Imagine waking up to the sound of birds, a rising sun and snow-clad mountains. That’s what you get at this heritage hotel and more. Life here is the way the royals lived—pampered and relaxed. The grand palace was built in 1910 by Raja Pratap Singh and then his nephew, Hari Singh, used it as his winter palace. This is a place where the crème de la crème have been hosted and are still hosted. Lord Mountbatten has walked the corridors here. In fact, Mahatma Gandhi and Maharaja Hari Singh discussed the future of Kashmir under a Chinar tree in June 1947. And you can also enjoy a cuppa under this tree. The Maharaja’s floor is now a royal suite with a private dining area and library. Four-poster beds, traditional Kashmiri artefacts, real wood flooring—it spells pure luxury. A butler service is also available. The rich, the famous, Bollywood stars, heads of states etc all have stayed here. Go back in time to Kashmir ki Kali and Shammi Kapoor screaming ‘yahoo’—well it was all in this valley. Cross a decade and Amitabh Bachchan is singing ‘kabhi kabhi mere dil me khayal aata hai’ sitting under a chinar tree—this tree is also in the premises. A leisure walk through the corridors will introduce you to the flavours of Kashmir. You can see the colourful papier mache vases and handcrafted walnut wood furniture and paintings. The beautiful handwoven wall hangings and the gold ceiling in the lobby will transport you to the world of kings and queens. Handcrafted copper samovars grace many corners. The Kashmiris still eat in handcrafted copper utensils. And I saw many shops selling these in the old city. The USP, however, is the view. Each and every room faces the iconic Dal Lake while the Himalayas form the backdrop. Go into the bar and enjoy your poison watching the sun go down. You can choose to dine at The Chinar or Darbar Hall. The fresh Kashmiri cuisine is sure to WOW the palate. I enjoyed Nadru in yakhni and the saag. Of course, there’s Wazwaan too. The menu includes Indian and global cuisine. The best place to unwind is the spa. There is an in-room service for massages on special request but I would suggest going to the spa. Oda, the young masseuse, kneads out the knots beautifully and then you can go for steam. I tried the signature and deep tissue massages and they worked wonders in relieving tension knots. The gym is in the same area. There is a banquet hall and salon too. The best thing here is the service by the beautiful people of Kashmir who are warm hosts. With 113 rooms, there is a variety to choose from depending on your pocket. You get all Kronocare amenities. The kids will have a good time playing in the gardens. The hotel has an organic garden, so you only eat good food, breathe in the sweet air, revel in the magnificence of the natural world and come back rejuvenated.