The best hotels in India are as diverse as its landscapes, from hip urban retreats to opulent palace getaways to lush mountain escapes. Here, six of our favorites.
Mumbai: Abode Bombay
This petite Mumbai bolthole sits mere steps away from the Gateway of India arch (not to mention one of the country’s most iconic hotels, the landmark Taj Mahal Palace). But the super-central location is hardly the only thing Abode Bombay has in its favor. A clue lies in its name: the entire hotel is a chic throwback to a time when Mumbai was still known as Bombay. Aussie designer Sian Pascale evoked that bygone era with Art Deco-inspired light fixtures, black-and-white cement tiles, a 19th-century chandelier, vintage clocks, and framed secondhand book covers. The 20 chic rooms are colorful, quirky, and best of all, affordable—something of a rarity in Mumbai's posh and pricey Colaba district.
Jodhpur: RAAS Jodhpur
India's labyrinthine walled city of Jodhpur is the stuff of Instagram dreams, a chaotic tangle of lanes awash in blue paint with ancient archways and walls around every corner. Amid the cerulean maze rises one of the best hotels in India, RAAS, an 18th-century haveli turned ultra-contemporary 39-room escape right in the thick of the old city action. Spend your days lounging by the pool in the shadow of the imposing cliffside Mehrangarh Fort; at night, you might be tempted to join a raucous wedding procession passing the hotel out front. And when you feel like heading out for a little sightseeing or bangle shopping, let the staff summon the hotel ride for you: a three-wheeled auto rickshaw painted (what else?) powder blue.
Delhi: The Lodhi
There’s no shortage of luxe hotel options in India's capital city, which is used to the ebb and flow of diplomatic crowds—but the Lodhi stands out from the rest. First off, there’s the look: the former Aman property has an imposing stone façade with sharp edges and a minimalist aesthetic. Then there’s the prime location, close to the atmospheric domed tombs of Lodhi Garden and the dining and shopping of Khan Market. But best of all are the rooms—each far more spacious than necessary, and most with a private plunge pool to boot.
Agra: The Oberoi Amarvilas
Ah, but where to stay when you finally make that bucket-list trip to the Taj Mahal? Oberoi Amarvilas is something of a wonder in itself, with stunning Taj-inspired details in its guest rooms and manicured grounds featuring beautiful reflecting pools and gardens. But the real highlight (aside from the signature Oberoi service, of course) is its proximity to the main event: each room has a view of the Taj Mahal, so you can ogle it from day to night.
Hyderabad: Taj Falaknuma Palace
Most of India’s legendary palace hotels are clustered around the Golden Triangle—Delhi, Agra and Jaipur—in the north, but when Taj restored and opened this magnificent 1890 estate in Hyderabad in 2010, it brought a whole new wave of visitors to the south-central city. Visitors arrive at the grand entrance in a horse and carriage, where, inside, standout features include a welcome with a shower of rose petals, a 101-seat dining table, and a trio of lavish Mughal, Japanese, and Rajasthani gardens. When guests check in, they get free run over the grounds; to get better acquainted with your fabled surroundings, make sure to request a tour with the palace historian.
Karnataka: Vivanta by Taj Madikeri
Taj Hotel’s more youthful sister brand is known for slick business hotels and design-focused resorts. This property, in the Coorg region in Karnataka, is one of the latter—a glossy mountainside retreat hidden within a sprawling rainforest. While the jarring drive might deposit you at the property a touch nauseous, the jaw-dropping views over a lush valley from the open-air lobby have immediate healing properties. Each of the guest rooms, a seamless blend of traditional Coorg architecture with sleek contemporary lines, comes with similarly spectacular views, while villas have the added bonus of an indoor pool.
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