We slept a bit, had good pizza at Caffe Concerto for lunch, then relaxed on Middle Path’s rooftop with mojitos, waiting for our 2pm pickup to take us to our next hotel. It’s half an hour out of town, the other side of the peace pagoda, it’s a left turn from Devi’s fall then all the way down a long and bumpy dirt road — a place no taxi dares to go.
Through pasture, past village, our burgundy 4x4 shook us through the countryside. Our driver was an excitable Nepali who spoke English with a Qatari accent. I’d expected a little enclave on a hill with good views, but on arrival it appeared to be in the middle of farmland and in the valley.
For 3 nights we’d be relaxing in the luxury of our own villa at the eco-friendly Pavilions Himalayas. “Free upgrade” they said when we arrived, like other places we’d stayed, it felt quiet, almost empty. We’d escaped the horns and city noise of Pokhara, the city din replaced with nature and the distant clanking of tractor and trailer.
Our villa was astounding. A great king size bed looked out onto a living space, which in turn looked through sliding doors out to the valley. An iPod and speakers came preloaded with ambient music, fresh flowers and illuminated coves dotted the room; refined elegance in Nepal. The bathroom combined stone and glass with a walk in shower and a free standing jacuzzi bath big enough for two. What’s more, this luxury comes in a sustainable package — fresh food and milk from the hotel’s farm, solar power, and amenities without unnecessary packaging. A place to kick back and do nothing, as that’s what’s easiest.
For breakfast, lunch and dinner, we’d dine in their ornate restaurant, under the gaze of a stone faced Buddha. Pricier than Pokhara, the food and service was hit and miss. The lamb thali which came with refills was always brilliant, while the salads came full of raw onion. Mojitos were awesome, White Russians too creamy to finish. Breakfast was always scrumptious, although ordering it was complex. Sometimes lizards would stare, their gaze broken only by a passing fly.
We whiled away our days, chilling in the gardens and listening to the birds; cuckoos call nearby, Indian Mynas roost in the bamboo, little batis hang onto flimsy branches, and black kites nest in a tree besides reception — their high pitched calls audible if you know to listen for them. By the pool we ate snacks, read books and watched swallows come down to drink, pigeons cooed in the roof rafters as they prepared a nest. One afternoon Samantha had a yoga and meditation session, and in the shop we played with Tibetan singing bowls. The only stressful thing was organising our trek, Deependra — our concierge, managed that for us, and Big D — Devendra Pun, our guide, was perfect.
We booked another night for when we returned, and we left half our luggage too. After a large cooked breakfast and fine coffee, we checked out and set off on our trek.
When we returned we had a different villa, but other than location it was practically identical. That great comfy bed and magnificent hot shower were welcomed after the stresses and strains of a 5 day trek away from civilisation. We stayed just one more night. We enjoyed the fine breakfast, and our luxury bath with overly powerful bubbles and purple lights. Our hopes of chilling by the pool until checkout were dampened by mist and drizzle. Instead we blasted a chill-out Indian playlist and lounged in our room.
Before leaving I used the reception computers to book our Yeti airlines flight back to Kathmandu. “We have a new concierge”, Deependra joked. Our pickup returned us to Pokhara, where we hoped to tick off all the things left on our todo list, many of them were weather dependent.