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Our review: Ananda in the Himalayas in India

Few hotels dedicated to wellness have the reputation of Ananda in the Himalayas, which can boast of having attracted stars from all over the world to northern India. A sanctuary of serenity and well-being , it rises majestically in the foothills of the Himalayas, offering a spiritual escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Pascal Languillon, CEO of Luxe Wellness Club, shares below the story of his exceptional stay at Ananda, recently voted best wellness hotel in the world…

Pascal in the cradle of yoga (Photo: Luxe Wellness Club)

India’s most famous wellness retreat

Ananda in the Himalayas is an award-winning luxury wellness center located in the foothills of the Himalayas, within a Maharaja’s palace estate, no less! It is surrounded by forests and overlooks the spiritual city of Rishikesh and the Ganges Valley. Ananda was once again recognized as the world’s best wellness retreat in 2023 by Condé Nast Traveller USA and UK in the “Readers’ Travel Awards” .

The term “spa destination” refers to hotels dedicated to well-being, which are a destination in themselves, the very purpose of the trip. This is exactly the case for Ananda in the Himalayas, which attracts Americans, English and people from all over the world, and where customers generally stay for ten days or more! The hotel is proud to have recently welcomed actors such as Will Smith and Uma Thurman

Getting there is easy: Ananda is a 45-minute drive from Dehradun airport on a spectacular mountain road. This airport is itself connected by comfortable 45-minute daily flights from Delhi International Airport. All in all, then, I left Paris at 10.30pm and arrived in Ananda at around noon the following day in local time, i.e. about 15 hours door-to-door. Another option is to drive from Delhi, which currently takes around 5 to 6 hours, but a new freeway should reduce this journey time soon.

Ananda is a hotel like no other. As soon as the portal opened, I had the impression of entering a magical, timeless world. The view of this splendid palace, the dense vegetation, the perfectly manicured gardens and that little flute tune that greeted me… From the very first notes, it’s a complete change of scenery. Arriving at Ananda, the natural beauty and tranquility of the place immediately enveloped me, offering a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of my daily life, and the city of Rishikesh below!

As soon as I arrived in my room (which was in fact the very comfortable Ananda Suite), I hurriedly put on my kurta pyjamas, the garment that is the order of the day here and that I’ll be wearing for the rest of my stay. While this may seem surprising at first, I actually loved dressing like this, both because it’s so comfortable and climate-appropriate, and because it means you don’t have to worry about your appearance. Another undeniable advantage is that you can travel with a very light suitcase!

Everything for physical and spiritual well-being

Ananda is a place where elegance meets serenity, a haven for those seeking happiness and a refuge for weary souls. Ananda’s pillars of well-being include Ayurveda, emotional healing, healthy cooking, spiritual awareness, and yoga and meditation. Ananda’s wellness programs are thus designed to stimulate vitality and renew and balance health systems, reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and enhance immunity and energy.

The hotel has a very large heated swimming pool (Photo: Luxe Wellness Club)

Ananda is a place that celebrates the ancient remedies and deep-rooted wisdom of Indian culture. India is synonymous with Ayurveda, a 5000-year-old healing science that cleanses, regenerates and revitalizes the whole body and mind. For me, the Ayurvedic experience was the highlight of my time at Ananda!

It all began with a consultation with the Ayurvedic doctor, following the completion of a detailed online form prior to the stay. This confirmed my dosha (I’m undeniably Vata) and enabled me to adapt my stay accordingly.

The first treatment I received, the four-hand Abhyanga, literally had me glued to my wooden massage table… In ayurveda, men are massaged by men, and women by women. My therapists were two young men who started chanting mantras at the beginning of the treatment. They hadn’t even touched me yet, and I was already shivering with the emotion of being immersed in the depths of ancestral Indian culture!

Another particularity of Ayurvedic treatments, which was very pleasant if slightly disconcerting at first, is that you find yourself completely naked on the massage table when you are lying on your stomach, which allows the masseurs to oil your body from head to toe, passing repeatedly by the buttocks, a part of the body that is often neglected in our Western spas….

The pleasure of bathing in oil all day long (Photo: Luxe Wellness Club)

The four hands in perfect synchronization and the liters of warm oils poured over my body and hair plunged me into a state of total relaxation. At the end of the treatment, head for a steam bath and shower with traditional products to exfoliate the skin and remove oil….

All the other Ayurvedic treatments we tested were of exceptional quality. Truly memorable treatments, and right up there in the pantheon of the best treatments of my life!

Another favorite is emotional healing . In ancient Indian wisdom, healing comes as much from within as from without. On the path to a balanced self, releasing emotional blocks is crucial to accepting the circumstances that have shaped us, and to growing and developing emotionally. So I did a session with a specialist who got me to talk about my past, my parents… and helped me heal my wounds through visualization and hypnosis. An intense moment which helped me to evacuate the sadness accumulated over many years…

Another Indian must: yoga , an essential element in balancing body, mind and soul. Let’s not forget that we’re right next to the cradle of yoga, the city of Rishikesh! At Ananda, personalized yoga programs are designed to meet individual needs, allowing for a deep exploration and enriching practice of yoga. I was able to take part in a few morning group classes (you have to get up early at Ananda) in a superb open-air hall, surrounded by forest… Probably one of the most beautiful yoga salas in the world? I learned to chant mantras and to see yoga in a more spiritual light. Here, yoga is not gym, but a technique for calming the mind…

How can I not also mention Dr. Palak, the physiotherapist extraordinaire who helped me create an action plan to correct my posture over the next six months. A true professional who impressed me with her sound advice.

Finally, I really enjoyed the Vedanta – meaning “the pinnacle of knowledge” – an illuminating insight into the Indian philosophy that represents the very heart of Hinduism, which is taught twice a day to guests…. It’s a unique experience! During the session I attended, I learned many things: the term yoga comes from the word yuj, which means “to join”, like the word “religion”. The aim of yoga is to rediscover one’s inner essence, one’s soul, as it were. The Vedanta teacher explained in a very philosophical way how yoga in its purest expression can help its practitioners to refocus on what’s essential.

Rooms and villas

Most of the rooms are not in the historic palace, but in a building constructed some twenty years ago. The 70 well-appointed rooms feature private balconies with panoramic views of the Ganges Valley. During my stay at the end of the monsoon season, the view was partially obscured by clouds, but I was able to catch a glimpse of the sacred river at times!

The Ananda Suite bedroom (Photo: Luxe Wellness Club)

I was staying in the Ananda Suite, on the first floor. A very pleasant, luxurious suite with its own private garden and pergola… The bathroom is magnificent, the bed very comfortable. The decor is in classic Indian style, allowing you to immerse yourself in the atmosphere…

The bathroom of the Ananda Suite (Photo: Luxe Wellness Club)

The rooms will soon be renovated. If your budget allows, I recommend you book the luxurious villas with spacious living rooms and bedrooms, and beautiful private pools. They have been recently renovated and the furnishings are superb.

Villa 2’s private pool (Photo: Luxe Wellness Club)

Dietetic cuisine with a strong Indian accent

The cuisine at Ananda is a perfect balance of nutrition and flavor, with menus specially designed to suit individual needs, incorporating fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. Each meal is an exploration of vibrant flavors and nutritional benefits, creating an exceptional culinary experience. Expert chef Diwaker Balodi prepares a mouth-watering assortment of Indian, Asian and European delicacies.

The restaurant (Photo: Luxe Wellness Club)

Menus are specially tailored to each individual’s specific wellness needs and programs. For customers following Ayurvedic programs, menus are customized for each dosha or body type.

Delicious, healthy meals (Photo: Luxe Wellness Club)

The restaurant uses farm-fresh, locally sourced ingredients, herbs that are grown in Ananda’s garden, and prepared without any artificial salt, color, flavor or preservatives. I particularly liked the Indian dishes (which make up the bulk of the menu), full of flavor but without too much spice.

Take the Garhwali thali for lunch as an example of a healthy meal that doesn’t skimp on flavor – lentils and black gram and yogurt curry offer a savory touch, followed by a rice pudding that tastes outrageously creamy. Breakfasts were also very healthy. I really liked the poached fruits such as “pear & saffron”.

Breakfast with local flavors (Photo: Luxe Wellness Club)

Every meal is a moment of joy at Ananda.

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Our feeling

Ananda in the Himalayas is a place where luxury meets serenity. It’s a journey of self-discovery and spiritual transformation, a place where you can truly disconnect from the outside world. Exceptional Ayurvedic treatments and delicious cuisine complete the experience, making this an inimitable sanctuary.

Luxe Wellness Club

Book Ananda in the Himalayas

Take advantage of our expertise in medical wellness stays and contact us for a personalized quote for Ananda in the Himalayas .

Rates : From around 900 USD per day with a wellness programme. Enjoy exclusive Luxe Wellness Club benefits: a room upgrade subject to availability, a 55-minute Ananda fusion treatment and a Ganga Aarti in Rishikesh for every 7-day stay.

Call us for the USA on +1 (646) 980 6652to discuss your stay, or +44 20 4577 3258 from the UK.

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