Arriving in Agra after a short plane ride from Delhi, we were royally welcomed by a merry band of greeters. Our Taxi Driver swiftly gathered our belongings and whisked us away in a private car. The 4-hour drive from the Delhi Airport to Agra showcased the typical North Indian Vibe! The Agra streets were every bit as chaotic as Delhi, if on a more delicate scale. Traffic still goes in crazy directions, all manner of animals freely roam the streets, entrepreneurs of every description are in every nook and cranny and the people we pass are constantly preoccupied.
We ultimately arrived at the luxurious Oberoi Amarvilas and the entrance and drive way was so grand that I instantly felt like royalty. Built in a style inspired by the Mughal period and set within a whimsical landscape of terraced lawns, gurgling fountains and moorish pavilions, the Oberoi Amarvilas provides a lavish escape just 600 meters away from India’s most famous monument. As we entered the hotel we were escorted to a beautiful pavilion sit down area where chilled glasses of delicious welcome drinks was ready for us. The check in was extremely simple and then began a brief orientation of the property. The palatial interiors showcased the region’s artistic heritage as well as the expertise of local craftsmen, gold leaf patterns decorated the walls and ceilings alongside delicately carved jaali screens inspired by those found at the Taj. There was a wonderful swimming pool, a wellness spa, two very good restaurants, a lobby lounge serving tea and a bar with an extensive cocktail list.
Entrance Gate and Arrival Courtyard
Guest Lounge Area for Welcome Drinks
After the mini tour of the hotel we lastly walked towards our room. Our escort stopped in front of the suite and beckoned me to enter. I opened the room door and bright sunlight hit the eye! The suite was truly humongous and elegant. Adorned in warm shades of honey beige, wooden furniture with beautiful Indian carpets, king size bed with a hand-embroidered headboard, marble bathroom and a huge tub. I could feel the calming effect instantly. But the best was yet to come. I walked towards the window, which extended into a beautiful balcony with dramatic views of the stunning Taj Mahal and surrounding gardens. This hotel boasted views of the Taj Mahal that would make Shah Jahan proud! The truth is, the Mughal-inspired architecture and lavish interior design play second fiddle to the views, which are sublime. Here, all the bedrooms and suites, the lobby, bar and lounge area and even the swimming pool and spa enjoy unobstructed views of the Taj Mahal. Indeed the view is fit for a Mughal Emperor.
View of the Taj Mahal from the Room
There are two amazing restaurants at the Oberoi Amarvilas, Bellevue and Esphahan. Bellevue is the main restaurant and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring international cuisine. Esphahan is the hotel’s specialty Indian restaurant and is open for dinner only.
Interiors of Esphahan Restaurant
North Indian Thali at Esphahan
The other fun filled activities at the property include soaking up the sun by the poolside and cooling off with some delicious cocktails and taking a dip in the blue waters of the massive swimming pool. One can also indulge at the Spa. They have some wonderful therapies sure to rejuvenate your senses and relax your mind. You can also opt for a yoga lesson and unwind. The yoga teachers are very well trained and I can assure you that it would be a delightful experience. The hotel’s privileged position allows easy access to the Taj Mahal by a short buggy ride on a private road. Besides the Taj Mahal you can also visit the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri both of which are Unesco World Heritage Sites.
The best time to visit Oberoi Amarvilas would be between November and February as the weather is cool and extremely pleasant. During December to January the temperatures can get quite chilly and fog can also be a huge concern while visiting Agra. The summer months from March to May are unbearably hot. I would suggest you avoid travelling to North India during these months as the temperatures go up to 40 degrees! You will bake and roast under the sun during this time of the year.
My experience at the Oberoi Amarvilas was nothing less than a fairytale. Right from the time I stepped in the property till the time I stepped out, every wish of mine was fulfilled. Throughout my stay every need was taken care of. It was so crazy beautiful and the service was par excellence. You want a special 7-course meal setup in your private balcony – It’s done! You’re feeling slightly cold outdoors – a mammoth heater and a warm cozy shawl is placed right by your side. You love the snack served at the bar – Voila! – A huge packet of your favorite snack is ready as a takeaway. You want to order breakfast? No problem. You place your order in a woven scroll and leave it outside your door and it will be whisked away. Wrinkled clothes? No problem. Push the “Butler” button and a charming gentleman appears and takes your clothes to be pressed. Everything is so gracious and gorgeous that I just did not want to leave. Every minutest detail of yours is well addressed. No wonder its ranked No. 3 on the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2015 list of Top Resorts in Asia. It truly deserves this position and hopefully someday (I know that’s going to be very soon) will reach the No. 1 position!
Adios Oberoi Amarvilas… Till we meet again!
Private Dining in the Rooms Balcony overlooking the Taj Mahal
Until Next Time