Aalaya by Happy Retreats – A Getaway Destination Amidst the Concrete Jungle

Ever been someplace that makes you think of doing something uncharacteristic? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me a couple months ago, during a staycation at Aalaya by Happy Retreats, a charming property with lush greenery and enthusiastic, well-trained, attentive staff, located off Tumkur Road. Pegged as a venue for weddings and special events, we were invited to experience the property over a weekend, and were lucky enough to have the place to ourselves. After a leisurely walk through the property, with its bountiful fruit (mango, jackfruit, chickoo, papaya), sandalwood and rudraksha trees and multitude of bushes and shrubs, not to mention a darling little gazebo and a stately set of stairs connecting the 1st floor to a wraparound balcony that ran the length of the house, I found myself thinking I could (almost) get married just to be able to celebrate the occasion here!

The very entrance to the property, the car parking area, and the grounds are testament to the love and attention shown to the space to keep it looking verdant, pretty, and event ready, not to mention providing the perfect escape from the concrete jungle, without needing to travel far at all! I am quietly plotting a reason to head back – and no you don’t have to have an event like wedding/birthday/anniversary/bachelorette/team outing/etc to book – they do accept bookings for a little vacation away from home too. Whether you are a group of colleagues, friends, a family with kids, or a couple looking for a romantic spot, Aalaya will be able to cater to your needs.There are, at present, four well appointed bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, two on the ground floor and two on the first, and with additional bedding and spaces across the two floors and a loft space as well, they can actually house 15 plus people comfortably. There is a full dining table and bar, ample living room seating on both floors, and one can’t help but feel like they are visiting a posh but still cozy and welcoming home. With so many knickknacks and objects d’art all over, it was also tempting to keep clicking away at every nook!

During the course of our 24 hours there, we were treated to home style cooking and simple but delicious food, with the spread featuring both veg and non-veg items, served by the ever-smiling and helpful staff. Oh and a shout-out to the excellent masala chai! In the afternoon, we did a little pottery making and for the evening, they really went all out, setting up a space under a canopy of lights, and even speakers so we could enjoy music as we ate and drank and enjoyed the gurgling of the little waterfall (another brilliant touch). I don’t think I have felt more at peace and been in a more chill atmosphere just minutes from the hulaboo of Bangalore city life! And if you are there to party, well, the space is made for that, after all! We all took turns sitting out on the swing on the grounds, a grand old wooden affair, and I also went and sat in the gazebo (which works beautifully as a mandap or central highlight spot) once it had been lit, spending a half hour musing about life and enjoying the absolute serenity and beauty of the place, and counting my blessings!

Details: Pricing and booking details available on their website

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World on a Plate, MasterChef Australia judges, and the ensuing circus – oh my!

For some weeks now, a sizable section of Bangalore has been all abuzz. The three beloved judges of MasterChef Australia, Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan, and George Calombaris were headlining a weekend event called World on a Plate, aka WOAP. From Masterclasses (ranging from 6500 INR upwards) with each of them, to a tete a tete (at INR 2500), to a VIP brunch (INR 6000 per, I believe),  alongside entry to the venues (UB City and J.W. Marriott) tickets were on sale for what was billed as a two day gastronomical affair and a chance to meet and watch the three guys in action. I will admit, right upfront, that I am but an occasional watcher of the show and no fan-girl. But when I was offered passes to some of the events, I did indeed head over, especially since two other really good food blogger pals were going too.

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