Old Manali's charm at InSoul Cafe

15th Apr 2021
Photo of Old Manali's charm at InSoul Cafe by Praj

Once upon a time in Delhi my fiancé rings me up just after she had her lunch. "Look dear, I’ve been thinking a lot about our travel plan. We don't get to visit Manali very often. I have seen all of Shimla, but this time let's do a quick tour of Manali. I don't just need a vacation to an offbeat location with a silly mob around. I want to spend quality time with you at the best possible location". This was my fiancé's requirement while we were planning a trip up north. And I got into action, research, checking reviews, collecting feedback etc., because we were supposed to celebrate her birthday as well at this place. I struck up on Deepti Naval's facebook post, and went on to find the name of the place. It was InSoul Café and Guesthouse - this cosy hotel that perfectly captures the mesmerising charms of a Old Manali. Some Goan vibes, with a strong presence of Himachali culture; Old Manali simply cannot be missed. And we were sure about the place when we spotted some Delhi-registered Audis and BMWs around in Old Manali looking for parking space. I finalised InSoul Café and asked my spouse to run a quick check; and to my satisfaction she was already excited to book a stay there.

The Rada BIriyani is worth a try. I am addicted to it because it's delicious right from the word go.

Photo of InSoul Cafe & Guest house, Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Praj

They really deserve the golden frame! We paid extra to get a fully equipped DIY BBQ kit. The trout fish (famous Himalayan species) and other chicken items were amazing too..

Photo of InSoul Cafe & Guest house, Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Praj

That's the famous Cheese Shakshuka to the right, with another customised order to the left

Photo of InSoul Cafe & Guest house, Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Praj

They say it gets very cold at night if you stay between the snow mountains, but to our surprise we had a warm and cosy sleep (right as the advertisements of InSoul). Sun rays break out as early as 7 am and sometimes sooner. But we know that's not our perfect alarm. For us it was the chirps of birds we have never heard before, what’s better than a sweet sleepy night finished by the sounds of sweet voiced birds. Mini got out of the bed by 8 and we practiced some yoga in the balcony which turned out to be a perfect place for direct sunlight. Then we headed to the café downstairs by 9, and got ourselves treated to a filling portion of bread-omlette and double-toned-milk tea. I wondered what's more important - a small portion of over-yummy food which does not fill the belly; or a great portion of yummy food that fills in well?

The café is more of a studio café, with great artistic effects in the interiors. I finally got to click selfies at the place where a celebrity once sat!! After a long time of selfie sessions; trekking popped up on the menu! I enquired about some trek spots available nearby, and I got to know that this café is like a pivot for a lot of famous trek points (Lama Dugh, Glam Lang, Bhrigu Lake etc).

On our way to the Lama Dugh trek, we came across this great table-rock.. A nice selfie point I'd say..

Photo of Lama Dugh Trek Start Point, Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Praj

Evenings are quite fun-filled, meeting new travelers and having solo-travelers join us over booze. How I wish the night parties never stopped.. The Wi-Fi was good enough for my VPN-based meetings, the linen are changed on request, a maid cleans up the room on request, the nights are super silent; and their 'branded' blankets are 10 times thicker and cosier than the best! I heard other customers discussing that during the local curfew, when all cafes are shut in the evening; InSoul customers enjoy sitting in this café partying all night long. There's hookah / sheesha available too along with a crazy range of powerful flavours.

We couldn’t ask for more than a blasting 5.1 surround sound system (of course with a great woofer); a super large LED; and conceptualised Japanese styled seating arrangements at an amazing destination like Manali. The founder (Mr. Bijoy Sahoo) is a great easy-going person when it comes to customising our orders to suit our taste. At first we thought the menu prices are a little higher than we expected, but when we saw the same rates at a filthy dhaba too - we realised that it is just normal. If you order a single-portion meal, sometimes the prices are charged lower than what is printed on their menu card. We highly recommend trying their Indian cuisine - it's a pinnacle of purity and nutrition. Thankfully Mini was also satisfied with their overall hygiene standards (including our secret inspection of the kitchen.. Shhh!). Dil se 5/5 rating!!