Home away from home: Here are five off-beat guest houses you must stay at for different Kashmir experience

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Being a popular tourist destination, Kashmir valley is dotted with lots of boarding and lodging places ranging from luxury hotels to popular houseboats on the Dal Lake. However, if you are looking for a different or homely experience, there are many other options to choose from. From the erstwhile estate of the royal family of Jammu and Kashmir to old residential houses converted to guest houses, many offer a completely different experience to tourists.

Karan Mahal

If you have stayed in five-star hotels but want to have a royal experience now, give Karan Mahal a try during your next visit to Kashmir. This European-style villa is set on the erstwhile estate of the royal family of Jammu and Kashmir in Srinagar’s Shankaracharya Hill overlooking the Dal Lake and surrounded by orchards of peaches and almonds.

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Built in the early 20th century, Karan Mahal served as the residence of ‘Sadr-e Riyasat’ (president) of the erstwhile state of J&K, Dr. Karan Singh. Edwina Mountbatten, Pandit Nehru, Nikita Khrushchev, Rajendra Prasad, Indira Gandhi, and Joseph Campbell have stayed at this Mahal. The palace also offers village walks, trekking, bird watching, farm activities, heritage and nature walks, and bicycle tour.

Mahatta Home Stay

If you want the ambiance of living in a Kashmiri villa, then check out Mahatta Home Stay. It is run by the Mahatta family that has been in the business of photography in Kashmir since 1918. Located in the Raj Bagh area of Srinagar, Mahattas is a massive property with fruit trees.

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Room windows open into the lawns which are full of beautiful flowers and fruit trees. It is located just four kilometers from Dal Lake. The Home Stay provides a perfect getaway. It offers a bouquet of 12 rooms. Out of which 9 are Deluxe Rooms (overlooking the garden) and 2 are newly furnished suites with attached bathrooms. One of them is a standard room. Mahattas also offer a vegetarian breakfast and pure vegetarian dinner on order.

Aru Eco Resort

This place is perfect for travelers looking for a completely different experience of Kashmir. Besides a homestay in Srinagar, this group offers a mesmerizing experience at Aru – 25 minutes drive from South Kashmir resort Pahalgam.

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This resort is unique and has cozy tents that offer hotel-like rooms facilities. If you do not like staying in regular tents, do try the ones at this resort that come with proper beds and washrooms. The stay at the resort can be topped with camping, trekking, and a whole range of other adventures. The resort is 10 km away from Pahalgam and the Aru valley is flanked by winding roads, beautiful meadows, and sprawling mountains.

Dove Cottage

It is popular with travelers looking for a relaxed homestay atmosphere. It is a perfect base for travelers exploring Srinagar City as well as going on day trips to various hill resorts in the countryside. Located in the heart of the Srinagar City inside the posh locality of Raj Bagh, the interiors display a subtle blend of tradition and modernity.

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The famous Khatamband wooden ceilings, the papier machie accessories, and popular local furnishings create an ambiance that will charm you and add value to your stay. The outdoor lounging space dotted with fruit trees and flowers and Dove Cottage is ideal for both long and short stays, for tourists and business executives.

Nigeen Lodge

Overlooking Nigeen Lake, this place is a great option for travelers looking for a guest house in Srinagar. Nigeen Lodge is popular among tourists looking for budget accommodation by the lake. The place has the look of an old heritage house that creates a poetic atmosphere.

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The lodge is perfect for travelers, who want to enjoy serene and calm surroundings. Besides the lake, guests can catch a glimpse of a number of houseboats from the rooms. The Guest House is also certified as a Go stay hotel which comes with a money-back guarantee. Being a Go stay property, it ensures free wifi, AC, TV, and good hygiene.

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