Last Saturday, we visited the Stanmore Bungalow, which is located at the hills of Valparai. We had other exquisite hill stations on list, but we zeroed in on Valparai after being assured a lucrative deal.
We had to drive through 40 hairpin bends to reach Valparai. The jaw-dropping views and refreshing climate made the drive enjoyable.
Valparai town was somewhat chaotic and messy too, but the short trip towards the Stanmore property was so promising and revealed a world of endless greenery, small temples and churches and a wealth of astounding views.
There are a couple of dams, rivers and meadows, which are easily accessible from the Stanmore property. A lot of unexplored tunnels are present near the dams, which can be visited only with proper guidance from the local drivers. Trekking can be done in the nearby peaks and the optimal time is from 5:30-7:00 AM.
Stanmore Bungalow is an extensive property nestled amidst the realms of sprawling tea estate plantations. One can relish in the sheer pleasure of panoramic views, cloud-covered roads and charming people around the bungalow. If you are that city dweller who wants to escape the hustle and bustle of routine life, this place is for you.
There is an old-fashioned bungalow and 3-4 wooden chalets, all of which are well maintained for a decent stay. We stayed in one of the wooden chalets for a day, checked out and stayed in the bungalow for another day. The whole property is surrounded by a scenic garden full of flowers, most of them, to my knowledge are exotic. You can actually smell their sweet fragrance, when you walk by the lanes.
The bungalow offers vintage luxury accommodation. It is elegantly furnished with antique furniture and expensive decors . Various black and white photographs that are hung around the rooms remind you of those good, ol’ childhood days spent in Grandma’s house – the best moment to reminisce for most of us.
Some parts of the bungalow seemed to have been renovated recently, but the owner has been cautious not to lose the vintage looks of the property. You can witness this in the switch boards and cement partitions amidst the stones. Great efforts, I’d say.
The reading room in the bungalow had a big book which was composed of various landscape paintings from the 18th century. A pot full of nostalgia, I would say. There was a detailed description after every painting. The names of the historical places had a different spelling. Example, Tirunelveli was written as Tinneveli, Mysore as Mysoor etc. Such a gripping book it was, I totally disregarded the other travel magazines. Even the neatly stacked Reader’s Digest books (my usual favorites) in the room didn’t steal as much attention as the 18th century paintings.
Bird-watching can be done round the clock, but the best time is from 5 AM – 6:30 AM, when the flock of birds fly close to the balcony and sing gracefully.
I should also tell you about the squirrels of Valparai. They are plumpy, dark and larger than the squirrels that roam around our houses. You may find it almost everywhere in Stanmore bungalow. If only the tails weren’t there, I’d have mistaken them for Guinea pigs.
Now, let me share my experience in the Stanmore Wooden Chalets. I’ve never stayed in a wooden house before, so I found this to be well-designed. The room had decent amount of space to walk, the bed was low-lying and super-comfy. There was also a wooden closet and a dressing table. The wooden chalets are built leaving ample space between each other, so privacy is assured during the stay. Huge trees and wet grasslands that are spread across, make a serene front view.
Uninterrupted hot and cold water supply was available. Towels were fresh and white. But the bathroom was already wet before we had used. The wooden corners of the bathroom were slightly broken. I also smelled someone else’s shampoo (Pantene) all over the floor. Shampoos and Moisturizers were provided. But one of the moisturizer bottles had fungus around its sealed (yet leaking) cap. Undoubtedly, a jab of disappointment for the clean-freak in me.
View from the balcony is something not to be missed. You can see the plush green tea estates, enchanting valleys, along with the flora and fauna of the land, with all its glory.
If you want to eat and experiment with a variety of food items and drinks, this is most certainly not the place. On the other hand, local cuisines offered here come with a homely taste. We had dosa, idlis, aapam along with chutney, sambhar, kadala curry respectively. At night, we had chapatis, veg fried rice, paneer butter masala and gobi roast. There was only one dessert for dinner. Simply said, they never really give a big menu for us to choose, but the quality of whatever they give cannot be complained.
As a foodaholic, I expected a bouffage and the choices were slightly disappointing.
Overall, I heartily enjoyed being at Stanmore Bungalow and would never hesitate to make another attempt to visit again, for its guaranteed privacy, luxury accommodation and infinite biodiversity.
Mommy Rating : ✯✯✯✯