Ankur and Sonia, both doctors by profession, live 4.5 kilometres away from the main Mall Road of Shimla. For years they have had a spare apartment which only entertained relatives during any family function. Ankur recalls –
“My parents had bought this place in 1991 and till the last few years, this was used by our relatives when they used to visit us for some family functions. We had no idea what to do with it.”
When asked how he came up with the idea of converting this spare property to a homestay, Ankur says that he stayed in a hotel for a few days during a visit and got fed u of the terrible hospitality that the place offered at sky high prices. He remembers discussing it with his friends who tried to convince him that hospitality will be almost the same in other hotels too. For his next trip to Goa, Ankur decided to book a homestay. Upon discussing this, he excitedly starts to narrate the incident.
“This Homestay in Goa taught me what hospitality is. There was a big difference between how the host was treating me here. He gave attention to all my needs and took care of everything. This is when I thought of doing something like this with my spare place back in Shimla.”
With his first hosting experience, Ankur and Sonia realised that this is something they want to continue with.
“It was a great experience and we were talking about adding few more things to our homestay. We remember discussing it with our friends and they thought it was a stupid idea and that we should not be spending our money on a project like this. But we had made up our mind to at least give it a try.”
He says that running a homestay also meant employment for other people in this rural area. For example, Ankur and Sonia provide taxi services too. They have collaborated with a local who owns taxi’s and also happens to be a friend of the couple. They say that this way the guests get cheaper rates and the taxi guy gets assured customers.
Opening a homestay in Himachal also gave them the opportunity to promote the art, culture and cuisine of Himachal. More than this he wants to give the best experience to the guests. He wants them to be as comfortable as they are in their own house. The couple plans to have a TT table, snooker room, mini theatre in the coming few months.
Being a friendly person, Ankur makes sure that he is available at the check-in of all his guests. He says, “I absolutely have to be there to welcome my guests. This is something I cannot miss.” Our host is proud to run a homestay that gives the best view of the entire place. The Ridge, Jhakoo Temple and the beautiful valley of Shimla are the three famous places that tourists want to visit and this homestay provides you with a view of these places without even stepping out.
He dreams of making Shimla the most sort after homestay destination of India. Adding to this he says, “I am always trying to highlight the good things about running a homestay in front of my friends so that they get influenced by it. People own multiple accommodations in Shimla and I want them to open their houses for this great experience.”
When asked that what will be his favourite hosting moment, he replies saying that one couple came from Kolkata and fell in love with the place and their hospitality. While checking out, the guests gifted his wife with beautiful earrings as a thank you gesture. Ankur says that he has been very lucky to get a chance to host such wonderful people. He narrates another story which got him quite emotional when few of his guests retired back to their room early and their rooms were still being cleaned. Viewing this, the guests removed their shoes which startled Ankur and he couldn’t help but ask them why they did it, to which they answered that your homestay is our home.
The couple gets happily surprised seeing that their guests don’t lock their rooms while stepping out.
“It makes us extremely emotional seeing that how much people trust us. It feels amazing when you see people having this kind of faith in you.”
Providing a memorable stay to their guests is their top priority. People staying with them gets many privileges and facilities. If you are a guest of Ankur and Sonia, your visit to this adventure park in Shimla would be absolutely free. Not only this, you would be given some discounts on the food that is ordered through this homestay.
The happy couple puts all efforts in giving you an experience that will not only last with you forever but will also make you suggest it to all others. They have maintained the place in a beautiful manner. With wooden furnishing, cosy décor and many windows, you will be at ease here enjoying every second. Situated at a hush-hush location, the songs of birds will be the only sound you will be hearing.
Comfort of their guest is the top priority can be seen in how they have planned the entire homestay. The couple is known for being warm, welcoming, friendly nature. They make an effort to know their guests and to make them feel at home. The couple is immensely trusted and loved by all their guests.
Ankur and Sonia are truly inspirational and our super hosts.
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