New Himalayan hotel immerses guests in contemplative surroundings

by | May 31, 2018 | Design

A stunning hotel in the Himalayas uses the vernacular material bamboo to frame views and to clad the structure. Set into a hillside overlooking a spectacular valley, The Kumaon hotel in India gives guests something to rave about. We take a look inside this exotic property.

Himalayan dreams

Those looking for an exotic holiday destination could do worse than to choose to spend their vacation in the enchanting setting of the Himalayas. This mystical and magical region has been the haunt of many spiritual travelers, but there are also many luxurious offerings for those looking to live the high life. This is true in both the literal and figurative sense in the new The Kumaon hotel in Uttarakhand, India. The hotel’s website really does the setting justice, and tells us that the hotel is “nestled into a hidden ridge in the shadow of the sacred Nanda Devi Range”, and “offers a private mountain retreat situated in the heart of nature.” Visitors are invited to “walk through hamlets practising traditional agriculture; descend through forests of Oak, Cedar and Rhododendron to ancient stone temples, or relax in the mountain sunshine and cool breeze, surrounded by birdsong and the fragrant smell of pine.” The hotel is situated close to the historic town of Almora, which has attracted many spiritual leaders and pilgrims over the years.

Unique design

The property was designed by Zowa Architects, a practice from Sri Lanka that took advantage of the spectacular site in the design of the building. The hotel is set into the side of the Nanda Devi mountain, high on a ridge that allows it to overlook the mountains, hills and valleys of the Himalayas beyond. Comprised of two main volumes which are set at right angles on top of each other. The lower volume is parallel to the mountain ridge and is covered in a stone cladding, which the upper volume cantilevers out over the ridge and is a glazed box that is wrapped in bamboo. This has the effect of making it appear weightless, while at the same time framing panoramic views out over the surrounding countryside from the inside of the hotel. The hotel sits 1600m.a.s.l., so the views really are incredible. Glazing on the valley-facing side of the lower block also allows breathtaking views from the common areas, and the interior design has been left intentionally minimal and pared back to put all of the emphasis on the location. The architects say, “By dispersing the built structure around the site and also by using the bamboo cladding we were able to dissolve the visual impact a building such as this can have in a sensitive environment.”

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