Plan a vacation and the whole group starts browsing through the best hotels in that particular destination. But isn’t it about time we start giving hotel stays a rest and start making accommodation as adventurous and fun as the remaining parameters of the trip. Let’s take a look at the kinds of accommodation, an alternative to hotels in India.
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One of the best ways to take in essence of the local culture is via homestays. The apprehensions that run around lodging in a homestay mostly include the condition of the place, the behaviour of the hosts, and the quality. However, you can easily keep such doubts at bay with the homestay scenario only getter better in India. While Goa, Kerala and Rajasthan score high on offering the best of homestays in India, other regions also collectively form a decent image for accommodation.
Tip: Some hosts offer a room in their homes while some even provide a separate quarter. Choose as per the kind of privacy you’d require.
You may alternatively browse through the registered list of homestays on the official tourism website of states like Himachal Pradesh and Kerala.
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We’d pick a tree house any day over a regular hotel stay. Imagine leaning against the balcony on a treetop with a whole lot of lush greenery around, doesn’t it seem beautiful? Now think if it seems so splendid in your head then how amazing would it feel when you witness it all through your eyes! Such an accommodation is easy to find in parts of Kerala (like Munnar, Wayanad, Thekkady, Masinagudi, etc.), Rajasthan, and Himachal. Since they are mostly in the interiors or forests, one can also find such habitats in wildlife sanctuaries too (like Jim Corbett, Bandhavgarh, Rajaji).
Tip: Accommodations like these often provide elephant rides. Make sure you experience it.
Alleppey (Alappuzha) in Kerala and houseboats pretty much go hand in hand. The backwaters of this destination offer a sheer delight in the form of witnessing some of the most spectacular views while you sit and relax amidst the waters. A stay in a houseboat is not only mesmerising for the fact that you get to stay in the waters but also because of the added activities offered such as a spa session or a folk dance performance. Authentic South Indian cuisine, drinks, high-end amenities, pretty much every luxury can be availed at houseboats. Ranging from budget to luxury, guests can book as per their preferences and requirements.
Tip: If you’re a person who easily gets water sick, it’s better to book for a half day ride instead of a tiring two-day long one.
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A few years before backpacker hostels wouldn’t exactly be a preference among solo travellers. They’d often pick up a budget hotel. The reasons were many. You had to get past through a long waiting list, compromise on cleanliness or inmates and also because of the few number of hostels open in India. However, in the recent times, these hostels have become a rage among youngsters. A lot of good backpacker hostels have opened that offer quality stays in budget and no more is there the problem of getting through that long list of applicants. A perky decor, lively dormitories, free Wi-Fi, a great collection of books, music, games, and some amazing people, backpacker hostels are all about fun experiences.
Tip: Not all backpacker hostels allow drinking and smoking within the premises so check that out before you book one.
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Vacation Rentals are quite a trend in the regions of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Goa. A lot of people rent out their villas and cottages to families on vacation. People travelling in groups mostly prefer staying in cottages because of reasons ranging from convenience to budget. A lot of international tourists who come around for a long stay often book such cottages. Goa has several beachside cottages rented out to foreigners. These cottages are fully furnished and come with house helps. Most of them are inspired by British decor. Some travellers also work on a stay exchange criteria wherein they rent out their place to someone and stay in that person’s place. That is another exciting thing to try although do a background check before going for this.
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Camping is an altogether different experience. While on a wildlife adventure or a desert trip, you should try for this unconventional stay idea. Such tented houses offer all kinds of luxuries under the starlit sky apart from being a regular means of shelter. They offer an avenue to make new friends and participate in fun activities. Some organizers also conduct entertainment sessions in the form of performances by local artists or camel safaris. Tented camps are best experienced at Jaisalmer, Kutch, Rishikesh, Leh and several wildlife sanctuaries like Jim Corbett, Hemis National Park, and Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary.
Tip: Carry a mosquito repellent. You never know you might just be bugged by few insects. Take extra care of hygiene and cleanliness.
Other alternatives to hotels include boutique hotels (mostly in Rajasthan), motels and caravan although caravan is something that Indian tourism and hospitality industry still needs to score on.