Is it possible for a mountain retreat to both jut out of its hilltop home and blend in with the landscape at the same time? The recently completed Kumaon Hotel in the Indian Himalayas makes a pretty good fist of it, housing its guests in low-profile chalets and featuring a cantilevered dining room that stretches out over the valley as its crowning glory.
In building the Kumaon Hotel between 2014 and 2017, the team at Sri Lanka's Zowa Architects set out to "highlight the stunning natural landscape and focus on the mountain views, while paying homage to the local materials, tradition and culture."
Sitting 1,600 m (5,250 ft) above sea level, guests approach the hotel along a narrow walking track that takes them through the Himalayan village of Kasar Devi and past a row of bamboo trees that drop away to reveal the stunning mountain views beyond.
The first port of call is a main building consisting of a lounge, library and reception. A long and slender upper level is perched on top, sitting crossways to create a cantilevered dining room that sits out over the valley, framing stunning views towards Nanda Devi, India's second tallest mountain.
Ten rooms are paired off and split into five chalets scattered around the two-and-a-half acre (1-ha) plot of land. The lower levels are built with stone quarried in the region and the upper chalet walls are made out of fly ash bricks with a bamboo stick exterior. The bamboo facade and scattering of the chalets allow the hotel to keep a small footprint and stay in better harmony with the surroundings.
The fly ash brick is finished with just a coat of paint inside, working with the exposed concrete soffits and kaddapa (black stone) concrete toilet walls to create a minimalist and rustic feel. The outdoor spaces are paved with a cheap, cement-like Indian granite called Kota, while the doors, floors and window frames are made from local pinewood.
All fabrics for the furnishings were woven by local craftspeople, who also crafted the copper and stone accessories for the chalets. The hotel is also set up for rainwater harvesting with the intention of raising seasonal crops in the surrounding spaces for use in the onsite kitchen.
A room for two in The Kumaon Hotel starts at 13,510 Indian rupee per night (around US$200). Take more of a look around in the gallery.
Source: The Kumaon Hotel
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