Vana, Uttarakhand, India

Well, well… wellness. That's the word on the tip of our collective, proverbial tongues. Stress, stress, stress is the antonym that sits at the forefront of our minds.

Escaping to India to get away from the constant noise (in our heads and our hometown) may seem a little counterintuitive, but Vana, which lies in northern India, is positioned away from the chaos associated with this country of contradictions. A hilltop retreat that sits like a cloud of calm above the commotion of its neighbouring cities, Vana is a tranquil and rejuvenating space. Opened by the human embodiment of calm and happiness, the Dalai Lama, its seal of spiritual approval is welded on.

From fitness to calming the mind, on arrival you will be assigned a personalised programme which will you will follow for the course of your stay (a minimum of five days - though you'll undoubtedly brush elevated knees with others who have stayed for a month). Attracting a mixture of guests from run-down celebrities to big-city burnouts eager to tester Vana's unique blend of Ayurvedic, Chinese and Tibetan medicine, Vana serves as a leveller for all people and all problems.

Change into your uniform of a white kurta and trousers and slip into a simpler, calmer way of life.


When your room comes with a guaranteed garden or forest view, by osmosis you're certain to feel "at one" with nature pretty instantly. Complementing its surrounds, earthy tones bathe in a soft light that floods in through the trees across the bamboo floors. In such meditative surrounds you'd be forgiven for nodding off on the spot, but it's worth staggering across to your wardrobe to grab your kurta pyjamas before diving in to your crisp, organic bed linens and sailing off into a deep sleep. In room you'll have high-speed internet if you need to use your phone, but you're obliged to leave it in your room. Namaste here til my "gram" post loads.

What's for breakfast?

During your stay you'll munch on a mixed breakfast, which includes Indian foods as well as a more traditional western-style buffet - all in keeping with Vana's wellness and Ayurveda principles.

How about lunch and dinner?

If you're a fan of buffets, then the lunchtime spread at Vana won't disappoint. With no refined sugars, grains or oils on the menu, your dainty evening meals are extremely healthy, flavoursome but, thankfully, not intimidatingly restrictive. Order a three-course meal and you'll feel satisfied rather than stuffed. Choose to eat on your own or join the other guests at the communal tables; socialising isn't mandatory here. Praise be.

Is there are bar?

No, the only alcohol available is wine or champagne served at dinner time at the Salana restaurant or in your room - unless your specific detox prohibits you from drinking.


If you're not in the spa or yoga pavilion, odds are we'll find you floating in the infinity pool. With tennis courts, a gym, sauna, steam and hammam rooms plus group activities - from om chanting and music performances to aqua therapy - you'll likely tire yourself out long before your intended bedtime. If (somehow) sleepiness has yet to strike, head to Vana's impressive library filled with a broad range of readings - from Buddhist teachings to comic books that recount famous Hindu stories.

Things you should know

You don't need to pack any clothes. Prudish types, don't worry - when you arrive you'll be given a white kurta that's changed daily. Dress code: back to basics.

Within a short walk you will find…

You will be extremely busy with your programme so time for exploring is rather limited. However, beyond the property there are some excursions you can opt in for - visit to the Ganges anyone?