You will never be at a loss to find a decent place to
stay during your stay in India.
Hotels in metros and other cities are starred and the
deluxe ones are not only fully air-conditioned, but
also feature swimming pools, saunas, jacuzzis, health
centres, shopping arcardes, and a host of other
amenities like Ayurvedic massages and more recently,
The small towns, which are on the tourist map, also
boast of good accommodation options. While these
places may not be top of the line stuff, they are
nevertheless comfortable and not too hard on the
pocket. In wildlife sanctuaries, tourists can always
find accommodation in the wildlife park's buffer zone.
The government-owned forest guesthouses provide basic
accommodation but their proximity to the park makes up
for the lack of amenities. However, there are starred
hotels, too, near wildlife sanctuaries.
In Kerala and Goa, the beach resorts are exclusive and
even have their own stretch of beach where you can
sunbathe or swim in virtual privacy. These resorts
provide incomparable facilities and lip-smacking
cuisine. In addition, there are houseboats in Kashmir
and Kerala, all with five-star comforts.
Another concept gaining popularity among budget
travellers is Home Stays. With the prior approval of
the government, families provide paying guest
accommodation in Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Goa.
Liberalisation and a spurt in travel have brought
several international hotel chains to India, including
Country Hospitality with all its brands (Regent,
Radisson, Country Inns, TGIF), Marriott, Hilton, Park
Plaza, Four Seasons and SHPC, and encouraged the
expansion of international brands already in the
country, including Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Hyatt,
Inter-Continental, Meridien, Quality Inns, Best
Western and Kempinski.
The standards of India's own deluxe hotel chains
compare with the best in the world. The tariff is
generally charged on the European system of 'room rent
only'. Of late, the bed and breakfast concept is
gaining currency. In any three to five-star hotel,
expect to find any or all of these facilities: choice
of restaurants, round-the-clock coffee shops and room
service, conference services, business centre, health
club, swimming pool, beauty salon, shopping complex,
travel counter, baby-sitter, safe deposit, currency
exchange, rooms with attached baths, cable TV and
telephones with direct dial facilities. Centralised
reservations are available through travel agents.
Tourist Bungalows - Traveller Lodges
These offer comfortable lodging and boarding in
dormitories as well as rooms which have attached
baths. Some have a restaurant or a dining hall with a
bar. Rooms must be reserved in advance.
Rest House/Dak Bungalows
Introduced during the British period for government
officials, tourists can also stay in them under
certain conditions. Located near national highways,
they are convenient for those travelling by road. For
reservations, contact the district/local authorities
well in advance.
Railway Retiring Rooms
These are convenient for tourists planning an early
morning train departure. You need a rail ticket or an
Indrail Pass to book a room.
Unusual Stay Options
Kashmir's lakes have their shikaras (boat houses),
while Kerala's backwaters have their rice-boat houses.
A wildlife sanctuary of Madhya Pradesh offers
tree-houses, and the nature therapy resorts of south
India offer indigenous, eco-friendly mud and thatch
For information on staying with an Indian family
as a paying guest, contact the Indiatourism Offices in
Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. Goa has various
paying-guest stay options.
Indian Youth Hostels offer accommodation to members
and non-members; for information, contact:
The Youth Hostels Association of India
5, Nyaya Marg, Chanakyapuri
New Delhi-110 021
Tel: 26116285; Fax: 26113469.
Accommodation is also available at Salvation Army
Hostels, camping sites, Sikh temples and dharamshalas
at pilgrim sites.
A concept that has really caught on the world over are
the heritage hotels and palace hotels. These heritage
hotels are usually havelis or palaces which have been
turned into hotels, while some of them are run by
hotel chains, others are run by the royal descendants.
The rich cultural past of India has bequeathed it a
number of feudal estates, called thikanas (small forts
or palaces) or havelis, the mansions of erstwhile
aristocratic families. The concept of turning thikanas
and palaces into hotels was born in Rajasthan; now
every little thikana or principality has its own
heritage hotel. Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala,
Uttaranchal, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh have
At a Heritage Hotel, visitors receive a gracious
welcome, stay in rooms with a history, enjoy
traditional cuisine (toned down to the requirements of
international palates) and performances by folk
artistes and participate in activities that will offer
a glimpse of the heritage of the region.
For details, contact:
Heritage Hotels Association
9, Sardar Patel Marg, C Scheme
Jaipur 302 001 India
Tel: 91-141-2381906; Fax: 91-141-2382214.
The Corporate Traveller
Business with Pleasure
With the Indian economy looking up and government
restrictions decreasing by the day, Mumbai, Bangalore,
Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata are assuming
importance as major centres of business activity in
The delays and the red tape always associated with
Indian business activity is a thing of the past and
corporate India has moved towards more western
standards of professionalism. So, whether you are
greeted by a corporate bigwig with a western handshake
or a Namaste with folded hands, remember it is
business all the way.
Most hotels and tour operators offer special
facilities for corporate travellers, some even
specialise in it. Identifying yourself as a corporate
traveller while booking at your hotel gets you various
advantages: limousine pick-up at the airport, a
corporate floor room which will feature two-line
phones, fax machines, computer ports, direct dial to
over a hundred countries and subscription to
international financial newspapers and journals. In
deluxe hotels, additional services may include a
personal valet, overnight stationery printing, power
meals, cellphone rentals, travel assistance,
confirming appointments, delivering flowers and a
special business lounge. Business centres usually
offer boardrooms, office rooms, fax, e-mail, Internet
and PCs and secretarial, translation and
interpretation services. Car hire companies and hotel
travel desks provide chauffeur-driven limousines.
All metros offer elaborate conferencing facilities at
hotels and at specialised convention centres. Hotels
are adept at organising theme banquets for a product
launch, or smaller cocktails. Important conference
centres are New Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Hyderabad,
Kovalam, Chennai, Bangalore, Agra, Goa and Bhubaneswar,
where post-convention tours offer exciting
Telecommunication within the country has improved
significantly in the last few years and even remote
villages are now connected. E-mail and internet
services are available in most hotels, as well as
cyber cafes and fax and STD/ISD booths all over the
country. Look out for bright yellow boards displaying:
STD/ISD/FAX. AT&T call collect services are available
only at some places. Calling cards have also been
introduced in India.
At all important tourist centres, you can contact
the Indiatourism of India tourist offices for trained
English-speaking guides who charge fixed rates. Some
cities also have guides who speak French, Italian,
Spanish, German, Russian or Japanese.