Renowned for its traditional philosophy of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’, which literally translates to “the guest is equivalent to God”, you can expect to be treated to the finest hospitality on your luxury holiday in India. Asia expert Chinmay Vasavada shares his top 5 favourite luxury hotels in India.
Blend extraordinary service with exquisite cuisine, regal opulence, and world-class amenities, and you are rewarded with some of the most magnificent luxury hotels in the world, allowing you an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself into India’s rich heritage with unparalleled comfort and style.
Being a vast country with a multitude of sub-cultures, each corner of India has its own distinct identify in terms of food, cultural traditions, architecture, and natural beauty. This makes it rather challenging for me to feature all my favourite luxury hotels here, but I am delighted to share a roundup of my top five favourites, which are sure to elevate your holiday to India and make it incredibly special.
A celebration of Udaipur’s beautiful palaces, lakes, and gardens, The Oberoi Udaivilas captures the essence of Rajasthan’s regal charm and splendour. Overlooking the majestic City Palace on one side and lush Aravali hills on the other, the opulent spa resort is situated on the banks of the famous Lake Pichola.
Ranked number 1 resort in India by Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2022, Udaivilas features grand pavilions and domes connected by vast courtyards and corridors, built on a sprawling estate adorned with verdant gardens and a collection of pools and fountains.
Reflecting traditional Mewari heritage, the interiors are decorated with beautiful frescoes, mirror mosaics, traditional antiquities, and elegant furnishings. My favourite rooms to stay in on my own holidays to India are those that open onto a semi-private swimming pool, as well as the suites with a private pool. Besides exquisite service, the resort is renowned for its luxuriant spa overlooking the lake where you can indulge in a wide range of Eastern and Western massages and therapies for complete relaxation and rejuvenation. There is also a resident Yoga instructor if you are interested in private Yoga and meditation sessions.
Combine it with: A private tour of Rajasthan to see the grand cities and forts…
Imagine a small, uber luxury camp set in the heart of rural Rajasthan within an incredible landscape of craggy granite formations, caves, scrub, and winding sand riverbeds; a hidden gem surrounded by an untouched wilderness where leopards roam wild and free, Sujan Jawai Camp offers one-of-a-kind and one of the most exclusive luxury camping experiences in India with a perfect combination of subtle opulence and copious adventure.
It is without a doubt one of my most favourite locations and camps in the country. Designed with canvas, stainless steel, and leather accoutrements, each of the ten tented suites at Jawai enjoys a private deck that looks out upon unobstructed views of the dramatic wilderness around. An inviting Dining Tent and a scattering of discreetly located areas to unwind in form part of the Encampment while the Spa Tent nestles in the lap of seclusion nearby.
Located between the celebrated historic towns of Jodhpur and Udaipur, Jawai’s setting, the unique flavour of this land, and its offerings provide for an entirely different experience from the rest of Rajasthan, yet there is an abundance of heritage around.
The area makes for comfortable access to the airy citadels of Kumbalgarh Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is an ideal base for thrilling and most authentic outdoor adventures on your Indian holiday, including hiking and cycling, horseback riding and exploring ancient temple trails.
Or, why not go for a wander with the charismatic Rabari herdsmen for a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture, going on a 4x4 jeep safari in search of the enigmatic felines, learning about the camp’s conservation and community projects, and indulging in incredible culinary and wellness experiences. For a small family or couples looking for complete privacy, Jawai’s two double bedroom suite called ‘Eden at Jawai’ comes with a private lounge and dining tent, a heated pool and large deck, and its own private jeep and butler.
Combine Jawai with with a tiger safari for the ultimate wildlife holiday in India.
Set in a sublime location offering unique and most immersive cultural encounters on your vacation to India, Amanbagh is an oasis of serenity and well-being. Whether you are looking for a therapeutic retreat for deep relaxation and rejuvenation or a plush resort on an active cultural holiday, true to its name, Amanbagh is a regal, luxury garden estate that will please all those who are looking for a remote and off-the-beaten-track sanctuary.
One of my favourite features of the resort is that the restaurant has no fixed timings for dining. The food is served 24x7 and you can just walk in whenever you are hungry! There are 24 suites built in a traditional haveli style using Jaipur’s typical pink sandstone and 16 pavilions with two magnificent swimming pools by the central courtyard.
The real charm of Amanbagh lies in its spellbinding surroundings where you can immerse yourself in incredible experiences including a visit to nearby villages, bike excursions, hiking, visits to the ancient town of Bhangarh and Ajabgarh Fort, as well as a range of fascinating private dining experiences on and off site.
Housed in a historic 14th century fort located near Ranthambore National Park, Six Senses Fort Barwara epitomises responsible, conservation and sustainability focused hospitality. No expense was spared in the fort’s restoration efforts, which took more than a decade, resulting in Six Senses’ signature style blending ancient heritage with contemporary luxury, offering an unparalleled taste of Rajasthan’s celebrated royal heritage.
From its own organic garden championing the farm-to-fork concept to various initiatives involving the locals – such as pop-up food stalls and handicraft shops set up within the fort as well as training and development opportunities made available to the locals – Six Senses’ commitment to supporting the local community and respecting cultural heritage is abundantly evident. One of my favourite spots within the fort is The Viewing Gallery, from where you can enjoy stunning views across the Barwara Lake, especially at dusk.
Besides jeep safaris in Ranthambore National Park, you can spend your time taking guided walks to nearby villages, indulging in exclusive culinary experiences, going on leisurely hikes through the surrounding countryside, and enjoying the resort’s extensive spa and wellness facilities.
Located in the historic city of Hyderabad in South India, Taj Falaknuma Palace is one of India’s finest luxury heritage hotels. Home to magnificent monuments such as Charminar, Qutb Shahi Tombs, and the Golconda Fort, Hyderabad is one of the most important centres for art, literature, architecture, and food across the Deccan Plateau.
The Nizams of Hyderabad were renowned for their extravagant and opulent lifestyle and tastes, and the city went through a period of immense growth and transformation, both culturally and economically, during their 224-year reign between 1724 and 1948. The Nizams were counted amongst the wealthiest people in the world and in fact, Asaf Jah VII was ranked the fifth wealthiest person in the history of the world at the peak of his reign.
Falaknuma Palace, the Nizam’s former residence, has been brought back to its original glory by the iconic Taj Hotels under the careful guidance of Princess Ezra, wife of the eighth Nizam. Set in 32 acres of land, the stunning hotel is a living museum featuring 60 exquisite rooms and suites, including the Grand Presidential Suite, which comprises of former private chambers of the royal family and state guests.
Interiors are adorned with Venetial chandeliers, elegant furnishings, grand marble staircases and gurgling fountains, priceless artefacts including sketches, murals and a world-class collection of crystals, and Mughal, Rajasthani and Japanese gardens personally conceived by the Nizam. One of my favourite spaces within the palace is the library, which is modelled after the famed library at Windsor Castle and contains rare manuscripts, books, and one of the most acclaimed collections of the Holy Quran.
If you are seeking a luxury holiday to India full of the finest things this fascinating country has to offer, do not hesitate to get in touch with our India travel specialists. With over 30 years’ experience in arranging unique and exquisite vacations across the world, our experts are perfectly placed to tailor your next India vacation.