This is one of India’s best hotels, as much for its proximity to India’s most celebrated attraction — you can literally watch the subtle change in hues of the Taj Mahal from sunrise to sunset while lolling on your bed — as the detailed craftsmanship and design grandeur.
The Taj Mahal is one of those visual clichés — seen so often that many think of skipping this from their itineraries, but nothing can prepare you for the ethereal luminescence, or the sheer scale, of the exquisite pietra dura detailing. So see it you must, preferably at dawn and sunset — and you can do both if you’re staying at Amar Vilas. Not only the closest hotel (by far) to the monument (located within the green belt and a mere 650 yards away from the East Gate), but designed so that every room has an unobstructed view of the Taj.
Address: Taj East Gate Road, 282001 Agra, India.
Style & character
Part of the small Vilas collection comprising the very top-end of the luxury Oberoi chain portfolio, the hotel is modelled on an Indian palace, with expansive use of marble, large reflecting pools, colonnaded courts, terraces and pavilions. After sunset — as staff set about lighting the many braziers — it’s at its most romantic. It lacks the historical authenticity of a real palace but is opulent nevertheless.
Service & facilities
India is renowned for its hospitality, and the Oberoi Vilas delivers at an outstanding level. You can buy your Taj entry tickets and book one of their handpicked guides at reception. Spend more than one night here to actually enjoy the facilities, such as the enormous swimming pool and the spa (also with a view of the Taj).
Natural wooden blinds panelled with hand printed gold patterns cast a warm glow along the walkway that leads to our luxury accommodations in Agra. Intricate arrangements of dark sandstone and white marble animate the floor, while original Mughal coins and antique Indian fabrics ornament the walls.
All 102 rooms are opulent and richly textured with teak floors, hand-knotted rugs, marble-inlay tables, sumptuous silk cushions — a showcase of Indian craftsmanship — plus, of course, the full-on views of the Taj. Those with balconies are all the better to enjoy the view.
Food & drink
Excellent breakfast and buffet lunch spread that includes full Western and Indian options served at Bellevue, the all-day restaurant. The Bellevue terrace is a good place to enjoy a sunset drink (with requisite Taj view), but it’s Espahan, the residents-only dinner venue that is the real knockout, both in terms of ambience and food — contemporary Indian cuisine that is a million miles from the ubiquitous Punjabi fare (butter chicken/tikka) that most people think of when you say “Indian”.
Access for guests with disabilities?
Yes, one room.
Not specifically geared to children, but staff will make them feel most welcome.
For more information about hotels and resorts, please visit our website.