The Easter weekend (March 21-24) of 2008 saw me staying at a small family owned property in Dehradun, the capital of the Himalayan state of Uttrakhand. The city itself located in a valley, it turned out to be an ideal getaway for a spring weekend at what turned out to be an good choice of accommodation.
To view images of the Birdhouse on Flickr, click here. This will also enable you to better visualize what is given below:
Here is a review of the Birdhouse. Like every review, there can never be a consensus amongst all those in a position to do so. Here is my take:
Overall Kunzum Rating: **** (out of a max 5 stars)
Location: Located about 200 metres off the Dehradun – Mussoorie highway, just after the 23rd milestone. Very quiet, with a clear view of the mountains and even the lights of the hill town of Mussoorie at night. It is about 8 km from the centre of town if you want to go shopping, eating etc. and there seemed to be no public transport that you could just hop on to. A private or rented car can be most convenient. Once can easily make day trips to hill towns of Mussoorie and Dhanaulti, or visit the famous Kempti Waterfalls.
Property Specifications: A bungalow converted into a tourist accommodation, it has four bedrooms in all. Can sleep two in each, with extra beds possible. You can lounge in the living room and verandah, and watch TV too. Very pleasing to look at – sends out very positive vibes. Overall the property is built on a plot about a quarter of an acre.
- Standard Room: A wrought iron double bed with chairs. There is a private bath, but access it from just outside the room.
- Executive Room: Slightly bigger, with wooden beds and a cupboard too. The bath access is also from the outside, but is a private one.
- Room without a bath: A room with twin beds, this has no private bath. It has doors that open into both the standard and the executive room. This room is usually given alongwith one of the other two to those seeking accommodation for more than two.
- The Suite: Located on the ground floor, while all others are on the first. Very spacious, has an attached bath and a private covered verandah to lounge in. It has glass walls on two sides to open into and give a very good view of the greenery on the side of the house.
All rooms are very spacious, clean, bright and cheerful with lots of windows; the best part are the surroundings and no point having these if guest cannot look out. The bathrooms are quite well sized too – would put a hotel room in Amsterdam or Paris to shame. No fancy fittings here though – simple ones just like one would expect at home.
Lawns: The best part of the BirdHouse. Both front and back lawns are very well maintained, with so many varieties of flowers, plants and trees that one cannot note all of these down. It is a delight being in such green surroundings, doing away with the need to even step out. The birds are all there, chirping away especially in the mornings and evenings. But they do a good job of camouflaging themselves in the trees.
Food: There is a menu for all day finger snacks and light meals, or one can order a buffet meal. But don’t expect everything to be available at a short notice – this is not a hotel with a running kitchen but one where they usually have to arrange for what one wants except beverages and some snacks. One can tell the cook what they would like for a meal and it is usually prepared. The presentation and service is great, although it can be a bit slow. But you do not go to the Birdhouse to be in a rush. The cooked items, to be honest, were not as yummy as at some other family run places in the country. There is definite scope for improvement here. Could also be priced about 20-30 percent lower. Outside food is allowed but there is a charge of Rs. 100 per portion – did not seem fair.
Housekeeping: Gives a very clean and hygienic feeling, very important when travelling. The bed linen and towels could have been a little newer and spotless though even though they seemed to have been laundered well. And my one personal grouse: give covers on quilts that are changed with every guest. The practice of putting a sheet under the quilt can be quite a pain as the two go their own in the middle of the night leaving one exposed to quilts used by others too without a clean sheet in between.
Recreation: A TV in the living room with major channels received through a dish. A selection of bestsellers and magazines to read, and some board games. One can venture out and walk five minutes up to the deer park (it was closed when we went; it opens 8 am – 7 pm) or can go on a day hike or walk (although one would have to drive or walk on the highway with all its traffic for a kilometer or two to go off road). Or just sit in the lawns or verandah, and enjoy the weather with a cup of coffee and a book.
Staff: Very friendly, receptive and attentive. Full marks. They could have been a little better informed though about tourist spots – wish they had told us there is no water in the river we went to see nearby. But one can overlook these things; the housekeeper and cook can’t be a concierge too.
Power and Water: No problems faced.
Internet: WiFi available at Rs. 400 for 24 hours. But would you really want to check your mails here?
Tariffs: Rs. 8,800 for an executive room for two for three nights including breakfast, tea / coffee and taxes. Standard room is Rs. 7,400 for a similar package. Rates available for other combinations too. Overall, tariffs seem fair.
Getting there: Dehradun is 260 km from Delhi. You can drive down (about 6-7 hours) or take the fast Shatabdi trains. Leaves Delhi 0655 / 1525, reaches 1240 / 2110. Return leaves 1700 / 0510 , reaches 2245 / 1115 respectively.