The Oberoi Amarvillas
The Oberoi Amarvillas in Agra is the only hotel with unobstructed views to India’s most iconic landmark, where you can watch the colours of the Taj Mahal change from sunrise to sunset from your own private balcony. Oozing the grandeur and luxury that India is famous for, with expansive use of marble, reflecting pools, arched windows and terraced gardens, The Oberoi Amarvillas is a haven to escape from the hustle and bustle of one of the most visited attractions in the world.
The Oberoi Amarvillas is by far the closest hotel to the Taj Mahal, just 600m away, and the only building within the green belt that surrounds the monument. All of the rooms and suites have unrestricted views, complete with private balconies, to the spectacular Taj Mahal. Golf carts continuously transport guests the short distance to the Gate entrance so you can be first in line for the sunrise shot. The hotel will arrange entry tickets and a guide at a very small cost that I highly recommend.
The landscaped gardens and colonnaded courts are breathtaking, inspired in their design by Mughal palaces. In the evenings, pavilions and staircases are lit adding an air of romance, appropriate for the setting, alongside the grandest testimony to undying love.
Elements of Indian craftsmanship are woven into the design of the rooms; traditional teak Indian bed frames, hand knotted rugs, marble bathrooms. You can see how popular this hotel is by the scuffs and slight ageing of it’s amenities, but the hotel was undergoing a large refurbishment while I was there to bring it back up to the standard that a hotel such as this deserves.
Nevertheless, the eye is inevitably drawn to the large windows that serve as a perfect frame for the Taj Mahal, a view that would be very hard to beat.
Matching the views, is the exceptional service of the chef. Esphahan is the more formal, tandoor dining space that serves Mughal cuisine accompanied by live music. Here, the chef created a vegan feast fit for Mughal kings and queens with curries, grills, rices and naan, giving us a real taste of local cuisine.
The main dining room, Bellevue is undergoing a refurbishment, so breakfast was instead served in the elegant Roshanara. The feast continued for breakfast where we were able to taste a range of traditional Indian breakfast dishes, that were given a vegan twist; Masala Dhosa, Menu Vada, Aloo Paratha, Samosa Chat and of course, my favourite Indian porridge.
The Lounge, where you are brought to on arrival provides the immediate wow-factor with views across to the Taj Mahal from the open air terrace. A crystal chandelier, golden-domed ceiling and Mughal artwork make this a majestic space to relax throughout the day.
Make sure to arrive in time to enjoy the enormous swimming pool set within beautifully cascading, landscaped gardens. The domes and arches continue the Mughal palace design, and staff are on hand with natural sun creams and chilled water to help you get into character.
With just one night, I didn’t have time to enjoy the spa, but I took a look around and it is every bit as I would have expected from the rest of the hotel; a fully-equipped fitness centre, marble steam room at its centre and couples treatment rooms with uninterrupted views of the Taj Mahal.
Hotel transfers between Agra and Delhi are around $400 USD one way. Instead, Uber is available at a fraction of the cost, or instead arrange your transfer from Delhi.
There really is no other hotel to compete in Agra and once the current refurbishments are complete, the Oberoi Amarvillas will be back to wearing the crown is deserves as one of the jewels in all of India.