Despite COVID playing spoilsport, the Indian hospitality industry is soldering on with new hotel launches on the horizon. From a royal retreat in a 14th-century fort to boutique properties that offer quiet indulgence with a local flavour, here are the luxury hotel openings in India on our radar in 2021.
While COVID and the ensuing lockdown threw a curveball at the Indian hospitality industry in 2020, brands are forging on with several new luxury properties on the horizon. Here’s our pick of new hotels openings in India to look forward to in 2021.
Six Senses Fort Barwara, Rajasthan
Located a 2.5-hour drive from Jaipur, this new luxury hotel from the Six Senses group resides in a converted 14th-century fort which originally belonged to the royal family of Rajasthan. Its interiors are suitably regal with 48 suites that blend traditional Rajasthani architecture and contemporary design and overlook the Chauth ka Barwara Mandir Temple, Aravalli range and a nearby lake. Among the services on offer is a 24-hour GEM (Guest Experience Maker) who will be on call to make sure you have everything you need for your stay. A concierge service will be available to arrange for trips to Ranthambore National Park (a 30-minute drive away), heritage tours of the surrounding areas, cooking classes, and private dining experiences around the fort. The property will also include a 30,000-square-foot Six Senses Spa and fitness centre, two restaurants, a bar, lounge, banquet, boutique, library, two swimming pools and a children’s club. Six Senses Fort Barwara is expected to open its doors in mid-to-late 2021.
For more information, visit sixsenses.com
The Connaught, Delhi
After being taken over by Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) in 2018, The Connaught is set to reopen as part of the brand’s SeleQtions portfolio. The main draw is its prime location, in the heart of Delhi, which offers easy access to the business district of Connaught Place as well as tourist attractions such as the Qutub Minar, India Gate and Jantar Mantar. Indoors, design is a key part of the experience with striking details at every turn—think luxe Art Deco inspired by the architecture of Connaught Place. An all-day diner will dish out both global and local fare with an al fresco dining option and a swanky cocktail bar.
For more information, visit seleqtionshotels.com
The Leela Palace Jaipur, Rajasthan
With intricate latticework, chandelier-laden halls and ornate rooms, suites and villas decorated with zardozi work, Sabyasachi wallpaper, Venetian mirrors and wooden tables with marble inlay, The Leela Palace Jaipur undoubtedly lives up to its name. The eight-acre property, which opened its doors on February 19, is poised to become a top choice for destination weddings with 50,000 sq ft of indoor and outdoor event space including two sprawling lawns and a pillarless ballroom. Guests can dine at one of four restaurants, including all-day diner Sukh Mahal and the rooftop Hawa Mahal, where Chef Ganesh Teli will pamper your taste buds with rich fare inspired by north India’s royal kitchens and local delicacies. The hotel also includes two meeting rooms, a spa, gym and swimming pool. If you can summon the will to leave your luxurious cocoon for a while, the hotel will also set up trips for you to experience local heritage sites.
For more information, visit theleela.com
The Postcard Hotel; Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka
This luxury boutique hotel chain specialises in slow holidays at destinations tucked away from the bustle of urban India. Every aspect of each property is enmeshed in its local surroundings, whether the interior design, culinary offerings or curated guest experiences. In 2021, The Postcard Hotel is expected to open a 15-room hotel inside the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat; a 23-room property amid cherry orchards at Mashobra in Himachal Pradesh; and a beachside hotel along the Maravanthe coast in Karnataka.
For more information, visit postcardresorts.com.
Besides the properties in the offing for 2021, here are a few hotel launches in India that you might have missed last year:
The Johri Jaipur, Rajasthan
A refurbished 19th-century haveli, this gem opened in December close to the famous jewellery market Johri Bazaar in Jaipur’s Old City. With a muted, sunset-hued palette, accents of intricate jaali work and carefully curated antique furniture, textiles and art, the boutique hotel speaks of laidback luxury. Guests can choose from five uniquely designed suites which overlook a traditional Rajasthani courtyard, enjoy high tea and creative cocktails while examining hand-painted murals of Rajasthan’s wilderness at the Phukhraj Lounge, and indulge in local, seasonal fare at The Johri restaurant.
For more information, visit thejohrijaipur.com.
Welcomhotel Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
For those looking for a getaway to connect with nature, ITC’s newest property hits the spot. Welcomhotel Shimla is tucked away amid lush hills in the village of Mashobra, half an hour from the city centre. Each of its 47 rooms comes with panoramic views of the Mashobra valley. The eco-friendly property has been designed in keeping with the brand’s ethos of responsible luxury—non-carcinogenic wood has been employed around the property, grey water is treated in-house and used for horticulture and the kitchen uses seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Dining options include all-day diner WelcomCafe Cedar; WelcomSthalika, which specialises in regional cuisine; and the Swizzle bar that overlooks a coniferous forest. Nature lovers will find plenty of reasons to keep busy, including a bird-watching trail, cycling tour of Shimla Wildlife Sanctuary, walks at Craignano Nature Park and a trek up the Mashobra Valley.
For more information, visit itchotels.com
Hilton Goa Resort, Goa
This resort is Hilton Hotel & Resorts’ third property in India’s sunshine state. It’s perched on the slopes of Saipem Hills in North Goa, overlooking the Nerul river, and is a hop, skip and jump from the popular Candolim and Calangute beaches. Dining options include an all-day dining restaurant, coffee loung with artisanal coffees and baked goodies and a bar and restaurant with a Mediterranean-inspired menu. Guests can avail of a round-the-clock concierge service that will customise experiences for you, four outdoor pools, a full-service spa and salon, and 17,600 sq ft of event space.
For more information, visit hilton.com
Taj Chia Kutir Resort & Spa, West Bengal
This hill station getaway from IHCL is located across 22 acres of land in the picturesque Makaibari Tea Estate in Darjeeling, which was founded in 1859. Its 72 rooms overlook terraced tea gardens and sweeping views of the Himalayas. Dining options include the all-day restaurant The Chia Veranda and Sonargaon, a fine dine that serves North-western and Bengali cuisine. Of course, also on the menu is a curated high-tea and tasting session with an in-house tea sommelier at the Makaibari Tea Lounge and visits to the tea gardens. If you need more excuses to unwind, indulge in signature treatments and therapies at the Jiva spa.
For more information, visit tajhotels.com