Reviewd by Carolynn Shaw
Why you’ll love Sherlock
The one thing that Ooty does not want for are colonial mansions but few enjoy the same 180-degree views that Sherlock does. Originally built in 1900 as a private summer residence, this Victorian home is today a small, family-friendly hotel with some of the best panoramas in town.
With only nine bedrooms it’s compact and cosy – more akin to the home of a great aunt than the inside of a hotel. The Edwardian décor lends itself naturally to the Sherlock Holmes theme and each bedroom is named after a Holmesian caper. There are open fires roar in every bedroom, a large living room with a fireplace, bookcases and a chess set, and expansive lawns perfect for afternoon tea.
The location on the outskirts of Ooty is ideal; you can easily visit the sights and then retreat to the peace and quiet of your hotel at the end of the day. In short, it’s a delightful mountain retreat.
Why the kids will love Sherlock
Sherlock might not promote itself as a family destination – there are no dedicated kids’ activities for example – but the fact that it’s run as a family home makes this a lovely destination for families with children of all ages.
Given its compact size it’s easy to let kids wander around the place on their own without worrying where they’ve disappeared to. The staff are fantastic and make every effort to provide whatever you need and the grassy lawns make an ideal play area. In fact, the only thing to be aware of (particularly if travelling with curious little globetotters) are the open fireplaces, although the ones in the bedrooms are only lit upon request.
There’s a lot to do in Ooty with kids and this hillside home provides the perfect respite at the end of day of lookouts, train rides and bee museums.
The nine spacious bedrooms, all named after Holmesian adventures, have been divided into Executive, Standard and Luxury rooms. Five luxury rooms are positioned in a newer annex off the original house and benefit from a private sun porch where you can sit and enjoy the views and keep an eye on the children. Another luxury room, Black Peter, is located in the main part of the house. The luxury rooms are the only rooms to come with tea/coffee making facilities.
The two standard rooms are also housed within the original building. Gloria Scott overlooks the parking area and the mountains beyond and is accessed via the dining area. Three Gables is located near the breakfast area and does not have a view.
Baskervilles is the only executive room and is situated near the breakfast room. All the bathrooms have showers only. The rooms all have a TV.
The décor is simple and homely and the Sherlock Holmes theme refreshingly subtle. A framed quote from the tale that the room is named after hangs on the walls alongside one or two additional photos and some Holmes memorabilia. It’s worth noting that all the rooms have an open fire but no fireguard – these fires are only lit on requests and hot water bottles are provided at night.
Best rooms for families: The luxury rooms are a great option for families owing their size and the sun lounge where you can sit in the evening while the kids sleep. The views from here are also fantastic. Families with younger children and infants might prefer the proximity of the standard rooms to the breakfast and dining rooms. A baby monitor will stretch from most rooms. All rooms can accommodate one extra bed maximum.
Food: Breakfast is served in a light-filled breakfast room and lunch and dinner are served in the Irene Adler dining room – named after Holmes’ ‘perfect woman’.
The breakfast buffet includes a selection of Indian breakfasts, cornflakes, eggs cooked to order, toast, croissant and donuts as well as coffees and teas.
The lunch and dinner menu is extensive with continental, Indian and Chinese dishes on offer and the food is very good.
Snacks are available throughout the day although there is no dedicated full day dining menu. Tea is served anytime on the lawns.
For Kids: There is no dedicated kids’ menu however there is a lot of the main menu that will appeal to children including pasta dishes. The kitchen are generally happy to accommodate requests and are also happy to serve half-portions for younger children.
Activities for Parents:
Soak up Ooty’s stunning views from a variety of viewpoints including Doddabetta Lookout that at 2633m is the highest point of the Nilgris. Go early for the best chance of fog-free views.
Other snap worthy spots include the pastoral scenery at Wenlock Downs, the Coimbatore plains and tea estates seen from Lambs Rock and the uniquely shaped Dolphin’s Nose that offers inspiring views of Catherine Falls.
Visit the Rose Park, the largest rose garden in India. Ooty’s climate is perfect for growing roses and today these gardens are home to more than 20,000 varieties of bloom. Learn to brew the perfect cup of tea on a tour around one of the local tea factories. Be prepared, however, some of the tours are very quick!
Take a walk around Ooty’s Botanical Gardens that were originally established in 1847 by the British. The gardens cover 22 hectares and offer plenty of space to roam as well as a handful of glasshouses home to exotic plans.
Enjoy a guided tour around the Tribal Research Centre Museum, home to a motley collection of exhibits, some rather sorry looking taxidermy experiments and some genuinely fascinating exhibits. Definitely an original experience.
Relax in the gardens at Sherlock with a good book, enjoy a cup of tea while admiring the views or, if you’re feeling energetic, ask the hotel to arrange a horse-riding or fishing trip.
Activities for Kids:
Climb aboard the miniature train that chugs up the mountain from Mettupalayam to Ooty. It’s a charming railway ride with stunning scenery; make sure to get a seat on the left hand side of the train for the best mountain views. For families with younger kids it’s possible to get on at Coonoor making for a shorter ride.
Try to find the fossilised tree trunk at the heart of the Botanical Gardens; it’s believed to be around 20 million years old!
Visit Sherlock’s sister property, Destiny, just 6 km away, where you can go horse-riding, try rappelling, go fishing or putting. Destiny also organises treks and nature walks into the hills.
Brush up on your Indian history with a visit to Wax Museum in Ooty home to numerous historical Indian figures.
Head to the excellent Honey & Bee Museum that was original started by an NGO to inform visitors about honey harvesting and the tribal groups in Tamil Nadu. There’s a children’s activity room and a live demonstration units of bees.
Go rowing on Ooty Lake or visit Sims Park and the children’s playground in Coonoor, just 20 km from Ooty itself.
Spot tigers in the Bandipur National Park and Tiger Reserve that lies on the route to Ooty. As well as regal cats the park is home to Indian giant squirrels, elephants, gray langurs and more.
Common rooms, baby cots available, doctor on call, nearest hospital 5km away, extra beds, laundry, pushchair-friendly, travel desk, WiFi.
When to go:
Ooty can be enjoyed at any time of year although the best – and most popular – months are from October to June. The winters (November to January) enjoy sunny days and cooler climes; the evenings in particular can be cold. From March to May the average daytime temperatures range between 15 and 20C. The monsoon rains arrive in June and fall into September making these months wet but the area is lush and green. From April to June Ooty gets very busy; if travelling during these months be sure to book your accommodation well in advance.
Location & Travel:
Sherlock is located 5 km outside Ooty in Tamil Nadu, India. The nearest airport is in Coimbatore, 95 km (3 hrs) from Ooty itself. From here there are regular direct flights to Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai. Indian Airlines flies Delhi to Kochi via Mumbai and Coimbatore. Ooty Railway station is 5 km from Sherlock however the closest main railhead is at Mettupalayam, 50 km (1.5 – 2 hrs drive). Mettupalayam is connected to Ooty by a mountain railway that takes 4.5 hours owing to the steep incline – Ooty stands at 2,600 metres.