Taj Mahal Agra India at sunset with mirror reflection and vibrant sky. Taj Mahal is located at the banks of river Yamuna.

India and Her Incredible Hotels

Experience the enchanting sights and sounds of India and then luxuriate in her world-class grand hotels.

Traveling to India is an absolutely amazing experience.  While many people are intimidated by the poverty, the crowds, the noise, the dirt, the smell, and so on, I am here to let you know that India is a fascinating place to visit.  If you enjoy sightseeing, there is an endless number of museums, palaces, religious shrines, temples, etc. throughout the country, amazing cities, unique events, and great shopping.

Now, before I go any further, please understand that I spent my first time in India staying in great hotels, eating at the best restaurants, avoiding street food, and spending time on the streets only as part of our guided, sightseeing ventures.  Perhaps I will feel more comfortable in the future to spend more time living like the locals, but I had long decided that my introductory trip would be spent living the high life.

Hustle and Bustle of India

I’ve been asked on many occasions to describe our visit to India a couple years ago.  While I have several responses, I tend to focus on the days we spent driving from one city to the next.  To give you an idea, a drive of roughly 150 miles that would take 2 to 2.5 hours in the USA would typically last 8 to 10 hours in India!  However, while this might sound boring at first blush, we didn’t spend one second sleeping —not with everything that was going on the other side of our windows!

Driving a car in India is like being inside a video game, surrounded by what can only be referred to as “organized chaos.”  Except in the major cities, there are no such things as traffic lanes, traffic lights, or quiet.  At most hours, the streets would be full of pedestrians, every conceivable type of travel vehicle from occasional cars to bicycles, buses, trolleys, motorcycles, and tuk-tuks, and all types of animals including the sacred cows, sheep, goats, dogs, monkeys, donkeys, camels, even elephants!  And there is not even a second of silence, as the constant sound of horns is part of everyday life on the streets of India.  Every moment is, literally, “the greatest show on earth.”

Doing Some Homework

Today, I am going to focus on something that I was unaware of until I began my research, and that you may not know.  India is home to some of the most incredible luxury hotels in the world, ranging from elegant traditional hotels in the major cities of New Delhi and Mumbai, to unique properties that were formerly palaces and hunting lodges, to tented camps near the national parks of Rajasthan, which is known for their tiger safaris.

Importantly, we decided to visit India during the last two weeks of September, before the hotel prices double and triple!!  Yes, a little research goes a long way.  It is still costly to visit the best of the best hotels, but we simply could not have afforded the high season rates that become effective on October 1.

The two luxury hotel chains in India are the Oberoi and Taj hotels.  While we had the opportunity to sample both, you will see that we spend the majority of our time at Oberoi hotels.  Please accompany me as I revisit some of the magnificent hotels we visited.

World-Class Hotel Stays

Our visit to India began in New Delhi, before driving throughout the northern part of India, known as Rajasthan, and the major cities of Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaipur, to the fascinating cities of Varanasi, Agra, and Ranthambhore.

After spending a couple days in the metropolitan city of New Delhi, we traveled to the amazing city of Udaipur, known as the “City of Lakes” and often compared to Venice.  It is also home to two of the most famous, and greatest hotels in the world — the incredible Taj Lake Palace, which is built in the middle of a lake, was featured in the James Bond feature, Octopussy, and is perennially rated among the top hotels in the world; and the Oberoi Udaivilas, where we had the good fortune to spend our nights.  Each of these hotels are consistently rated among the best hotels in the world.

After two nights in Udaipur, we traveled to Jodhpur, where we visited the fabulous fifteenth century Mehrangarh Fort.  Jodhpur is also the home of the incomparable Umaid Bhawan Palace, where we spent two nights. The photos give you an idea of the magnificence of the property, but they do not do it justice.  Can you believe that this property used to be a private residence?  From the incredible architecture, to the museum on site, to the indoor pool, this is the most amazing place I have ever stayed.

Sambit04126, via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0

Painting Inside Umaid Bhavan Palace depicting a Rajput War

Ankit khare, via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Blue city and Mehrangarh fort on the hill at night in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

Next, we traveled to the walled city of Jaipur where, among other things, we enjoyed our trip by elephant to the Amer Fort and Palace.  While in Jaipur, we stayed in the gorgeous Oberoi Rajvilas.

Everyone must visit the Taj Mahal when visiting India, because of its sheer magnificence, which is beyond words.  And for that matter, so is the Oberoi Amarvilas, where every single room has a view of the Taj!

Our final stop was in the city of Ranthambhore, a base for visiting the national parks in search of the elusive Benghal tigers, and the home of the Oberoi Vanyavilas, which is India’s version of glamping!  We had a wonderful time in Ranthambhore, and did some great shopping at the local Women’s Cooperative, but one word of warning —unlike the African safari I was on, the India safari was very crowded which, in my opinion, could be a bit dangerous if the jeep is unable to properly maneuver at an inopportune time.

anilr, via Wikipedia, CC BY 2.0

I hope you enjoyed your brief tour of India.  Yes, it is insanely crowded and the poverty is heart-wrenching, but do not be intimidated. It is worth the effort, and I can assure you that it will be one of your best trips ever.