I am pretty biased when it comes to Indian hospitality. The best stay of my life was at the Taj Rambagh Palace in their Polo Suite. It was the most luxurious experience I ever had with its vaulted archways, historic tapestries, his and hers dressing rooms, chocolates for days and a phone in the bathroom. I was also 13 at the time. But it was my first time staying in a palace, a place Princess Diana had also stayed at! So I knew I was in grand company. Once I began traveling in my 20s and early 30s, this type of stay was no longer in my budget. I still wanted the amazing, pinch me I’m dreaming, exotic and unforgettable experience that I knew Indian hospitality could provide. But I wasn’t sure where to begin looking for it. For an authentic experience, sometimes you have to venture off the beaten path to find the kind of memories you’ll keep forever. I teamed up with Tripzuki, an online booking site for “India’s hippest hotels,” to identify 10 affordable Indian hotels that you won’t soon forget. They believe luxury or boutique doesn’t have to be expensive, which is music to my ears.
Before we begin, I wanted to share three reasons why I can trust Tripzuki for booking my stay in India.
- Tripzuki’s team personally visits every hotel listed on their site. They only share their favorites so they can vouch for authenticity, quality and rating.
- The photos shown are their own because they have been there. What you see is what you get.
- Families or individuals own virtually all of the properties listed on the site. Tripzuki knows the proprietors by name and have built a trusted relationship, which they can use to leverage extra deals for the customer.
Here are 10 hotels (in no particular order) vetted by Tripzuki with endless character, charm and hospitality to pamper the discerning traveler.
1. Suryagarh (near Jaisalmer)
If you’re visiting Rajasthan, your trip isn’t complete without seeing Jaisalmer, known for its historic fort and austere beauty. Suryagarh is a modern take on the 12th century architecture of the area with its traditional sandstone exterior and luxurious, yet comfortable interior. You’ll feel like a guest of the Raj while mingling with the owner, enjoying service with incredible attention to detail and marveling at the dazzling antiques on display. Rooms start at $138 per night including breakfast.
2. Scarlette (New Delhi)
For a getaway within a getaway, experience Scarlette. Feel as if you’re in the French countryside and recuperate away from the hustle and bustle of New Delhi. The two-story hotel seems more like a home with its intimate spaces, homestyle cooking and curious mix of French and Rajasthani décor. Enjoy one of the most welcoming places in the city starting at $114 per night including breakfast.
3. Samode Palace (near Jaipur, Rajasthan)
Overlooking the picturesque village of Samode is a beautiful palace with unique and alluring spaces to explore at your own leisure. A popular wedding destination, it also offers camel and horse rides in the desert, cooking classes, ballooning, massages and more to delight your inner adventurer. Experience the palace starting at $151 per night including breakfast.
4. Butts Clermont Houseboats (Srinagar)
Ever dream of floating across Dal Lake in Kashmir, once touted as heaven on earth? Travel back in time to the splendor and history of Kashmir’s bygone era with your own houseboat. The Butt and Clermont families have been operating these luxurious houseboats since 1947 hosting distinguished guests such as Lord Mountbatten, George Harrison and many foreign correspondents. The houseboats are well known throughout the city with rates starting from as little as $76 including breakfast.
5. Siolim House (North Goa)
Live like the colonials did in this tropical 350-year-old Portuguese style mansion. Formerly owned by the governor of Macau, this property was modeled on Portuguese homes. In addition to the historic splendor, it also manages to feel like a home full of personality, warmth and laidback charm. Bonus points for the French confections available from local patisserie Delicieux, run by the owner’s partner. Stay at this sweet and stunning abode starting at $80 per night including breakfast.
6. The Manor (New Delhi)
India’s cities are dominated by 5-star hotel chains, but Delhi is an exception. This luxurious, sophisticated property in New Delhi also hosts one of India’s best restaurants, Indian Accent, and wellness center, Zehen. Rooms can be had for as little as $101 per night including breakfast and taxes.
7. Fateh Garh (Udaipur, Rajasthan)
The desert state of royal Rajasthan is the place to find that quintessential India we all admire. “The Lake City” of Udaipur is well worth a visit, but do yourself a favor and stay just 20 minutes outside of town at this heavenly hilltop hotel. It’s impeccably run with smart, savvy staff with rooms as low as $110 per night. Don’t forget to watch out for the wandering tortoise!
8. Seetalvan Orchard (Kotgarh-Thanedar, Himachal Pradesh)
The thing about India is the mind-boggling variety. Nowhere is this more evident than in Himachal Pradesh, where the India you think you know suddenly morphs into something more…alpine. Seetalvan’s mountain view can compete with the best Indian hotels and it’s right in apple country. For that alone, rooms from $79 per night including breakfast and dinner are a snap!
9. Yab Yum (Ashwem, North Goa)
The small state of Goa is one of India’s most famous destinations and has shrugged off the hippy/hedonistic image in recent times. Yab Yum is the coolest property on Ashwem Beach, a serene eco-friendly oasis accommodating families and low key professionals over from London or down from Mumbai. For a funky dome next to one of Goa’s best beaches, $63 per night including breakfast is a steal.
10. Marari Beach Resort (Alleppey, Kerala)
This large, sprawling property occupies what must be one of the best locations on the west coast of India, next to Marari Beach in gorgeous Kerala. Take a backwater cruise, enjoy the white sandy beaches, try a cooking class or get an ayurvedic massage. There’s so much to do here, not to mention awesome food, plenty of space and a high comfort factor. Rates start from $113 per night but it’s worth upgrading to a Garden Pool Villa from $189 per night including breakfast.
Tripzuki offers several options around India starting at $21 and up for adventurous souls looking to chart an unforgettable journey.
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, but was written in coordination with Tripzuki. All images are courtesy of Tripzuki.