Whichever part of India you visit, you can’t fail to have an intoxicating adventure. And it boasts some sensational – and rather unusual – places to stay. So, whether you’re a seasoned traveller looking for a new experience or you’re planning your first exploration of this vast country, our collection of spoiling tents, boats and eco lodges will help you spice up your trip.
Chhatra Sagar’s magical setting – perched on a 100-year-old dam overlooking a lake which is home to more than 200 species of bird – means you wake to the sight of the sunrise and the sound of birdsong. The luxury tents are more like canvas palaces, decorated with locally crafted furniture and gorgeous hand-painted floors based on traditional henna designs. Guided bird-watching tours can be arranged, or you can spot an abundance of wildlife from your tent’s private outdoor seating area. The food is organic and delicious, and the hilltop sundowners allow you to revel in a view that’s blessedly big-sky and gloriously free from other beings.
Prices start at £469 per night, based on 2 guests sharing.
This wonderful wildlife retreat on the fringes of the Satpura tiger reserve is a paradise for eco enthusiasts and nature lovers. It’s run by a team whose sole aim is to bring you closer to tigers, leopards, crocodiles and other native beasts – and there are so few tourists here that you might even have the park to yourselves. After your excursions, return to the lodge and stretch out beside the eco pool, or watch birds from the porch of your private cottage. Come evening, there are cocktails around the bonfire, followed by delicious Indian dinners under the bright Milky Way. For a truly dreamy experience, some cottages have a rooftop area with a second kingsize bed where you can sleep under the stars.
Prices start at £380 per night, based on 2 guests sharing. Rates include all meals, 2 guided safaris a day, wilderness walks and canoeing.
Moored on beautiful and unspoilt Dal Lake, this elegant houseboat is surrounded by lotus flowers, water lilies, and forested slopes that rise up to the mighty Himalayas. The boat has 5 guest rooms, all with cedar-panelled walls, richly coloured silks and modern ensuites. Days are spent cruising gently along pristine backwaters on traditional flat-bottomed boats, passing floating flower markets, stilted villages and kingfishers diving in and out of the water. The more adventurous can head into the mountains for an overnight camp. Return for drinks on Sukoon’s rooftop deck in the soft light of the setting sun, followed by delicious food encompassing influences from Kashmir, Kerala and further afield.
Prices start at £132, based on 2 guests sharing. Rates are half-board.
YogaMagic is geared towards R&R on every level. Guests can sleep in suites or stay closer to nature in luxury tented eco lodges. Laze in the leafy gardens surrounded by frangipani, papaya, palms and pineapple trees, or lounge by the naturally filtered swimming pool complete with islands, waterfalls and streams. Daily yoga classes are held in the light and airy yoga space, and a range of healing therapies and Ayurvedic massages are on offer. And the vegetarian Indian fusion food is utterly delicious.
Prices start at £82 per night, based on 2 guests sharing.
Discovery is stylishly decorated and surprisingly roomy; it also boasts all mod cons (including air conditioning). But most impressive are its eco credentials: this pollution-free, energy-efficient houseboat has silent motors and is narrower than the diesel-powered boats which normally ply Kerala, enabling it to slip along the peaceful backwater hinterland away from the standard Aleppo cruises.
Prices start at £319 per night, based on 2 guests sharing.