Explorer Diaries: Islamabad
The Monal sits over 1000 metres above sea level, nestled into the side of the Margala Hills overlooking the plains of Peshawar and Lahore. Dinner at Monal offers dramatic sunset views amidst a sophisticated and luxurious ambience. Diners can choose to sit in any of the seven, uniquely themed terraces or the general dining area and there's something for everyone on the menu - from traditional Pakistani dishes including karahi, makhni and jalfrezi to food from around the world including pizzas's, shawarma, Chinese and Thai options. There are also salads, sauces and light bites and a whole array of drinks from fresh juices to fruit milkshakes, mocktails and ice-cream shakes. The food is fabulous but the experience of dining in the hills of the National Park cannot be beaten.
Chaaye Khana offers a little something different if you're in the mood for casual. A cozy affair, this brunch spot was launched for the love of tea. A zen-like atmosphere is unique to Chaaye Khana which houses a chess table, books and a peaceful library area. The cafe offers several unique tea blends, coffee, sandwiches, salads, soups and bakery items. For those with a sweet tooth, Chaaye Khana offers delectable desserts which include glazed pastries, dark chocolate brownies and fruit pies.
Serena Hotel - Tucked away between the Margala Hills and Rawal Lake, the Serena Hotel offers everything you could want by combining the best of international luxury and local heritage. Surrounded by 14 acres of gardens, the architecture boasts an Islamic world influence with al fresco terraces and pavilions. Inside, the design aesthetic has been given finishing touches by local artisans. With a wide range of rooms and suites to suit all tastes, as well as an outdoor pool, international award-nominated spa, the Serena is the best place in town to relax and de-stress on your visit to Islamabad.
Shelton's Rezidor Islamabad is set next to The Centaurus Mall and is a perfect guesthouse for explorers. Close enough to the mountains for you to go hiking if you wish, the Rezidor offers spacious rooms with private bathrooms and desk areas. Some rooms have balconies. Attention to detail is key and the team here has certainly delivered with luxe details and art deco influenced furniture and local artisanal decor from rugs to wall hangings.
Explore the City
There's so much to do and see in the city that it really depends on your interests. From shopping to art galleries, to country clubs and mountain resorts, there's something for everyone in this city if you just know where to look.
EMAC - Extreme Maneuvers Adventure Club
Try your hand at skydiving, parachute jumping, paragliding, flying boat rides, scuba diving, snorkeling, jeep safaris, archery, adventure camping, cliff diving, cave exploration and so much more. EMAC is a must for the thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies.
For those looking for a more relaxed day, make sure to stop at Maisha located in the Serena Hotel. A luxurious spa for the weary traveller, Maisha is home to a state of the art fitness centre, full service spa and stimulating workouts. From massages to facials, hydrotherapy and beauty treatments, you'll find all the pampering and serenity you could possibly want at the hands of these talented therapists.
National Art Gallery, Pakistan
For the traveller in search of an immersive cultural experience, there is Pakistan's most well-known national gallery. Operated by the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) the gallery has two main strands: Visual Arts and Performing Arts, to house the wide range of talent across the country.
Home to over 1000 pieces of local art and local plays and showcases, the gallery runs regular shows and cultural festivals to engage visitors in the best that Pakistani art has to offer.