Traveling in India is a trip for all your senses. As we navigate this diverse landscape, various flavors tickle our taste buds. The aroma of different spices lures us towards them. The rural folk music transports us to a different era, and our eyes bear witness to astounding natural beauty. At the same time, the warmth of the locals can touch us in more ways than one.
It is no surprise then that many enterprising individuals have leveraged this land’s appeal and weaved liveable stories for travelers to experience. From historic palaces and mountain huts to dessert forts and beachside cottages, here are five unique hotels in India that help you navigate the vastness of the land one stay at a time.
If you want to fathom the majestic beauty of Suryagarh truly, arrive after sunset. Leaving the buzzing city of Jaisalmer behind, you drive into the pitch darkness with nothing but the car’s headlights for at least 30 minutes. Finally, you watch in awe at a distance the sandcastle lit as fire rise from the desert.
Constructed of local sandstone, Suryagarh encompasses a contemporary appeal wrapped alluringly in its formidable façade. There is an indoor pool, a spa with rejuvenating treatments, and a well-equipped gym to keep you protected from the desert heat in the day. An open to the sky courtyard and outdoor dining options further help to make your evenings memorable.
While the ambiance is eye-catching, the food and the desserts take the appeal of what is one of the top luxury hotels in India a notch higher. The welcome tray in your room, filled with mouth-watering local desserts, is a treat for your taste buds. You can have your breakfast, which is a variety of traditional and continental dishes, sitting in the courtyard in the company of peacocks. Or, enjoy a traditional thali for lunch with more delicacies than you can count and swoon to the folk music of Mangniyars as you enjoy a drink on the terrace; Suryagarh is an indulgence for all your senses.
High on a hill, overlooking the pristine Om Beach in Gokarna, Swaswara is a wellness ayurvedic retreat where you check-in to a holistic way of life. It offers a sanctuary for rejuvenation to all your five senses, plus the mind.
Traditional recipes infused with ayurvedic herbs are an integral part of your meals here. Ayurveda and Yoga are used not only to heal your body but your mind as well. Apart from the rhythmic rolling waves and the chirping of birds, there is very little here to disturb your inner calm.
The villas here make up your private space that rises from the terrain. With balconies overlooking the pond or the countryside, open to the sky courtyard, and airconditioned bedrooms, these abodes are simple but not lacking in comfort. With a swimming pool, a meditation deck overlooking the beach, a yoga room, a library, and an art studio, your mind and body are well cared for at this exquisite luxury boutique resort.
A city soaked in history and renowned for its art, Thanjavur is an apt place to experience a heritage stay that epitomizes vintage charm to its fullest. Svatma is a century-old house lovingly restored with contemporary amenities yet maintaining its old-world appeal.
Every corner of the old wing of this unique luxury hotel in India holds a distinctly enchanting allure, enhanced with displays of illustrated artworks and objects sourced from Tamil Nadu’s rich historical archives. With wooden patios, beautifully carved verandas, and individually designed rooms, Thanjavur’s cultural aura accentuates in every corner.
This magical atmosphere is further reflected in the mouth-watering array of traditional vegetarian Tamil dishes served at its restaurant. For a few moments of pampering, there is a swimming pool and spa. For those intrigued by the arts, Thanjavur’s vast collection of various art forms is only a few steps away!
Itmenaan Estate, Binsar
Tucked away in the Kumaoni hills, this village stay of a restored 100-year old house and two separate cottages is your slice of rustic luxury in the mountains. The winding roads and a 15-min downhill walk required to get here might be cumbersome for some, but those who get to the other-side are welcomed with majestic views of the Nanda Devi.
Painstakingly restored, the rooms reflect the stone structures of the Kumaon region. Wake up to the birdsongs, enjoy a breakfast on the patio overlooking the valley, spend the day cuddled with a book on the terrace or trek down to the village with a local, there is much to do at this quaint stay. Finally, you get to enjoy a sumptuous continental meal for lunch and end the day with a bonfire watching the twinkling lights of the village down the valley.
A sojourn at Itmenaan takes you close to nature and the friendly mountain people who form an integral part of the estate team. They are more than glad to indulge you with village gossip or show you around the place, spread over 10-acres of pine, oak, and rhododendron trees, terraced fields, and a perennial stream.
Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar
Imagine watching the sunset over the Narmada river, sitting perched high above the river inside a 250-year old fort that once belonged to the Maratha queen Ahilyabai Holkar. Ahilya Fort is probably one of the most romantic spots in India for watching a sunset.
Although some part of the fort is open to the public as a museum, this private part is lovingly restored by one of the Queen’s descendant into a 19-room boutique heritage stay. The interiors are enhanced by curios, artworks, and antiques that complement the regal past. Many of the original features like stone floors, carved arches, and beautifully landscaped gardens of this 18th-century fort are well preserved to give us a taste of an era gone by.
Much like the river, Ahilya Fort epitomizes spirituality and tranquility that acts as a bridge between the guests and the locals. Be it the handlooms, temples, or the delicious food; you experience the earthy flavors of this land in every aspect during your stay at this unique boutique hotel in India.