As experts in luxury tailor-made tours of the subcontinent, we know that the hotel is just as important as the destination. Indeed, there’s no better place to stay in India than somewhere with local flair. From a desert delight in rural Rajasthan to dreamy bungalows in Kerala, here are five boutique hotels which must not be missed…
A luxurious boutique hotel set in 35 acres of mango and guava orchards in Ranthambore National Park, Dev Vilas is designed in traditional Indo-Saracenic style to re-create a Maharajas' hunting lodge. There are 21 individually-appointed suites, each decorated by local craftsmen and traditional materials. Spend the day searching for the rare Bengal tiger – and stop off at Ranthambore Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which dates back to the 10th century. On return, cool off in the idyllic swimming pool before savoring superb regional cuisine at the Audobon dining room, which is adorned with limited-edition lithographs by French artist J.J. Audobon. The Fateh Bar, named after Thakur Fateh Singh Rathore, a living legend among tiger conservationists, is perfect for drinks beforehand.
High in the hills, a short drive from Udaipur, Fateh Garh is one of Rajasthan’s most forward-looking luxury hotels. It has a strong emphasis placed on preserving the local environment, with the property built using local stone and antique architectural elements culled from abandoned historic buildings. With breath-taking views of beautiful Lake Pichola and the Palace complex, this 48-room hotel is a confection of bulbous domes, sugar-white pillars, crenulations, and intricate jaali screens. Antiques and delicate frescoes inspired by the style of Rajput miniatures dot every corner. The beautiful infinity pool and sumptuous spa make for excellent offerings. The restaurant serves local Mewari dishes – guests can enjoy a cocktail or two in the bar beforehand and sample the indigenous Mewari liquor.
Set amidst swaying palm groves and silvery canals on Kerala’s backwaters, Kumarakom Lake Resort is a stunning mix of old and new. Nestled in charmingly designed courtyards, the luxury resort’s 50 bungalows have been carefully rebuilt from manas, the 16th-century traditional Keralan homesteads, and furnished in teak with open-roofed bathrooms. It’s no wonder The Prince of Wales chose to spend his 60th birthday here with the Duchess of Cornwall. There’s a huge pool which is perfect for whiling away the day. For guests who want to venture out, there are experiences aplenty including rice boat cruises, fishing trips, cycling, and village walks. There are two great restaurants to choose from, including Ettukettu, which serves traditional Keralan cuisine.
Named by Lonely Planet as the world's most extraordinary hotel, Mihir Garh is a desert fantasy, a miniature castle in the heart of rural Rajasthan. Situated in the Thar Desert, the design reflects the architecture of the local villages, with rounded edges, fireplaces, alcoves and the colors of the local sand. The nine individually-styled suites feature bright Indian fabrics, custom-made furniture and come with their plunge pool from which you can look out over the vast sandy landscapes. Opt for Mihir Garh’s signature activity, the Village Safari, a fascinating walk through local villages. Royal picnics and camel riding are also on offer. Stables sport indigenous Marwari horses, among the finest in India. The desert rides are unforgettable and three- or four-day adventures can be arranged.
The blue city of Jodhpur’s first boutique hotel, RAAS Jodhpur, is a splendid haveli transformed into a world-renowned hotel with a loyal celebrity following. Towering above the property is the 15th-century mighty Mehrangarh Fort. The illuminated evening views are breath-taking. The 39 rooms and suites balance historic charm with contemporary design, each sporting the most unforgettable fort views. Brothers Nikhilendra and Dhananajaya Singh, part of the Jodhpur royal family, have lavished the 18th-century complex with luxurious details including a stunning pool, indulgent spa, and an enticing fashion boutique. All-day Bandari serves an international menu with a poolside terrace. Rooftop Dari Khana offers authentic Rajasthani dishes and has a superb drinks menu.
These ideas are just a starting point for what your trip to India could include. To start planning your luxury tailor-made holiday to India, please contact us. Each trip designed by Rajasthan Tours is created uniquely for you, working to your budget, style and interests with an absolute commitment to quality. We take the work off you to allow you to enjoy the most memorable holiday experience.