Anyone exploring southern India should make a stop in Chennai, the coastal capital of Tamil Nadu. Our list of top places to stay, bookable via Culture Trip, covers everything from budget-friendly properties to luxury hotels.
Chennai, a beach city on the southeastern coast of India, is hot. When the East India Trading Company founded a settlement here back in 1639, it was known as Madras – which should give you a clue as to how warm this place gets. But there’s more to the area than sunshine and spicy food. Explore the city and you’ll find ancient sites like Kapaleeshwarar Temple, market stalls begging to be browsed and a range of world-class restaurants. As the gateway to south India, Chennai gets plenty of international traffic and hospitality has thrived here. We’ve rounded up the best places to stay in Chennai, India.
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Located 10 minutes from the aptly-named Golden Beach, this hotel offers light-filled rooms with soft brown and lime green accents that will soothe the weariest of travellers. If you can’t sleep, grab a nightcap at the low-key lobby bar or soak up the scenery of the acres of greenery surrounding the hotel. From splashing in the large outdoor pool or lounging in a hammock with a good read to competing in the indoor-outdoor sports zone or pottering about on a complimentary rental bicycle, you’ll find plenty to keep you occupied here. Book a suite or Premier floor room for lounge access with all-day tea and coffee and free Netflix access.
If you like to splurge, you’ll love this fancy high-rise hotel in the Pondy Bazaar shopping area, 3km (1.9mi) from Kapaleeshwarar Temple. The homely rooms and suites are spacious with multi-coloured striped or chevron rugs and throws. Your feet will thank you for booking the seventh-floor Serene Room, which throws in a complimentary foot reflexology treatment at the Bodhi Spa. Unexpectedly, the three-storey Steam and Whistles Bar channels 1920s San Francisco – head there to order a draft beer and shoot some pool with your holiday mates.
Who wouldn’t enjoy lolling in a hammock slung between two lofty palm trees by the huge outdoor pool before chilling in a room that feels like home? A handy 3km (1.9mi) from the airport, this whitewashed, colonial-era property is one of the best hotels in Chennai. Plenty of pale wood and neutral decor ensure the rooms are as soothing as the setting amid sprawling landscaped gardens. Reward feet tired from sightseeing with an end-of-the-day Indian foot massage in the East-meets-West spa before tucking into grilled fish marinated in mint and coriander at Samudra restaurant.
Art lovers will feel right at home at the Leela Palace Chennai. The resort houses a museum’s worth of creations by some of India’s most acclaimed artists. You’ll find paintings in the pool, sculptures in the lobby and even a few unique pieces in your room. If you want to learn more about them, ask the receptionist about the Art Walk, a special tour that takes guests around the hotel’s grounds and talks them through the stories behind the works. With a total of 326 rooms, most of which feature exquisite sea views and views of the Adyar sea face, this hotel is one of the largest in the city – and has a picturesque location thanks to its green backdrop in the Adyar estuary.
This luxury hotel in central Nungambakkam is a famous hotel in Chennai and one of the city’s top spots for business hospitality. With several conference halls, auditoriums and event venues, the Taj Coromandel is a preferred destination for Chennai’s biggest business events, meetings and retreats. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it has also hosted some high-profile guests. Former US President Bill Clinton and the Emperor of Japan have both stayed at the Taj Coromandel – not at the same time, although we can imagine them bonding over a Vishrama massage in the hotel’s tranquil Jiva Grande Spa. They’d also probably share a few drinks and some light political banter at the exclusive Taj Club Lounge, a cocktail bar that has excellent views of the city.
As its name implies, the Grand Chola is inspired by the Imperial Chola Empire. Covering an area of 150,000sqm (1.6m sqft), the hotel was the biggest in the country at the time of its construction and draws all of its power from renewable sources – there’s even a functional windmill on the premises. Traditional stone sculptors from Tamil Nadu helped design the hotel’s interiors, which are based on the great temples of that era, such as the Brihadisvara. However, not everything is as it was in the ninth century – we doubt even the emperors had access to 10 award-winning restaurants, serving authentic cuisine from the various regions of India as well as international food.
This contemporary hotel is a great choice if you’re looking to make the most of your time in Chennai. It’s just a 20-minute taxi drive from Madras Airport, so you can get off your flight and into your room in no time. When you’re ready to hit the town, you’ll find plenty of attractions nearby, like the Phoenix Marketcity Mall and Guindy National Park. The hotel can also arrange a taxi if you want to explore further out. And if you’re here on business, you’ll enjoy easy access to Chennai’s big commercial centres such as Guindy, OMR and Velachery.
The Raintree Hotel is just 3mi (5km) away from the Santhome Basilica, where St Thomas, one of Jesus’s apostles, is buried. The hotel’s staff are more than happy to arrange tours of the church as well as other attractions such as Kapaleeshwarar temple and the Kalakshetra dancing and theatre institute. First, you’ll have to tear yourself away from the hotel’s fitness centre, rooftop pool and fab dining options, which include fusion restaurant Kitchen, south Indian restaurant Madras and Madera, a luxury lounge bar, and Up North, one of Chennai’s most popular rooftop restaurants.
If you stay at this five-star hotel, you’ll have access to one of the best views in the city. At the hotel’s Skyloft rooftop bar, you can dine on Indian-Mediterranean fusion food while getting some incredible holiday snaps. Or you can head to Tamak, the hotel’s casual drinks lounge, to sip some artisanal cocktails. Finally, there’s Waterside, a buffet dining experience where the chefs prepare the food in front of you.
This is a rewrite of an article originally by Arun Venkatraman. Jo Fernandez contributed additional reporting.
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