September and October this year had three long weekends! Spending a long weekend at home would be blasphemy for a travel addict! Hence, we ended up spending one of these weekends in Nature’s lap, relishing some thin crust pizza and washing away our worries under a waterfall… all this and more at the Hilton Shillim Resort and Spa!
For Mumbaikars and Puneris who want a quick break, Hilton Shillim is perfectly located. It’s a 2.5 hour long drive from either of these cities.The closest railhead is Lonavala. It takes about 1 hour to get to the property from Lonavala town. Its is best to have your own wheels to get here. The drive is beautiful and you will want to stop umpteen number of times to click the landscape.
If you do not have a car… don’t you worry! Simply connect with the Hilton Shillim staff while booking your stay and they will ensure that you reach you destination – safe and sound.
Best time to visit…
Flora and fauna around Shillim look different in every season.
During summers, though the hills are brown, dry and barren, the nights are clear and cool. It is possibly the best time to capture a star trail on a new moon night. If you own a DSLR with a tripod, this is the perfect time for you to get clicking at mid night!
The monsoons envelope the surroundings in mist and the the landscape dons a green cloak. It is the ideal time to ‘walk in the clouds’, sip piping hot tea and munch pakodas. The mist and the pitter patter is the perfect recipe to kindle romance in your soul!
Winters are slightly cold and trekking the Shillim peak is so much more comfortable, even during the afternoon, when the Sun is overhead. The weather is conducive to explore the property on a bicycle and enjoy a picnic in the Sun. If you are an outdoorsy person, wear your trekking shoes and head out!
We visited the property in September end, towards the end of the monsoons… and we loved it! The hills and the valleys were green and the sunlight shone on the waters of the lake. The road side was a medley of yellow and pink… courtesy the wild flowers.
Butterflies looked spoilt for choice!
All rooms in the property are independent… like having your own private little villa. Our room was large and had an equally large sit out with a breakfast table and diwan. We spent our evening here, sipping coffee and listening the the birds tweet. It was delight to be away from sounds of any automobile. If you a are a big city dweller, you will surely be able to relate to this.
The four poster bed in the room had a very classy feel and I slept like a baby! Any hotel offering a good pillow menu scores an extra smiley on my rating scale. So, Hilton Shillim gets an extra for ensuring that guests sleep soundly.
The entire property is covered with fragrant lemon grass that keeps mosquitos and bugs at bay. Not once did I try to swat a mosquito or scratch my arms like an uncouth lady.
The bathroom had a large bath tub and an open shower as well, which enhanced the ‘in the wilderness feel’. I totally loved the epsom salts that were placed by the tub. There is no better recipe to soothe the body than soaking oneself in a warm, fragrant bath – is there? The toiletries were top quality and the bathing gown was plush !
We had an a-la-carte breakfast in the verandah, courtesy the in-room dining facilities. I throughly enjoyed my warm waffles with lots of nutella, honey and jam. Ankur loved his vegetable omelette and tomato with cheese, grilled to perfection. As our room tariff did not include breakfast, in-room dining seemed more economical, and obviously, much more romantic.
We had lunch at the Mountain Bar and Bistro, the pool side dining facility of the resort. The restaurant overlooks the infinity pool and the valley. The views elevate the dining experience by a notch. The food and service, both, at the Mountain Bar were excellent. We ordered a falafel sandwich, pasta and pizza – each dish was freshly made and the portion was enough to satiate a hungry tummy.
For dinner, we headed to the Terrazzo Restaurant and indulged in the buffet. The spread included Indian, Oriental and Italian dishes. I headed to the salad bar while Ankur feasted on the paneer curry and butter-garlic naan. The restaurant also offers an a-la-carte option. We would recommend having at least one dinner here – the candle lit setting and collection of bubbly sure does make it a romantic meal.
Facilities and Activites
The property has an underlying health theme. Needless to say, it houses a spa and that offers treatments for one and all – whether you want to shed a few kilograms or scrub off the dead skin.
There are two swimming pools; the infinity pool being the preferred one for us. However, if you want some alone time, without any kids, the pool at the spa is the place you should head to.
The property is huge… 320 acres that house the villas, pools and restaurants. There are bicycles available so that you are explore the property and burn some calories. If you are too lazy to do that, just call the reception and there will be a car to ferry you around.
The property also has an activity centre to keep kids and adults busy. You can enrol yourself for a cookery class with the chef or paint a T-shirt with your kids or make your own little souvenir using the potter’s wheel.
For the outdoorsy soul – choose between trekking, stream walking or forest walks. We did two walks with Rupesh, who heads the Activity Centre. The first walk was through streams of rainwater, where we sat under a little waterfall and splashed around in wells of water that were formed by the natural flow of the water.
The second walk was in the morning – a trek to the Shillim peak. It took us about 3 hours for the entire trek and we were greeted by wild shrubs and bushes in full bloom!
What we loved…
- Service was excellent! We were greeted with a smile by everyone …the restaurant staff and our host, Oren were great to talk to.
- The activities were managed very well. Rupesh took good care of everyone’s safety and comfort. The team also carried a packed breakfast for us to enjoy a picnic atop the Shillim peak.
- The views from the hill top are breathtaking! Do take the effort to go to the Shillim peak if you have the energy to do so.
- The food is top quality and compares to the best that we have eaten in Mumbai. Eat your fill and then work it out!
What needs improvement…
- It does get a little nippy at the hilltop. Neither the infinity pool nor the spa pool are heated, thus taking away the joy of swimming on a sunny winter day.
- Our outdoor bathroom wasn’t clean and had dirt and pebbles in the corners which left us feeling a little disappointed.
While we enjoyed our weekend at the Hilton Shillim, we felt that it was not value for money. We spent INR 16,500 (inclusive of taxes) for one night, without breakfast. Our food bill as about INR 11,500 (included one breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a couple of beers – for Ankur and myself) and activity bill was about INR 4,500 (included trek to the Shillim peak, with picnic breakfast and a stream walk – for both of us).
Hilton Shillim is a great place to spend the weekend, especially if you are based in Mumbai or Pune and money is not that big a concern to you.