11 Indian hotels to visit in 2012

11 Indian hotels to visit in 2012

These new hotels -- opened in Goa, Kerala, New Delhi, Kashmir, Rajasthan and Hyderabad -- make the wish list for 2012

A decade into the new millennium India is on an hotel launching spree, according to data from STR Global, which tracks developments in the hotel industry.

Some of India’s most enticing new hotel properties have arrived on the scene since 2010.

They are amazing properties such as a beautifully restored grand palace in Hyderabad, but also open up new places for the up-market traveler to experience -- such as Srinagar in Kashmir, with superb Himalayan views or a luxury jungle safari lodge in Madhya Pradesh.

Here’s your wish list of hotels to visit in 2012.

Taj Falaknuma Palace: Former residence of the Nizam of Hyderabad

Taj FalaknumaFalaknuma Palace also makes the perfect Indian wedding destination.Hyderabad’s stunning refurbished Falaknuma Palace, originally built in 1894, is an unmistakably regal getaway.

Located 600 meters above Hyderabad with 60 renovated rooms and suites, Falaknuma Palace is world-renowned for its opulent, ornate glory. And this is no hotel brochure copy -- it's true, this is one of the finest hotel palaces in the world.

The former residence of the Nizam of Hyderabad the inside is all Venetian chandeliers and marble staircases, down to its collection of crystal.

Bath and pillow menus, Egyptian cotton linen sheets, your own palace butler -- living like the Nizams did has never worked so well in the 21st century.


Ishavilas: Beacon of Goa's new boutique hotel

Ishavilas GoaImagine a Portuguese colonial holiday home where you could play dress-up.A grand entrance and driveway are the introduction to the ultimate Goan fantasy: a new luxury villa in Siolim which raises even Neemrana's bar for restored heritage properties.

Filled with gilded pediments, eccentric objets d’art, gold-braided cushions and antique furniture, here’s a place which properly admits make-believe.

Choose from the Peacock Room, the Kailash Room, the Terrace Suite and the Oriental Cottage. Four gorgeous bedrooms lead into a dining salon, and you can also eat your meals al fresco on the patio overlooking the pool.

The open-plan living area gives onto the pool and terrace, and the gardens allow even more room to play.

Fully-serviced and gratifyingly sensuous, Ishavilas promises to become one of Goa’s hot new boutique hotels.


The Ranvas: Royal romance of Jodhpur upheld

Ranvas JodhpurA traditional Rajasthani pleasure palace.The traditional still compels. These graceful havelis reaffirm the place of tradition in the Rajasthani hotel-scape.

A picturesque regal residence -- the 18th century home of the Ranis of Maharaja Bakht Singh of Jodhpur -- Ranvas's heritage property is situated close to Nagaur Fort.

With 10 havelis, each housing three rooms and with a private courtyard, The Ranvas plays the perfect backdrop to your own private Jodha-Akbar royal romance.

This is what Rajasthan does best.

In the 18th century, when Bakht Singh sought refuge from the complications of his reign, this pleasure palace, with its paintings, water fountain and orderly gardens were solace. Today, it also has a swimming pool and a hammam and a spa on the way.

For doing tradition proud, it makes it onto our wish list.


Vivanta by Taj, Srinagar: Kashmir's best hotel in decades

Vivanta by Taj, SrinagarKashmir done right -- personal bonfires and Himalayan views.Now that violence in the Kashmir valley has diminished, Srinagar is now opening up to tourism in a big way.

The Taj’s new venture celebrates beautiful Kashmir in style, the way no one has done before.

With 82 spacious, tasteful rooms and suites, it is a large property with ambitious plans to pamper visitors.

A tea lounge by the reception is the welcome to much more; views of the valley can be had from your private veranda, complete with parasols and outdoor beds.

Located 1,730 meters above sea level on Kralsangri Hill, with a view of Dal Lake and all of Srinagar’s picturesque charms, Vivanta by Taj is a good introduction to this stricken paradise.

For the more adventurous among us, it may feel too tame, at a remove -- though of course, un- reality is part of what hotels are often about.

For a top-end experience in a part of the world many in this generation have been unable to visit, Vivanta in Kashmir makes the wish list.


The Oberoi Gurgaon: Neo-palace outside New Delhi 

The Oberoi GurgaonWhere New Delhi's power families go for Sunday brunch.An hour’s drive south of New Delhi stands a brand new Oberoi property which, by its very existence here, adds a bona fide quality to the relatively new satellite town of Gurgaon -- known for its high-rise business parks. 

The mirage-like, glass-covered hotel is completely cosmopolitan in its appeal, yet tranquil with 202 guestrooms and suites filled with big windows overlooking a gargantuan pool and landscaped gardens.

New Delhi’s first 24-hour spa completes the urban pampering this place promises.

The Oberoi Gurgaon is also the perfect speedy city escape, your ex-Delhi Sunday brunch place.


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Banjaar Tola: Luxury Indian jungle safari

Banjaar TolaBanjaar Tola safari lodge overlooks Kanha National Park, one of India's best wildlife sanctuaries.Banjaar Tola, Taj Safaris’ third jungle lodge, has found a plum spot on the banks of the Banjaar River in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

It overlooks Kanha National Park, one of India’s largest and most vibrant national parks and one of nine reserves under Project Tiger, launched to save the endangered species.

Two camps of nine suites, each with their own tented sitting area, will make a gentleman or a lady out of any outdoorsy type.

Contemporary tents with pressed bamboo wall panels and bamboo floors are filled with local furniture, and Madhya Pradesh’s rich block-printed cottons and silks decorate the interior. And there’s even a swimming pool.

If you’re going to commune with forest nature, this is the way to do it, on the perfect family or group holiday.

For bringing luxury to the outdoors, here's a safari for the wish list.


Swissôtel: New place to do business in Kolkata

SwissôtelKolkata has never looked this modern. About time too.The advent of Swissôtel in Kolkata may be one of the oddest marriages ever; business hotel meets crumbling colonial glory.

But if you’ve got business in Bengal, this is where to do it.

There are classic rooms and Swiss executive rooms with a Jacuzzi -- something for both the leisure and business traveler among its 147 rooms.

While the rooms are aren’t utterly different, what is pleasing is their graceful finish and surprisingly pleasing art.

Swissôtel Kolkata features separate smoking and non-smoking floors, do note.

And a rooftop swimming pool and an attached mall complete the all-inclusive nature of this new entry into the city's slumbering hotel scene.

As business hotels continue their steady advent into the Indian hotel landscape, here’s one to give a chance; for combining convenience and good taste.


The Leela Palace: New Delhi's grandest new hotel

The Leela PalaceA gilded hotel where the suites have private pools.Right in the middle of a busy capital city, The Leela Palace is New Delhi’s most opulent new offering.

Whether you’re checking in or stopping here for a drink or late dinner, The Leela Palace is a must-visit for any traveler who wants to witness the might of moneyed New Delhi.

Each of its 260 rooms is deliciously Indian plush and spans more than 51 square meters, while the Presidential Suite spanning a massive 411 square meters.

Superior luxury suites even include private plunge pools, and the 11th floor features an infinity pool.

At the Library Bar or restaurant Le Cirque, you’ll find both fine dining and nightlife, intimacy and the chance to observe some of the city’s power players in action.

For elegance in overstatement, The Leela Palace is a must visit on the hospitality power list in India’s near future.


Purity: Kerala's Vembanad Lake has a new contender

Purity keralaPurity is the perfect launch pad for your Kerala backwater cruise.You'll love Purity's elegant modern design contrasted with the lush local Kerala feel of many a Malabar coast escapade.

The newest offering of the group which brought us Malabar House and five other fusion outfits, Purity is a new property an hour away from Cochin, overlooking Vembanad Lake.

It’s also the perfect starting point to the group’s backwater cruise.

Four deluxe rooms and two suites are styled in white and offset with pink or similarly uplifting colors with the brand's trademark loveliness.

All rooms have terraces and verandas overlooking the lake, and the swimming pool and waterfront dining completes your aesthetic immersion experience.

Most tempting is Kama Ayurveda’s partner spa, a highlight of any Kerala stay and perhaps what will set apart this new star of the Alleppey backwaters.

For its aquatic style and location, Purity is the Kerala top choice on this new hotels list.


Rasa Resorts: Rajasthan on design fast-forward

Rasa ResortsFor design enthusiasts Rasa shows Rajasthan in a fresh new dimension.Rasa is what everyone’s talking about in the Pink City. For if we fast-forwarded the Rajasthani desert city by 50-odd years, it might look something like Rasa.

Futuristic tents -- 40 of them -- against the backdrop of the Aravalli Hills make for an odd contrast -- but this is part of the novelty of the latest from the owners of spectacular Devi Garh and Devi Ratn, also in Rajasthan.

Rasa lies just 15 kilometers north of Jaipur’s busy city center, near the scenic Amber Fort.

Each pure white canvas construction houses a room with all your modern trimmings and a luxury bathroom, and comes with an outdoor pavilion and private bit of green garden.

With a swimming pool and bonfire site on hand, Rasa offers a traveler the opportunity to be both nomad and pleasure-seeker.

Part luxury campsite, part five-star hotel, Rasa’s geometric architecture and landscaping are wonderfully disconcerting.

For taking risks in contrast, it makes the top 10.


Ikshaa: Off the beaten beach path in Goa

Ikshaa GoaFor when you want to sidestep the hectic parts of Goa.A stunning, stylish boutique hotel slash private villa straight out of Portugal, Ikshaa has been around for just about two years.

"A hidalgo's villa? A 19th century Goan mansion? A Hindu temple? A resort?" ask the hotel owners, playfully.

The traditional casa joyfully meets the pan Indian aesthetic in this confusion.

Two double rooms and one twin room are perfect for a group or family stay, for up to six people.

Full of carefully chosen furniture and artefacts, this intimate, affordable Goan retreat in Loutoulim continues the trend of quiet oases off the hectic circuit.

The beach is a 20-minute drive away, as is most of the rest of the world.

For earthy charm well off Goa's well trodden pathways, Ikshaa gets full marks and is high on the wish list post new year when Goa is recovering from the winter deluge of Christmas and New Years tourists.


With inputs from Sanyogita Rathore and Roopa George

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