The wave of Instagram influencers and van-lifers breathing fresh bravado into the hybrid working model has been a revolution on foot and wheels alike. In an informal 2020 survey by Booking.com, 68 per cent of Indian travellers were positively inclined towards the concept of taking a 'workation'. Hopping from hostel to homestay, the boundaries of work-life balance are being redefined in a way never experienced before. Homegrown has catalogued 5 transformative retreats exploring the idea that anything from a coffee plantation to a heritage haveli can become a co-working space if your batteries are fully charged.
I. Himalayan Brothers Adventure — Naggar, Himachal Pradesh
Billeted on the median between Kullu and Manali, the ancient hamlet of Naggar is a hill station at 1,800 m above sea level known for its nature treks, trout fishing and 15th century wooden architecture in the Himalayan Kath-kuni style. Enshrouded by apple orchards, the tastefully appointed studio lofts, Swiss tents and double rooms at this family-run heritage homestay overlook a mesmerising vista of the snow-peaked Dhauladhar mountains. Siblings Bhrigu and Ranbir Acharya, comprehending the needs of the digital nomad, offer high speed WiFi up to 100mbps and the covered verandah outside your room or a local café in the arterial streets in the village could serve charmingly as an ideal workstation. It would also be prudent to carry a power bank and update your mobile data plan as electrical outages, while rare, are not impossible at such high altitudes.
You can check them out here.
II. Porcupine Castle — Coorg, Karnataka
Ensconced within 300 acres of a coffee plantation and awash with the tropical fragrance of cardamom and peppers, the treehouses and valley view cottages at this eco-tourism resort promise an enviable backdrop for your video calls. Anila V Paul, the director at Porcupine Castle mentions how the staff had to be trained and the arboreal chalets equipped with dongles to benefit not just full-time professionals but also school students logging into online classrooms during pandemic lockdown. If the farm-to-table local cuisine and homegrown roasted brews are not enticing enough then you might consider long expeditions through the reserve forests in pursuit of flying squirrels and pangolins or mingling with other remote workers by a communal bonfire post business hours.
You can find out more here.
III. Ahilya By the Sea — Nerul, Goa
Managed by the royal Holkar family of Indore, the red laterite villas of Ahilya By the Sea remind one of a Moroccan riad with its gable roofs, ornate iron railings and sumptuous hardwood artefacts. Clasping the edge of Coco Beach in the backwaters of Nerul, this nine-suite boutique property boasts of an infinity pool, a home office setup and round-the-clock room service. If you wish to go off the grid in style, fishing for crabs during your lunch break or lose your way in the labyrinthine Portuguese streets of Fontainhas at twilight, this tropical paradise should be your new address. A soporific massage at the Banyan Spa or sunbathing by the beach shacks over the weekend could help you ward off the Monday blues.
You can book your stay here.
IV. Tree Of Life (Grand Oak Manor) — Binsar, Uttarakhand
As sturdy and anachronistic as the old growth oaks that surround it, the Grand Oak Manor used to be a British Commissioner's summer home before it was repurposed as an 11-key heritage hotel. Proudly roosting atop the Kumaon hills, the colonial rooms bear flourishes of teak wood in its furniture, humming fireplaces and high ceilings that will lull you into antiquated listlessness. The pressure of deadlines evaporates like the mist rising from the Binsar valley underpinning the vintage mansion, a writer's nook peering into its southern lawns is steeped in silence except for the Himalayan Bulbul's admonitions and the sunset lounge is where you can retire for a chess match with fellow workationers. Indulging in a Kumaoni thali or forest bathing among the pine needles and rhododendrons will deliver the perfect balm for your citybred anxiety.
You can reserve a room here.
V. RAAS Hotel — Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Meticulously carved from lime mortar and sandstone, the Jodhpur chapter of RAAS Hotels is unbeatable in its beguiling panorama of Mehrangarh Fort at the Old City. Whether clacking away on your keyboard in the dappled daylight streaming through latticed jharokha windows of the common areas or lounging poolside at the colossal central courtyard, you are constantly reminded of regional craftsmanship that has been transmuted into effortless luxury. A coterie of 40 rooms furnished in sheesham wood, hand cut stone and pigmented terrazzo for the floors sprawl across this 18th century haveli style property retrofitted with spas, a café incredulously situated within a step well and a rooftop bar rumoured to be enchanting in its potent remedies for the hard workers among us.
You can explore accommodations here.