Imagine taking in deep breaths of pure mountain air as you gaze over the River Ganga flowing through forested Himalaya hills towards Rishikesh, a town sacred to Hindus. This spiritual idyll is just six hours' drive from Delhi or a short flight and a 90-minute drive. The hotel's gentle hillside, almost enclosed by the twisting river, was spotted by Canadian-Indian entrepreneur Arjun Mehra while white-water rafting; he remembered his mother's pilgrimages. Working with Montreal architects YH2, he created the hotel retreat of his dreams using local kath-khuni building techniques that mix Himalayan river stone, slate and wood, as you see in nearby villages; and he chose Eco-id for the sleek interiors with local references. Some guest rooms are in the main building which evokes the area's darbargadh palace-forts; others are in chalets on the garden terraces that stretch down to the pool, riverside pebble beach (morning meditation), yoga pavilion (professional instructors) and quality Jiva spa - a signature of the Taj group which manages the hotel. The food is fascinating, many dishes using local herbs, pulses and vegetables unknown in the rest of India. Mehra's aim to create a deluxe-appointed private mountain lodge works. Tempting to stay put, enjoy the view, eat, read, treat yourself. But experiences outside this sophisticated Himalayan hide-away are probably irresistible.