Violet Hill in Mashobra makes for a cosy winter vacation

Many hotels advertise that you will find their property a home away from home, but at Violet Hill, Mashobra, this rings true.

It is not a hotel but actually an estate with a lovely home that you can rent for a few days. Very tastefully done up and set in a splendid location near Mashobra, Violet Hill is perfect for quality time with friends or family.

The first of the winter snows were already crowning the mountain tops and we noticed these on the drive up to Shimla. The old capital of the Raj still exudes an air of charm thanks to its history and location, but it's quite faded. So, if you want to enjoy the mountain air amidst the vibrancy and frenetic pace of a city, Shimla makes sense.

But, we like most others, were here to get away from pesky workmates, squealing phones, frantic faxes and the electronic mailman. But yet, we didn't want to drive too far into the mountains to find that piece of peace, and Violet Hill was the ideal answer.

Off the main road and into the forest towards Mashobra, it all seems a world away. The views also improve as the forested hills come into view.

This is a relief after views of hillsides stacked with houses and buildings, which have become the definitive skyline of Shimla. We parked the car in front of a cosy little cottage surrounded by pines and forests; it turned out that was just the outhouse.

Pretty cottage

We unpacked the car and walked up the few steps leading to Violet Hill's main cottage, and the minute I saw it I let out a whistle of appreciation.

A large rectangular lawn led to another square lawn at a higher level and on this stood a cottage prettily painted with a white and violet scheme. Its glass and wooden windows, airy verandas with wooden railings and the slate roof gave it a wonderful colonial air. The colonial theme was further strengthened by the old-world wrought iron benches on the lawns.

It is one of those rare places where you know you're going to have a lovely stay even before you've stepped in. Inside, the thought is further encouraged because Violet Hill has been so tastefully furnished.

Be it the antique furniture that is matched so well with the modern art in the dining room or the cosy TV room with its pink comfy chairs you can sink into and lose yourself in a movie from the DVD collection, Violet Hill emanates relaxing vibes.

My favourite place was on the verandah looking out at the mountains lost in that book I had bought to read in a place such as this. The snow adds another dimension of bliss and the unrestricted views of the Himalayas make this the perfect escape, where you can actually find winter and revel in it.

Violet Hill is essentially a home; so, call in advance (098154-42244).