From sprawling former royal palaces to glamorous tented camps, the best hotels in India provide welcoming home bases from which to explore the country’s abundant cultural riches, precious wildlife, and so very much more.
Stretching from the mighty peaks of the Himalayas to the tropical beaches of Goa, to the backwaters of Kerala, to every frenetic city in between, India’s expansive borders encompass an incredible range of contrasts, landscapes, cultures, religions, deserts and vast wilderness areas, national parks and nature sanctuaries that form incredible atmospheres and settings for some of the world’s most amazing accommodation options.
What’s more, with hospitality and warmth being such a big part of the culture, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing where to stay in India. To help, our experts have curated a list of the very best vacation spots and best hotels therein for your inspiration.
The Oberoi New Delhi reflects the spirit of India’s capital city within a harmonious blend of tradition and contemporary sophistication, as well as cutting-edge clean air technology that provides the healthiest air in the city. The property offers 220 generously sized, light-filled guest rooms including 34 suites, with desks, armchairs, iPad docking stations, televisions and huge picture windows with sweeping views of the Delhi Golf Course and Humayun’s Tomb.
Sleek glamor is the keynote, with an epically big marble lobby filled with Indian antiques and artwork. There are three restaurants including the popular ThreeSixty Degrees for all-day dining, a contemporary Indian specialty restaurant, and a rooftop Chinese restaurant. There is also an open-air rooftop bar with fine views and music, a wine cellar and a cigar lounge. Wellness facilities include The Oberoi Spa with six treatment rooms, holistic massage and aromatherapy, temperature-controlled indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a 24-hour fitness center.
Darjeeling is one of the best vacation spots in India, and Glenburn Tea Estate enjoys a dream location looking north to the snowy peaks of the Eastern Himalayas. Set on a working plantation dating from 1859, this eight-room colonial-style hotel is an attractive mix of period elegance and working estate; a fine place to immerse yourself in the heritage and flavor of Darjeeling tea.
Fabulous views, gorgeous gardens, fresh mountain air and welcoming hosts ensure a delightful stay. Glenburn’s verdant forests and tea gardens cover 1,600 acres and are bordered by two rivers. The Burra Bungalow forms the heart of the property with a long veranda furnished with planter’s chairs, and three suites plus the slightly cheaper Simbong Butterfly room. Four more suites can be found in the quieter Water Lily Bungalow, which was built in 2008.
A one-room spa offers therapies that include a massage with Darjeeling green tea oil, and all guests are invited on a complimentary factory tour followed by a tea tasting. There are also numerous guided walks. Breakfast is served (weather permitting) on the lawn, lunches are light with a picnic option, afternoon tea is suitably refined, and dinner is communal at a long table. The set menu is a spicy and plentiful Indian feast.
A safari outpost on the threshold of Ranthambore National Park, managed by the world’s most exclusive hotel brand, Aman-i-Khas is a Mughal- style tented camp, inspired by the hunting parties of old. Positioned for utmost privacy, each of the ten lofty guest tents offers a beautiful living space, decorated with classic furnishings, and assigned a personal butler.
The lamplit dining area serves the finest food, prepared with the vegetables from the resort’s organic gardens. There is a traditional step-well pool, and you can also look forward to moonlit barbeques, campfires, rejuvenating spa treatments, and daily jeep safaris to catch a glimpse of tigers, crocodiles, leopards, jackals, sambar deer and some 300 species of birds.
Established in 1903, this magnificent hotel, an ornately layered Baroque imitation of a Rajput palace, enjoys the best location in south Mumbai. The property is an architectural wonder, combining a rich blend of Moorish, Oriental and Florentine styles, and decorative elements ranging from Belgian chandeliers to the works of some legendary Indian painters.
The two completely separate wings offer very contrasting experiences. The original Heritage rooms are distinguished by a classic décor with dark-wood furniture, while the more contemporary Tower rooms, built in the 1970s and found in the high-rise next to the original hotel, are more impressive, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows that really make the most of the views.
There are two bars, and four restaurants: Masala Kraft serving both classic and modern Indian cuisine, Wasabi by Morimoto serving Japanese seafood, Souk on the Tower rooftop for Eastern Mediterranean cuisine, and Golden Dragon for Asian dishes. Meanwhile, no stay is complete without visiting the swimming pool and the spa, where you can enjoy Indian rejuvenation therapies and holistic healing treatments.
Rising like a mirage from Lake Pichola, with 360-degree views of Udaipur, the white-marble-and-mosaic Taj Lake Palace is one of the best hotels in India and one of the world’s most romantic destination hotels. It dates back to 1743, when it was built by Maharana Jagat Singh II as a summer escape. In the 1960s, the original fountains and fretwork was expanded to include 66 luxury rooms.
Lake Palace was used as a key location in the James Bond movie, Octopussy, and it still oozes glamor and decadence. Sumptuously decorated with rich colors and quality Indian textiles, every room comes with round-the-clock butler service. Facilities include the on-tap water taxi to the city pier, a swimming pool, and a floating spa offering centuries’ old Indian wellness and healing therapies within a menu of aromatherapy massages, body scrubs and wraps.
Sunset drinks on the rooftop are a must, followed by dinner at a choice of four restaurants, specializing in Asian, Indian, Italian and Western cuisines.
Taj Holiday Village Resort & Spa is perched beside the sea with a view of Fort Aguada, in the hub of North Goa, 22 miles from the Dabolim International Airport. Ideal for a family holiday, the 142-villa property features elegant Indo-Portuguese heritage architecture through Romanesque arches, pillared verandas and sunny courtyards, lush gardens, swaying palm trees and winding pathways.
There’s a large pool, a spa and a gym, and a supervised activity center for kids. The spacious colorful villas have televisions and kettles and private outdoor areas with hammocks. Larger villas have a family lounge area and a dining area. Bathrooms are big, with separate shower units and bathtubs.
There are three restaurants: The Beach House serves amazing Goan fare; Caravela is an all-day-dining venue with an open deck and uninterrupted views of the bay, while The Banyan Tree, situated in the wings of a 300-year-old banyan tree, serves specialty Thai cuisine.
One of India’s most celebrated hotels and a haven for honeymooners, Amarvilas is a mere 650 yards away from the East Gate of the Taj Mahal; it is designed so that every room has an unobstructed view of India’s most famous monument. Here you will be mesmerized by the expansive use of marble, filigree stone bridges, large reflecting pools, colonnaded courts, arched windows clad in brass, and terraced gardens.
Indian craftsmanship is showcased in abundance here from hand-knotted rugs to traditional teak Indian bed frames, oversized headboards covered in Mughal-inspired designs, marble-inlay desks, and sumptuous silk cushions. Bathrooms feature white marble off-set against black granite and turquoise glass wall panels, with a separate tub and shower cubicle. There is also an enormous swimming pool, a spa, and two restaurants.
Rambagh Palace, a former hunting lodge, which was once the royal residence of the Maharajas of Jaipur, offers an unbeatable combination of history, heritage, flawless service and fine dining. The 78 opulent guestrooms, including 33 suites, all with marble bathrooms, are packed with antiques under extraordinarily high ceilings, and are arranged around a beautiful courtyard, complete with fountains, strutting peacocks, and a croquet lawn.
The spa complex has a vast indoor pool, outdoor pool, whirlpool, steam rooms and saunas, as well as a menu of pampering treatments. There’s also a golf putting green, a yoga pavilion, and three restaurants, including Suvarna Mahal, which offers refined Indian cuisine from four regions, in an extravagant setting characterized by ceiling frescoes and huge chandeliers.
Perched on the fringe of Kaziranga National Park and inspired by the architecture of local Mishing tribal homes, the eco-friendly Diphlu River Lodge presents twelve bamboo and wood cottages, raised upon stilts and topped with thatched roofs. The four standalone cottages each feature a thatched veranda with a daybed to take in the glorious views of the surrounding forests, while the eight smaller semi-detached cottages all have balconies. All combine some luxurious touches with the rustic design.
Elevated above the river, the hub of the property is the ‘Machan’ observation deck, which is linked to the cottages by bamboo walkways, and also houses a restaurant serving enticing, traditional Assamese, Indian, and a small selection of Continental cuisine. There is also a well-stocked bar where you can enjoy an evening drink looking out into the Park. Be sure to head out on a jeep safari to spot the one-horned rhinoceros, or hop aboard a specially designed country boat that cruises down the Brahmaputra where you might catch a glimpse of the endangered Gangetic dolphins.
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