The Himalayas have long been thought of as one of the remotest places to travel to in the world – indeed what else would you expect of the highest mountain range on the planet? And, whilst this perception is still true, increased interest in trekking in this region has prompted a new form of trekking – in style and comfort. I have to say, I was slightly apprehensive about trekking in this fashion - a religious camper and tea house trekker for many years I didn’t know how I would feel about trekking ‘in style’. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised and amazed by the level of service and accommodation you can receive in some of the most far flung corners of the world. What makes ‘In Style’ trekking different?
1. The lodges
Over the last few years a series of luxury lodges have sprung up in both the Everest and Annapurna regions of Nepal. Improving on the already-existant tea houses, all are built in local traditional styles, with beautiful decorations and hangings adorning walls and entrance ways. All also have well placed terraces amongst wonderfully tended gardens looking towards the mountains. Undoubtedly one of my favourite things about staying in these lodges was the ‘Happy Hour’ usually just before dinner. After a long day of trekking a beer by an open fire with popcorn or some other delicious snack, chatting to all your fellow trekkers and guides about the day, was just what was needed!
2. Your room
The rooms in these lodges have been designed carefully to give the extraordinary levels of comfort, taking into account the long day of trekking that their occupants have just been through! All are fantastically decorated with windows looking towards the mountains. Even more amazingly all had en-suite bathrooms with hot running showers (!!) complete with shampoo, towels and soap. The beds were more comfortable than my own at home, double duvets, electric blankets and hot water bottles, blankets, lamps….I could go on and on.
3. The food
All of your food is included on trek, and breakfast and dinner are supplied by the lodge you are staying in.
Having expected and prepared myself be eating potatoes and noodles for 2 weeks I was very surprised to be presented with lemon chicken and rice on my first night on trek. The lodges tend to serve set menus that they rotate daily, usually between continental dinner and Nepali dal bhat. Breakfast again is very substantial; just what is needed for energy for the day ahead. My first breakfast consisted of porridge, toast and eggs - a real treat.
4. The equipment
If you are trekking in the Annapurna region of Nepal the luxury lodges not only provide a fantastic place to sleep and eat, they also provide kit you might need whilst staying with them. My room in Kerr and Downey’s Himalaya Lodge has a down jacket, fleecy hat and gloves, crocs, and even an umbrella in it. See picture for me sporting some of the items! This is also a particularly useful service as you can take less in your main bag, meaning your porter will have less to carry.
Overall conclusion: Whilst on classic treks we do use the best family run tea houses available, if you are looking for style and comfort I would definitely upgrade – you will not be disappointed. I spent most of my trip with my mouth wide open in astonishment.