The former capital of colonial British India and the country’s third-largest city is often overlooked in favour of metropolises such as Delhi or Mumbai. However, a visit to the West Bengal city of Kolkata (Anglicised as Calcutta pre-2001) reveals an engaging mix of cultures and cuisines – it’s the only city in India to have a Chinatown. Haggle your way through the sprawling New Market, marvel at the imposing colonial architecture of Victoria Memorial Hall Museum and the intricate nine-spired Bengal Dakshineswar Kali Temple, pay homage to Mother Teresa at Mother House and catch a game of cricket at Eden Gardens. Once you’re exhausted, rest your head at one of these welcoming Kolkata boutique hotels, all bookable with Culture Trip.
If you crave the cosiness of a cabin without setting sail, this floating hotel is for you. Snugly moored on the Hooghly River by the Strand Road, the floating property will charm you with rooms like the Heritage Cabin, featuring nautical duck egg tongue-and-groove, walls hung with historical city maps and dinky outside decks with potted palms. Dine al fresco by candlelight on smoked dried pork, koftas and lychee martinis on the Sky Deck overlooking the traffic-jammed, cantilevered Howrah Bridge, just a short walk away.
High up on the 20th floor of the Eco Centre, 15 minutes’ walk from Nalban Park, this hotel manages to be both homey and sleek, with rooms featuring dark green walls, wooden floors and hints of local heritage in fabrics and prints. Some overlook Nalban Lake, others the sprawling city, either way, you can admire the view with a room-service bento box. Naturally, there’s a sky bar for sipping mimosas with a side of pan-fried Dirty Mushrooms as a DJ entertains you. If you overdo it drinking and throwing shapes, wake up and immerse yourself in the infinity pool where you can pick out your sightseeing top ten as you front crawl.
This exquisite luxury hotel in Kolkata is the gift that keeps on giving. From the cooling courtyard with a narrow turquoise-tiled pool to the Loafers Cafe that peddles bagels, macaroons and Victorian-style cakes, there’s a space for every whim. The Swig is a fancy spot with velvet-and-gold seating for quaffing champagne and cigars (luckily there’s an outside space). Sleep in polished half-tester and four-poster beds set on shiny marble floors before nosing around New Market, Kolkata’s colonial-era hub where you can buy everything from clothes and jewellery to meat, 6.4km (4mi) away.
From turmeric yellow to pistachio green, the colourful rooms at this bijou hotel will make your stomach rumble with their foodie shades. Luckily, Bengali cuisine is available at the onsite restaurant, from rotis filled with grilled kebabs to spiced vegetable dishes. The rooftop terrace means space to sip a sundowner as you look across the city spots you’ll visit tomorrow. Located on a quiet street, 8km (5mi) from the airport, this hotel is ideal for post-flight stays.
Pretty rooms with plenty of plants, pictures and tropical fruit bowls will make you feel right at this hybrid modern-colonial hotel in the business district. As you plan your day in Kolkata, nibble freshly-baked goodies in the onsite cafe. Tourist sights are within easy reach, from the Victoria Memorial, a 13-minute walk away, to the Indian Museum and Kalighat Kali Temple, around 30 minutes away. Reward all that walking with a tootsie-pleasing pedicure at the hotel’s spa followed by a reviving drink in the English-style pub.
Neutral rooms with plush, padded headboards are a soothing sight when you check into this city centre hotel, a 15-minute walk from Nicco Park, a solar-energy powered theme park. Once you’ve rested, join the crowds on thrill-seeking rides such as Moon Raker, Cyclone and Flying Saucer. Otherwise, take time out to sit on a bench in the hotel’s peaceful garden after your pastry-and-coffee-fuelled continental breakfast.
At this sleek hotel, the rooms and suites feature a red-and-black theme, sink-into easy chairs and pretty lattice screens. If you like the bold colour combination, you’ll love the rooftop pool clad in red mosaic tiles and the neon-lit sky bar. Blu, the coffee shop that never closes, mixes things up with – you guessed it – turquoise blue seating, where you can hunker down as you tuck into burgers, pizzas and Chinese-style noodles. If you want to eat out, you’re only a four-minute walk from Park Street, home to buzzy restaurants and shops.
A four-minute walk from the Indian Museum, this central stalwart has hosted A-listers from Patrick Swayze to Sting. Fan yourself in a wicker chair in the lobby lounge, where colonial-era columns, faded Persian rugs and chintz textiles hark to a bygone era. Clustered memorabilia and framed portraits of celebrity guests line every inch of the 1780s property, including the dining room where a cake-laden afternoon tea is served each day. Rooms offer a pared-back take on this decor, with framed prints livening up pale walls.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Sridevi Nambiar.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.