The Khyber Gulmarg is luxury in every way. I have now stayed with them twice and I felt thoroughly pampered on both (I was invited on the trips) the occasions. I was there in March 2013 and then in September 2014. On the recent trip one member of our team remarked- this looks like a luxury resort in European Alps.
As I have not stayed in a luxury resort in Alps, I cannot vouch, but then you get the general idea. This was the view from the balcony of my room. In March, the entire green area was white, as it was covered in snow.
There are things that have not changed since March 2013, like their excellent breakfast spread. They have much more beyond the fruit bowl, I am trying to encourage you to eat healthy by posting this photo. I personally love their South Indian spread.
But if you indulged in food right from the breakfast, do work it off in the all weather heated swimming pool. I managed to take a quick dip and then indulge in the Jacuzzi. This is a new addition, the swimming pool was being constructed in 2013. Two other additions are the spa and the gym. I have tried the spa and it is amazing, I could not check out the gym though.
The Khyber does excellent Kashmiri food. I love their nadru (lotus stem) but I am told that I miss out on a lot of good stuff by being a vegetarian. The saag and the paneer were also excellent. So, in relation to the food, the gym and the swimming pool are excellent additions, the guests need them!
This was my room at the Khyber and it was lovely. The rooms are heated. My March visit was pleasant in large measures because my room was heated. Otherwise it was way too cold. So, if you are looking for luxury in Gulmarg, you know where to go.
However, in September 2014, J&K was badly flooded. Even though Gulmarg was never affected and it is now ready to receive visitors, many would cancel the bookings and it is understandable. The resort is ready to receive visitors. The connecting roads are open. As I said when I visited Uttarakhand after the floods that if you wish to make a contribution, supporting tourism is one of the ways. Give it a thought.
Last month (was it really just last month!) I revisited The Khyber in Gulmarg. The agenda of this trip was getting pampered at The Kyber Spa by L’occitane. I was mailed the spa menu beforehand and I picked up Angelica as the facial and Revitalizing Aromachologie Massage. My facial was scheduled on day 1 and the massage on day 2. I was invited for this trip.
To be honest I have had facials only twice in my life, once in Levi, Finland and then at The Khyber about which I am writing! So when the young lady attending to my facial told me that I had some dark circles under my eyes and my skin was slightly dehydrated, I didn’t know what to make out of it. In the next moment she added- other than that you have a good skin!
I had picked up Angelica as my facial originally, but I was suggested to go for Immortelle instead, as it better suited my needs. The facial was an intense affair of 75 minutes. The process used 9 different ingredients from eye balm, toner, cream mask and many more. No wonder I came out glowing from the room. The cost of this treatment is Rs 4000 plus taxes.
The next day I was sitting in the waiting area before the massage session. The heated swimming pool is right next to the spa. I managed to get a quick swim before coming for the Revitalizing Aromachologie Massage. I was asked to fill a few details about myself on day 1 itself, so they didn’t ask for it again. After the session they take your feedback on a tab!
I will let you into a secret. I pick up the massages which sound the most fragrant. I picked up Revitalizing Aromachologie Massage for the same reason. They use mint, pine and rosemary essential oils and I was so happy with my choice. They work on the left side of the body in this massage and then attend to the corresponding right side. The lady attending to me would ask me at frequent intervals about my comfort. I had a blissful one hour where the various aches and pains became a thing of the past! Overall, I got an excellent dose of pampering at The Khyber Spa by L’occitane.
I am not a big fan of rainy weather. I absolutely detest it if I have to commute through rains. If you live in Gurgaon you know what it means generally. Before traveling to Gulmarg, I checked out the weather forecast and I was not thrilled at all. It predicted rain and then some more for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
True to the form when I reached Gulmarg, it was raining. I was staying at The Khyber (on invitation) and the property can be a destination in itself. I didn’t mind the rains on Friday as I was anyway tired. I have stayed there in March 2013 as well. I knew if the mist cleared up, there were tall mountains hiding behind it. But the mist just refused to budge!
Day two brought more of the same. It kept raining throughout. Gondola rides were canceled. We eventually went out in the rain around Gulmarg. I have trekked in rains but this was different. When you trek, you have to reach the other place, and only then you get to rest. However, in Gulmarg we had two vehicles at our disposal and we were just a short distance away from the resort. I could get out of the rain whenever I wanted.
I have to say there is something about the rains if you have to take it in short doses. Since I have usually faced it on a trek, I never became a fan. This time when I just started enjoying the rains a little bit, I almost got caught in the Kashmir Floods. I had seen a lot of flood pictures but I never saw it with my eyes. What I saw this time has left me shaken. Nothing comes close to the fury of nature.
PS. This post is part of Skywatch Friday. Do check it out.
I visited The Khyber at Gulmarg in March. And even though I have been to Ladakh is Jammu and Kashmir this was my first visit to Kashmir region. Gulmarg is the only place in Kashmir that I was able to explore. I visited the place at their invitation and what a grand place it was! Gulmarg has many hotels but The Khyber is a brand new one and it is aimed at the luxury end. The hotel has no bar though.
My Room at the Khyber, Gulmarg
This was my room at the Khyber Gulmarg and it was gorgeous. The bathroom was equally lavish with a sunken bathtub as well. What did I like about my room most? The view from the room. Actually The Khyber has been featured in the CN Traveller under the ‘Room with a View’ category and I completely agree with their estimate. The rooms and the entire hotel is centrally heated and I needed it for sure. It was cold and snowing mildly even in March.
As the Dusk Falls, Gulmarg
My room had a lovely balcony and the mountains opposite it would catch the light at sunset. So this picture was taken right from my own balcony. Apart from my balcony, the Chaikash was my most frequented area where I had numerous cups of Kahwa.
The Mountain in my Room, The Khyber, Gulmarg
Another aspect that completely fascinated me was the mountains in my room! The room had huge mirrors all around and the one next to the bed reflected the mountains! I usually like to read a book when I am in my room but at The Khyber I would be quite distracted my these mountains inside my room and I hardly read anything! So in the picture above what you actually see is the mountains in my room mirror and not outside.
High Tea, The Khyber Gulmarg
The food in general is good at the place but I specially enjoyed two things, the high tea and the Kashmiri lunch. The high tea has assorted chat items and is a riot. And the staff believes in Indian hospitality that means they will stuff you till you can really truly eat no more!
The Wazwan (Kashmiri) menu was exotic as well. It has Galauti Kebab (Veg n Non Veg), Methi chaman- paneer ( Indian cottage cheese) dish with fenugreek leaves and spinach gravy along with Haaq Saag (Collard greens) followed by Dum Aloo and Rista (Non-Veg) fine minced meat balls in red gravy. It also had Nadru Yakhni which Lotus roots cooked with mild aromatic spices and yogurt. I ate only the veg options and I have never tasted such Kebab in my life they literally melt in the mouth! We ate in a Tarami- a traditional hand carved Kashmiri thali sitting on the cushions on the floor. This was a truly memorable experience.
Snow at Gulmarg
If you are looking for a luxury hotel in Gulmarg you are definitely going to enjoy your stay at The Khyber. I will add only one word of caution. Sometimes the road from Srinagar to Gulmarg is tense and you need to figure that out before you start to have a peaceful travel. In almost all instances your hotel will know the road conditions and advice you accordingly. Do listen to them,