If you’ve been to India – or even if you haven’t – it’ll come as no revelation that the country is jam-packed full of unforgettable and luxury experiences, the likes of royal palaces and luxury lodges forming the base for everything from spotting tigers to exploring world-famous monuments. See below for our selection of the ultimate luxury experiences in India.
Stay at the Taj Lake Palace
A stay at a luxury hotel makes a holiday extra-special, and it’s hard to find one that fits the bill better than the 18th-century, marble-sculpted Taj Lake Palace. Floating on the shimmering waters of Lake Pichola and charmingly only reachable via boat, the hotel itself provides plenty of delights – among them a rooftop pool, spa boat and Jacuzzi – but the spectacular temples and lakes of Udaipur lie just moments away, explored on included day tours with an expert guide on hand throughout. Returning to a shaken-not-stirred cocktail in the lavish bar – the hotel, perhaps unsurprisingly, once featured in a Bond movie – finish your days with an exquisite meal in the fine-dining restaurant before a nighttime stroll among the palatial colonnades.
Spot tigers on a luxury safari
With two thirds of the world’s tigers roaming in its jungles, there’s nowhere better than India to catch sight of these extraordinary creatures in their natural habitat. It’s a true highlight of world travel. And, after days spent following one of the world’s most magnificent species with top trackers and guides, you’ll return to some of the country’s most luxurious safari lodges. Perhaps enjoy a sundowner by the private watering hole before spa treatments and soaks in outdoor baths in your private villa, before indulging with only the finest Relais & Châteaux fine dining.
Sail on a private houseboat in Kerala
Between tiny jungle-framed villages and vibrant terraced rice paddies lie the houseboats of mist-shrouded Kerala or, as it’s often referred to, ‘God’s own country’. And, a sailing through the backwaters in private luxury is rightfully one of India’s most revered experiences. As you voyage among palm-lined waters, spotting rice farmers and fishermen, you’ll enjoy the likes of opulent suites and private-chef dining, from three-course meals to expertly-mixed cocktails.
Sleep in a palace
The five-star Umaid Bhawan Palace, formed from the same marble that was used to build the world’s greatest monument to love, the Taj Mahal, is wrapped in landscaped gardens that frame palatial columns and spectacuarly-lit courtyards. It comes as no surprise, then, that it’s in fact still home to Jodphur’s maharaja family – and is the sixth-largest private residence in the word. From the peacock-dotted grounds and Art Deco rooms to the expert spa treatments, fine dining private dinners and traditional dance performances, one could easily spend days exploring – but it’s worth tearing yourself away, as the magnificent forts of Jodphur such as Mehrangarh, one of India’s largest, lie just moments away.
Journey on the Maharajas’ Express
A journey on what has been voted “The World’s Leading Luxury Train” in the World Travel Awards seven times is one that will stay with you for years to come. After traditional music and dancing make for a charming welcome, guests step onboard among intricate frescoes and gold-gilded features, enjoying personal butler-served cabins and free-flowing drinks in the opulent leather-clad lounges. Disembark for all-inclusive excursions, ranging from champagne sunsets by the Taj Mahal to dinner with a royal Rajasthani family, before returning to sommelier-paired gastronomic delights among the glittering crystal and gleaming wood of the restaurant cars.
Dave Warne is Product Director at The Luxury Holiday Company. The Luxury Holiday Company offers completely bespoke holidays designed to deliver unrivalled luxury, arranged by specialists who have more than 200 years of collective travel experience.