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“BEST HIGH TEA”
Review of Windamere Hotel

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Windamere Hotel
Ranked #6 of 98 Hotels in Darjeeling
Certificate of Excellence
London, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
113 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“BEST HIGH TEA”
Reviewed November 19, 2011

Did not stay but looking round found it very 1930's England, group of bungalows with character furniture. But did have 'high tea', served from 4pm each day in one of the sitting rooms. Beautifully presented small sandwiches, shortbread, cake and scones with jam and cream and, of course, excellent tea and all served with a smile. The ONLY place to take tea in Darjeeling and a blazing fire as well.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank maat49
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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324 reviews from our community

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English first
Los Angeles, California
Level 5 Contributor
46 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed November 13, 2011

Read about this in "1000 places to see before you die" and it did not disappoint. The staff were so caring, the daily breakfast and dinner so lovely, high tea was so nice and the location so awe-inspiring. We loved sitting and looking out on the town. Also, at night, three words for you: Hot. Water. Bottles. Yes, they put these into your bed at night to keep you warm. These details make it such a cherished gem of the world.
A note: We traveled in November 2010. I am late on the review but wanted to get it in!

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank mvrandshker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mumbai, India
Level 5 Contributor
54 reviews
46 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
Reviewed November 11, 2011

We were a group of 22 and we stayed there for 4 nts from 27 th oct till 1 st nov. we were given the Observatory house, and Ms Suhana the manger was there to greet us and check us in personally, the furniture is a bit dated, as many reviews had said, but that is what helps in creating the atmosphere of the place, you are transported to the time of the Raj and a glimpse of how the British lived in India with there fancy High Tea and waiters serving with white gloves, the gardens, the small nooks , terraces, picket fences, I can go on and on. You are transported to another world and as Windamere is on top of a hill, clouds keep coming in and gives a very beautiful look to it. The Tea at Windamere is really great, we would keep requesting for it on all odd times of the day, and we're served graciously, BTW they never charged us for even 1 cup ! As the tariff is full board. Enchanting place to go, I will for sure be back there whenever I can and will recommend this House ( not a Hotel ) to anyone who is a fan of the Raj. The staff was always very polite, we were a bit loud as we had a lot of children but it was always service with a smile by the staff. We had absolutely no complains at all. Thanks Ms Suhana for making this Holiday so memorable for all of us.

Room Tip: Choose the superior rooms
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
6 Thank Samir-Bhuta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northumberland, U.K.
Level 5 Contributor
95 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
Reviewed November 8, 2011

My wife and i stayed here in October, 2011 and I have tried very hard to be fair to The Windamere; this must be my third re-write but, I keep coming to the conclusion that this is not a very good hotel at all.
Put into context, there are no exceptional hotels in Darjeeling. Because of its relative remoteness and inaccessibility, there is little commercial need for a grand establishment but there are at least two very good guest houses and a number of hotels aimed at vacationing and travelling Indians. It is within this setting of limited competition that The Windamere operates.
Through its clever website, The Windamere successfully sells the myth that a return to the life of the British tea planters of the 30s Raj awaits those deciding to spend some time in this refuge from the turmoil that is Darjeeling. The sad truth is that this myth is flawed and the appellation "Heritage Hotel" is used to disguise the fact that this is an establishment sadly in decline and where standards of maintenance and care have been abandoned to slow decay. We found tatty furnishings including frayed carpets and rugs, dirty chair covers, rooms that have not been painted for years and, in places, curtains nailed to the window frames. These things have nothing to do with the gracious living of a bygone time and they are just unacceptable especially when the hotel charges the rates that it does. Many cotton fabrics have long ago been replaced by polyester. There is a pervading air of pretension - no slacks to be worn at dinner - which is betrayed by the product the hotel delivers.
The food would suit anyone brought up on 50s English boarding school fare and in comparison with other aspirational hotels it is just poor. Stodgy porridge made with water, basic quality cereals and rock hard toast are provided at breakfast and where else in the world would you be offered a European main course with an Indian main course to follow at dinner? That's just odd.
Our stay at The Windamere coincided with a visit from the hotel director who I know will rightly ask why we did not take our concerns to her during our stay. In fairness to her she missed no opportunity in asking guests how well they were enjoying themselves. The truth is that we thought about it but decided against as we would not have known where to start with our complaints and she would have been unable to provide any remedy as our worries concerned deep-seated problems requiring considerable long term investment and a change of business model.
We have stayed in heritage hotels in many places, including India, Nepal and Spain which far surpass the Windamere experience. They too occupy buildings with fascinating and often glamorous pasts but they are physically high quality establishments where refurbishment and development preserve the best of the past while ensuring the provision of high standards inline with the prices they charge. In comparison, The Windamere provides an experience similar to an English seaside boarding house immediately after the war..
We would not stay at The Windamere again but if you would like to chance it and experience the past with few modern conveniences, give it a try. You may be intrigued and it may be something you will reminisce about back in the modern world.
The old fashioned feel to the place can be charming. The staff were unfailingly polite and helpful and the coal fires and hot water bottles both fun and warming. The position in Darjeeling is perfect, sitting high on Observatory Hill but within an easy walk of the town. The rate is all inclusive and there is an abundant provision of bottled water. But hurry, now that Indian families have discovered The Windamere it may well be forced to change its preoccupation with faded gentility and demands on its patrons' behaviour upon which it's reputation lies. No dressing for dinner for them. You are more likely to see someone coming into the dining room in a bobble hat and an anorak rather than anything more formal.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
14 Thank John P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ejclarke, Owner at Windamere Hotel, responded to this review, November 21, 2011
Whilst we always very much apreciate any feedback, this particular one is untrue in most aspects. Our property was built in the late 1800's, so it is very much part of the old Colonial days of India. Tea planters stayed at our property in those days. Kings, Queens, famous politicians and Bollywood film stars (as well of British stars) have all passed through our doors. The 'Sunday Times of London' voted us 'One of the Best Colonial Hotels in the World' and the Asia Pacific Geographic Magazine voted us as #3 in their 'Ten Best Colonial Hotels in the Asia Pacific'. To be fair, due to the seismic acitivity in Sikkim (September 18th 2011), one of our main houses from the Colonial period had been damaged and we had hired a "listed building" architect from the UK to oversee repairs, during the period these two guests stayed with us. The building has now passed inspection and is up and running again. However, during this time, we had to move the whole building to our èObservatory House Conference Centre, whilst repairs were going on. We have since thoroughly inspected the room they stayed in and we have to say that we have recently added brand new Kashmiri rugs to that room; the cloths are cotton and not polyester and the room has recently been painted. We have never had such comments before on these rooms. Granted, we are dealing with a property from the past, but none of our rooms and suites are in the state quoted here - none. Our food is constantly reported on in a most favourable manner - we offer both Continental and Indian and guests can take from both or either. The food is not stodgy (like the old days when including plenty of fatty content was the norm). We have 'Guest Comments' on our site to attest to this - these can be sent out in a fuller form to anyone who cares to ask. This couple stayed with us at 'Diwali' - Festival of Light, when a wonderful group of 22 relatives were also with us. They have also written on our site and you will see an entirely different picture from their feedback. I do feel that the comments made on our wonderful domestic guests to be inappropriate...those "bobble hats and scarves" are usually worn by Plains people due to the cooler weather of the Hills. Also, it is a novelty many times to buy and wear such attire...obviously not usually worn in 40+ degree weather on the plains! I assure our guests writing here, that domestic guests from the upper echelons of the corporate society in India sometimes wear this attire! We now see a "rising tide" of interest from our more discerning, cultured and sophisticated domestic clientele, who see our property as part of their own history. Finally, constructive criticism is fine, but untruths are not. Maybe if our main building had been up and ready, they would have seen much more of that colonial history. I do remember talking to these guests and at no time (as they intimated) did I receive any kind of negative feedback. I also find the comments on hotels, etc. in the Darjeeling area to be rather erroneous and reflecting badly on the hotel industry in general. Should these guests be in our area again, I offer them a free stay with us (full board) for a 2 or 3 nights, as our personal guests.

Thank you for writing and feel free to write to me personally. EJ Clarke, Director, Windamere Hotel (through our reservations: reservations@windamerehotel.net.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed October 31, 2011

We stayed here for 7 nights whilst we were on our honeymoon. Yes I agree with some of the reviews that it is slightly dated, however the hospitality of the staff, the location, food and service more than make up for this. We stayed in Little Peppers which was perfectly adequate for us, having its own sitting room, bedroom ( very comfy bed ) small dressing room and bathroom and opens up directly onto the veranda which has superb views of the hills and mountains beyond. Having read some of the reviews that have been written I have to say that considering where the hotel is located, it's a 4 hour car drive from the nearest airport, up hill, along a road that is subjected to land slides and severe monsoons, the Windamere Hotel and their staff make you feel welcome, no matter what time of day it is. You could " nick pick" if you wanted to, but then can't you at most places ! The Windamere doesn't set out to be anything that it isnt and what it is, is truly wonderful.

  • Stayed September 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Amanda S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
213 reviews
106 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 163 helpful votes
Reviewed October 9, 2011

Spent 2 nights at the Windamere in early October. It is all very dated, but in an attractive way, and the landscaping in the gardens, the food, the setting and the service make it a very enjoyable experience. Its setting just below one of the main temples and above the vehicle-free mall means it is just out of the main hubbub of Darjeeling which frankly I thought was a pretty dire place - lovely people, amazing views, but horribly, horribly polluted with both rubbish and traffic fumes. I've travelled a LOT and the TOWN of Darj has got to be in the bottom 10% of places I have been based on the town itself. Back to the Windamere - we had Little Peppers which had a cute, 40s style sitting room. The bed was very comfortable - we slept well. Bathroom was fine but the bath outflow wasn't properly connected so went over the floor - oops forgot to tell them this when we checked out. Afternoon tea, judging by the negative comments from some of the 'day trippers' is obviously much better if you are staying there, or perhaps expectations were too high. Again, it was all a bit like "granny used to make" but the service was sweet, the sitting rooms were cosy and surrounded by interesting old pictures and letters. Breakfast and dinner were good, though the G&T tasted a bit weird. Don't rate it against conventional hotels - it's best regarded as a very interesting experience - and our fellow guests were good company.

Room Tip: Little Peppers was great for us.
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank FSHK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed October 7, 2011

After reading up on the apparently 'wonderful' colonial charm of the Hotel Windamere we decided to visit for Afternoon/High Tea. We arrived at 4pm, very hungry, expecting a feast of cakes and sandwiches (plus tea of course). We were initially told be the very stern lady on reception to sit outside and wait (we were not even shown into the sitting room so have no idea what the hotel looks like from the inside) 30 minutes later without a word a tray containing a scabby looking tea pot containing weak tea was 'plonked' in front of us. Im no tea expert but to be brutally honest it was rubbish - basically PG Tips but done badly. Next we were served a basket with stale tiny sandwiches the size of my thumbnail (cucumber and gone off cheese) which we didnt touch plus a stale cake which looked disgusting and some shop bought cheap biscuits. We were also given a tiny scone each with what looked like cheap squirty 'fake' cream on the side (not the clotted cream I was expecting!). All this was served to us without any word or a smile from the waitress who also dumped a handful of cheap looking napkins on the table (surely at this price they can make the effort and use cloth napkins instead?)
In a nutshell we paid 375 each for nothing. I would NOT recommend going here for high tea - head to Glenarys instead or have a wonderful cup of coffee at Sonams kitchen.
I was expecting a grand sitting room - instead we got to sit on paint chipped, uncomfortable seats outside in the cold. I was also expecting a silver tiered platter with tasty sandwiches and home made cakes. If I had served that myself I would have been embarrassed.
Go have a look at the Windamere as the views are lovely but dont pay for any services as its a massive rip off.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank moomin1802
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Windamere Hotel

Property: Windamere Hotel
Address: Observatory Hill, Darjeeling 734101, India
Location: India > West Bengal > Darjeeling District > Darjeeling
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Romantic Hotel in Darjeeling
#3 Luxury Hotel in Darjeeling
#5 Family Hotel in Darjeeling
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Windamere Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 40
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We are one of the oldest (and prize winning) Colonial Hotels in India - with reviews from the Asia Pacific National Geographic Magazine and The Sunday Times of London. We offer truly authentic and original suites from the colonial tea planter days, with absolutely FULL BOARD (4 MEALS PER DAY). Our hotel is world renowned, with many famous film stars and other celebrities finding a path to our door. Truly a "destination and not just another hotel". It is like being invited as a private guest and asked to stay and relax for a few days. We are aptly described as "one of the last Colonial Homes in the World". We have both Colonial Suites & Cottages, as well as standard and superior accommodation. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Windamere Hotel Darjeeling

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