You travel once till the queen of hill stations, and then once again, back in time, when you drive into Glyngarth Villa. Everything about it, from the creaky wooden gate, the picket fences, and the stone-and-wood open bar set in the lush lawns to the turrets that aspire to reach up to the sky gently murmur heritage. This heritage homestay wears its age proudly on its sleeve.
After all, it's not often that you get to stay in a house built in 1852 (by Sir Walter Mounde), one in which countless British officers and their families lived and made home. Many dignitaries, including Jawaharlal Nehru, have graced its majestic rooms.
And then, you walk in past a profusion of flowers and a lush vine that clings to the portico, which also shelters a 1952 Hillman. The best thing about Glyngarth is its lack of pretension. The villa is imposing from the outside, but inside, the blazing fire in the hearth, and the warmth of the staff gently prompts you to just chill and take in the history-rich ambience of the house.
The cosy living room with furniture that reminds you of the Raj, the stately dining room with a table that can seat a twosome, a family or a group bonding in the hills, the polished wooden staircase that leads up to four of the five rooms, all named after trees (Pine, Beech, Oak, Maple and Wattle), the paintings and old advertisements that line the passage to the first floor, and the kitchen from where emerge steaming bowls of fragrant soups, golden-brown bakes flecked with garden-fresh garnish, and other Continental delights…there's so much to take in, but at your pace.
There's lots to do in Ooty for a first-time visitor. But, if you're just there to relax, sit by one of the expansive windows and catch life in slow motion. There's a lone cow walking down the winding hill road, the resident geese are busy raising a cackle even while coaxing out worms from the earth, still soft from last evening's drizzle, and the dogs play catch on the newly-laid lawn.
Or, take a brisk walk around the grounds, home to over 300 cypress, oak and eucalyptus trees. Else, grab a book from the in-house library, flip into the hammock strung between two strong trees, and surrender to the silence.
Before you know it, a day has passed. It's time to nurse a hot cuppa sitting on one of the pristine white garden chairs, overlooking the valley below, even as night slowly comes alive in the hills.
Then, keyboardist Kumar comes along, and you can either swing a leg to his tunes or sit in mellow silence taking in the glowing amber of the fireplace. Or, head to the open bar and barbeque pit and share tales in the nippy air. A candle-lit dinner later, you know all's well with the world.
Things to do
Go fishing, visit Sixth Mile, a scenic place nearby, head to the Ootacamund Hunt Club, the only such club in Asia, or golf at the Ootacamund Gymkhana Club, with which the villa has a tie-up.
You can also trek or go horse-riding.
Tariff (Modified American Plan)
(Off-season) Heritage Room Rs. 3,450, Heritage Suite Rs. 4,250
For details, call 0423-2445754, 2445115, 98435-70095 or 98430-70095, visit www.glyngarthvilla.com or mail firstname.lastname@example.org
How to get there
Glyngarth Villa is 91 km from Coimbatore, 130 km from Mysore and 260 km from Bengaluru. The nearest airport is Coimbatore. Drive up to Ooty, take the Mysore road, and take the road forking to the Ootacamund Gymkhana Club.