As my Tuk Tuk buzzed through the bustling streets of Delhi, it felt a million miles away from five star luxury. However, as we pulled into a security area teeming with heavily armed security, I saw a whole new side of Delhi. Through the shimmering gates of the DLF Golf Club I found myself inspired. As such, I wanted to look at the very best that India has to offer.
Aiana Hotels, A Moonriver Resort
Due to arrive later this year is Aiana Hotels’ first contribution to the luxury hotel market, Aiana Munnar, A Moonriver Resort. This all-suite resort takes luxury to a whole new level, but is surprisingly accessible. The setting alone is a hair-raiser, as the resort rests boldly on the slopes of Munnar’s rolling hills of green, juxtaposing greatly to India’s more hectic side. Thick with vegetation, stunning flora and soaked with sunshine, the 4000ft location benefits from a slightly cooler climate on top of scenery like no other. The suites themselves boast private plunge pools and modern interiors, yet nature has a natural affinity throughout. With only 36 suites on site, it’s fair to say that this is an exclusive location. Designed for a new generation of travellers seeking immersive experiences, the resort offers exclusive access to authentic, local happenings. So whether it’s after-hours access to a local event or a meet and greet with a local celebrity, every aspect of your stay is carefully tailored to the guest. Aiana’s signature style of Indian-inspired hospitality is warm and unobtrusive; aimed at delivering a lifestyle experience in tune with the local environment. The icing on the cake is the spa- the location is serene and it beams rejuvenation. And what better way to follow up a spa session than with a dining experience set that leaves a memorable taste in your mouth, as the chef makes use of local ingredients and home-grown spices. This is a getaway for the explorer seeking relaxation at the heart of a rural refuge.
Located on the brink of Ranthambore National Park, Amanikhas is an exclusive hideaway giving guests the chance to enjoy total relaxation in close proximity to some of the greatest nature and wildlife that India has to offer. Whilst to some the thought of falling asleep deep in the forest in a tent where tigers and boar roam free is a troubling one, the resort delivers a heightened sense of luxury, in a rustic and charming fashion. The ten air conditioned tents on site reflect the Mughal pavilions in their appearance, with classical furnishings and beautiful, white interiors separated by cotton drapes. The outdoor fireplace is the heart and soul of the experience, as hours can be lost underneath the starry night skies. With the glow of the fire on your face, the only way to get the full Amanikhas experience is to sample the chef’s latest creation, usually inspired by whatever might grow in the organic garden. Aman properties draw heavily on the natural surroundings, where a strong affinity with the local area is created through the use of indigenous materials alongside inspiration from local architecture. This is one of India’s most serene, yet dramatic settings and the resort is perfectly positioned to enjoy every last inch of it.
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS, UDAIPUR
On the riverbank of the glistening Lake Pichola, lies the Oberoi Udaivilas. Sprawling across fifty acres of verdant, green landscape, a staggering 20 acres of the resort belongs to an incredibly diverse wildlife sanctuary where boar and deer can be seen sauntering around the grounds. The suites here are grand. In fact, the Kohinoor Suite is so grand that it warrants a private entrance leading through a peaceful courtyard before you even step foot over the threshold. The suite is adorned with gold furnishing throughout and guests can feel like royalty, as they all enjoy the benefits of a private pool. The other less opulent, yet still incredibly luxurious suites all benefit from traditional Mewar inspired design, yet the 21st century is not forgotten as guests can keep in touch with the outside world with the latest technology at their fingertips. If you’re picky as to the view you wake up to in the mornings, then never fear, as suites enjoy garden views on one side and sweeping views of the lake on the other, so you’re spoilt for choice. The opportunities for alfresco dining are like no other here, as the waterfront views are far reaching, capturing the palaces of Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir in all their glory.
Taj Lake Palace
From the moment you’re showered with fresh rose petals upon arrival, to the day you leave in the resort’s Vintage coupé, the traditional hospitality on hand here is some of the finest in the world. The Resort itself floats effortlessly in the centre of Lake Pichola and enjoys the sensational backdrop of the Aravalli Mountains. The building is formed of marble and boasts a rich and inviting décor throughout. Sculpted columns stand boldly and the fretwork screens are positioned elegantly in all directions. The architecture here is grand, bringing class and sophistication to each and every room. And if you’ve always wondered what it might be like to be a prince or princess for the day, then your dreams might just come true, as the hotel offers guests their own personal ‘royal butler’ service. So whether you’re looking for an indulgent spa day or a day of boating, the concierge team have it covered. In fact, this is a hotel so luxurious that the Maharaja even held court here in the 1930s. Taj Lake Palace is set far away from the rush and bother of the cities, acting as a tranquil hideaway and a chance to indulge in India’s finest luxury.
The Leela Hotels and Residences, Bhartiya City
Leela Hotels are somewhat veterans of the luxury hotel scene in India. Their motto ‘atithi devo bhava’ (the guest is god) rings true in all eight of their 5* offerings to date and it looks like they have a new project on the horizon that is set to raise the bar even higher. Their latest venture, set at the heart of Bhartiya City, not only boasts sleek, contemporary, design amid incredible levels of luxury, but the elegantly styled rooms all benefit from the latest technology. The Leela has taken a refreshing approach to design, where style and function go hand in hand to create multifunctional spaces for the guest. The rooms overlook the grandeur of Bhartiya City’s 7-acre Central Park, boasting a colourful, sweeping landscape and wide-open green spaces. Guests have access to everything the city has to offer on their doorstep, including the Centre for Performing Arts, themed gardens, the waterfront promenade and shopping districts inspired by Europe’s finest. Leela residences are celebrating India’s vast landscape, culture and history in style at Bhartiya City. This is India’s first smart city and the Leela looks to be following suit.