While India may have a reputation as a backpacker's paradise, India's expanding offering of extravagant properties, from palatial city hotels to magnificent mountain retreats, is quickly making it one of the world's most popular luxury holiday destinations.
25% of all bookings to Indian hotels in the past year were for five star, soaring above the global average (only 6% of all bookings to global hotels were for five star).*
Undoubtedly, India is the destination of the moment if you're a fan of luxury travel. To help you narrow down the bountiful options, the data analysts at Booking.com compiled a list of some of the most highly reviewed luxury stays in India, according to Indian travellers.
In the heart of the Rajasthani desert, not far from Jaisalmer city, lies the majestic Suryagarh. This traditional sandstone fortress has been converted into a luxury boutique hotel with a sophisticated and distinctly Rajasthani feel. All thanks to its local staff, design, cuisine and the tribal music that often echoes through its grand courtyards. While you really ought to explore a bit of Rajasthan during your stay, resting within the comfort of Suryagarh is rather tempting. While away your time with a visit to the spa or take part in some yoga, chanting or meditation. In truth, it's hard to believe you're in the middle of the desert.
La Villa, Pondicherry
Founded by a man born and raised in Pondicherry, La Villa has a strong authentic claim. Its aesthetic is irresistibly chic, having perfected a look that's simultaneously rustic and modern. Sharp lines and minimalism are artfully combined with wooden shutters and a distressed colonial façade. Lap up the genteel French feel by reclining in a bamboo chair in dappled shade on the verandah or terrace.
Wildflower Hall, Shimla
In the foothills of the Himalaya, Wildflower Hall is a dreamy mountain retreat. Offering a serenity that's hard to match elsewhere in India and views that are out of this world; the infinity pool with an unblemished panorama is a real highlight. Found in the town of Shimla, which used to be the summer capital of the British Raj, the hotel retains its British décor with mahogany furniture, ornate carpets and fireplaces with grand mantelpieces.
The Imperial, New Delhi
Despite having a well-established reputation as one of New Delhi's finest hotels, The Imperial does not rest on its laurels. Immaculate lawns fringed with palm trees, a garden pool and a colonnaded veranda create a feeling of a haven amidst this frantic city. Inside, high ceilings and marble floors add to this tranquility by creating a pretty awe-inspiring impression. Guests can dine in a number of world-class restaurants and even shop in the in-house Chanel boutique, the first and only one in Delhi.
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai
The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai is an eternal favourite for good reason. The staff exude all the warmth of Indian hospitality and execute everything to perfection. Even a cup of tea in the Sea Lounge is served with an hour-glass so that you get just the right length of brew. The palace is brimming with history, charm and character, having opened in 1903 after pioneer industrialist Jamsetjee Tata commissioned it out of love for Mumbai. The building itself is a symbol of the city and was the first harbour landmark, predating even the adjacent Gateway of India. There's a rumour that the hotel was constructed back-to-front because the architect signed off plans while on holiday without noticing the direction it was facing. Then jumped to his death from the fifth floor when he returned and realized his mistake. But in reality this harbour-facing design, unprecedented in India, was intended for guests to enjoy breath-taking views of the Arabian Sea.
The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata
In the colourful and chaotic city of Kolkata, the Oberoi Grand is a sumptuous sanctuary that tends to surpass expectations. The staff here have got service down to a fine art and the inside of the hotel certainly lives up to its name. Gleaming chandeliers and gorgeous fabrics lend the place an aura of grace and splendor and the garden pool framed by palm trees and lit up at night is simply magical.