The capital of Gujarat lies off the tourist trail, but this Unesco-listed city has hidden depths. The old quarter is as wonderfully nostalgic as any in North India, and the mosques and mausoleums are every bit as grand as anything in Delhi, Agra or Jaipur. Hotels in Ahmedabad cover every base, from sleek modern towers to atmospheric havelis, where you can sit on the terrace under fluttering kites and marinate in the magic of old India.
A hop from the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway, on a road headed east towards the old town and river, Courtyard by Marriott grabs the attention with a towering, glass-fronted lobby and roomy sleeping spaces marked in pin-straight lines. It’s business class and business-like, but rooms are cosy, with plump mattresses and big windows to let in the city skyline. And there’s the obligatory coffee shop, restaurant and pool, so the full five-star package.
West of old Ahmedabad and the Sabarmati River in the burgeoning suburbs, the Crowne Plaza serves the full luxe hotel package: sleek rooms, fine food and a pool. Filigree detailing and fabrics with a metallic shimmer add a bit of character to the rooms, which have huge windows and acres of floor space. There’s superior Gujarati food on site, and the mirror-like pool is a delight.
It’s all about access at the Novotel Ahmedabad. The ISKCON Flyover passes close by, meaning easy check-ins and easy departure when you’ve finished soaking up Ahmedabad’s charms. The hotel itself mixes sharp modern lines and soft creature comforts. There’s a pool, a terrace, a restaurant and a coffee bar (of course) and bright, modern rooms in sunny colours, with big, glass-walled bathrooms. Some rooms are wheelchair-accessible – good for extended families.
West of the river and the tangled alleys of the old town, the Hyatt Ahmedabad is a gleaming giant of a hotel that still manages to feel human in scale. It’s set by family-friendly (and jogger-friendly) Vastrapur Lake, and the rooms on the upper floors have great city views. Bedrooms have a sleek, New York loft feel, decorated in subtle browns and greys, with ergonomic workspaces and glimpses of the lake through huge windows.
At ITC hotels, you can count on a comfortable stay and a good feed, and that’s certainly the case at their Ashram Road property. The coffee shop and cafe will take care of your appetite, while mixology and cooking classes may teach you something about India you didn’t already know. Pick a room, suite or apartment, and you’ll get plenty of room to breathe, cinematic windows framing city views and snazzy bathrooms that open up onto the sleeping spaces.
This stylish property straddles the boundary between heritage and boutique. The owners are committed to preserving the heritage of the historic quarter of Ahmedabad, and the interior of their 150-year-old home oozes character. Rooms and shared spaces are full of heirloom furniture, original tiled floors and quirky details such as stained glass, tree murals and dangling swing chairs. There’s even a small, intimate roof terrace with a temple view.
Now, this is what staying in Ahmedabad should be like. The House of MG is a gorgeous turn-of-the-20th-century mansion, overflowing with decks, verandas and courtyards dripping with greenery. Rooms have been decorated simply but in perfect keeping with the period. In the evening, sit in a courtyard with a novel, oblivious to the frenetic streets beyond the walls. Other nice touches include a gallery of textiles, jewellery and silver from the owner’s collection and a play area for children.
The Elysian Residency backs onto a triangle of greenery, providing space to breathe in the crowded centre. It’s close enough to the tangled old city for easy exploring, but still slightly removed from the general hubbub. From outside, the hotel has a vaguely Middle Eastern air; inside, it’s all about bright spaces with nightlights under the beds, showy fabrics and natural patterns that spill into the bathrooms. The inviting Revel restaurant does a good line in artfully presented North Indian cuisine.