delicious deserts. If you feel like heading off to explore the countryside then a picnic lunch can be arranged. Itmenaan asks guests for any specific dietary requirements prior to their arrival.
Tea and cakes (baked in the wood-fired oven) are served in the afternoons.
For Kids: Although there is no dedicated kids’ menu the kitchen are very happy to accommodate requests for kids. Please remember, however, that this is a small property so it is sometimes difficult to entertain last minute requests. If there’s something in particular that your children like for breakfast for example then we recommend that you bring it with you. The property does not have highchairs. Snacks and drinks are available throughout the day and meal timings are flexible.
Activities for Parents:
Lace up your walking boots and head off with a guide on a trek through the rural countryside.
If you’re looking for something more challenging then Itmenaan can organise a village walk and stay program through some of the most unspoiled villages in the Kumaon region.
Wander through the beautiful oak and rhododendron forests and stop for tea with the locals in one of the neighbouring villages.
Go bird watching by day and star gazing by night; the clear night skies are simply sublime. Read a book, enjoy the warmth of the evening campfire, play a game of badminton or challenge the family to a board game.
Drive to the local temples including Jageshwar that consists of around 124 stone temples dating between the 9th and 13th century AD. Other popular sites include Almora and Chital Temple.
Activities for Kids:
Explore the surrounding area home to beautiful plants, trees and animals. Families with younger children can hire a porter to help carry tired little legs.
Take a pony ride from the lodge and trample through the countryside on four friendly legs and enjoy a picnic lunch outside.
Join the in-house naturalist for a guided nature walk. Your knowledgeable guide will be able to point out the resident birds and butterflies as well as any creepy crawlies that might be lurking in the undergrowth!
Get your green fingers working when you help the gardeners tend to Itmenaan’s organic vegetable patch.
Run in the garden, play scrabble or badminton or borrow a book from the property’s reading library.
No doctor on call, the nearest hospital is in Almora, approx. 1 hr away. There is a medical room close to Itmenaan (20 min walk) with a doctor (daytime only), 1 extra bed permitted per room, laundry, pets allowed, travel desk.
At the time of writing rates were as follows:
Kafai Room: INR 6,767
Oak Room 1 & 2: INR 9,990
Deodar Cottage: INR 13,750
Infant to 5 yrs: complimentary
6 – 12 yrs: INR 1,528
13 yrs+: INR 1,826
Rates are per night per room based on 2 people sharing. Please contact the hotel for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.
When to go:
The Kumaon Hills can be visited throughout the year and every season boasts its own charms. The annual average maximum temperature is around 23C and the average minimum temperature is around 11C. September to November enjoy cool days and good mountain views. December to March is chilly with temperatures dropping down to around 4C. December and January are particularly cold but the views are fantastic during this time. It starts to get warm again in April and May and the views become hazy. However, it’s during these months that the rhododendrons bloom blanketing the hills in a rich red colour. July and August bring the rains.
Location & Travel:
Itmenaan Estate is located in the Kumaon Himalayas in Uttarakhand, India. The nearest airport is Pantnagar Airport (127 km 4 hr 20 min), however there are currently no scheduled flights to and from this airport. The next closest airport is at Delhi. Enquire when booking to see if scheduled flights to Pantnagar have resumed. The Hotel can arrange airport transfers for an additional cost. The nearest major train station is Kathgodam Railway Station (95 km, 3 hr 30 min).
Contact The HotelFor more information or to make a booking enquiry, visit the hotel’s own website by following the link below:
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