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“Chapslee, Shimla. Victorian Nostalgia”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Chapslee

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Chapslee
Ranked #2 of 111 Hotels in Shimla
Certificate of Excellence
Northampton, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Chapslee, Shimla. Victorian Nostalgia”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 November 2011

As a party of four from the U.K. on tour in Nov 2011 we visited many of the N.Indian tourist locations in 3 weeks. Stayed at posh 4*, 5* hotels, but couldn't forget Chapslee. Agree with all positive comments in it's reviews. If you appreciate 'yester-year' of the days of the Raj - the nostalgia lingers even today. You get thrown back in time. Hats off to all who have preserved the ancient property and way of life. If you can do without mod-cons, spa's and loud music, it's for YOU! ..Of-course, as the saying goes..'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.' if your do decide to stay there. Google for photos.
Dilip Parmar and family, Northamptonshire, England.

Room Tip: Rooms available as per your budget. No time to dwell on the outside when there is so much inside!
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  • Stayed November 2011, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank dilip p
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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206 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Kolkata (Calcutta), India
Level Contributor
72 reviews
56 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 November 2011

The review below forms part of an article centred on Chapslee that was published in The Statesman, Calcutta: http://www.thestatesman.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&show=archive&id=331764&catid=44&year=2010&month=6&day=20&Itemid=66


We arrived in Chapslee late in the afternoon. A board at the entrance informed us that the house was built between 1828-35; and was acquired by Lord Auckland, then Governor General of India in 1836 to house his staff. The declaration of the first war against Afghanistan known as 'The Afghan Manifesto', was signed at Chapslee in October 1838. For a while the house was apparently used as a government secretariat before it returned to residential use with a number of famous occupants including Sir Edward Ilbert: he who drafted the landmark bill bearing his name that allowed Indian judges to try Europeans. In the early decades of the twentieth century, the Hon'ble Raja Charanjit Singh, C.I.E., purchased the property as a summer home. A scion of the ruling family of Kapurthala, according to the Chapslee website, the Raja was ‘a host and gourmet extraordinaire and his table was considered to be one of the finest in northern India’.

If this were not enough, our host had left word that should we wish to dine on the premises, a substantial discount was to be offered to us, which suddenly settled all the earlier warnings about value for money. The cook was summoned – and he warmed the cockles of my heart – by turning out to be a true khansama. He said at the outset that a roast chicken was not possible, since he had not had enough notice to marinate the bird but a fried substitute was (possible), and to cover the subterfuge, roast potatoes and ‘two veg.’ would accompany the poultry.

Primary object largely achieved, we set off to explore Chapslee. For all fans of Wodehousian fiction, memories of Blandings Castle, Matchingham Hall and their ilk would come alive in Chapslee. The ground floor houses an ‘occasional table’ filled hall, grand staircase, an 80 ft drawing room, library, morning room and a dining room that can probably house two dozen at one sitting besides individually named bedrooms. Gobelin tapestries, exquisite porcelain, ancestral portraits and a series of signed 1940’s Rulers’ photographs in enormous silver frames leaves one in doubt about the opulence of one’s surroundings.

On the dot, at half past eight, our dinner was announced. A small table had been set for the three of us in an alcove of the dining room, and there we were served by a white-gloved major domo. Course by course, he brought the dishes around for us to help ourselves, and gently urged us to take a little more. There was of course no need to urge. The food was simply superb. The tomato soup tasted like no tomato soup that had passed through our lips; the vegetable was cooked to perfection; and the pieces of chicken, with accompaniments, were uniform in their colour, texture and flavour. If one could highlight one particular aspect of this outstanding repast, it was the succulence of the bird we bit into. ‘Succulence’ probably is not a word one applies to fried chicken – but in achieving that perfect balance between a crispy surface and juicy meat, the khansama demonstrated the complete mastery of his art. Even the sauces and mustard that we sampled were unique. It was all home made and based on recipes that seemed to achieve a perfect balance in spice – piquant enough to add to the taste, while retaining the subtlety and native flavour of the base ingredient. It would not be too much to say that this was the outstanding ‘khansama’ meal of my life, and the pudding that followed only confirmed this opinion.

Coffee was served in one of the smaller drawing rooms, where the current owner of Chapslee, Kanwar Ratanjit Singh, who had been out since our arrival, greeted me. The Kanwar is an elderly gentleman of distinguished appearance. Gracious in accepting my gratitude for making so memorable a stay possible for us, Kanwar Sahib started talking of Calcutta. He had apparently started his working life as a tea planter, based initially for a time in the head offices of Messrs James Finlay in the building which houses today the headquarters of the Allahabad Bank, and which is situated diagonally opposite my own office. Ballygunge threw up more common points of reference. But what caught me completely by surprise was when the Kanwar sahib revealed himself to be a great grandson of Keshub Chunder Sen! A sanad in the library granting a Padmashree had intrigued me; and on probing it emerged that it had belonged to Kanwar Ratanjit Singh’s mother. Suddenly the penny dropped. Naina Devi, the distinguished vocalist to whom the Padmashree had been awarded, had started life as Nilina Sen. It was unbelievable – meeting a descendant of the great Bramho reformer in that setting!

The next morning, the Kanwar Sahib was up at an ungodly hour to see us off. He insisted on coming out to the car and stood waving till we turned a corner. Now, had this not been a quest for a khansama roasted bird and its habitat, where would we have found these old world courtesies?

  • Stayed December 2010, travelled with family
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Helpful?
3 Thank RSAG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Guangzhou, China
Level Contributor
8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 November 2011

Being a Wine Merchant I have been travelling across the Globe and always tend to explore the best...
Without any doubts.. this was one of the most exceptional stay i had with my wife and daughter
Old world charm.. every detail in intact.. the people completely make you feel at home.. i would say better then home..
Given a chance i would love to visit this place again and again.. just to stay in the house/home

Room Tip: Every room is special...
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  • Stayed October 2011, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank VIKASCG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level Contributor
30 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 November 2011

i spent two nights in the Hotel, fetching my daughter who was on exchange at Auckland House. the hotel was conviently located next to the the school and served as a good base to explore the region. food and service were fantastic.

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Martin B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Taunton, United Kingdom
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 November 2011

We spent three days at Chapslee in Ocotber 2011 and found it absolutely enchanting. The house itself (one of the oldest in Shimla) is full of character, and filled with antiques and silver framed photographs of indian princes. Food and service both excellent; and (the icing on the cake for dog lovers like us) four beautiful black labs and one golden retriever!

Room Tip: Upstairs rooms have views but are more expensive
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  • Stayed October 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Richard W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Chapslee

Property: Chapslee
Address: Chapslee, Shimla 171001, India
Phone Number:
Region: India > Himachal Pradesh > Shimla District > Shimla
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#2 Romantic Hotel in Shimla
#5 Family Hotel in Shimla
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): €€€€
Number of rooms: 6
Also Known As:
Chapslee Hotel Shimla

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