Shreyas

Bangalore, India Book from

Reviewed by Isabel Putinja
Romantic, restorative yoga retreat and spa in 25 acres of verdant gardens, an hour north-west of Bangalore
If the idea of an ashram sounds rather spartan, but you're attracted to yoga and spiritual development, this could be your kind of place. Shreyas ('all-round excellence' in Sanskrit) is somewhere between a luxury resort and an ashram: yoga and meditation classes, personalised treatments and veggie food, combined with super-comfy tents and cottages, an ozonated infinity pool and a Jacuzzi.

Owner and founder Pawan Malik is an investment banker, so he knows all about the stresses of city life and how to purge them - as tired corporate types are finding out to their lasting benefit. Set in 25 acres of landscaped gardens filled with palms and bamboo groves, his creation is only an hour from bustling Bangalore, but feels a world away. Under the trees is an open-sided yoga and meditation hall, with an outdoor theatre for group sessions. The atmosphere is decidedly laid-back and there’s no pressure to attend classes; after all, the goal here is relaxation and rejuvenation.

Pawan's Sri Lankan wife Leesha is responsible for the Zen-inspired interiors, with Buddha statues, water channels and stone pillars. Large windows and bamboo blinds let light flood in by day; hurricane lanterns create a magical effect at night. It's a beautiful place to forget (or remember) yourself - a happy marriage of ancient wisdoms and modern comforts.

Highs

  • The small size (maximum 25 guests) and tranquil garden setting make it the ideal place to relax and unwind
  • This is self-discovery without the dogma - programmes are tailored to your needs following a consultation with the resident doctors, but if you just want to chill out by the pool that's fine too
  • The excellent vegetarian food is wholesome and delicious, with ingredients picked fresh from the organic garden
  • The contemporary design features watery walkways, open-plan spaces, a stylish pool and plenty of quiet corners
  • Classes are small, with individual attention from the smiling instructors - ideal for beginners and improvers

Lows

  • The focus on body and soul means no alcohol, meat or smoking are allowed
  • The morning yoga class has a 7am start, but there’s no pressure to attend
  • Shreyas is more of a retreat than a base for sightseeing, but excursions to Bangalore, Mysore and other places of interest can be arranged
  • The noise from the nearby railway line can be a nuisance - you’ll find earplugs on your bedside table just in case

Best time to go

Bangalore has a temperate climate, making it suitable all year round. The monsoon is from June to September, but is mild compared to the rainy season in other parts of India. For most of the year temperatures hover between 20 and 30 degrees, rising to 35 degrees in April and May.

Our top tips

Bring plenty of light, loose clothing for yoga and meditation, plus a shawl or pullover for the evenings (particularly if you're here during the monsoon season between June and September, or in the winter months between November and January). You'll also need mosquito repellent and closed shoes for wandering around the gardens.

Great for...

Eco
Foodie
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Yoga Retreat
  • 12 cottages
  • All meals included
  • Over 2s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Jogging track
  • Cricket net and bowling machine
Room:

Rooms

The 12 cottages are as serene as their surroundings, with soft lighting, minimalist décor and fresh flowers.

We stayed in one of the 8 tented Garden Cottages, scattered across the gardens amid palm trees and bamboo. Each has a private veranda and a bathroom with a power shower, opening onto a small plant-filled courtyard. Furnishings are simple and elegant, with an East-Asian touch (bamboo blinds, Balinese-style lamps and Japanese wardrobes), and the beds (kingsize or twin) are very comfortable - we slept soundly and awoke to birdsong.

The 3 Poolside Cottages, set closer to the dining hall, are more contemporary in style, with abstract paintings on the walls. Each has a sitting area with a sofabed, plus a small rear veranda.

There’s also a larger cottage with 3 ensuite bedrooms (2 doubles/twins and a single) - ideal for a family or group of friends. Its living area has sofas and cosy floor seating, so you can curl up with a one of the books lining the shelves. The décor has a South Indian influence, with brass lamps, bronze sculptures and artwork of Indian deities. Outside is a wide veranda.

All cottages have air conditioning, safes, hairdryers, bathrobes and tea-making facilities. They also boast yoga mats and broadband connections - a wonderful pairing that epitomises Shreyas - as well as thoughtful little extras such as umbrellas, torches and flip-flops. On the desks are books on yoga and spirituality, and at bedtime you’ll find an inspirational message waiting on your pillow.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee tea making
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Slippers
  • Yoga mats

Eating

If you thought vegetarian meant boring, you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. The varied food served at Shreyas is a big hit with guests - so much so that a recipe book has been published following numerous requests (there are also regular cooking demos).

Meals, often served alfresco in the garden or by the pool, are a high art. Tables are beautifully decorated with freshly cut flowers and petals, with soft lamps and candles at night. The exquisite dishes are low on spices, salt, sugar and oil, but high on taste, with healthy wholefoods such as whole-wheat roti and red rice. All dietary preferences can be catered for, and most ingredients are hand-picked from the organic vegetable and herb garden.

At breakfast you’ll be served fresh juice, toast, oatmeal and freshly picked seasonal fruits. Indian breakfast favourites like idlis and parathas are also available.

Lunch and dinner are extravagant 4-course affairs made up of Indian dishes or Mediterranean cuisine. The starter is usually soup (we enjoyed pumpkin and roasted carrot and bell pepper), followed by a salad - perhaps beetroot, cucumber and dill, or French bean with sesame seeds. For mains we had tandoori tofu with mushrooms, squash with amaranth leaves, and stuffed pancakes with cauliflower and pea masala (all delicious). Dessert is normally fresh fruit, and there's a different bread with every meal.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Coffee tea making
  • Organic produce
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Group classes are held every morning and late afternoon; 1-on-1 sessions are also available on request. Classes combine Hatha, Ashtanga or Nidhra yoga with Pranayama (breathing), meditation and mantra chanting

  • For a bit of pampering head to the spa, which offers a variety of relaxing massages (Balinese, Thai, Swedish) and Ayurvedic therapies. The in-house doctors provide personalised consultations before treatments to determine your needs

  • Several longer programmes ranging from 3 to 21 nights are also available, including weight management, wellness and Ayurvedic rejuvenation (see Rates for details of the most popular, and enquire for details of others)

  • A stroll or jog along the 3km of paths that wind through the grounds will take you past bamboo groves, lily ponds, fruit trees and frangipani bushes. Stop at one of the meditation huts for some quiet time

  • Unwind in the pool, Jacuzzi or steam room

  • Work out in the gym, or hone your cricket skills (and let out any remaining aggression!) on the professional bowling machine

  • Help with planting and harvesting in the organic vegetable and herb garden

  • If it’s wet, head to the library to browse the excellent collection of novels and books on spirituality, choose from over 1,000 films in the home cinema room, or join a cooking class

  • Take part in the community involvement programme and visit a village, school or orphanage nearby. You can help to prepare and serve food, or volunteer to teach English or a vocational skill to children

  • Go on a shopping excursion to Bangalore, visit the royal city of Mysore, or take a trip to the majestic temples of Halebid, Belur and Shravanabelagola

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Historical sites
  • Meditation
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Yoga

Kids

Children over the age of 2 are accepted, though the resort does not actively cater to families and is more of a quiet retreat. Extra beds can be provided for children under 8, and the Poolside Cottages have sofabeds. A maximum of 2 kids are allowed per cottage.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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Rates for Shreyas