Cities don’t come much more sacred than Puri, the spiritual home of Lord Jagannath, and the hometown of the legendary Rath Yatra chariot festival, one of India’s most riotous celebrations. Beyond the sacred, Puri has busy bazaars and a golden beach that is better for strolling and watching the fishermen than bathing. Hotels in Puri can put you up right in the middle of the action, or away from the hubbub, allowing easy day trips to the nearby sun temple at Konark – here’s our pick of the best, bookable on Culture Trip.
Hotel Holiday Resort puts its garden centre stage, with the greenery running right up the sand. Behind are smart cottages and hotel rooms, all angled towards the surf and decorated in a kind of Indian deco style, with needle-straight lines and two-tone polished timber. The air conditioning is icy cool and there’s a spa and pool, but the best feature is being able to step through the front gate onto the sand. Enjoy the beach at its best at dawn before the daytime promenaders arrive.
Hemmed in by the Dhaudia River at the western end of Puri beach, Sterling Puri has just a few spiritual retreats as neighbours. Constructed by an architect with a clear penchant for triangles, it’s a relaxing spot, with a pleasing pool and loads of activities for kids, from badminton and board games to the traditional Indian game of carrom. Bedrooms are designed for easy living, with simple lines and gentle colours, plus mini-kitchens and dining areas in the suites.
MAYFAIR Waves stands out for its pool, which is lined with swan statues and backed by a mini jungle of tropical foliage. This downtown beach resort is spotlessly clean and the huge, marble-floored rooms and suites have colourful wall art and big windows facing the sea spray. It’s handy for the Jagannath Temple and the train station – plus, it’s right by Puri’s Model Beach, the city’s tidiest strip of sand and the first community-maintained beach in Odisha.
Head south from the train station towards the beach and you’ll reach the gates of this attractive resort and spa, which serves up the full tropical beach experience just back from the sand. You get sea views, swaying palms, and – best of all – personal access to the pool, with a giant wicker beach chair and umbrella for poolside lounging. There’s a bowling alley in the bar and a beach shack down on the sand for beach-based sports.
The main beach in Puri spills down to the water right in front of the Hans Coco Palms, but most people focus their attention on the resort’s enormous pool and expansive, grown-in tropical grounds. The resort is reminiscent of a Goan villa – rooms have wide windows, soft mattresses and sofas, plus garden and ocean views offer a calm respite from the downtown noise. There are two restaurants and easy access to the sand for surfside promenades.
Emerald lawns and towering coconut palms paint a tropical picture at Toshali Sands, which sits at the end of a lane running from Puri towards the Balukhand sanctuary, a protected nesting ground for olive ridley turtles. Rooms are bright, white and tastefully simple, set in tiled bungalows dotted around a verdant garden. It’s a quiet corner – great for families, with a pool and nature activities on tap in the neighbouring reserve, and Konark just a few miles along the coast.
West of town, close to the mouth of the Dhaudia River, the Chariot Resort offers real peace and quiet – a rare luxury in busy Puri. The hotel gardens run past a fountain towards the sea, and there’s a large and lovely pool offering clean swimming on tap. Rooms play in the classic Indian hotel space – simple lines, upholstered headboards and patterned bedspreads – but they’re large and comfortable. The beach in front runs all the way to the middle of Puri.