Few other countries can claim the kind of cultural richness that India has. Indian history is rich with wars, invasions, generous rulers and riches beyond anyone’s imagination, all of which brought in a number of influences that you find in every nook and cranny of this country. As a traveler, how do you get to have a peek into the all that is India? Well, if you’re that sort of traveler, this is the sort of article that will point you in the right direction!
Here are my top ten boutique hotels in India, small luxury hotels that are rich in history, intimate and unique, that draw you into a warm nurturing embrace. Tempting enough? Lets go….
A trip up to the Himalayas, into the summer escape, Shimla, is something I would definitely recommend. What I’d recommend even more is a stay at Chapslee.
Chapslee was built in 1835, it draws you into the opulence of a time gone by. A card room, a library, a morning room… time stands still here, heirlooms from all around the world enhancing that feeling. You could choose to stay in one of the five luxurious suites and are guaranteed an experience of the old world with the advantage of modern conveniences… Your stay here begins at USD 300.
A stay at Glenburn Tea Estate takes you back a century and a half. It was originally a Scottish tea estate that was started in 1859, later passed on to one of the earliest tea plantation families in India. Part of the charm of this boutique hotel is the ‘tea estate’ experience which is pretty much like a wine making one in a vineyard. A tour of the tea gardens, the tea making process and eventually tea tasting brings the whole ‘tea experience’ alive for you.
Two colonial bungalows, each of them with four uniquely designed suites serve as accommodation. Wake up each morning to a view of the spectacular snow topped Kanchanjunga mountains on one side and Darjeeling Town on the other. Is this your cup of tea? If so, room rates begin at USD 285.
The Manor started out in the middle of the last century as a country hotel in what used to be the outskirts of a now sprawling city. This boutique hotel, it gives you a taste of Indian luxury in the heart of the capital city of India, a launchpad, if you will, to whet your travel appetite.
The Manor is undoubtedly one among the best boutique hotels in India. There are 14 stunning rooms to choose from; a highly recommended restaurant – the Indian Accent; Zehen – a wellness center with an offering of authentic Ayurveda therapies, and then there’s Old World Experiences – your window into intrinsically Indian culture. Room rates start at USD 110.
Further up in the Himalayas, 8000 feet above sea level, an unforgettable experience awaits you at Shakti 360° Leti. A small luxury hotel set high up where you have stunning views of snow capped mountains, from four private pavilions. Each one a unique blend of tradition and contemporary design. Gourmet cuisine, beverages around a cozy fireplace and peaceful surrounds are the USP of this perfectly perched boutique hotel.
It is the ideal place to just hang out, luxuriate and recharge. If you feel a bit energetic, you could pack a picnic lunch and head off to fish at the river nearby. Due to the remote location of Shati 360 Leti, there is a 3 night minimum stay. Contact the hotel for more information.
Mihir Garh is a mirage that seems to rise out of the sand like an extension of the desert it is built in,a small luxury hotel that started as a life long dream that came to fruition. This boutique hotel offers up 9 luxurious suites, a delightful combination of the glorious past and the conveniences of the present.
A stay at Mihir Garh is not just a luxurious pampering, but brings you the rich culture and heritage of Jodhpur, Rajasthan through activities specially organized for you. Go back in time with a special royal picnic or choose to go on the guest favorite – Village Safari. Room rates here start around USD 480.
Made of the indigenous red sandstone, a trademark construction material in this walled city, Raas is Jodhpur’s first boutique hotel. Interestingly designed rooms are scattered around a large central pool, most rooms give you a view of the nearby Mehrangarh fort. There are 39 tastefully put together rooms, that include 7 suites, every one of them comfortable and contemporary.
The charming city of Jodhpur is steeped in history and culture. There is much to see and do if you happen to be a culture vulture. Room rates begin at USD 330.
21 sprawling tents in this unique luxury boutique hotel is an irresistible invitation to a royal experience. Six of these tented suites have private walled gardens with jacuzzis. If you want to go the whole hog, there’s the Royal Tent – complete with private garden, spa and an outdoor pool. There’s even a separate tent to lounge or dine in.
The Serai is set in the desert scrub near the historic city of Jaisalmer, a visit to the famed Golden Fortress is highly recommended. For an unforgettable stay, rates begin at USD 530.
If you crave a taste of royal history, Devi Garh fits the bill. A palace that housed royalty from the 18th to the 20th centuries, you could stay in any of the 39 suites that are the last word in luxury. SUITES, not rooms! How much more exclusive can it get?
But actually it does get more exclusive – with the Presidential complex that comprises of the Devi Garh and Palace Suites, both share a beautiful black marble swimming pool. Devi Garh is the larger of the two and has a Jacuzzi, a private sun deck and views to die for. Tempting? Room rates begin at USD 180.
The historic Ahilya Fort overlooks the Narmada river in central India. It was home to Maharani Ahilya Bai, who ruled there from 1765 to 1795. The fort was turned into a guest residence by Richard Holkar, one of her descendants, in the year 2000. Beautifully located, there are 13 unique rooms, including one that has a balcony with a stupendous view of the river. Yet another unique offering is a tent set in a private garden, complete with heated pool and a stunning view of the river.
The food – Indian and International. Produce is organically grown on the fort grounds. Candlelight dinners by the pool or even a picnic dinner on an island in the middle of the river. How unique is that?
The beautiful Andaman Islands are set in the Indian Ocean. What you have here are peaceful surrounds, perfect beaches, crystal clear lagoons, tropical rain forests, beautiful night skies – all the ingredients for a perfect getaway. What could be better than a stay in a luxury boutique hotel in such a perfect setting? Barefoot has 25 elegant rooms, everything from thatched tents, cottages and spacious villas.
Looking at the islands now, you wouldn’t associate them with its tumultuous history. From the time when the British turned it into a penal colony for anti Brit Indians, incarcerating them in the terrible Circular Jail (which still exists) to the Japanese occupation during the second world war. Room rates here start around USD 110.
India, a country so diverse in language and culture, you will never run out of places to visit!
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