We’d like to give you an overview of the different types of accommodation and hotels on offer in India. As in much else, India has its own rules and traditions regarding accommodation for its guests and they are extremely distinctive.
Forts and Palaces
India has an incredible amount of glorious forts and palaces and in recent years, many of them have opened up as hotels lovingly converted to varying standards, but always full of character. For any trip to India, it’s recommended to experience one of these incredible hotels - it’s usually possible in most itineraries and indeed, most budgets. Expect friendly local staff, spectacular views, oodles of charm, quirky features and local food. Some are basic, whereas others are noted as the most luxurious hotels in the world. Many have played an important role in Indian history and they are not to be missed.
Kerala is where the concept of homestays started in India with locals opening up their houses to guests and offering a similar experience to what we’d call a B&B here. Whilst it has now spread throughout India, the premise hasn’t changed over time and this is a fantastic way to live like a local and be welcomed into their homes. Expect an extremely warm welcome, home grown local cooking and some characterful accommodation! These are generally the homes of former landed gentry or senior government employees and as such the standard of English and quality of the accommodation is far higher than what you might expect from homestays elsewhere in Asia. Staff are part and parcel of life in India for this class of person and what the service lacks in hotel school polish will be more than compensated for by the friendliness and willingness to please.
See our selection of homestays in India.
Havelis, meaning mansion, were once all private residences of noble families and many are dotted all around northern India, especially in Rajasthan. They usually feature at least two courtyards and are often built in the prevailing Indo-Saracenic style. Many have been restored to their former glory as superb hotels of varying sizes (perhaps with the odd new wing attached). They occasionally operate partly as homestays but with a more traditional hotel vibe, so expect bars and restaurants in most. They usually have fantastic locations in towns and cities as the noble families tended to have residences close to the palace so they could attend the Mahrajah when they were in town.
Although we tend to hunt out characterful hotels to enhance your travel experience and be in keeping with the country itself, sometimes a more mainstream hotel is used. We might suggest a one of these properties for various reasons, which we would always discuss with you, but often the location dictates, or it might be good value for shorter stays. For example, in somewhere like Agra, boutique hotels are few and far between – so as you often only stay for 1 night, we recommend a good value mainstream hotel. A mainstream hotel might also provide facilities such as a pool, that could be essential to you.
For all of our hotel and accommodation choices, please see here.