Almond Villa, Srinagar, Kashmir

The Almond Villa in Srinagar in Kashmir is literally a jewel in the crown.

On paper, it is a bed and breakfast or a homestay. But nothing you are told prepares you for what you actually see. It is located on the Boulevard Road overlooking the Dal Lake. It is in the middle of an orchard. As far as the eye can see, you only see lush green mountains with only a few structures scattered in between. After all, it belongs to the erstwhile royal family of Kashmir, who still own and run it. And the few buildings you see (none very close) are all heritage ones too, including some hotels at the extreme end of luxury.

* Service: You are made to feel special. Actually, just being within these environs is feeling at the top.
* Rooms: As expected, done with the finest of furnishings. Very clean, and giving you a retro feel with modern day comforts. The bathrooms are quite spacious, fully functional with hot and cold showers and running water.
* Location: Does not get better, away from the hustle and bustle of town. And yet just a few miles from all major tourist attractions and markets. The Dal Lake is just outside its gates, and you can go for a ride there and then.
* Amenities: Very nice sitting areas both indoor and outdoor. You can lounge around and read books and magazines and you will never know how time passed. Cable TV in common room (if you care for it).
* Liked Best: The heritage feel with all comforts, and the lawns and orchards and the views around.
* Liked Least: There is nothing to not like about the property.
* Food Quality: Excellent, home cooked meals. Booking is usually done on a bed and breakfast basis, with your hosts recommending great places to eat or order from in Srinagar.

Best time to go: Spring can be fresh and crisp, with fruit trees blossoming before the fruits come out. Summers are always a good time to be in the Himalayas. And late summers / early autumn gives you fall colours and you could even go fruit plucking in the orchards. Winters for those who love snow – it can be ethereal!

Warning: Once at Almond Villa, you will not feel like stepping out!