Hotels in India
Several friends that had already traveled to India, said do not pinch pennies on hotels. It will be worth it. We had no idea how true that really was until we experienced it for ourselves.
Choosing hotels in India was a different process than usual for me. I almost always try to earn or burn hotel points on every hotel stay. However, when I decided to set up a privately guided trip with my friend, picking hotels from their recommendations was part of the fun. I was given lots of different choices from 4 star to 5 star that affected the price of the tour. Based on the advice of our friends, we went all out and chose the higher end options. It’s important to note that hotels in India have very tight security and will search your car trunk and use mirrors to look underneath the car and place your bags through an x-ray machine. I guess that could be reassuring or alarming, but I wanted you to know it’s there.
The Imperial in New Delhi: This hotel in New Delhi is built like a box on the outside, but very beautiful on the inside. The interiors are heavily accented by the leftover British influence. It was a great hotel to use as an introduction to India since it was a lot like hotels we had stayed in before in other countries. A massive breakfast in the morning fueled us for our sightseeing days ahead. We only stayed one night here, but everyone was friendly and the service was good.
Oberoi Amarvillas in Agra: As a stepping stone for visiting the Taj Mahal, you can’t get any closer than the Oberoi Amarvillas. In fact, they provide a quick golf cart shuttle to the Taj Mahal! Talk about convenience. The backside of the hotel is built like a staircase so that most rooms can have a view of the Taj Mahal from their balcony. It was incredible!! During dinner we raved about our food and were offered a tour of the kitchen to see how it was made. The dessert chef spent 30 minutes showing us around, introduced us to the head chef and signed an Indian cookbook for me to take home. They had no idea I was a blogger, it was just hospitality and pride in their work.
Oberoi Rajvillas in Jaipur: I have to say that this was our favorite hotel of them all. The large grounds are like an oasis in this amazing city. They are actual villas placed on a campus of sorts. The main building for check in, breakfast, and a small shop is a short walk, golf cart, or horse drawn carriage ride away. In addition, there is a spa, pool and Shiva temple on the grounds. Each night the turn down service would surprise us with a flower display, a warm bath, or even a little gift. Kushbu (the turn down lady) left me a note stating that she noticed I didn’t have a kindle cover. So she put together (hand sewn) an envelope style cover out of some beautiful Indian fabric she loved and left it for me.We saw the hotel manager on the property a lot during our stay and he always called us by our names!
We stayed 3 nights in Jaipur and it felt like we’d been there forever. We learned that the Oberoi family is an Indian family and they have their own university for their employees before they are given a position in one of the hotels. Their attention to detail is impressive. We tried the spa (so relaxing), morning yoga (a workout for sure), laid by the pool (offered drinks and sunscreen), and even visited the Shiva temple priest for a blessing. We walked from our villa all over the beautiful grounds, birds and even peacocks. There was one custom in Jaipur I found very interesting. If we were walking on a path and a staff member was driving a golf cart on the same path, they would pull over, get out, stand, and bow with prayer hands and say namaste. It was as though they were told to never pass a guest while on a golf cart no matter what. It made me feel like a celebrity. This hotel had me looking at the brochure for the other cities that had Oberoi properties.
Oberoi Udaivillas in Udaipur: When rose petals fall from the roof over your head just before you enter the hotel, it might be a sign that your hotel is over the top fantastic. The expansive views of the lake from some rooms and the restaurant was outstanding. This hotel had several pools to choose from and the property was built on a hillside. After our first breakfast there, the staff knew that we ordered tea instead of coffee and had it ready for us when we sat down. Lunch on the terrace overlooking the lake was full of sunshine and no mosquitos. I have no idea if they have a system in place, or whether it was just the season of our visit.
The Oberoi hotels do not believe in tipping individuals. At the end of your stay, they request that you leave a suitable gratuity in an envelope for the staff. It was really nice not to have to pull my wallet out time and time again during our stay.
It’s been said that there is no welcome like an Indian welcome. I found that to be REALLY true. I can’t tell you how many times we were offered a drink, or if we needed help throughout our stays. Our room always had a small plate of fruit at check in. Even if the Oberoi hotels are not in your budget, I’d try to stay in a hotel that was owned by Indian people. That way you can get a sense of the culture through the rooms, customs, public areas, restaurants, and staff. It was interesting to note that we were given a discount because we stayed at so many Oberoi hotels during our visit to India. Originally, we were going to spread the love around a little more, but I’m happy we didn’t.
I should also note that we paid for every penny of our stays in India. As always, all opinions are my own. Because we had a private guide and driver during our stays in these hotels, I’m not sure about the location for access to any type of public transportation, etc. These hotels will set up a private guide and driver just for the day if you’d rather plan a trip on the go, instead of all at once like we did. I felt like our guides were invaluable for sights and even recommending what to eat! Next up…food in India.