palace hotel in the middle of a lake at sunset
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Taj Lake Palace

Indagare's review of Taj Lake Palace, on Udaipur's Lake Pachola. Historic and grand, this 83-room hotel lives up to and exceeds expectations.

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palace exterior of grand hotel
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Taj Rambagh Palace

Taj Rambagh Palace is a former royal residence that still retains plenty of history and glamour from the days of the Raj. Here's our review.

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huge palace hotel exterior with massive dome and multiple towers
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Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace

Umaid Bhawan Palace sits like a small city, with its Beaux Arts–style facade gleaming at the center of a magnificent landscape.

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grand palatial Indian hotel entrance flanked by pools
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The Oberoi Amarvilas Hotel

Our review of the Oberoi Amarvilas, where all rooms in this grand Mughal-style hotel have views of the Taj Mahal.

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Indian style fountains in a tiled garden
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The Oberoi Rajvilas

The Oberoi Rajvilas features all the requisite royal Rajasthani touches as well as plenty of modern amenities.

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two lounge chairs by pool
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The Oberoi Udaivilas

Set on thirty acres of wildlife conservancy overlooking Lake Pichola, The Oboroi Udaivilas brings to life the splendor and romance of India.

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This camp with ten tents opened in 2003 and commands the highest overnight price in Ranthambore. Set on 18 acres of deciduous forest on the edge of the tiger preserve, Aman-i-Khás delivers the expected high-style, Aman experience in safari form. Once you pass through the entry gate of high ocher walls, a stark stone slab pathway leads to the central gathering area of the camp, a sunken stone seating area, where a massive campfire is lit at night.

Three oversized tents containing the dining room, lounge and spa line the main camp level, and while their walls and ceilings are simple canvas, the polished stone floors and custom leather and wood furniture seem more suited to a chic Parisian apartment than your typical safari tent. Well-known interior designer Jean-Michel Gathy, who also created Amanyara in the Turks and Caicos, fashioned towering dark wood bookcases with leather inlays and sleek contemporary versions of campaign furniture. In the ten air-conditioned guest tents, which are scattered around the property, a modernist aesthetic mixes with Asian accents like the day beds that serve as a constant reminder that this is an Aman safari, not a Maharajah’s. The camp pool was designed to resemble an Indian step-well, and guests can lounge on triangular pillows and mattresses instead of chaise longues.

In keeping with the Aman philosophy, the staff here focuses on delivering unusual experiences for its guests as well as sexy accommodations, so they may suggest a breakfast set up in the Ranthambore fort, village walks or camel treks. Additionally, the tents come with their own butlers, who are there to make every experience as memorable as possible. While most travelers come to Aman-i-Khás to see tigers, once there, guests will appreciate just relaxing on the serene grounds as much as seeing the big cats. Aman is the Sanskrit word for peace and Khas means special in Hindu; few would deny that this is a special place of peace.

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Swimming Pool at Amanbagh, Jaipur, India


Opened in 2005, Amanbagh, an Aman resort, is a 40-room property set in foothills of the Aravali Mountains. The secluded resort was created in collaboration with esteemed Paris-based architect and designer Ed Tuttle, who also masterminded Amanpuri in Phuket, Thailand, and the Amanjena resort in Marrakech. A two-hour drive from Jaipur, Amanbagh is a romantic, palm-shaded mise-en-scène of Moghul-style architecture crafted in Indian sandstone. Upon arrival, it’s clear that the service runs as smoothly as the polished surfaces throughout. Guests, many of them honeymooners, can hide out in serene, luxurious suites with private courtyards and pools. Dine in the terrace restaurant where the menu features Western and Indian dishes such as snapper with roasted pimentos and Kashmiri-style lamb chops. (Many of the greens, vegetables and herbs come from on-site organic garden). Excursions to nearby historic Moghul forts and remote archaeological sites, such as the temple town of Neelkanth, are also among the highlights of a visit to this magical place.

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Set in the foothills of the Himalayas in India, Ananda is an Ayurvedic destination spa offering a range of wellness programs.
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brijrama palace varanasi view

Brijrama Palace

Indagare Travel reviews the Brijrama Palace, a luxury hotel in Varanasi, India, located directly on the banks of the sacred River Ganges. Opened in 2016 in one of the former riverside fortresses, the Brijrama commands a central location in Varanasi with views out over the sacred Ganges.
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Dera Amer

Located on a wilderness reserve about an hour's drive from Jaipur, Dera Amer is the passion project of the owner and his family.
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Evolve Back Kamalapura Palace, Hampi

The Evolve Back Kamalpura Palace is the place to stay for anyone wishing to explore the ancient city of Hampi in Southern India’s Karnataka state.
Lobby at Four Seasons Mumbai, Mumbai, India

Four Seasons Mumbai

In 2006, this contemporary city property was the Four Seasons' debut in India. Years on, it continues to deliver with plenty of comfort and service. Rooms, 202 in total, are some of the city’s most spacious with floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing the skyline, and feature marble bathrooms with sunken tubs. Being situated in Worli allows access to both South Mumbai’s cultural institutions and sights as well as the suburban neighborhoods of Bandra and Juhu, which is ideal for business travelers trying to make their way through this traffic-heavy metropolis.

Along with an open-air pool and two restaurants, the hotel boasts a futuristic rooftop bar and lounge, on its 34th floor, which is a favorite of party-going locals. Pop in for a cocktail or two at dusk as the sun sets over the Arabian sea.

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Exterior at Hotel Narain Niwas Palace, Jaipur, India

Hotel Narain Niwas Palace

Built in 1928 as the garden house of a noble family, this heritage property is one of the few to still remain family owned. Spread across three floors, the hotel’s 37 rooms and suites are ornately painted and feature period furniture. The Kanota suites, including room 36, are especially dramatic, thanks to high ceilings and four-poster beds. Rooms 51 and 57 on the ground floor are also charming and close to the pool. Heirloom portraits and pieces, such as the family silver showcased in rosewood cabinets in the dining room, also lend the property a real, lived-in authenticity; it feels much more like a private residence than a hotel.

Also of note: the stunning Hot Pink boutique on-site, which was a destination onto itself for many visitors to the Pink City. The high-end store, opened in 2005, was a collaboration between late Munnu Kasliwal of the Gem Palace and French jeweler Marie-Hélène de Taillac, and carries clothing by Indian designers such as Rajesh Pratap Singh and Namrata Joshipura, gorgeous shawls by Kashmir Handloom, as well plenty of other colorful and kitschy accessories.

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this elegant tented camp provides a lovely contrast to the many opulent palace hotels and forts that comprise most Rajasthan itineraries.
Lotus Sweet Bedroom at JW Marriott, Mumbai, India

JW Marriott

Arriving at this sprawling, 355-room property, it’s clear this hotel is a campus unto itself, an oasis in bustling Mumbai, complete with stylish restaurants (including Arola by namesake Michelin-starred Spanish chef Sergio Arola), hip nightclubs, and a stunning spa. Since the hotel sits in Juhu, close to several film studios, it attracts plenty of A-list stars, startlets, producers, and others in the biz, which in turn gives the place a certain allure.

While the property does have beach access, sun bathing is not common in India, so instead, choose from one of the three private pools, or linger by the on-site lotus pond. Or spend the day at the Quan spa, where the therapies include everything from a rose and milk bath to a cardamom and coconut-infused body polish.

The grand ocean suites, outfitted with large bathtubs that overlook the beach, are particularly stunning. Also impressive are the executive superior rooms with ocean views and access to the club on the fourth floor.

Bedroom at Lebua Resort, Jaipur, India

Lebua Resort, Jaipur

Meant to evoke the angular architecture of Janta Mantar (a sculptural garden of monolith-like astronomical instruments in Jaipur dating back to 1728), Lebua Resort charts a new course for Rajasthani hotels. Opened as part of the Devi Resorts family in 2011, the all-suite property was rebranded under Bangkok-based Lebua resorts in 2013. Still central to a stay here is the bold, contemporary design of the hotel, which features plenty of curved sandstone latticework on the exterior. Rooms are decorated in jewel tones such as garnet-red or emerald-green, but also come outfitted with lenticular prints (a modern take on the region’s miniature painting) and modern furnishings. The on-site Vajra restaurant serves European and Indian fare; or sip cocktails at the planetarium-like Chakra Bar. The property’s design shop carries great pieces by local artisans for crowd-pleasing gifts.

Interiors at Leela Palace, New Delhi, India

Leela Palace New Delhi

When the Leela opened in the leafy Diplomatic Enclave neighborhood in 2011, it added a touch of glitz and glamour to Delhi’s hotel scene. Its interiors are opulent and contemporary, the extensive private art collection is impressive, and two of the restaurants are major international brands: Italian Le Cirque and the exquisitely designed Japanese Megu. Despite this cultural weave, however, the hotel still feels decidedly Indian.

With its regal mansion facade, the hotel looks right at home in this area, which also boasts the Presidential Palace, foreign embassies and the Prime Minister’s office. The contemporary-styled 260 rooms and suites are generously sized; in fact they are the largest sized rooms in the capital. All come with personalized butler service, huge marble bathrooms with soaking tubs and plasma televisions. Cutting-edge technology includes ITouch digi-valet for in-room electronics control and entertainment on demand. Even more impressive is the Leela’s eco-friendly design scheme, which ensures zero waste of natural resources.

While the streets surrounding Leela are wide, and beautiful parks can be found throughout the area, jogging in the heat of Delhi may not be for everyone, so the exceptional gym is a welcome addition. Adjacent to it, global spa brand ESPA offers a wide array of services and indulgent, traditional Ayurvedic treatments. Delhi, home to millions of people and a seemingly equal amount of cars, can be loud and congested, so the hotel’s infinity-edge, rooftop pool is a quiet breezy retreat with stunning views.

In addition to the traditional afternoon high tea, live jazz plays Thursday through Saturday. The hotel’s Library Bar, reminiscent of English Gentlemen’s club with its collection of leather-bound first editions makes The Leela the fashionable meeting spot for visitors and locals.

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Aerial View : Leela Palace, Udaipur, India

Leela Palace Udaipur

This 80-room lakeside property, opened in 2009, feels sleek and modern, though the rich in-room color palette and furnishings serves as a nod to the city’s regal past. There are two main courtyards, one along the perimeter of the hotel featuring manicured topiaries and waterways, and another interior courtyard that serves as the stage for nightly dance performances. Rooms, though smaller than those at the Oberoi Udaivilas, still pack in plenty of artifacts, miniature paintings, and of course high-tech amenities (flat screens, iPad and iPod docks, Bose surround system). And the property’s entirely tented 10,000-square spa is also a big draw. Even if you don’t stay, the lakefront Sheesh Mahal restaurant should not be missed.

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Exterior View : Lodhi, Delhi, India


Formerly the Aman New Delhi, the Lodhi became an independent boutique hotel in 2013 but has maintained its Aman-like aesthetic and attention to detail. Set amid one of Delhi’s greenest neighborhoods (the setting of the Delhi Golf Course), the hotel exudes a chic sense of serenity. Public spaces are at once grand, with huge glass walls looking onto water features, but also warm with plush seating areas and a hushed ambience. With resident managers who are beloved fixtures in Delhi society, guests feel like honored visitors with insider’s access.

While the building is large and can seem imposing, the hotel holds only 40 guest rooms, so each guest receives personalized, excellent service. Guest room are the size of a small apartment with a sitting area, workstation, dressing room and spacious bathrooms. The pièce de résistance is each room’s large balcony and plunge pools with double chaise lounges upholstered in beautiful woodblock prints. Nothing could be more refreshing after a day of Delhi sightseeing than a dip in your private pool and emerging for a drink on the protected patio.

The Lodhi spa is particularly luxurious; treatment rooms each have their own showers, steam rooms, bathtubs and chaises. The state-of-the-art fitness area offers TRX, Pilates and personal training, as well as yoga classes, which can be taken in the adjacent park amidst parakeets and historic tombs. For the athletic-minded there is a 50-meter swimming pool, as well as tennis and squash courts.

Excellent dining options include the stunning OTW, a peaceful oasis built of glass that sits over one of the property’s many water features. Elan is a more casual restaurant option that serves a variety of Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine. Indian Accent, serving gourmet modern Indian cuisine, is a must for foodies.

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Lobby at Oberoi Gurgaon, Delhi, India

Oberoi Gurgaon

With a 24-hour spa and one of the city’s trendiest restaurants, this hotel is 20-minute drive from the Delhi airport and the perfect place to overnight and adjust after a long flight.

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Purity Resort, Kerala Backwaters

Located on the shore of the stunning Vembanad Lake, this Relais & Chateaux boutique hotel is filled with antique furniture and modern art.

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two white cushioned chairs on a deck overlooking a stone castle


This contemporary design hotel, an oasis within Jodhpur’s Walled City, contrasts beautifully with the centuries-old surroundings.
bedroom with a mustard couch overlooking a lake

RAAS Chhatrasagar

Tucked into the countryside between Jodhpur and Jaipur, RAAS Chhatrasagar is a lakefront lodge and birders’ paradise.
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RAAS Devigarh

When Devigarh opened its doors on December 31, 1999, it marked a new decade to come of storied properties across Rajasthan being renovated and restored into relaxing and authentic escapes. More than ten years on, the trendsetting 39-room property, all of them suites, still delivers on all accounts.

Walking around the property, there’s both a feeling of grandness and intimacy. Guests can wander and discover fragrant flower-filled courtyards, marbled terraces and jewel-encrusted corridors. The suites, for their part, are all slightly different based on the dimensions of the space, but many offer balconies or at least bay window alcoves overlooking the surrounding mountains and village. From the living area to the bathrooms, marble practically covers all surfaces, giving the room an overwhelming feeling of tranquility. Inlayed semi-precious stones, such as lapis lazuli, malachite or jasper, though add ample luxury and color, and pay homage to the region’s gem-cutting heritage. For those that want to truly feel like royalty, consider the two-bedroom Devigarh Complex, which has its own black marble pool.

The restaurant and open-air bar on property, which partly overlook the temperature-controlled pool, are also fantastically designed, blending the original palatial bones of the building with modern furnishings and décor. The menu features Indian dishes, such as the typical Rajasthan thali, where small portions of a variety of vegetables and breads are offered in small circular bowls, along with Western fare such as pastas. At the bar, cocktails often feature housemade juices such as pomegranate and jasmine syrup.

While the RAAS Devigarh has a serene setting, the property is best visited in addition to another in Udaipur, as they both offer different but worthwhile experiences. The property is a great stop for a quick countryside experience, and is easily combined with time in the city. Another bonus is the hotel's proximity to a small Indian village that is home to locals of many faiths including the Jain religion.

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hotel room with bed against blue-and-white wall on left under vaulted blue ceiling with windows in background

RAAS Rajmahal Palace

A royal guesthouse with a hip twist that is perfect for design aficionados and those who prefer boutique properties.

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Exterior view - Rawla Narlai, Jodhpur, India

Rawla Narlai

With its more rural surroundings, this 17th-century “villa” feels decidedly more homespun compared with the renovated palace hotels in Rajasthan’s bigger cities. And with that authenticity comes some adventure. At breakfast, monkeys may appear on the terraces or rooftops of the villa. Though each of the guest rooms, 30 in total, is different, many retain original parapets and frescoes, while colonial day beds, armoires and exquisite hand-blocked fabrics have been added. (Book the sprawling and gorgeously decorated Blue Room.) Mick Jagger and Francesco Clemente were among those who have stayed and explored this area of the state. They might have been drawn by the area’s reputation as a sacred place for healers. The Shiva Temple, carved in stone on the hilltop above the hotel, has drawn mystics and monks for centuries. In part, a stay at Rawla Narlai is memorable because guests can easily walk into the village and wander without crowds, hawkers, or tourists, and observe the village daily’s rhythms and routines. Morning hikes up to the temple for a view of the countryside are highly recommended. Experienced riders will enjoy horseback safaris on the region’s famous Marwari horses. (Both Madonna and Angelina Jolie had apparently done so.) Though there is a swimming pool at the hotel, the more memorable water experience involves a candlelit dinner at a nearby step well. A few nights at this villa-style property will inject a wonderful perspective on the quieter, rural side of India that many touring Rajasthan miss. Indagare Tip: The best bedroom is the Blue Room Suite, which has cornflower blue walls and beautiful hand-blocked fabrics by Brigitte Singh.

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