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Shinta Mani Mustang

by Leandra Beabout

Shinta mani mustang


The journey begins before you step onto the weathered wood floors or stand in awe of the glass-walled views outside Shinta Mani Mustang. During the memorable flight over and between remote ridges, while watching snow-capped massifs glow like embers at sunrise, when sipping honey ginger tea next to a frigid alpine lake or apple brandy at the yak fur-lined bar, Shinta Mani Mustang delivers pure Himalayan magic.

On my first morning at Shinta Mani Mustang, Nepal's new luxury Himalayan lodge, I wake to a ray of brilliant sunlight creeping across my bed. I left the curtains open all night — one of my favorite little luxuries in remote, ultra-private properties — and daybreak is as spectacular as I’d hoped. Outside my floor-to-ceiling windows is an unobstructed view of the Nilgiri Himal. The trio of lofty peaks wear jaunty caps of snow that reflect dawn’s soft pinks and oranges. Minutes later, the sky turns blue. The air outside is still and crisp. And a day of mind-opening, lung-filling experiences awaits.

Nepal’s newest all-inclusive luxury lodge

Getting to Shinta Mani Mustang is an adventure. After arriving in Kathmandu, guests fly to Pokhara, the start of the Annapurna Circuit, a popular Himalayan trek. From there, it’s either a half-day road trip in four-wheel drive or a 30-minute turboprop flight to Jomsom, gateway to the former forbidden kingdom of Mustang. 

When I finally touched down in Jomsom after two days of travel, it looked like I'd landed on the surface of the moon. The landscape is strewn with rocks that range from sandy gravel to giant boulders. Outside the plane, a wall of cold alpine air hits me. Five minutes later, my driver and butler have loaded me and my luggage into a Jeep bound for Shinta Mani Mustang, where a steaming mug of rum-laden apple cider and a cozy suite decked out in yak fur, colorful carpets, and stonework await.

This rugged mountain lodge is a 29-suite stone structure built on a windswept slope above Jomsom. From the tiny airport, it’s a quick but bone-juddering ride up the craggy hill — my first experience with Mustang’s harsh but thrilling environment. Soon enough, I’d be reminded that, at high altitudes, the air is cold, but the sun is hot (pack sunscreen!). I’d also learn to moisturize often to avoid cracked skin and crackling hair. Around 11:30 AM each day, the wind whips through the valley to chap hands and faces, to coat human and animal manes in a light dusting of gray earth. 

Welcome to Mustang, where every living thing is intimately impacted by nature’s elements. There is no other way.

A different kind of wellness

 If you think this doesn’t sound like a quintessential wellness destination, you’re right. Shinta Mani Mustang is not a spa retreat. Think less relaxation, more rejuvenation. Here, the day is split between the rugged outdoors and cozy indoors, much like an energizing cold plunge followed by a stint in the steam room.

Each day at the property awakens my sense of well-being in a different way. One day, wellness is reddening my skin in a post-hike sauna, then padding back to the lounge for a cup of saffron tea. Another day, I’m filled with a sudden sense of joy — what’s more essential to well-being? — while clambering up a cliffside to a Buddhist meditation cave after filling my belly with nourishing dhindo (buckwheat porridge), greens, and lentil stew. 

Wellness, for me, is the sum total of experiences that make me feel whole and alive. And by that definition, Shinta Mani Mustang is a perfect wellness escape. My week in Nepal was a body, mind, and soul adventure that made me feel happy. Healthy. High on life.

Adventure, spirituality, and traditional Tibetan medicine

In Lower Mustang, the gateway to a kingdom closed to foreigners until 1992, there’s a distinct sense of place that calls to travelers seeking wellness in its most robust form. Here, Tibetan Buddhism and traditional Tibetan medicine, Sowa Rigpa, are not simply preserved. They are practiced. This is a place for spiritual seekers as much as avid hikers. It is a place with cultural experiences to stretch the mind, body, and spirit. And only now is it also a place for globetrotters who like their adventures with a side of luxury.

A stay at Shinta Mani Mustang includes daily excursions that expose guests to the region’s physical, cultural, and spiritual terrain. There is a spa, but it is not the property’s focus. The spa is a place to unwind after a day of exploring the mountain wilds but before your sundowner in Aara Bar. Just ask your butler to book a slot and breeze in when it’s time — no fuss, no cost since the property’s all-inclusive label is as true as it gets. Treatments, guides, transfers, laundry, food, and drinks (including your mini bar contents) are part and parcel of the room cost. 

Currently, the property employs two spa therapists under the direction of 11th-generation local Amchi (Tibetan medicine doctor), Tsewang Gyurme Gurung. In my morning consultation at Amchi’s clinic in Jomsom, he took my pulse before inspecting my tongue and eyes. The diagnosis: Some hormonal imbalances and digestive issues (accurate). That afternoon, he incorporated specific dried herbs and oils into my massage and cupping treatment to address my problems. I cannot say whether the Sowa Rigpa therapies improved my overall health — I imagine healing takes more than one afternoon— but it was one of the best full-body massages I’ve had all year. 

Afterward, I found Amchi sitting cross-legged in the spa lounge with a cup of herbal tea for me. We discussed his vision for Shinta Mani Mustang’s wellness program: personal consultations with each guest, followed by unique therapies prescribed for their ailments throughout each stay (Shinta Mani Mustang has a five-night minimum). It’s a vision, to be sure, but such high-touch wellness might be challenging in a property with 29 suites, four treatment rooms, and a solo Amchi. 

Though Sowa Rigpa undergirds the property’s wellness program, the spa also has some traditional offerings. The Trekker’s Massage incorporates deep pressure and gentle stretching. And the hour-long foot massage is a little slice of heaven.


Meals at Shinta Mani Mustang are planned around local cuisine and available ingredients. But rest assured, no one goes hungry. Breakfast is a la carte. Lunch is incorporated into each day’s excursion. On my first day, I enjoyed a traditional Thakali platter in the kitchen of Kamala Didi, a local business owner and civic leader. The next day, a sumptuous lakeside picnic complete with chilled Rosé was my reward at the end of the hike. On another day, I was escorted to a home-cooked rooftop lunch in a tiny Buddhist hamlet called Lubra. 

Though a multi-course dinner set awaits in Nilgiri Restaurant each evening, small bites from the chef inevitably arrive if I dilly-dally in the bar past sunset. Thanks to the property’s small size and big hospitality, staff know each guest’s food allergies and preferences. I’m a pescatarian, so my bar snacks came sans prosciutto or yak meat. 

My last supper involves several courses of momos, a Nepali-style dumpling. The parade of dishes includes beet momos, cheese momos, tomato soup momos, and a grand finale of white chocolate-filled momos. Indulgent, indeed. Is this wellness? “I don’t really care,” I think as I spear the last decadent bite with a fork.


On my last morning, I sit in the lounge sipping coffee while admiring a massive painting by Nepali artist Dhwoj Gurung, and the sounds of Buddhist monks chanting permeated the air. My flight has been delayed due to bad weather in Pokhara. Outside, the sun creates hard shadows beneath the scrubby landscaping. I notice a new dusting of snow on the Nilgiri range. I’m relaxed, refreshed, and not quite ready to say goodbye. It’s good to have one more moment to soak in the soul-deep magic of Mustang and this windswept mountain lodge. — shintamanimustang.com

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