Land of the Taj Mahal, India is no stranger to architectural wonders. It’s therefore no surprise to find the Most Beautifully Designed Hotels in India. So while ancient Vaastu Shastra architectural rules influence designers even today, India is not limited to traditional forms. As a result, New Delhi has an Indo-Saracenic heart, but Chandigarh was designed from scratch by Le Corbusier. Echoing this mix, a whole spectrum of beautifully designed hotels can be found. Simply full to brimming with stunning examples of design, we’ve picked out the very best hotels in India of their kind.
The Lodhi, New Delhi
Throwing away the rule book when it comes to New Delhi design, The Lodhi is stylishly contemporary. Moreover, it is located just ten minutes from Connaught Place, on the edge of the city created by Lutyens in the 1900s, making it a great starting point for New Delhi tours. However, unlike the British city, The Lodhi switches arched entranceways for straight, sharp-edged lines. Rising nine stories and spread across two wings, its sandstone edifice is as impressive as anything else in the city. At the same time, its interiors are typified by understated furniture and light fabrics, with screens hinting at the India beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows. What’s more, The Lodhi offers just 40 rooms and suites, each one of them contains a private plunge pool and terrace. If they happen to be full, check out where to stay in New Delhi for more recommendations.
Lodhi Road, 110003 New Delhi
The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi
New Delhi’s Taj Mahal Hotel regularly accommodates visiting heads of state. As such, it surely ranks as one of the most beautifully designed hotels in India. A great addition to any New Delhi Design Guide, it is the sister hotel to its more famous sibling in Mumbai. For one thing, the geometrically arresting pink sandstone façade stands a short stroll from India Gate in the city’s original diplomatic quarter. Constructed in the latter half of the twentieth century, its rooms combine subtle Edwardian elegance with Mughal influences, including those from the Mughal’s capital of Shahjalanabad. For instance, gold tiles glint in the recesses above the white polished marble of the expansive lobby. You can also explore more design with our Gothic and Art Deco tour of the city.
No 1 Mansingh Road, 110011 New Delhi
The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai
The Ritz of the Indian subcontinent, The Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai is the benchmark from which all other hotels on where to stay in Mumbai lists compare themselves. It therefore has to exist on any list of the best hotels in India. A two-minute walk from the Gateway of India on the Colaba harbor front, it first opened in 1903. A fine example of architectural pilfering, it’s busy exterior blends elements from Moorish and Mughal, as well as Victorian and Renaissance design. Its 73-meter central dome rises triumphantly over the main unsupported staircase. And while its public areas provide luxury within a formal framework, its multitude of rooms are more relaxed. Even so, they stay true to the building’s fine turn of the century design.
Apollo Bunder Road The Taj Mahal Palace, Colaba, 400001 Mumbai
The Postcard Cuelim, Goa
This hotel in Goa is a boutique stay with just six guest bedrooms. The strong colonial ambience of The Postcard Cuelim developed over 350 years. With its red-tiled terracotta rooftops and whitewashed walls it wouldn’t look out of the place in the countryside outside Lisbon. The traditional style continues inside, where an ancient chapel, mature gardens, and Portuguese-style furnishings all add to the overall look. Approximately three kilometers from the coast, this historic property also includes pieces of stained glass and hand-painted murals. When it comes to facilities, The Postcard Cuelim has a celebrated ayurvedic spa and traditional Goan cuisine.
64, T B Cunha Road, 403712 Cansaulim
Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Goa
The main building at Taj Exotica Resort & Spa is a low colonial-style structure paralleling 800 meters of white sand. Here, old-world architecture fills the interiors. Around them are 56 acres of greenery a stone’s throw from the Arabian Sea. A sunlit atrium often echoes with the tones of live music. It leads towards rooms and suites that blend Goan and Portuguese traditions with ease. Similarly, single-story villas inspired by southern Europe dot the gardens. Burnt orange and Prussian view hues finish them, as do dark wood furnishings from Portugal. They also boast the painted tiles for which the country is rightly famed. This laid-back beach offering also contains the award-winning Jiva Spa, tennis courts, and a nine-hole golf course.
Benaulim Beach, 403716 Benaulim
Kahani Paradise, Gokarna
Kahani Paradise, in Gokarna, Karnataka overlooks a beach by the name of Paradise from its hilltop perch. A purpose-built hideaway, it therefore effortlessly combines the area’s natural splendor into its spaces. Terraces look across to the outdoor pool and 20-acre estate, while the six suites have large floor-to-ceiling windows. Traditional craftsmanship is obvious throughout Kahani Paradise, from the delightful beamed ceilings to the window arches. Aged Rajasthan doors dot the structure, alongside well-chosen local antiques. As a result, there is a feeling of timelessness amid modern conveniences allied to the chatter of wild monkeys and parakeets.
Belekan Road, Tadri, 581326 Gokarna
Devi Ratn, Jaipur – IHCL SeleQtions, Rajasthan
You’ll find an intriguing mix of architectural traditions and contemporary style at Devi Ratn. Its exterior echoes the coral pink of Jaipur, and arches are reminiscent of Mughal-era design. Interior spaces include the domed reception, inspired by the Jantar Mantar observatory, one of the city’s major cultural attractions. However, Devi Ratn is also strikingly contemporary. It successfully blends modern geometric patterns with new versions of authentic latticework design, printed fabrics, and broken mirror thekri artworks. High ceilings hung with impressive chandeliers hint at the royal heritage of India’s ‘princely state’. Highly customized throughout, there are views of the Aravallis Mountains from every room. The smallest is an impressive 167 square meters in area.
Ballupura Farms, Village Jamdoli, Agra Road, 302031 Jaipur
SUJÁN The Serai, Jaisalmer – Relais & Chateaux, Rajasthan
The Serai, Jaisalmer is an experience as much as a place to rest your head at night. Inspired by the royal caravans of ancient Rajasthan, here thoughts of Aladdin and Ali Baba combine with princely grandeur. Laid out as a luxurious tented camp, it has a magnificent location in the depths of the Thar Desert. Its 21 individual suites manage to be both simple in style and elegantly contemporary. Each has its own private lounge area, besides. The onsite restaurant is also beneath canvas, and makes use of locally-grown produce whenever position. In addition, the Raison d’Etre spa offers treatments for the whole body in its enclosed garden.
Bherwa, Chandan, Distt. Jaisalmer, 345001 Jaisalmer
Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur
Encompassing a four-acre island on Lake Pichola, the Taj Lake Palace hotel seems to sit elegantly moored offshore. Reserved solely for the use of its residence, it offers extreme seclusion. What’s more, truly palatial surrounds make it one of the most beautifully designed hotels in India. The Taj Lake Palace hotel actually began life as the Jag Niwas, the summer residence of Maharaja Jagat Singh II. He was the ruler of Mewar in the middle of the eighteenth century. Appearing in the James Bond film Octopussy, it is awash with decorative detail, from room niches to carved stonework. Its Mughal-period construction is clear from its exterior stonework of domed turrets and colonnaded courtyards surrounding a large lily pond. At the same time, its interior is thick with black and white marble, which creates a subtle India meet Versailles stylishness.
P O Box No 5 Pichola Lake, 313001 Udaipur
The Oberoi Vanyavilas Wildlife Resort, Ranthambhore
The Oberoi Vanyavilas Wildlife Resort is located within five minutes of Ranthambhore National Park. Since its creation in 1957, it has been one of the best places in India to spy tigers. A series of grand orange-roofed tents wrap around the main structure and almost disappear into the surrounding landscape. Inspired by the royal tents of old, they have solid teak floors. Hand-carved pieces of furniture decorate them, including a canopied king-size bed and freestanding bathtub. But despite their old-world charm, they contain air conditioning.
Ranthambhore Road, 322001 Sawāi Mādhopur
The Oberoi Gurgaon, New Delhi
The Oberoi Gurgaon creates a new take on the traditional courtyard. It was shortlisted for Best Hotel Design at the 2012 World Architecture Festival. Guests enter through a forest of trees suggestive of having left the city for a country estate. Moreover, gleaming through the leaves is the four-story glass and chrome Jewel Box. Containing lobby, cigar lounge and restaurants, its sits out over an expansive outdoor pool. To one side of this stands the modernist block containing the rooms. These have a mid-century design and offer floor-to-ceiling windows. Opposite the Jewel Box is a pair of separate retail pavilions housing luxury brands that help balance the contemporary design. Entirely solar powered, the southern outskirts of the Indian capital is where you’ll find this hotel. Use it as a base to explore New Delhi’s food scene with our city food tour.
443, Udyog Vihar, 122016 Gurgaon
First built in 1936 as a private home, Lebua, Lucknow is a sprawling art deco property straight out of a period drama. Pieces of vintage furniture fill spacious rooms fully restored to their former glory. Unique artworks have also been given a new life here. However, the original layout has been untouched, and high ceilings keep it naturally cool. As a result, a series of interconnected buildings, courtyards and terraces make up the hotel. There’s also a veranda that runs along the property’s entire length. This opens out onto the expansive lawns of Lucknow’s first certified heritage hotel.
Saraca Estate, 19, Mall Avenue 19, 226001 Lucknow
Shangri-La Hotel, Bangalore
The literal height of luxury, the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangalore rises 19-storys over the city. Its modern glass and steel exterior reflects India’s coming of age. Stepping inside, guests’ first views are of the grand double-height lobby, with live music emanating from the neighboring lobby lounge. Both are decorated with Indian motifs and interiors referencing Bangalore, India’s ‘Garden City’. It does this through the use of abstract floral patterns in screens and floor tiles. Rooms also feature local gold-veined marble, while the rooftop boasts a fine lounge. In addition, the entire third floor welcomes guest wellness, incorporating the spa, sauna and steam room.
Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru, No 56-6B, Palace Road, Bengaluru, 560052 Bangalore
Taj Bekal Resort & Spa, Bekal, Kerala
Taj Bekal Resort & Spa is a multi-award-winning escape in Kerala as well as being one of the most beautifully designed hotels in India. It is made up of 66 laterite villas taking inspiration from the region’s traditional Ketuvallum houseboats. They celebrate local culture through the hotel’s spaces, with arching wickerwork bamboo roofs topping the entrance porticos. There are also chitra pothi palm leaf murals on its walls. Seamlessly connecting with its landscaped gardens, this was once a coconut plantation. Several palms survive to provide shade on route to the beachfront and nesting for its birds.
Kappil Beach, 671319 Bekal
The Kumaon, Ramgarh
At The Kumaon, Ramgarh, a hilltop location mixes rustic charm with authentic regional building materials and modern pared back design. As a result, guests will find rooms that are finished with floors of local woods bathed in natural light. The simplicity of design continues throughout, allowing the beauty of the extraordinary mountain vistas to draw the eye through expansive picture-windows. These open onto private balconies or terraces from each of the ten rooms. Similarly, the bare stone walls of the public spaces create a homely atmosphere enlivened by open fires and wood-burning stoves.
Village Gadholi, Binsar road, Ramgarh
Enjoy a Restful Night’s Sleep in India’s Best Hotels
There is no shortage of the most beautifully designed hotels in India. Some come out of historic structures and even royal palaces that date back hundreds of years. However others are firmly designed for the twenty-first century. In between, you will find all manner of wonderful hotels which connect India’s present, past, and future. The very best – selected for you here – provide a sense of the country without being cliché or tied to tradition. Instead, they have been specifically created by some of the world’s greatest hotel chains and designers to provide further nourishment to any tours in India you might have in mind.
The style of the most beautifully designed hotels in India enhances the guest experience for exploring a multitude of India travel itineraries. Be sure not to miss our India Culture Guide for all you need to know before you go.