As we got out of the bus in Manali, the October chill enveloped us. It was pleasant. But not for long. We travelled further up to Solang Valley, to our chosen place of stay. The trip was hastily put together. So we didn’t do any research but opted for the hotel a good friend suggested. That it is away from the bustling Manali helped. It did not cross our mind that Hotel Iceland would live up to its name in October as well.
The chill hit us the moment we stepped out of the vehicle. The sun was up but we were shivering. A very helpful attendant served us breakfast at a sunny table. That helped a bit. Lunch table was at a different side to catch the sun again. Dinner was served inside the restaurant, with a heater close by.
Solang is a well-known destination for skiing. Even otherwise, it is enchanting. A picture-postcard place, with two giant mountains towering over from a height of about 12,000 ft. Solang village is up on the slope of one of the mountains. Iceland Hotel is among the few buildings at the base. One of its advantages is location—the rooms and open-air restaurant offer great views of both the slopes and snow-clad mountain ranges behind. The rippling sound of the river, a tributary of Beas, forms background music throughout.
The open space between two blocks doubles up as an outdoor restaurant. While not tucking in the delicious food whipped up by the efficient chef, one can get lost in a book on the comfortable swings. Or feast one’s eyes on the supernal beauty of the landscape and fall into a slumber. That is, if one gets used to the chill.
In the evening, we set out to explore the area. A few minutes of walk up the road, we reached a small plateau, where there is a ropeway and facilities for paragliding. The ropeway takes you to the top a mountain. From the top, we got a fantastic view of the mountain ranges on the other side—a beautiful sight to behold.
The captivating landscape, nice rooms, tasty food, very courteous and friendly staff—in the end, unplanned or not, it turned out to be a good decision to stay in Solang, and at Hotel Iceland.
Solang is about 13-14 kilometers from Manali town. Iceland has about 40 rooms and a few more cottages are under construction. During winter, they also provide equipment and facilities for skiing.