The Best Places to Stay in Shimla, India

Magnificent views of the majestic Himalayas can be enjoyed from the spa of Wildflower Hall
Magnificent views of the majestic Himalayas can be enjoyed from the spa of Wildflower Hall | Courtesy of Wildflower Hall, An Oberoi Resort, Shimla / Expedia
Ariel Sophia Bardi

The capital of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla, is a hilltop city in northern India that’s famed for its Himalayan views, clear mountain air, faded colonial architecture and cool climate – all of which combine in its best hotels and resorts, bookable on Culture Trip.

Blessedly cool in the summer months – and often carpeted by snow and obscured by mist in the winter – Shimla is a calm oasis in comparison to India’s more chaotic cities (Delhi, we’re looking at you). That’s also thanks to its traffic-free centre, with narrow streets criss-crossing the city’s main vein Mall Road, and leading to historic, Raj-era hotels and crisp, new-build boutiques with distant views of the snow-capped Himalayas. Here are the best places to stay in Shimla, India.

1. Wildflower Hall, an Oberoi resort, Shimla


A rooftop pool, yellow sunbeds and views out to the mountains and forest at Wildflower Hall
Courtesy of Wildflower Hall / Expedia

This manor-style five-star Oberoi resort was once the estate of Lord Kitchener, commander-in-chief of the colonial British Army during the days of the British Raj. It still has an atmosphere of old-world splendour, from its immaculate rooms with Victoria-era touchpoints to the private chef-catered meals that can be arranged in the elegant hall or outdoor gazebo. The spa boasts Himalayan views from an open-air whirlpool tub and daily yoga sessions.

2. Clarkes Hotel, a grand heritage hotel since 1898

Hotel, Luxury

White tables and chairs on the lawn at Clarkes Hotel in Shimla
Courtesy of Clarkes Hotel, A grand heritage hotel since 1898 /

This hotel was the very first property of luxury hotelier Oberoi, which is now practically a household name. Located right on bustling Mall Road, the five-star heritage property is a 10-minute drive from the train station and within walking distance of many of the former British hill station’s leading attractions. The panoramic terrace and Raj-era dining room overlook the city centre, while the 18th-century bar serves up classic cocktails to order.

3. Hotel Willow Banks

Boutique Hotel, Spa Hotel

The open-air restaurant at Hotel Willow Banks, with a view of the city from the terrace
Courtesy of Hotel Willow Banks /

This historic Mall Road estate was once owned by a colonial-era British architect, nicknamed the “builder of Shimla”. Located in a central spot, the hotel has crisp, spacious rooms, some with interconnecting doors and kitchenettes. There’s also a wellness spa, beauty salon and no fewer than three food and drink spots: a panoramic rooftop bar; a cafe featuring weekend live music and cuisine from around the world (even wood-fired pizzas); and a trendy restaurant serving a mishmash of Indian and Asian dishes.

4. Shimla Havens Resort


A bed, bedside table with lamp, and TV in a hotel room at Shimla Havens Resort
Courtesy of Shimla Havens Resort /

This Himalayan hideaway comprises a sprawling, 2.4ha (6 acre) estate filled with pine and cedar forests, in between spectacular displays of rhododendron blossoms. Stroll the stately grounds with a cup of masala chai, explore colonial-era local attractions or use the hotel as a launchpad for hotel-led activities. Adrenaline junkies will get a kick out of waterfall rappelling and jumaring (climbing) excursions, while rope bridge crossings and group treasure hunts will appeal to families.

5. The Oberoi Cecil, Shimla

Resort, Independent Hotel

The magnificent lobby and bar of the Oberoi Cecil, Shimla, with plush armchairs and tables, and view of several floors of the hotel above
Courtesy of The Oberoi Cecil, Shimla / Expedia

Another historic Oberoi hotel, this elegantly furnished heritage property once hosted fashionable balls during Shimla’s reign as the British summer capital. Period touches add to the hotel’s charm, from teak-wood floors and an atrium lobby to homely, in-room fireplaces. Optional add-ons include a four-course candlelit dinner or a guided walk through local cedar forests. Families with kids will appreciate the children’s activity centre, stocked with toys and video game consoles.

6. Snow Valley Resorts


The dining buffet area with dishes on the counter at Snow Valley Resorts
Courtesy of Snow Valley Resorts /

Surrounded by tall pine trees, this modern, reliable resort offers the usual range of temperature-controlled and TV-equipped rooms, many with spectacular mountain views. Half-board package accommodation includes your choice of an American or Indian breakfast and dinner. The play area and game room has ping pong and foosball tables, so bring your competitive streak.

7. Club Mahindra Mashobra

Resort, Spa Hotel

A bed, coffee table and couch in a hotel room at Club Mahindra Mashobra
Courtesy of Club Mahindra Mashobra /

This mammoth, mountain-view resort is ideal for travellers looking for plenty of in-resort activities. Choices include dim sum-making sessions, stargazing and guided yoga excursions, as well as candlelit dinners by the bonfire and glitzy, Bollywood-themed nights. Expect comfortable rooms and amenities within a sprawling, ultra-modern residence, and venture outside for hotel-organised outdoor excursions such as trekking routes and hiking trails, village tours and a bathing trip to a local hot spring.

8. Koti Resorts, Himachal Pradesh


A bed, chairs and table in a hotel room at Koti Resorts, Himachal Pradesh
Courtesy of Koti Resorts, Himachal Pradesh /

Near the misty, high-altitude hill town of Mashobra, a 30-minute drive from Shimla, this hilltop resort consists of 54 rooms with a fun Swiss chalet aesthetic at a soaring height of 2,012m (6,600ft) above sea level. A special golf-lovers package includes three 18-hole rounds at nearby Naldehra Golf Club, while others offer jeep safaris, river rafting and mountain trails. All rooms have sweeping views of the surrounding apple orchards and cedar forests, but premium suites have the added bonus of an in-room jacuzzi tub.

9. Hotel Marina Shimla

Boutique Hotel

A bed, armchair, glass tables and a bathroom in a hotel room at Hotel Marina in Shimla
Courtesy of Hotel Marina /

You might rub shoulders with Bollywood stars at this sleek boutique hotel, which prides itself on its glittering litany of past guests. The British-era structure was demolished and rebuilt in 2012 with gleaming marble floors and chandeliers that add to the already-opulent setting. The accommodation ranges from garden-view rooms to sprawling suites for four guests. All this splendour is just a short walk from Mall Road and close to plenty of the major Shimla attractions, including ancient churches and the Shimla State Museum.

10. Regenta Resort & Spa Mashobra

Resort, Spa Hotel, Hotel

The bright red-pink rooftops of Regenta Resort and Spa Mashobra perched on the mountains around Shimla
Courtesy of Regenta Resort and Spa Mashobra / Expedia

With its cherry-red rooftops and alpine style, this Mashobra hotel and spa complex features incredible views of the Himalayan foothills and the surrounding valleys. Rooms are airy and tastefully decorated, with cottage-style furnishings and a Nordic colour palette. The multi-cuisine restaurant has an outdoor seating area when weather permits. No organised activities are offered, but the hotel is a convenient driving distance to hot-water springs, the Italian villa of Craignano and the nearby forest reserve.

Alternatively, if it’s business you’re after, Delhi might be the one for you. Read about why you should check out the hectic Indian territory and the best hotels in the area. Be sure to make the most of the glorious food it has to offer, before indulging in an evening cocktail, of course.
This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Poonam Binayak. Florence Derrick contributed additional reporting.

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