This year Valentine’s Day has landed on a Thursday making it a great excuse to ask for a leave and make it a long weekend trip. If that’s not possible, you can always postpone the celebrations and plan the trip a day or so later over the weekend. Travel is something which is very close to our hearts and our ideal gift to each other is a trip together. Thus our gift to you, our readers is a guide to our trip shortlist for this year’s Valentine’s Day celebrations. To make things even easier for you, we will also be sharing our favourite hotels for the destination as well. We are awesome like that!
Bikaner in Rajasthan is not a wildly popular destination, primarily for the lack of a dedicated airport near it. That’s pretty much changed now that it has a civilian airport with a couple of direct flights from Delhi & Jaipur via Alliance Air. It’s still not as widely connected as we would’ve liked but its fast getting there. You can spend your sunsets on the sand dunes or at the lovely fort, both making for wonderful locations to whisper sweet nothings to each other. Think of it as another Jaisalmer, but without the tourists. It can’t get any better than this especially since the weather is still nice enough.
Our recommended hotel to experience Bikaner in its full glory is a relatively new hotel which has also found its way to the list of the world’s best hotels, Narendra Bhawan. An eclectic confluence of the ancient grandeur and the sharp modernity, the luxurious hotel is a case study in design and boasts of a luxurious experience. This Valentines, travel as a Maharaja & Maharani. With rajasthani hospitality and this being a former residence of the Maharaja of Bikaner, it definitely checks all the boxes!
DISCLAIMER: We have visited Bikaner but haven’t stayed at this hotel. The experience recounted is based on reviews from friends who have and information shared by the property.
Hampi is a surprise entry to this list and is purely based on our experience there last year. A small archaeological town with possibly more ruins than modern buildings, Hampi has found its way to this list on the strength of its gorgeous location, spectacular (and well preserved) ruins and possibly because it’s still not quite on the mass tourists horizon. That said we saw quite a few backpackers and locals who’ve made it their haunt exactly because of the above reasons. Although there is a lot to do, our greatest takeaway was that it gave us one of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve seen. Climb the Matanga hill, select a boulder with an open view and wait for the sun to set. You won’t need much more to make your valentine’s day perfect.
Our recommended hotel in Hampi is Evolve back resorts. Formerly known as Orange county resorts, they are a premier name in responsible luxury hospitality. Think of a sprawling modern day palace with even the basic category rooms having jacuzzi’s, Add to it lovely food, an energizing spa and attention to detail over even the little things you would normally nit-pick over and you’ve described Evolveback Hampi. If budget isn’t an issue, we probably wouldn’t stay with anyone else in Hampi. There are very few hospitality brands who walk the talk when it comes to Responsible travel and what better to share our love for travel than to support a hotel who shares our love for the environment as well!
Check out our review for Evolve back Hampi
There are few places closer to Rishabh’s heart than Goa and although we would normally avoid this cliché’ destination for our list for Valentine’s Day, we couldn’t help but place it here. There are few things one needs to say about Goa except that most of us have probably not seen it in its entirety. Have you had freshly baked Pao’s from a family owned bakery, gone kayaking on one of the rivers or possibly the mangroves, or possibly enjoyed boating in a lake in a part of goa surrounded not by beaches and the sea but lush green forests and hills? The answer for most of our friends and possibly you, our readers will be a big No. So this Valentine’s try and live the real Goa. Hit us up for tips on how and where to do it!
There are so many hotels to recommend in Goa that we cannot get started on it. Therefore we will go with a hotel we were introduced to recently and one we would possibly wish to experience in our next trip there, Novotel Goa Dona Sylvia Resort. Coming from a big hospitality brand like the AccorHotels group, you can expect all the basic luxuries. However the thing that excites us most that it has tried to create an authentic Goan experience with a mix of contemporary and local heritage Portuguese architecture. Designed like a small village with its own private beach on the wonderful south Goa beach of Cavelossim it is probably safe to say, love is in the air.
DISCLAIMER: We have visited Goa many times but haven’t stayed at this hotel. The experience recounted is based on reviews and information shared by the property.
Alternately, You can check out our review of the beautiful Coco Shambhala in Goa as well.
Binsar, nestled as a sleepy hamlet in the Kumaon Himalayas is possibly the best open secret of the region. It offers amazing views of the ranges and is surrounded by a wildlife sanctuary and orchards, with the entire forest filled with oaks and the fiery Rhododendrons just about to bloom. It is still winters in Binsar so don’t forget to carry your woollens and possibly a big warm shawl to snuggle in , right in front of the cackling bonfire as the sun sets and the temperature plummets.
It was a tough choice for the hotel recommendation so we finally went with a boutique hotel we’ve been eyeing to visit since a long time. Mary Budden Estate is not your usual hotel, infact it is closer to a luxury homestay than a hotel and which is another reason why it finds its way to our recommendation list. They promote environmental and cultural sustainability which is always a plus in our books but what makes them perfect for couples is that you get to unwind and reconnect with nature with very few neighbours to disturb you. Think long walks in the forest, a clear view of the Himalayan ranges and by what we hear, great food to top it all up! If there were Pizzas served every night, Rishabh would possibly never come back, to say nothing of Nirali!
DISCLAIMER: We have never visited Binsar or stayed at this hotel. The experience recounted is based on personal reviews of people we trust and information shared by the property.
You can instead check out our review of the lovely hotel called Soulitude by the Himalayas in Gagar, a scant 85Km’s away.
Gulmarg in Kashmir is a long pending entry to any list on our website. We really feel it is a place which has been receiving less love than it deserves recently for the obvious reason of its location. That said, its beauty cannot be ignored and nor should it, especially in February where there is still a good chance of experiencing snowfall. Kashmir is often referred to as Paradise on earth and the same still holds true for Gulmarg. Enjoy the slow Gondola ride up the Ski slopes or better still get into a snowball fight with your better half, it is stuff romantic movies are made of.
We’ve only ever heard of one luxury hotel which does justice to the Gulmarg experience, Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa. Perched with a beautiful wide-open view of the mountains and pine trees, every nook and cranny within the hotel is a view point. Distance wise it is just 5 minutes from the Gondola Office and possibly has the best view a swimming pool can offer. A swimming pool you ask? Well, there is a different level of joy in swimming in a temperature controlled pool with glass panels looking out to the Himalayas! Doesn’t get cooler than that. There is no one single thing that makes it great for couples, it’s the entire experience and we’re told it’s a mighty fine one at that.
DISCLAIMER: We have visited Gulmarg but haven’t stayed at this hotel. The experience recounted is based on reviews and information shared by the property.
There is no limit to the number of destinations or hotels we can include in this list. Infact it was a painful to shortlist just five. However, as we mentioned earlier, this is our list for 2019 Valentine’s Day (or whenever you may choose to celebrate it). If you are planning to visit some other destination feel free to shout out in our comments of social media. We’ll be sure to consider it for our future shortlists (and possibly our own trips to the region).
You can also check out our 2018 Valentine’s Day list for interesting ideas.
Wish you guys a very Happy Valentine’s Day!