From restored heritage structures to sleek urban properties, and brands that have set benchmarks in service, these hotels represent the best in hospitality. By Shikha Pushpan and Rashima Nagpal
1. The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur
Located on the banks of Lake Pichola in Udaipur, The Oberoi Udaivilas is emblematic of the splendour of Indian hospitality. One of the most extravagant destinations in the country, the hotel is spread out on the hunting grounds of the erstwhile Maharana of Mewar. It honours this regal legacy with its evocative rooms and suites, where meticulous detailing has gone into choosing the decor—from intricate mirrors to delicate silverware. The hotel also enjoys a reputation for its signature experiences—Dinner on the Promenade, Afternoon Tea, Lunch on Lake Pichola. From Rs 39,000 per night
WHAT WE LIKE: The hotel’s diners are destinations in their own right. While Suryamahal is crowned with a sky-blue, brushed dome, The Bar takes you back in time with its green-and- white marble floor.
2. SUJÁN The Serai Jaisalmer
Sprawled over 100 acres of a private desert land in Jaisalmer, The Serai from the House of SUJÁN draws inspiration from the royal caravans of the erstwhile land of Rajputana. True to its role model, this resort features a linear grid of tents rising from the Thar Desert and walls carved out of sandstone. The credit for its authentic look goes to the local craftsmen who worked on the stone, and built grand plunge pools and a towering inverted stepwell, among other things. The property’s predominant white and gold hues complement the desert it stands on, while traditional Rajasthani crafts and textiles like carpets, turbans, throws, and cushions give it a colourful contrast against the relentless sandscape.
From Rs 49,875/night
WHAT WE LIKE: The Royal Tented Suite is a private encampment that comes with a spa, a heated outdoor pool, separate tents to dine and lounge in, and a personal butler.
3. TAJ FALAKNUMA PALACE
The former palace of the Nizam of Hyderabad, Taj Falaknuma Palace is the official address of extravagance. Perched over 600 metres above the city, the place embodies its affluent past with the stunning Durbar Hall, Jade Room, and a 101-seat dining hall bejewelled with Belgian chandeliers. Each of the 60 rooms and suites here has been beautifully restored by Her Highness Princess Esra, thus lending a personal touch of royalty to the setting. From the moment you arrive at the lawns in a horsedrawn carriage, the hotel staff makes sure you are treated on par with the former Nizam, who was rumoured to be the richest man in the world at one point of time. From Rs 30,000/night
WHAT WE LIKE: For an exciting holiday, sign up for the hotel’s signature experiences, such as Heritage Walk and Unique Dining.
4. The Leela Palace Udaipur
Few properties can capture the romance of Udaipur like The Leela Palace. Situated on
the banks of Lake Pichola, the palace-hotel combines modern design elements with centuries-old heritage and architecture effortlessly. The rooms and suites are soaked in opulence, and offer the guests a taste of regal living. Stay at the 333-square-metre Maharaja Suite to avail the services of a personal butler, besides amenities like a walk-in wardrobe, a jacuzzi, a personal massage parlour, plunge pool, etc. However, it’s the specially curated experiences that steal the show at this gorgeous property. Ask the concierge to arrange a destination dining experience at the Suryast Alcove during sunset or a royal feast in the Maharaja Room. From Rs 55,000/night
WHAT WE LIKE: The hotel’s tented spa, Espa, combines European and Ayurvedic therapies to offer signature treatments, such as the Royal Princesses of Rajasthan and Royal Knights of Rajasthan, that pamper your senses.
5. Alila Fort Bishangarh
Alila Fort Bishangarh from the Two Roads Hospitality group (now acquired by Hyatt Hotels Corporation) is already earning rave reviews for its splendid architecture. Perched
on a granite hill, the hotel offers 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape from its intricately designed heritage rooms. It is the only warrior fort to be converted into a heritage property, and is an outstanding example of Jaipur Gharana architecture. The place has also become a preferred destination for extravagant weddings, primarily on account of its setting against the magnificent Aravalli Hills. From Rs 19,000/night
WHAT WE LIKE: The hotel’s speciality restaurant, Amarsar, is a vision in white, with its dishes inspired by the Silk Route.
6. Umaid Bhawan Palace Jodhpur
One of the largest private residences in the world, Umaid Bhawan Palace Jodhpur transports you to the bygone era of Rajputana royalty as you walk through its magnificent façade, accentuated by marquee staircases. Perched on Chittar Hill, the highest point in Jodhpur, the hotel is the last of the grand palaces of India, and the guests share the property with the royal family, who occupy a section of the palace. The art deco rooms and suites here are straight out of your dreams; we recommend staying at the Maharaja Suite with Stefan Norblin murals and a mirrored bar, or the Maharani Suite, which was originally designed for Maharani Badan Kanwan and offers views of the Mehrangarh Palace. From Rs 55,000/night
WHAT WE LIKE: Each visitor is treated like a personal guest of the Maharaja. The beauty of the palace is in its details; for instance, the palm court marble used here is the same as the one used in the Taj Mahal.
7. Aman-i-Khas Ranthambore
Aman-i-Khas Ranthambore can be compared to the regal tent cities built by Mughal emperors during their sojourns—in terms of both, size and grandeur. Located close to the Ranthambore National Park, the wilderness camp offers 10 expansive, high-ceilinged tents where the bedroom, living room, and bathroom are separated by cotton drapes, thus creating a greater sense of space. The resort marries modern creature comforts with a rugged setting, while offering unmatched privacy. Here, the only sounds you hear are varied birdsongs. Nearby attractions include Ranthambore Fort, Khandar Fort, and numerous temples. From Rs 88,500/night
WHAT WE LIKE: The spa, with a bubbling fountain at its centre, has a pool that’s modelled on the lines of ancient stepwells.
8. ITC Grand Bharat
Situated along a beautiful stretch of the Aravalli Range in Gurugram, the ITC Grand Bharat is a reflection of India’s rich heritage. The property is an architectural confluence of some of the nation’s most underrated landmarks, including the Adalaj stepwell of Gujarat, the Nagara-style temples of Odisha, the Royal Palace of Vadodara, and the sacred ghats of Varanasi. Home to four presidential villas, 100 suites, the 27-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, five stunning dining venues, and an uplifting Kaya Kalp Spa, the resort boasts of being India’s first all-suites luxury retreat. From Rs 50,000/night
WHAT WE LIKE: Each of the four presidential villas on the property comes with a private pool, and a liveried personal butler in attendance to ensure a royal treatment.
9. The Serai Bandipur
Situated on the periphery of the Bandipur National Park, The Serai Bandipur offers decadent accommodation options set against the beautiful Nilgiri Hills. The wildlife resort effortlessly captures the essence of the surrounding wilderness in its living spaces with a careful interplay of natural tones and textures. Each of the cottages and residences looks out to the hills, while making generous use of dark wood to create a setting so charming, one’d hardly want to venture out. Allow the resort’s staff to entertain you with candid stories of surprise wildlife encounters in and around the property. From Rs 27,000/night
WHAT WE LIKE: The resort offers nature walks around the property’s protected forest, where an experienced naturalist shares wildlife trivia.
10. Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort & Spa
Situated by the Bay of Bengal, on the East Coast Road in Chennai, this Sheraton property from the House of Marriott International opened its doors to guests this year. The 125-room resort takes inspiration from its tropical location and reflects upon the combination of the sun, sand, sea, and the South in its design philosophy. The hotel’s pastel colour palette, combined with its azure surroundings, gives it a tranquil aura. The beach property comes complete with two classy dining venues, a full-service spa, a comprehensive fitness centre, a dedicated kids’ club, and an infinity pool. From Rs 10,000/night
WHAT WE LIKE: The beach resort’s function spaces—spread over 2,300 square metres—make for a breezy wedding destination.
This spanking new property from the House of Hyatt—now the biggest hotel in Kochi—sits on 26 plush acres of the Bolgatty Island. The waters of Lake Vembanad—the longest in the country— surround the property, making it a sought-after destination. With 264 tastefully designed rooms, including 38 suites and four villas, the hotel caters to all kinds of travellers. Your gastronomical needs are well taken care of by its five dining venues—a grill and rooftop bar, a traditional Malabar cafe, a Thai speciality restaurant, a poolside cocktail bar, and a lounge with al fresco private dining. From Rs 9,000/night
WHAT WE LIKE: The hotel has as many as three helipads. So, ditch the road and take a helicopter-ride to the property for a grand entrance.
12. Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru
Located at a convenient distance from the Central Business District and the major city attractions, Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru is the smart business hotel that offers facilities such as a helipad and a foreign exchange centre for the fast-paced traveller. The butler service in the presidential and governor suites ensures that the guests have a comfortable and luxurious stay from the moment they check in. The eight restaurants and bars offer an assortment of fare, ranging from Cantonese to Mediterranean, and Japanese. Another highlight of the property is CHI, The Spa—one of the most revered wellness retreats in the region for its signature treatments. The facilities available for differently- abled guests earns the hotel brownie points in our list of India’s top hotels. From Rs 20,000/night
WHAT WE LIKE: The hotel’s glamorous rooftop bar, Hype, is the perfect place to unwind with a split-level deck offering unparalleled views of the Garden City.
13. Kumarakom Lake Resort
Kumarakom Lake Resort is not just another property by Kerala’s backwaters. This resort provides an immersive experience of the state’s culture for its guests. Its guestrooms are 16th-century homesteads, which were painstakingly restored plank by plank. Your stay here is marked by a mix of regional rituals and modern comforts. With a choice of six accommodation options, from Luxury Pavilion Rooms to Houseboats, the resort caters to all kinds of holidays. Foodies have much to be excited about—the multi-cuisine speciality restaurant Ettukettu, the seafood bar Vembanad, and a traditional teashop, Thattukada, that comes alive with mouthwatering aromas each evening. For a healthy dose of Ayurveda, head to the 200-year-old Ayurmana, a heritage retreat of healing.
From Rs 18,500/night
WHAT WE LIKE: The idyllic pool pavillion is a quaint corner to unwind at after a long day.
14. InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort
A seamless blend of modern-day luxuries and the renascent Coromandel style, InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort is a sprawling property overlooking the Bay of Bengal. It offers comfortable accommodation in three kinds of rooms, including suites that come with private balconies. The resort offers three exciting dining venues— Melting Pot: The Market Café serves an interesting range of European, South Asian, and Peninsular Indian cuisines at its three live kitchens; the Chinese speciality restaurant Tao of Peng is inspired from the classic flavours of Huntan and Canton; and the Gatsby Lounge features live jazz performances and classic American cocktails. From Rs 6,510/night
WHAT WE LIKE: KoKoMMo, the beach bar at the resort, is Chennai’s first tiki shack. Go here to enjoy great music and cocktails with a boho vibe.
15. Hyatt Centric MG Road Bangalore
An elegant mix of modern design and quirky art, Hyatt Centric MG Road Bangalore has a youthful vibe at its core. The hotel’s salient features are too many to list, but we’ll give it a go: 143 guestrooms with lively pops of colour, a state-of-the-art business centre dedicated to the corporate traveller, an urban bar that serves craft beer and fiery cocktails, and The Bengaluru Brasserie that is famous for its authentic sushi, dim sum, Asian entrées, and Szechuan barbecue. From Rs 7,000/night
WHAT WE LIKE: The Garden Suite comes with a private garden, a living room, a walk-in closet, and more. Perfect for a staycation, the suite is your home away from home in Bengaluru.
16. The St Regis Mumbai
The only St. Regis hotel in India so far, The St. Regis Mumbai enjoys an exclusive status. Plush with 395 luxe guestrooms, including 66 suites, the hotel offers stunning views of the Arabian Sea and the sleepless city. Its palatial corridors, cascading chandeliers, and decor clad in silver and gold tones leave a lasting impression on the mind. The five-star hotel has culinary offerings galore—from the Japanese speciality diner Yuuka, to the pan-Asian restaurant By the Mekong, and the India-oriented The Sahib Room & Kipling Bar. Spanking on the outside, with an old-world charm within, this 40-storey skyscraper is one of the most sought-after hotels in the country. From Rs12,500/night
WHAT WE LIKE: The Iridum Spa here features plush treatment rooms— each with a private bathtub and shower.
17. Conrad Bengaluru
A glorious, 24-storey luxury hotel—the tallest in southern India—Conrad Bengaluru owns a sweet spot in the central business district of Karnataka’s capital. Its 285 guestrooms, which include 21 suites, are luxuriously furnished with quiet elegance and are equipped with ‘smart and intuitive’ technology. Its five dining venues combine to form an enticing range of cuisine, but each of them flaunts a distinctive appeal. Fulfilling its aim to represent the country’s many states with locally sourced ingredients, Indian Durbar has garnered much appreciation for its regional specialities, such as the Nizami chicken korma, Goan fish curry, and Rajasthani laal maas. Walk in to the all-day, multi-cuisine Caraway Kitchen for delicacies from Asia to the Americas, or make your way to Mikusu for Japanese, Thai, and Chinese creations. From Rs 9,500/night
WHAT WE LIKE: Spend a romantic evening at Tiamo, the poolside Mediterranean restaurant.
18. Le Meridien Goa, Calangute
Opened last year, Le Meridien Goa, Calangute is the Parisian brand’s 10th property in India, and the best family hotel if you’re travelling to the country’s sunshine state on a multi-generational holiday. Located within touching distance of Calangute, Baga, and Anjuna beaches, the hotel allows guests to stay close to the action, while also enjoying the privacy of their charming rooms and suites. The F&B offerings—Longitude 73, Plunge, and Latest Recipe— flaunt a refreshing colour palette. The hotel’s al fresco meeting space, Telhado, has quickly become a much- sought-after venue for destination weddings. While you’re here, enjoy easy access to recreational activities like hot air ballooning, spice farm visits, evening boat cruises, etc. From Rs 10,000/night
WHAT WE LIKE: The hotel’s premium watering hole, Jazz & Grills, is Goa’s first whiskey bar with an envious collection of premium cigars to boot. The place hosts celebrated local musicians on special nights.
19. Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa
Located amidst the Sahyadri mountain range, Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa is the wellness cocoon you’ve been looking for. Renowned for its personalised wellness programmes, the property offers a charming sylvan setting, where one would voluntarily disconnect from the world. Ranging from three to 28 nights, the wellness programmes include Ayurveda, Panchakarma, and naturopathy treatments. The three-bedroom presidential villa is the most sought-after for its wine cellar, private pool, and personal butler service. The F&B options are equally interesting—The Reserve has one of the largest wine cellars in India, The Green Table serves organic dishes prepared with ingredients from the resort’s private gardens, and the Valley Bar is the perfect place to host evening conversations with a view. From Rs12,000/night
WHAT WE LIKE: The resort offers an interesting mix of activities, such as pottery, yoga, forest walks, archery, and aqua aerobics.
20. The Park Hyderabad
One of the most iconic properties in the city, The Park Hyderabad’s metal exterior complements its opulent interiors, where deep colours like maroon and royal blue set the mood. Staying true to the group’s motto, ‘Anything But Ordinary,’ the hotel offers extraordinary rooms for every taste—from minimalist design to indulgent decor. The hotel is also one of the most stylish addresses to dine at. From the al fresco restaurant, Verandah, to the retro club, Gentleman Inside, and the glamorous evening diner, Kismet, guests get to choose from among five themed dining options. From Rs4,500/night
WHAT WE LIKE: The hotel’s infinity pool, Aqua 3D, offers stunning views of Lake Hussain Sagar, and makes for a great evening destination to enjoy your sundowners.