“I don’t sell rooms neither do I sell food. What I sell is a lifestyle” ! Says Kanwar Ratanjit Singh of Chapslee in an interview to BBC.
At Chapslee, one steps into a time machine which takes you back into a bygone era that has stopped to exist. The ambiance is not contrived, but exists because it is the lifestyle of Kanwar Ratanjit Singh, as it was in the days of his late grandfather Raja Charanjit Singh of Kapurthala. Lady Penelope Betjeman said “if Shimla is the Queen of the Hills then Chapslee is her Crown”. Originally built in 1835 by Dr. Blake, Lord Auckland, the Governor General of the East India Company hired the house as his Secretariat and named it Secretary’s Lodge. Chapslee was purchased by Raja Charanjit Singh of Kapurthala in 1938, as his Summer Residence. Kanwar Ratanjit Singh, grandson of Raja Charanjit Singh, the present owner, opened its doors to guests in 1976 and was the 8th heritage hotel in India to do so.
Chapslee – A Royal Home Stay at Shimla
Chapslee is my childhood home and where I was born. It is also the sole survivor of a heritage, centuries old. The dilemma was whether to publicise or not and if yes then how, newspapers and magazines beinbg too public. it could not be a ‘business’ as there was far too much at stake, yet expenses had to be met. After much thought as to our prime motive……..the preservation of our heritage and family life style……we decided to carry on as it were, without any change. Though CHAPSLEE had to be registered as a hotel, it was primarily a home and it would always remain so, but we would now share it with our guests, who would pay for the privilege. We did not advertise, if at all it was only by word of mouth. hundreds, perhaps, thousands have come by since, to experience what Chapslee is all about ! Over the years, I have tried to put into words not only my feelings and emotions for my home and heritage, but also the sentiments, accolades and the laurels of all those who have passed through its portals; to encapsulate the spirit and the essence of Chapslee.
Was its aura, it’s ambience, or its beautifully polished furniture and wooden floors even though chipped and scarred, or was it its sparkling silver and brass; was it the feeling of suddenly being transported into the past, to another age, a time gone by, to another world in a time machine? Could it be the charm of old fabric, or the allure of tradition and the tranquility of age; or old wealth, or faded wall-paper, or the muted elegance of Venetian velvet, or was it the tapestries from Versailles, or Brugge, or the graceful blue pottery jardinières from Multan and Peshawar ? It was, perhaps, all of it put together that gave Chapslee the charm and the ‘warmth’ with which it welcomes all who come within its folds.
It is perhaps the aura and sense of history that emanated from the teak woodwork which prompted a visitor to remark that ‘Chapslee was unique, perhaps the only one of its kind in the world’ ! This is perhaps why a publisher from New York had included Chapslee in the now famous book titled, “one thousand places to see before you die’.
The family lifestyle may well be why Chapslee was so deeply rooted in Kunwar Ratanjit Singh’s conscience, in this age of ‘tea-bags, hamburgers and Chowmein’. Graceful living, soft footed and courteous staff, gentility; bells to call ‘room service’, no kettles in the rooms but tea served in a silver service, an exquisitely furnished ‘drawing room’ instead of a grand lobby and in place of a ‘breakfast buffet’, an old fashioned dining room with gloved waiter service; fire places with log fires to take the chill away, whiskey and Gin & tonic served in cut glass decanters; beautifully adorned tray tables for evening tea, or the glow of silver from the small dining table in the alcove, laid for dinner.
Some of them to name are :
- Maharaja’s Palace. (On the Cover).
- One Thousnad Places to see before you die.
- Indian Style.
- Palace Hotels of the Raj.
- Hill Stations of India.
- Beautiful Homes.
- The Great Indian Heritage
Articles in Different Magazines and Newspapers
- Los Angles Times
- Indian ExpressTatler
- Harpers and Collins
- Inside Outside
- Design and Architecture.
Documentaries by BBC and CNN
- Stones of The Raj – BBC
- The Kalka Shimla Railway – BBC
- Rudyard Kippling – BBC
- Parts Unknown. Compared by Anthony Bourdain – CNN
- “The Ochre Border” by Justine Hardy………..her travels in the Tibet Himalayas.
- “Over the High Passes” by Christina Noble…… a year in the Himalaya with migratory Gaddi shepherds.
- “In Grandmother’s footsteps” by Imogen Lycett Green………tracing Lady Penelope Betjeman’s last journey in the Kullu valley, where she was cremated as per her wishes.
Travelogues that feature Chapslee
Chapslee offers five elegantly decorated rooms, two sitting rooms, a dinning hall and a lovely lawn around it. The rooms are decorated with antique furniture, paintings, wall hangings, carpets, chandeliers, old electric switches, age old weapons, family photographs, curtains, upholstery and linen. Collectively they create Victorian ambience and immediately transport one to the bygone era. All rooms have their respective attached toilets and bathrooms with modern facilities.
The Luxury Suite (King Sized bed) – 1 :
Room Tariff : Rs. 25400.00
Taxes : Rs. 4600.00
Total Rs. 30000.00
The Deluxe Suite (King Sized bed) – 1 :
Room Tariff : Rs. 20800.00
Taxes : Rs 4200.00
Total : Rs. 25000.00
Standard Suites (with twin beds) – 3
Room Tariff : Rs. 17500.00
Taxes : Rs. 3000.00
Total = Rs. 20500.00.
The above tariff is applicable per couple, per night and is inclusive of the following:-
- Bed-tea (morning)
- Heating i.e. electric convector heaters
- Service charges in lieu of tips which are not permitted.
Add-ons:…………………..Applicable to The Luxury Suite and The Deluxe Suite only.
Any and All kinds of beverages including those listed in PANTRY SERVICE.
Additional Add-ons……………………………Applicable to all Suites………
(a) When stay is for 3 nights or more :
1. Any and all kinds of beverages, including those listed in PANTRY SERVICE.
2. Pick-up and drop from to Shimla Rail Station.
3. An afternoon’s outing …Tea / cocktails at the Amateur Dramatic Club, Gaiety Theatre Complex.
(b) When stay is for 5 nights or more :
1. Log fires in the bedrooms.
2. Pick-up and drop from to Chandigarh airport or railway station.
3. One full day’s outing – picnic in the woods of Mashobra.
A SPECIAL OFFER FOR INDIAN NATIONALS
2 Nights and 3 Days, as well as 3 Nights and 4 Days packages, with or without sightseeing, are available on request.
PO – Bharari
Shimla – 171001
Contact Numbers :
Office Mobile : +91 9817141099, +91 459519620, +91 7018703170
Landline : +91-177-2810817
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Skype : sumitrvashisht
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