I can pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with Rokeby Manor in Landour.
It was about 7.00 in the morning and I had just arrived at Rokeby after an overnight journey from New Delhi to Dehradun and a lovely drive from there. Since I was early and the hotel was fully occupied, the room meant for me was not ready. I was, therefore, offered the use of another room till my ‘real’ room was ready.
I agreed and once the registration formalities were completed was led up a flight of wooden stairs and shown to Room 11 — a cosy little room, with a single bed, a tiny writing desk, windows with a view of the valley, and a bathroom that was probably as big as the room itself. One look around the room and I knew that I wouldn’t be shifting to another room. I was in love with Rokeby Manor. 🙂
Later on in the day, the hotel did try to persuade me to shift to a better, more comfortable room, but I declined for Room 11 was just perfect for me to read, write, look out of that window with a view, dream, and generally relax. Room 11 wasn’t also the only reason I liked Rokeby — its history, heritage, decor and the people who manage it contributed just as much to make my stay a memorable one. 🙂
Landour is at 7,750 ft above sea level and Rokeby Manor, a landmark there, is situated between two other landmarks — St.Paul’s Church and Kellogg’s Church. A heritage building today, Rokeby Manor was built in 1840 by Captain G.N. Cauthy. The name Rokeby Manor comes from the writings of Sir Walter Scott, whose book-length poem describes heroic battles near the original Rokeby Castle in England.
Rokeby’s ownership changed many times and it went through many avatars — from a private residence to a boarding house to a guest house — before it became the hotel that it is today.
The last owners of Rokeby were the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church who purchased it in 1930. They turned the Manor into a boarding house for missionary ladies studying Urdu and Hindi at the nearby Landour Language School. The Methodist missionaries continued using Rokeby Manor as a guest house right till the end of the 20th century.
Before Rokeby Manor became a hotel under the present management, it underwent restoration. This was done to highlight the original vision of an English manor house with special attention paid to the wooden floors, stairs and ceiling beams, fireplaces, brick arches and niches. Because Rokeby Manor was never intended to be a hotel, all its rooms are different from one another in size or design. I would have loved to see the individual rooms and the design and decor for each, but had to be content with looking at the pictures for all the rooms were occupied.
Today, Rokeby Manor it is a charming place dotted with little eccentricities and oddities. Arm chairs and sofas one can sink into, a large selection of books to choose from, old photographs and signage, a lush garden, a swing… Have a look 🙂
In addition to the main Rokeby Manor where I stayed, the hotel has cottages and cabins in Landour as options for stay, particularly for families and groups. Known as Residences, I was keen on seeing them, but since they were all occupied, I could only see them from the outside.
I did, however, manage to get a peek into Shamrock Cottage and its shelves filled with books and cosy reading nooks, like the one below. ❤
At the entrance to Rokeby Manor is a board that advertises Rokeby Manor’s dining options — Emily’s, Landour Bakehouse, The Stray Dog – Stubli and the Ale House, and the Clock Tower Cafe. While Emily’s is situated on the first floor of the Manor itself, the next two are within walking distance of Rokeby. The last one, Clock Tower Cafe, is located in Mussoorie and will either require a trek down to the Cafe or a taxi ride. Each of these eating places focus on a different kind of cuisine and, with the exception of The Stray Dog – Stubli and the Ale House, I ate at all the other places.
Emily’s is easily the most popular of the Rokeby dining options, with even day trippers to Landour dropping in for a meal. Open through the day, it serves both Indian and Continental dishes. Rokeby’s resident guests are served breakfast at Emily’s and for me it was the perfect place to begin my day and have my favourite meal of the day. The breakfast spread at Emily’s is a mix of Indian (poha, upma, puri, bhaji, etc) and Continental (eggs, toast, peanut butter, jam, muesli, cereal, etc) food. My favourite was the Bircher Muesli made from rolled oats, grated apples, yoghurt, and almonds with a dash of honey. I loved the muesli and made sure that I had a bowlful every morning for breakfast. The other dishes I tried at Emily’s was pasta for lunch (nice, but nothing memorable), and a kadhi chawal for dinner (absolutely delicious).
The Landour Bakehouse is the place for freshly baked goodies and the best honey lemon tea I’ve ever had anywhere. Like good bakeries, you can smell the Bakehouse before you can actually see it. One of the nicest things about the Bakehouse, other than their products, is that they showcase books by the local authors and one can buy them and other bookish odds and ends there. I brought back some goodies for home from the Bakehouse, fully intending to take pictures of them before eating them. But, as it happens with delicious stuff, I got busy eating them and forgot to take pictures.
The Clock Tower Cafe in Mussoorie is named after a clock tower that once stood there. It serves pizzas, pastas, burgers, milk shakes, desserts, Chinese food, etc. Like all the other Rokeby dining places, this one too is cosy with well thought out seating, and is filled with books and magazines. The walls are full of posters and quirky signs, which I had a great time reading as I waited for my order of pizza (delicious !) to arrive.
My visit to Landour and my stay at Rokeby happened at a time when I had just finished a very hectic and stressful deadline at work. Literally, I finished the task and left for Landour (and Rokeby Manor) the very next day. After 6 months of almost no weekends or holidays, I was tired and sorely in need of a break and couldn’t wait for the holiday in the hills — as I termed my trip to Landour — to begin.
As you may have read, the trip began badly and I arrived at Rokeby even more stressed out and tired. It didn’t, however, take long for me long to relax and get into the holiday groove. It began with my room with a view and the fresh mountain air; Rokeby did the rest. The relaxed pace at Rokeby — some may even call it slow — suited me just fine and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.
Initially, on my first day, I tried exploring Landour’s and Mussoorie’s ‘must-see’ sights, and then gave up for I realised that my heart was not in it. All I wanted to do was to just walk and wander around Landour and chat with the local people, if possible. And that is exactly what I did (watch out for my next two posts).
It was also lovely going up to my room with a book or books selected from one of the many bookshelves in the hotel and read late into the night in bed. It was the kind of relaxation that I needed; I could visibly feel the stress and accumulated tiredness just melt away.
The next time I need to de-stress and relax and wander around and read in bed and not do anything else, I know where I need to go.
Thank you, Rokeby. 😀
Disclaimer: I was invited by Rokeby Manor to visit and stay with them. This post is an outcome of my experience there. Needless to stay, the views and words are all mine. Thank you Rokeby, for you invite and for hosting me. 🙂