Set to be one of the most spectacular Tibetan home-inspired boutique hotels in the Forbidden Kingdom, Shinta Mani Mustang – A Bensley Collection is at the gateway to Tibet. Mustang is the secluded Tibetan Kingdom just north of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Mountains; it’s one of the world’s last fortresses of intact Tibetan culture. Shinta Mani Mustang – A Bensley Collection is in the shadows of the formidable Mount Nilgiri. It is steeped in rich Buddhist culture, peppered with beautiful monasteries, palaces and gompas and the highest snow-capped peaks in the world. It’s barren and magical. The Kaligandaki River has caused deeply eroded canyons to form modern-day pathways connecting remote villages and their inhabitants. Whilst Mustang is politically part of Nepal; it shares the climate, geography, language and culture with Tibet.
Shinta Mani Mustang – A Bensley Collection is the perfect place to explore the well-kept secrets of the Forbidden Kingdom. Visitors experience a sense of calm and innocence whilst walking in the ancient spiritual footsteps of those that have traversed the time-worn banks of the Kaligandaki River. The winter months see deep snow, and the jagged mountains become the forbidden kingdom with breathtaking silence and unimaginable stillness. Only in the past three decades have visitors been permitted to explore these wild and unchartered lands.
Mustang in Tibetan translates to Plain of Aspiration. It is bordered by the Tibetan plateau with an elevation that rises from 1,372 to 8,167 meters above sea level. The extraordinary 29 all-suite lodge will open on 1 March 2023, offering perfectly curated journeys and 360-degree luxury experiences in the Himalayas, one of the world’s most unique and preserved regions. The spacious 45-square metre suites are inspired by traditional Tibetan homes with vast open-plan bedrooms and living areas that boast floor-to-ceiling windows with otherworldly views of the Nilgiri mountain.
As usual, multi-award-winning design genius Bill Bensley adds his creative magic to the mountain lodge, bringing a unique and sympathetic verve to an untouched location. The interiors will reflect with rich tones of the surrounding landscapes using warm-hued fabrics. Huge fire pits on the outdoor terrace will allow guests to remain warm as they admire endless stars and the waxing and waning of the moon in the night sky as the temperatures plummet. In his typical upcycling style and sustainable mindset, Bensley uses recycled materials that he has repurposed into eccentric new furniture.
Inside, every area will be complemented by the artwork of the late artist Robert Powell, a friend of Bensley’s who lived, breathed, drew and painted the region’s vernacular architecture in incredible detail. The Nilgiri Restaurant, named after the majestic mountain, has a large outdoor dining patio where modern Nepal cuisine and western cuisine will be served, using locally sourced and chef-foraged produce. The Aara Bar is named after an exotic local Tibetan-sherpa liquor.
The Wellness Center has two exquisite treatment suites with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the mountains. Each has a hot plunge pool, steam room, sauna, shower and two massage beds. The Tibetan wellness programme is being developed by a local 11th-generation Tibetan Amchi Doctor, using traditional herbal medicine.
Shinta Mani Hotels has partnered with Sherpa Hospitality Group to create world-class luxury hotel experiences in the Himalayas. A highly personalised, privately guided guest experience programme will honour the traditions of local Sherpa hospitality. A selection of unique excursions allows guests to experience a different trip every day for up to two weeks, including trekking, rock climbing, horse riding, cycling, archery, hiking, helicopter tours and wellness. Each experience is led by Bensley Adventure Guides as guests explore rarely travelled trails through dramatic landscapes.
Bensley says of the lodge, “This is perhaps one of the most exciting projects we have ever had. I have never seen such wildly dramatic landscapes as the mountains and valleys of Mustang. I am thrilled that Shinta Mani can be the first to introduce this Forbidden Kingdom to international adventurers – and all the more so under the special wing of the Bensley Collection. This will be their base camp for explorations all around these phenomenal mountains, as always guided by our kind and infinitely knowledgeable Bensley Adventure Guides, for the experience of a lifetime”.
In keeping with Shinta Mani’s philosophy of giving back to the communities in which they operate, the lodge will work closely with the Psang Lhamu Foundation. It is a non-profit, non-political, non-government organisation with the core pillars of education, vocation training, health and immediate assistance. The owning family set up the foundation after their mother became the first Nepalese woman to walk a trail to the summit of Mount Everest some 30 years ago.
Rates at the all-inclusive Shinta Mani Mustang will start from USD1,700 per couple per night for a minimum 5-night stay. Rates include all food and beverages, private guided activities and excursions, unlimited spa treatments, a personal Bensley Adventure Guide and transfers between Kathmandu and Jomson. www.mustang.shintamani.com.
Katie Hollamby is a well-travelled public relations specialist turned writer for various international publications, tourism boards and ethical brands. Originally from the UK, she’s worked around the world, lived in and explored North America, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Maldives and now Thailand. She’s passionate about the welfare of animals and sustainability. For more adventures, you can follow her on Instagram @thekatybooks.