Walterre - Recommended boutique stay in Dehradun
In our last blog, we wrote about Dehradun and places to visit in Dehradun. Dehradun, the capital city of Uttarakhand state in India, was once known for its pleasant climate and lush green environment landscaped with litchi orchards and tea gardens. However, over the years, Dehradun has seemed to lose its charm to infrastructure development. The fruit trees have felled and constructions have dotted the landscape. But just around 12 kms from the center of concrete jungle, right on the edge of Dehradun on the way to Mussoorie (a hill station near Dehradun), is a hidden gem that we discovered - Walterre resort. Walterre, a boutique homestay (they are also referred as resort), is Mr. Bikram Grewal's house converted into a homestay. In this article, we are going to review Walterre, share with you our experience of staying with them and show you why we would recommend staying at Walterre while in Dehradun.
Mr. Grewal is an ornithologist (expert on birds), an author, a conservationist and an avid bird-watcher from Delhi. He has authored several books on Indian birds. Walterre Homestay is one of his efforts to save the environment, protect the wildlife (particularly birds) and build a safe habitat for them. Mr. Grewal built Walterre Homestay in the early 2000s and since then it has become a paradise for bird lovers and photographers who often come here just to spend some time with the rare birds that visit the homestay. The rare species of Nepal Wren Babbler was first spotted at Walterre Homestay in India. Mr. Grewal has grown several bird-attracting trees in his 3-acre estate to attract several species of birds and the checklist of the 350 species of birds spotted here are the fruits of his hard work and dedication.
Note that while we refer Walterre as a homestay, the owners occasionally visit it and do not stay here full time. It is also different from traditional homestays as you do get serviced by staff just like a hotel or resort. It is hence kind of a crossover of a boutique hotel and a homestay.
Location of Walterre, Dehradun
Walterre Homestay is located close to Malsi area in Dehradun just below the hill station of Mussoorie. Walterre homestay is close to 40 kilometers from Jolly Grant airport, Dehradun in a village named Guniyal gaon. It is advisable to hire a private cab to reach here. Mr. Rajesh, our host at Walterre Homestay, helped us with proper directions to reach Walterre and co-ordinated with us from the morning to check on our arrival. If you are lost with directions, you can easily find another property named Shaheen Bagh on Google maps or even on hoardings. Walterre and Shaheen bagh have common entrance and parking area.
As we reached the parking area of Walterre, we were piqued by the whereabouts of the homestay. Well, it was hidden in the lush green garden 50 steps beneath the parking bay. Descending the steps, we felt like entering a paradise. All the noise of traffic and car honking were suddenly replaced by the pleasant sounds of birds chirping and trees swaying.
Our Peacock room at Walterre, Dehradun
As we walked past the drawing room and dining room of Walterre Homestay to the first floor, we were awed by the colonial design of the house. The very first look of our room on the first floor made us jump with joy. Our room's name was Peacock room and was themed blue. The room was furnished with antique traditional wood furniture which included a four-poster bed, a wooden carved almirah (cupboard), a dressing cum working table and a wooden sofa. The floor was wooden too and was covered with beautiful carpets. A big window opened out to a terrace at one end of the bedroom. All the linen right from the duvet, the cushion covers and the curtains were blue in color which gave a relaxed vibe to the room's theme. The 4-poster bed accentuated the beauty of the room; it had beautiful Lord Krishna's painting at the bed-rest and towards the side and the lovely yellow lamps on both the sides gave extra warmth to its design. The ensuite bathroom was as big as the bedroom with a bathtub, a basin-cabinet, a comfortable relaxing chair and an antique wooden cloth hanger. The window from the bathroom opened towards the upper garden. Right adjacent to the bedroom was a seating room with an enormous window opening to the garden; this room was again themed blue. The colonial styled room was fitted with all the modern amenities like an air-conditioner (for summer), a room-heater (for winter), a tea/coffee maker, an LCD TV and a geyser. We instantly felt like home in our cosy room.
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The layout of Walterre, Dehradun
We were very impressed by the layout of the entire Walterre House. The house is landscaped and space is organized into two levels. The entrance is from the flat upper garden and down a steep slope is the flat lower garden. The terracing of the levels helps the house blend with the trees that dot the land. Only someone who stays in the house or the guests who visit are aware of the actual size of the house as it spills down the slope. The Walterre Homestay is two-storeyed with a large drawing room cum dining room, a kitchen and 2 bedrooms on the ground floor and a library, 2 bedrooms and a massive terrace balcony on the first floor. It's only when one descends to the lower garden and looks back towards the house that they get the full magnitude of the four-bedroom building. All the bedrooms are named after birds owing to the love of birds Mr. Grewal has. The names of the rooms are - Peacock room and Oriole room on the first floor and Mallard room and Tragopan room on the ground floor.
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Open terrace at Walterre, Dehradun
All the rooms have 4-poster beds and an attached bathroom. The drawing room has a fireplace, comfortable seating space and large glass windows overlooking the lower garden. The library on the first-floor is very well-stocked with interesting books on a variety of subjects. However, the highlight of the entire house was the first floor open terrace. The semi-covered terrace is furnished with sofas, comfortable chairs and a dining table. Large, ornate wooden pillars support the semi-covered roof of the terrace just like the old traditional houses in Tamil Nadu or Kerala in South India. We spent some of our best times in Walterre on this open terrace lounging (even sleeping) on the comfortable sofas, sun-bathing, breathing 100% pure oxygen, appreciating the beauty of rain, delving into deep conversations, savouring a cup of tea, relishing long delicious breakfasts, reading books, spotting varieties of birds, clicking them, listening to their pleasant chirping and feasting our eyes on the scenic vista of Mussoorie city, blue skies and surrounding mountains.
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Decoratives at Walterre, Dehradun
The entire house is tastefully decorated with antique furniture and other ornamental knick-knacks like bottles, bowls, pots, coat hanger, wooden chairs, etc. that Mr. Grewal and family have seemed to collect over the years. Rare historical lithographs and paintings of numerous different species of birds, trees and leaves adorn the walls of all the rooms. Every nook and corner has something unique and space is very well utilized. Nothing seemed undone or overdone and each item blends in smoothly with the aesthetic of the place. A big shout-out to Mr. Grewal and his family's taste in design, creativity and vision.
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Gardens at Walterre, Dehradun
Both the upper and lower garden, as well as the open terrace, are filled with flowering pots, climbers, creepers and other beautiful exotic plants. The pathways from the parking area to the Walterre homestay entrance is also filled with a variety of ferns, bushes, lilies and fruit orchards. All this greenery also helps in attracting the several species of birds that visit Walterre. We even learnt a few basic tricks about growing flowering plants from the gardener.
Food at Walterre, Dehradun
The food served at Walterre Homestay was freshly prepared and immensely tasty. They do not have any set menu and the cook used to consult us every morning to inquire about our lunch and dinner choices. There was always a mouth-watering sweet dish served after the meals. We were also asked for tea several times a day. Every morning, we used to have breakfast on the first-floor terrace with the company of delightfully chirping birds. We had some great conversation with other guests staying at Walterre at the 8-seater dining table.
The staff was ever-smiling and made us feel at home. Right from the cook to the gardener, everyone was well-trained, professional and up for a good conversation. Mr. Rajesh took great care of ourselves always enquiring if we were happy with the stay. He also called one of his friends to ask about the weather situation in Mussoorie when we heard that the roads to Mussoorie had closed due to heavy snowfall. He was very accommodative and happy to answer all our questions about the homestay and Dehradun.
Things to do when staying at Walterre Homestay:
1. Walk in the narrow lanes and enjoy the scenic beauty: We hiked down to Tons River which was hardly a kilometer walk behind Walterre Homestay. Mr. Rajesh sent the gardener with us to guide our way to the river. It was great to speak with him and he showed us a way across the river to reach a bigger stream in the morning. We also walked through the picturesque villages nearby. We were intrigued by the beautiful houses of Guniyal Gaon and later came to know from Mr. Rajesh that some of the big shots have their residencies in this part of Dehradun. Abhimanyu Cricket Academy is another spot that we loved walking to.
2. Spot the different species of birds: We might have spotted at least 50 different birds just by sitting on the open terrace of Walterre Homestay. We even photographed some of those but the others were very restless and did not give us a chance to click them. To name a few, we spotted Fork-tailed Drongo Cuckoo, White-crested Laughing Thrush, Black-chinned Babbler, Speckled Piculet, Black European Starling, Red-billed Leiothrix and Red-vented Bulbul. Every morning, we used to wake up by the loud chirping of the birds in the gardens as if they were arguing with each other. You can also go on birding walks with one of the staff members around the area.
3. Eat, Read, Sleep, Repeat: Walterre Homestay is a perfect getaway from the busy city life. It is a go-to place to relax, read, eat, sleep and enjoy a quiet time. Did we mention you can also get a lovely view of Mussoorie from the open terrace?
4. Sightseeing in Dehradun: Honestly, we had plans to visit a few places in Dehradun during our stay; but we loved the homestay and its peaceful atmosphere so much that we decided not to leave this heaven for even half a day and postponed our plans to some other day. But one can easily call a cab and head to some great places to visit in Dehradun. Mr. Rajesh is the go to person if you need a cab.
All in all, we had a wonderful stay at Walterre Homestay and would highly recommend it anytime to anyone who is looking for a holiday in a home away from home. The place is for nature lovers, bird lovers, photographers and peace lovers; be it family or friends or couples or even solo-travelers for that matter. Who wouldn't want a relaxed vacation away from maddening crowds of the city and who wouldn't love to wake up to the chirping of birds, sunbathe on a big terrace and read their favourite book sipping a cup of tea all day long?!
A private vehicle is required to reach the resort. Shared autos, shared cabs or buses will not help you reach here. If you do not have private vehicle, you can hire a taxi or Ola to reach here
There are no shops or medical stores near Walterre, so please carry your specific requirements with you. However, if you need anything, the staff would surely take care of it.
This place is not for someone who wants to party, drink or play loud music. Walterre Homestay and its surroundings are quiet and peaceful; help them maintain their USP.
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You can book yourself a relaxed vacation in Walterre Homestay, Dehradun through their website or any of the below travel portals.
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