When planning a visit to a city as vast as Delhi, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of accommodation to choose from. After a day exploring temples, wandering through busy markets and hunting down the best street food, you’ll want to head back to a comfortable room where you can rest and relax while planning the next day’s activities. Culture Trip is here to help you narrow down your options.
There is a common saying in Indian homes that “the guest is god”. The joy of hosting and ensuring that guests are taken care of is an integral part of the country’s culture. It’s a custom that isn’t limited to private homes, and when you spend a night at a hotel in India, you’ll find yourself feeling like a pampered house guest. These hotels, especially, know how to get hospitality right; all situated in neighbourhoods worth exploring, they offer impeccable service alongside stunning decor and buzzy restaurants.
The Haveli Dharampura was awarded a prestigious UNESCO award for cultural and heritage restoration | Courtesy of Haveli Dharampura / Booking.com
Sleep among rich Mughal architecture at Haveli Dharampur, which dates back to 1887. It took four years of gruelling restoration work to convert it from a period manor into a beautiful heritage palace with modern facilities. Its 14 rooms and suites surround a courtyard lined with elegant cusped arches and delicately carved wood. Rooms are dotted with antique furniture, and windows open onto the narrow streets of Chandni Chowk – among the oldest markets in Delhi – which are bursting with sari makers, restaurants and sweet shops.
One of Delhi’s newest hotels, Andaz Aerocity is giving airport hotels a better name. With no clinical corridors or sparse rooms to speak of, the hotel’s modern design includes huge windows that flood even the standard rooms with natural light. Its collection of bars and restaurants wouldn’t be out of place in a high-end city-centre hotel, either. The bar in its prized restaurant, the Hong Kong Club, is one of the few in the city that stays open until the early hours of the morning, and its dumpling menu deserves special mention – the lobster, crab and spinach, and prawn, asparagus and crispy garlic dumplings, in particular, aren’t to be missed. After dinner, head to its Juniper Bar for impeccable gin cocktails.
When you book into a Taj hotel you know you’re paying for warm, flawless hospitality, and the Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi is no exception. All the rooms come with marble bathrooms and views over Lutyens’ Delhi, an upmarket neighbourhood named after the British architect who designed much of it. Club rooms have thoughtful extras such as in-room yoga kits and daily afternoon tea and cocktails in the Taj Club Lounge. The grand marble staircase and domed gold ceiling in the lobby set the tone for the decor throughout. You’ll find traditional Indian artwork on the walls and an outdoor pool surrounded by lush greenery.
The Lodhi is all about modern luxury. If you’re going to splash out on a suite, it’s worth doing so here, where they come with butler service, private plunge pools and huge daybeds. Its other rooms aren’t to be sniffed at either – they have super-king-size beds, goose-down pillows, Illy espresso machines and Bose speakers, and they all are furnished in soft, jewel-hued fabrics. The hotel is also home to the Indian Accent restaurant, which consistently makes the San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants in Asia list (it came in at number 19 in 2018 and number 17 in 2019). It’s worth making a reservation here, even if you’re staying elsewhere, not least for the extensive selection of bread (which includes kulchas made with wild mushroom and truffle, or applewood smoked bacon and smoked butter) that you can wash down with a masala martini. You can also head to the neighbouring Khan Market, a hub for the best standalone restaurants in Delhi.
In the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi, The Claridges stands out for its sweeping gardens and spacious rooms. Its proximity to parliament ensures the hotel and its restaurants are frequented by politicians, and you’ll find everything here from casual grab-and-go cafés for busy sightseers to romantic Mediterranean restaurants, where you can relax over a bottle of fine wine. The bright, airy rooms are all about classic luxury, with huge comfy beds, big windows and marble bathrooms; most overlook the pool, where you can cool off during spells of Delhi’s intense heat. The shop outside The Claridges serves up paan (an after-dinner Indian treat) and is a local city treasure.
If you’re travelling with kids or plan to stay in Delhi for an extended period, choose this hotel with homely vibes. The sleek, modern apartments have three bedrooms, a balcony, bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, and a big kitchen. Don’t worry, you won’t miss out on the housekeeping service you would get at a hotel. Pale-wood furnishings are offset by bright Indian rugs, plenty of houseplants and lightly themed bedrooms (including a blush-shaded Red Room and a jungle-themed Green Room). The hotel is in Defence Colony, which has its own market with local restaurants and grocery stores, where you can either track down a creamy plate of butter chicken or try your hand at whipping it up yourself.
The Leela Palace in Chanakyapuri is a fairly new entrant on Delhi’s hotel scene. It markets itself as a modern palace, which sums the place up perfectly. Rooms are decorated with more-is-more opulence, and although they have been designed with all the luxuries you would expect from a five-star hotel, they have stuck with a charming old-school decor that harks back to the palaces of the Mughal Empire. Food at the Indian restaurant, Jamavar, is based on the food of royal kitchens – such as tandoori murgh and saffron lamb – though you can also choose Japanese at Megu or a French–Italian tasting menu at Le Cirque. In the evenings, retreat to the Library Bar, which is cosy inside and surrounded by fire torches and trickling water features outside. The real showstopper, however, is the rooftop infinity pool, which offers panoramic views of the city, including the Lotus Temple and Qutub Minar, Asia’s tallest minaret. The pool is temperature controlled and guests receive a pool basket filled with rose-water-infused towels, sunscreen and fresh lemonade. The hotel also has a package for solo female travellers, which includes an assisted pick-up from the airport.
The elegance of the Imperial Hotel is unique and takes you back to the time of the British rule in India. On every wall you’ll find paintings, photographs and delicate murals illustrating Delhi’s history, making the space feel as much like a beautifully curated museum as a luxury hotel. In fact, the hotel has three galleries dedicated to colonial and post-colonial art – book a tour to make the most of them. In similar storytelling fashion, its award-winning restaurant the Spice Route takes you on a food trail through the southern coast of India, ending at Sri Lanka. It also has an award-winning spa with Ayurvedic treatments and an outdoor pool that manages to be both enormous and elegant. It’s within walking distance of top Delhi sights such as Connaught Place Rajpath – a perfect location if you’re short on time.