A Big fat Indian wedding took us to the hills of Mussoorie, there we were with band, baaja, baaraat, all set to enjoy the festivities for the next 4 days at the spectacular and surreal JW Marriott Walnut Grove.
We have family in Mussoorie and that’s always a reason to keep going back, this was my 7th trip, and I pretty much consider myself to be a local by now, though my knowledge is restricted to mostly “Best Places to Live” and “Best Places to Eat”! The first two trips were dedicated to taking in the sights but after that it was all about experiences, finding the quaintest little cafe’s to eat (some of the best food I’ve ever eaten) and little boutique hotels and resorts with the most magnificent views and amazing hospitality.
So when our close friend decided to tie the knot at Marriott Walnut Grove as the destination we were more than happy to go back, I was already dreaming of all the yummy food, butter chicken and sizzlers at Tavern, the fruit cream at Chick Chocolate, the baked goodies at Landour Bakehouse and my favourite dishes from Clock Tower Cafe were floating in front of my eyes, but mostly I was also really excited about staying at the gorgeous JW Marriott Walnut Grove.
We took a direct flight from Mumbai to Dehradun, it was roughly a 2 and a half hour flight and then the drive from Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport to Marriott Walnut Grove was another 2 hours. Nestled in the picturesque hills of Garhwal, amidst valleys and mountains, towering oaks and dense forests, the Marriott Walnut Grove is dramatic in its setting. The drive to the resort was beautiful, through winding roads and mountains, by the time we reached the Marriott it was evening and the setting sun made for some really spectacular views. Check-in was smooth and quick, since we were wedding guests there was a dedicated set of staff looking after us at Reception and while the formalities were being taken care of, I took a few moments to take in the exquisite surroundings.
The lobby was a huge expanse of glass and contemporary furniture with oversized glass doors opening onto terraces with drop dead gorgeous views of the Himalayas. The resort is built in such a beautiful way, that it doesn’t disrupt the beauty of the surrounding landscape, it just merges into this majestic setting, offering strikingly beautiful views from every part of the property and easily blending the modern with the local. I’m a big believer of first impressions and my first impression of Walnut Grove was that of luxury, nature and peace. Away from the hustle bustle of the city I was already feeling a wave of calm settling over me, Walnut Grove left me with not just a first impression but with an unforgettable one.
The Resort has 115 rooms and almost all of them have breathtaking views of the valley and mountains around, there are various categories to choose from and we stayed in the Deluxe Room. The rooms were spacious and elegantly designed, all very modern, plush and luxurious in a quiet understated way, I really liked the aesthetics of the rooms as I personally prefer quiet luxury to opulence. My favourite part of the room was of course the balcony where we spent every morning with our cups of tea taking in the fresh mountain air and gazing out across the Himalayas.
Though we were there to attend the wedding our days were relatively free as most of the functions were at night, we managed to make the most of our daytime hours and tried out as many restaurants as we could. The hotel has 5 restaurants specialising in different cuisines, the food and service was excellent wherever we went. The JW Cafe is their all day dining restaurant serving international cuisine, breakfast was served here every morning and other than the usual staples they served some really delicious local specialities. The cafe opens up onto a terrace with splendid views and was the perfect place to enjoy our hot yummy breakfast everyday.
We’d been given so many recommendations by friends who’d visited earlier and we pretty much tried them all! We had lunch at the Wisteria Deck famous for its wood oven pizzas, as promised they were excellent and so was the tiramisu, we also managed to get a cup of hot chocolate at the Perch which is their beautiful open terrace lounge with stunning views all around, we wanted to go back for cocktails but din’t really have the time, we also didn’t get a chance to try out Teppan, their asian restaurant, the icing on the cake though was our dinner at Trout House Grill & Bar. We stayed on an extra night after the wedding and our dinner on the last night was at the hotel’s very popular Trout House Grill & Bar, known for its amazing Indian cuisine, if you love your kebabs & curries you must not miss out on eating here.
All the restaurants had not just excellent food but fabulous ambience as well, most of them offered open air seating with sweeping views of the mountains and valleys around. I personally love eating outdoors, everything just tastes better and the whole dining experience just becomes so much more special. I think I was in a food coma throughout my stay at the hotel, apart from the restaurants, the food served at all the wedding functions was delectable and the setting was mesmerising, be it the Pheras at the mountain top, the sangeet at the banquet with views of the valley, or the outdoor dining setup, it was all so surreal, just pure magic. The staff was always attentive and courteous and their attention to detail was commendable.
Since we were short on time, we missed out on a couple of fun experiences. If you’re up for a bit of trekking, the hotel arranges this whole breakfast for you in the middle of a spring, not beside it but inside it. You specifically have to ask for this experience when you book your stay as it requires planning, they take you out on a small hike to the stream and set up the entire buffet by the stream with your table in the water. Imagine sitting amidst scenic mountains with water gushing at your feet and a full service hot meal being served! Also don’t miss out on eating at The Botanical Cafe, the hotel’s Greenhouse where they grow exotic flowers and fresh herbs which are used in their kitchens. You must eat a meal here surrounded by all the flowers in bloom, the sweet smelling herbs and the sunlight filtering through the glass roof.
The hotel also has a huge entertainment centre for kids with a two lane bowling alley, gaming consoles and a play area for toddlers which was was really convenient as it kept them all entertained and occupied throughout. In terms of activities the hotel offers unique experiences which you won’t find anywhere else, you do have to book them in advance though. The things I found interesting and would want to try out were the outdoor activities, picnics, camping, yoga, treks, walking trails to explore the panoramic mountainside and the experiential outdoor dining options. I guess you can’t really take in everything the JW Marriott Mussoorie has to offer in such a short time, 4 to 5 days would be ideal if you want to try out the outdoorsy stuff.
After the 3 action packed wedding days the 4th day was all about relaxing! After a lazy morning and long breakfast we went for a swim to the hotels indoor temperature controlled pool, which was amazing with floor to ceiling windows and superb views of the mountains before us, we followed it up with a rejuvenating massage at the Cedar Spa by L’occitane which was luxurious with excellent therapists, exactly what I’d expect from a L’occitane spa. The rest of the evening was spent taking a long walk around the property, appreciating the finer details and breathtaking views from every corner, and realising how extraordinarily beautiful Marriott Walnut Grove actually was. We finished it off with a huge, delicious, table breaking dinner at the Trout House Grill & Bar. All in all it was the perfect way to spend our last day and we were left refreshed and relaxed.
Saying goodbye to Walnut Grove was difficult, the last 4 days had felt like we’d been suspended in time, in a beautiful wonderland, away from the stresses of daily routines and the busyness of city life. Even though we attended a wedding with all its entailing drama, this trip to the mountains and this resort left us feeling peaceful and yet invigorated. It’s always a great idea to get away from the rat race and pollution of our cities, and being up in the hills with the fresh cold mountain air, the greenery and the calm surroundings gave us the perfect chance to pause, reflect and press the reset button before heading back to our crazy lives.
About the Author – Kirti is an ardent traveller who loves exploring new places, cuisines, and cultures. The wind beneath her wings is her pilot husband who joins her in this wanderlust and together they are constantly in pursuit of new experiences and adventures.