5 Unique Hotels in India for 2015

Allison Sodha

India has a range of unique accommodations including home stays, tree houses, houseboats, and luxury safari camps. Here at Sodha Travel, we often propose a mix of heritage and traditional properties for our clients. The hotel itself is often a highlight of the tour, and we are passionate about merging the foreign and the familiar to provide an integrated and enriching experience.

Our team searches far and wide to find the best accommodations for India travelers. Here is a list of 5 unique hotels in India for 2015:

Hotel Marina / Shimla

Shimla’s Mall Road may be teaming with crowds, but as soon as you turn into the drive of the recently opened Hotel Marina, you will be transported to a serene of world. Whispering deodars and pines, mist floating in and a warm welcome awaits people who love escaping to the hills. The designer boutique hotel is like a breath of fresh air in this colonial – era hill station that has not witnessed a new opening in many years.

The 100 year old original property that hosted many celebrities and dignitaries was completely torn down and the modern avatar that replaced it is tailor-made to suit contemporary tastes. The 42 well- appointed accommodations feature all the mod cons and boast of spacious balconies. It also has an open Garden Terrace Restaurant, located on the highest floor and offering panoramic views of the Sutlej Valley. Enjoy a romantic breakfast or sun downers at the rooftop bar.

Hotel Marina in Shimla, India Hotel Marina in Shimla, India

Talayar Tea Bungalow / Munnar

Situated on a 1,000 acre tea estate, the recently refurbished Talayar Tea Bungalow is the perfect escape for couples who want to get a taste of the colonial lifestyle. The 100 year old bungalow is a part of the Woodbriar Group that runs a chain of charming hotels across the region. It once used to be a residence of estate managers and was subsequently run as a home stay. Through painstaking restoration the planter’s bungalow received a new lease on life. The four exclusive suites have distinct, plush interiors and are incredibly charming. Wallpaper, moldings, cast iron bath tubs, working fireplaces, wooden flooring in the suites, and terracotta in the corridors all come together to offer an old-world charm. A garden that blooms twice a year and great weather make this a year-round couples retreat. The sprawling bungalow offers plenty of activities for you to enjoy together: go on a heritage walk, wilderness trek or a bird-watching expedition in the company of an expert who will give you a lowdown on the region. Upon request, visit the nearby tea factory or enjoy a picnic lunch.

Villa Shanti /Pondicherry

The restored French house is over 100 years old and revamped by two French architects, ensuring that the property is very minimalist. The design is evocative of French villas with open balconies and verandas. Located on a quiet street, the 15 rooms and suites are a perfect getaway for couples looking to revel each other. Each guest room features white walls and just one design. A checked curtain or handmade tiles around the bed add an element of color. The bathroom features no doors but are intelligently designed to ensure privacy. The restaurant is divided into two distinct areas – an indoor space with 30 covers and an open air area that includes the patio that is perfect for a romantic dinner while you dine on seafood, continental bakes, grills, and seasonal veggies.

Villa Shanti in Pondicherry, India Villa Shanti in Pondicherry, India

Kushalgarh / Sariska

Only a three-hour drive from Delhi, this hidden gem is located on the periphery of the Sariska Tiger Reserve. The lodge was built in the early 1900’s by Maharaja Jeh Singh of Alwar. The revamped property now features 14 accommodations: two suites located in the haveli and 12 luxury tents. The plush tents feature air-conditioning and heating to ensure they are perfect to reside in all year. Twelve–inch mattresses, imported bed linens, and attached bathrooms combine to make this a perfect glamping spot.

Take a dip in the pool, relax with a beer in hand, or dine on freshly prepared fare of Rajasthani, Indian, continental – anywhere on the property, enjoy a bonfire in the evening and simply unwind with not a care in the world. You can also stroll by the river or in the Aravalis looking for unusual birds, chital, sambar, and nilgai. The lodge is happy to pack you a picnic hamper to take along. The tiger reserve is now home to little cubs, so make sure you do take some time to visit them.

Kushalgarh Resort in Sariska, India Kushalgarh Resort in Sariska, India

Punjabiyat / Amritsar

Bollywood immortalized the mustard fields of Punjab. Many a song that celebrated love and romance was set in the farms around Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur ,and Jallandhar. Punjabiyat, in a modest way, brings to you the “essence of Punjab”. The setting is straight out of a romantic Bollywood ballad - extensive lush fields as far as you can see, now and then bursting with color and crackling with fresh air. Punjabiyat is just over an hour’s drive from Amritsar, well connected by road and rail. Here is farm living in four independent cottages with just the right amount of modern conveniences that takes nothing away from the experience of living on a farm. The cuisine in Punjabiyat is outstanding, as food is symbolic of a Punjabi’s unrestrained joy when they welcome you into their homes and hearts.

Punjabiyat Resort near Amritsar, India Punjabiyat Resort near Amritsar, India

Topics: Accommodations

Allison Sodha

Written by Allison Sodha

As the President of Sodha Travel and author of Go! Girl Guides India, Allison has spent almost two decades exploring South Asia. She has a passion for creating experiences fueled by a deeper understanding of local communities.