The blend of exotic locations, warm climate, and ancient therapies defines many of the luxury resorts in India. Designed to relax and invigorate, these properties have raised the bar of lavishness from what was once a cheap travel destination long associated with poverty and strife.
Today’s rapidly growing Indian economy finds new luxury hotels burgeoning in booming cities, where you can find a wide variety of ultra-luxury resorts spread across the breadth and length of the country. Such establishments have emerged as the true essence of a regal era of hospitality with a modern outlook, providing guests with an enhanced opulent experience. Add this to the country’s renowned exceptional standard of service and it’s no wonder India has fast become a chief player in the global luxury hotel market.
Here is our pick of some of the most luxurious Palace and hotels in India:
Rambagh Palace, Jaipur
Dating back to 1835, the Rambagh Palace was the former home of the Maharaja of Jaipur and is considered the jewel in the crown of the Taj Group of Hotels. From the moment you arrive, you will feel as though you were in the presence of royalty as peacocks haughtily strut across the lawns while classical Indian music waft from the verandas. The interiors are extravagantly decorated; from the rich textures and colours to the hand-carved latticework and cenotaphs. Wade through the art deco indoor swimming pool where the Maharaja himself used to swim every morning, or relax in the charming spa tent tucked away in a quiet corner of the 47-acre landscaped gardens.
In your room, be thoroughly spoiled with four-poster beds and walk-in wardrobes. If you get the chance, reserve the Sukh Niwas Suite with its arched stonework, textured drapes and fabrics, crystal chandeliers, gold-leaf frescoes, and large windows that offer stunning views of the Aravalli hills.
The Leela Palace, New Delhi
The Leela Palace in New Delhi is the perfect balance of opulence and contemporary luxury in modern India. Situated in the diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri, it is frequented by the heads of state which is why, for the security of such personnel, the Maharaja Suite features bulletproof windows. The property’s lobby is one of the most awe-inspiring in the country; with its ornate crystal chandeliers, decadent fresh flower displays, and antique style furniture. Every room is equipped with all the mod-cons including hands-free phones and flat-screen televisions in the bathtubs. Be sure to check out the award-winning spa and the roof-top infinity pool with panoramic views of the capital.
The Leela Palace, Udaipur
On the banks of the stunning Lake Pichola is this Kempinski property that’s been built with meticulous attention to detail – so much so that it took 14 years to complete. This is evident in the spectacular artwork throughout the hotel and the intricate murals found in the courtyards. Panoramic vistas of the Lake, the best in Udaipur and available in every traditional Rajasthani-furnished room, is hard to beat. The sumptuous, highly-lauded ESPA spa positioned beside the 20-metre art deco styled pool will have you rejuvenated no matter where you’ve just arrived from. The Sheesh Mahal restaurant is not to be missed, which offers some of the superior Indian cuisine in the city.
Trident Gurgaon, Delhi
This award-winning hotel houses the finest contemporary Indian design derived from both British colonial and Mughal architecture. Its seven acres of landscaped grounds feature soothing fountains and refreshing reflection pools that lends a prominent yet tranquil presence to the property. Being located in the business and shopping district, Delhi’s city centre and the airport are both just 30 minutes’ drive away, making it an ideal choice for either a final night before departure, or a fantastic place to start your tour of India. It’s a peaceful haven in the middle of a bustling, historical city that provides all the luxury the Trident brand is known for.
The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata
Fondly referred to as the ‘Grande dame’ of Kolkata, The Oberoi Grand is a neo-classical façade that harmonises classical and traditional Indian styles, showcases the city’s colonial heritage. The fishtailed palms and grand pillars of its entrance is a prelude to the relaxing and tranquil stay it promises its guests which continues inside. Though located in central Kolkata, its gardens and palm-fringed swimming pool create serene areas that make you forget you’re in the middle of a busy city. But perhaps the main attraction of this hotel is its standout service and hospitality that’s punctuated by the attentive staff.
Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur
Sitting like a floating mirage in the middle of Lake Pichola, the Taj Lake Palace is one of India’s most iconic hotels. A residence of a former Maharaja, it belongs to the Mewar Dynasty whose descendants have transformed it into the extravagant establishment it is now. To reach this eighteenth-century man-made island and its sweep of courtyards, stone-laid pavilions, and medieval gardens, you are taken by boat. This sets the drama that the bohemian crystals, ornate glasswork, green lotus leaves and mosaic features play out in your suite. It’s little wonder that this fairy tale-like architectural masterpiece is a firm favourite with honeymooners.
Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad
Once the dwelling of the Nizam of Hyderabad (who was at one time the richest man in the world), this hotel is defined by its unique architecture and the remarkable restoration to its former glory. Perched atop a hill, 610 metres above Hyderabad and built in 1894, you can experience both colonial and Indian designs with touches of Nizami glamour. A horse-drawn carriage will transport you past wondering peacocks to the hotel entrance before you’re refreshed with ice-cold khus. Tours are held regularly, conducted by well-versed staff, to ensure the property’s heritage is upheld. Its unrivalled views of the city and rich tapestry of history is sure to give you the very best in luxury that South India has to offer.