While you may think of India as a backpacker’s paradise (and it is), India has quickly become the ultimate destination for a lavish vacation.
From extravagant properties to magnificent mountain retreats, you may just want to put your backpack aside in exchange for something more glamourous. After all, the Indian Himalayan region continues to be rated as one of the top spa destinations.
With the help of our friends at Booking.com, the global leader in accommodations, we’ve compiled seven of the most luxurious stays in this South Asian hotspot. So get ready for lush temples, spa treatments, and the best naan because India’s five-star service is not to be overlooked.
Though you won’t be staying at the Taj Mahal itself, you’ll be feeling like Indian royalty in no time.
In the heart of the Rajasthani desert, not far from Jaisalmer city, lies the majestic Suryagarh. This traditional sandstone fortress has been converted into a luxury boutique hotel with a sophisticated and distinctly Rajasthani feel. All thanks to its local staff, design, cuisine and the tribal music that often echoes through its grand courtyards. While you should explore a bit of Rajasthan during your stay, resting within the comfort of Suryagarh is tempting. Make sure to visit the spa or take part in some yoga, chanting or meditation. It’s hard to believe you’re in the middle of the desert.
La Villa, Pondicherry
Founded by a man born and raised in Pondicherry, La Villa has a strong authentic claim. Its aesthetic is irresistibly chic, having perfected a look that’s simultaneously rustic and modern. Sharp lines and minimalism are artfully combined with wooden shutters and a distressed colonial façade. Absorb the French feel by reclining in a bamboo chair on the verandah or terrace.
Wildflower Hall, Shimla
In the foothills of the Himalaya, Wildflower Hall is a dreamy mountain retreat. This resort has an infinity pool with some of the most serene views India has to offer. Found in the town of Shimla, which used to be the summer capital of the British Raj, the hotel retains its British décor with mahogany furniture, ornate carpets, and fireplaces with grand mantelpieces.
The Imperial, New Delhi
Despite having a well-established reputation as one of New Delhi’s finest hotels, The Imperial does not rest on its laurels. Immaculate lawns fringed with palm trees, a garden pool, and a colonnaded veranda, the hotel is a haven amidst this frantic city. Inside, high ceilings and marble floors add to this tranquility. Guests can dine in a number of world-class restaurants and even shop in the in-house Chanel boutique, the first and only one in Delhi.
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai
The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai is an eternal favourite for good reason. The staff exude all the warmth of Indian hospitality and execute everything to perfection. Even a cup of tea in the Sea Lounge is served with an hour-glass so that you get just the right length of brew. The building itself is a symbol of the city and was the first harbour landmark, predating even the adjacent Gateway of India. The harbour-facing design, unprecedented in India, is intended for guests to enjoy breath-taking views of the Arabian Sea.
The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata
In the colourful and chaotic city of Kolkata, the Oberoi Grand is a sumptuous sanctuary that tends to surpass expectations. The staff here have gotten service down to a fine art. Gleaming chandeliers and gorgeous fabrics provide an aura of royalty. However, it’s when the garden pool, surrounded by palm trees, is lit up at night where you’ll discover the magic of India.
Jai Mahal Palace, Jaipur
Combining a mix of heritage and culture in the heart of Jaipur, this stunning palace hotel spreads across 18 acres of beautiful Moghul gardens. Jaipur, also known as the “Pink City” for its trademark building colours, was once ruled by Indian royalty and includes opulent gardens and museums. Dating back to 1745, this heritage property offers Indo-Saracenic architecture with Colonial-style interiors. It will be hard to not feel like a king or queen with its five-star service, outdoor pool, spa and fitness facilities.