This Award-Winning Spa Retreat in India Offers a Holistic Wellness Experience

Credit: Ananda in the Himalayas

With a rich history of Ayurveda and yoga training, Rishikesh has long attracted travelers seeking inner peace, sliced through by the holy Ganges River, the city pulses with the gentle beat of tabla drums, morning chants, and the low chatter of barefoot yogis flocking to hole-in-the-wall cafes for fresh juice smoothies. But high on the hills overlooking the ancient city rests Ananda in the Himalayas, a luxury spa retreat built on the grounds of a 100-acre palace estate.  

Credit: Ananda in the Himalayas

Ananda first opened in 2000. Since then, its reputation as a wellness destination has grown fast and strong as the bamboo forests studding the property. From detox seekers and stressed executives to Ayurveda aficionados and A-list celebrities, all receive highly personalized service and attention.

Upon arrival, guests are ushered into the elegant palace lounge for a cup of Ananda’s signature ginger honey lemon tea. Since there’s only one sumptuous suite in the palace itself, all others are invited to climb into a club car for a ride through the lush landscaping and down to their standalone villas or rooms housed in an airy, white building settled into the hillside gardens.

Credit: Ananda in the Himalayas

Each of Ananda’s 70 rooms and five suites includes a spacious terrace and white porcelain bathtub with panoramic views of the gardens, palace, or the verdant valley. The rooms are relaxing without being extravagant. All amenities, from daily yoga and meditation to a pillow menu and daily-laundered white kurta pajamas, work together to encourage a blissful state of serenity.

Credit: Ananda in the Himalayas

Each of Ananda’s three villas was renovated in June 2022. These supremely private dwellings feature elegant wood furnishings and a sauna, fireplace, landscaped deck, and personal swimming pool. Villas also include a private butler for high-touch service throughout the stay. 

Credit: Ananda in the Himalayas

Of course, Ananda is much more than a place to rest your head. Its crowning jewel is the pool-adjacent 25,000-square-foot spa. The calming, marigold-festooned interior houses a dizzying array of therapeutic experiences that blend Ayurvedic principles, Traditional Chinese Medicine, international treatments, fitness, physiotherapy, and, more recently, emotional wellness. 

Credit: Ananda in the Himalayas

Though room-only stays are available, most visitors check into Ananda for 7+-day wellness programs. Programs include an extensive pre-arrival questionnaire and consultation, a personalized menu, spa services, and more. These programs are why Conde Nast Traveler has placed Ananda in the top 10 destination spas in the world for the last six years. It’s also why Oprah Winfrey described Ananda as “more like a pilgrimage than a visit.” 

Top Takeaways

Location: just outside of Rishikesh, India

Rating: Five-star

The Vibe: Laidback zen retreat in the foothills of the Himalayas

Food + Drink: Enjoy a fresh fusion of Indian, Asian, and Continental foods whipped up from local organic produce. For guests on a wellness plan, personal menus are designed based on a consultation with an Ayurvedic expert. All meals are served in the lofty restaurant anchored by a gleaming wood-burning stove or outside on the forest-ensconced deck. For those feeling peckish between meals, there’s room service or complimentary bites and afternoon tea (4 to 6 PM) in The Pavilion. Most guests visit Ananda to detox, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a small tipple or bottle of wine on request. 

Amenities: spa; daily yoga and meditation; Vedanta lectures; fitness center; outdoor temperature-controlled swimming pool; restaurant; putting green; hiking or cultural excursions in and around Rishikesh

Our Favorite Thing About the Hotel: The serene setting and warm hospitality immediately soothe even the most harried minds. 

5 Nearby Attractions: Ganges River, Triveni Ghat, Devi Music Ashram, Rajaji National Park, Chaurasi Kutia (also known as the Beatles Ashram), 

Any Personal Neighborhood Recs? With the property so close to the Ganges, there’s no excuse to skip Ganga Aarti at Triveni Ghat. This ancient Hindu ceremony of fire, flowers, and fealty to the holy river is a cultural and religious experience like no other. Ananda makes it easy by offering group excursions — though if there’s none scheduled during your stay, the staff can make arrangements. 

Rooms: 78 rooms, suites, and villas

Pricing: Room-only rates start at $770 a night.

Closest Airport: Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun

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