I was biting my nails while boarding the Northwest Airlines from Detroit. Navita, my fiancée, waiting in Delhi, was biting hers too. It was December, a month of fog in north India, and had the flight got delayed, we would have missed our wedding date. Though the airline did its job on time, the wedding experience, with intense ceremonies, had left us exhausted; and with shorter nails. At the time, the idea of honeymoons seemed tailor-made for us to revive and relax. To do so, we chose to head to the Himalayas. Shimla, the summer capital of British India, has this legend- it snows on Christmas.
Navita had booked us at The Oberoi Cecil. Its fabled building was built over a century ago and it exuded a peculiar colonial character. In its vicinity, on the Observatory Hill, modern history was crafted when India and Pakistan signed the Simla Accord in 1972. The famous Ridge and the Mall Road are a leisurely walk away. The legacy of Kalka-Shimla locomotive continues from its nearby station. If you love outdoors, the esoteric Glen valley and pine forest make for an ideal hike from here. Looked one way, Cecil, close to popular places to visit and yet tucked in a quiet corner of the city, offered a slice of history and nature to step in to. As the cab stopped outside and a bellman held its door open for Navita, I glanced at her in wide-eyed amazement, and silently nodded my approval for her choice.
The warmth from the fireplaces behind the revolving doors at this luxury property was just right to soothe our nerves. While its reception had the spirit of hospitality, the softly lit atrium, behind it, held an aroma of heritage. Its polished wooden floors, finely crafted seating and cushions, tall doors and ceiling, the skylight above; all weaved a common narrative. A bar at the end of the courtyard with a vintage piano on its side made the picture perfect. The lounge was complimented by Cedar gardens, opposite the main building, if you preferred a bonfire out in the chilly weather. Later that evening we were treated to a celebratory cake and a bottle of Champagne, in what made for a relaxed one in many weeks.
Guest rooms surrounded three sides of the courtyard and its old world charm followed in. As we unlocked the door, a carved wooden screen, about two-feet inside, stood tall to secure privacy. The rooms were crafted with elegance - solid teak boarded the floor, art pieces adorned its walls, tastefully chosen linen and soft cushions dressed up a king size bed, antique-style lamps lit up its sides. A couch and a vintage bureau desk decorated the far corners flanking a large window offering stunning views of cedar covered Himalayas. The room had a walk-in wardrobe with a locker to keep your valuables and a granite and marble bathroom with a full length bathtub. Oh yes, it is easy to get used to comforts.
Over the next few days, we took day excursions to nearby places such as Mashobra and Naldhera and enjoyed hikes across the quiet Glen valley. Or, simply ordered delicacies from the elaborate house menu. On the last day of our stay, soft rays from a tranquil dawn lured us to laze in bed, with our heads buried in the pile of pillows, until room service nudged. Cecil had spoilt us. Its hospitality and the ever so-elusive white Christmas would draw us back.
Book Your Stay at The Oberoi Cecil, Shimla!