Uma by COMO, Paro, Bhutan
When it comes to feeling off-the-grid, you can’t beat Bhutan. Roads were only introduced in the ’60s, TV and the internet in 1999, and you won’t find a single Starbucks or chain store anywhere. This may conjure up images of a pared-back civilisation and a simple shack for an airport? Wrong. The opulent Tibetan-influenced architecture can be found in all buildings – even the smallest of coffee shops. Ruled by the same royal family since it was formed, calling Bhutan a ‘kingdom’ could not be more apt – it’s totally reminiscent of a fairytale (albeit a Far Eastern one). And Uma by COMO (above) is a pure dream. Perched at the top of the valley of Paro at an altitude of 2,300 metres above sea level, you feel like you’re living in the clouds here. Comprising 29 suites and villas, it has everything that you’d expect from a hotel of its calibre (divine spa, slick design, expert personal butler service and the restaurant is apparently the King’s favourite), but it’s the cultural stuff on offer that’s a treat. Trek up to Tiger’s Nest (a Buddhist monastery that seemingly defies gravity jutting out of a sheer cliff face), book a Himalayan camping trip, go white-water rafting, or visit the takin sanctuary. (The takin, Bhutan’s national animal, is a mythical-looking creature, said to be a cross between a goat and antelope.) Finish the day with a fiery selection of Bhutanese cuisine at a local restaurant (don’t expect a menu, they do things their own way, but ask for ema datshi, a stew of chillies and cheese) before snuggling up next to the bukhari (wood burner) in your villa.
Wow Factor As our guide, Sonam, said: ‘Some guests are so overwhelmed by the view from the plane when they arrive, that they cry.’ It sums up this country entirely.
Go A double room costs from £330 per night; comohotels.com/uma/bhutan. Druk Air (drukair.com.btdrukair.com.bt) return flights from Kathmandu start at £250. Find out more about Bhutan by visiting tourism.gov.bt. Flight time: 15 hours, 35 minutes.
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