Old Jan 24, 10, 7:40 am
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Here there and everywhere
Posts: 6,113
Originally Posted by KenJohn View Post
Just came back from a two week work trip to India but will base my
comments on a trip we did during Christmas about 3 years ago.

The road trip to Agra is painful with gypsies parading dancing bears along the road as you approach Agra. An interesting experience with the other half loved was a train trip from Delhi to Agra. Make sure you are in first class. It make take the same amount of time but taking a train in India is a truely unique experience.

Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra is lovely and probably the best option in Agra. All rooms get a view of the Taj Mahal. The swimming pool is an interesting set-up and a great place to order afternoon tea. If you want a romantic honeymoon dinner, then contact the hotel direct and ask them to set-up a special dinner for two outdoors over-looking the pool. Its akin to dining by the beach (only it is by the pool area but is a lovely setting). Alternatively, if you want good India food, the posh Indian restaurant there is one of the best with live Indian music (personally I can do without that). The great point about the Amarvilas is that it is the hotel that is closest to the Taj Mahal. The hotel golf buggy can take you (and tour guide) from hotel to Taj Mahal gate. For most other hotels, you have to switch to an electric bus as no petrol vehicles are allowed near the Taj Mahal. An afternoon visit to the Taj Mahal at sunset may be pretty but is going to be crowded. My recommendation is to go again on your own first thing in the morning (again by hotel buggy) since you can have the place to yourselves before the crowds begin to arrive. No queue to sit on the Princess Diana bench for the photo opportunity in front of the Taj Mahal. To be honest, you can do a morning tour of the Taj Mahal and a tour of Agra in a full morning.

Beware, the Udaipur Taj Lake Palace Hotel. Yes it looked absolutely lovely in James Bond's Octopussy movie but beware the following
- if there is draught on (which there has been), the lake will be very low. Dependant on the level of the lake, you can take a nice shuttle boat to the hotel if the lake is full, you can take the shuttle boat to the lake but have to climb up a ladder to get up to the hotel level if the lake is half full, or take the jeep to the hotel and really climb up a ladder if the lake is dry (it has been known)
- unless you upgrade to the top suites, the normal rooms are not that wonderful
- expect signs of age on the building and its facilities
- pool is not heated and is relatively small. Does not get the sun for long
- there will be tourist visiting the hotel during the day as it is a tourist attraction.
If you read the web-site, the top suites come with a "swing" (say no more )

We were very lucky that when we were there, the lake was full. You might want to consider the Oberoi Udaivillas instead will is one of the best hotels in the Oberoi group by the shores of the Lake.

In Jaipur, I personally would recommend the Oberoi Rajvillas over the Taj Rambagh Palace. So it is slightly out of town but based on various comments made here in the past, the Oberoi is better and newer. The Rambagh Palace while famous has not necessarily been maintained at tip top condition. We did our elephant ride there (one elephant for one person) on a quiet road on the hotel's own elephants. You may wish to upgrade to one of the tented rooms. Restaurant there is wonderful. Rajvillas have a lovely pool area and a great Spa (I still remember end my treatment soaking in a milk bath with rose petals!). I know how Cleopatra felt like!

Just stayed at the Leela Kempinski Gurgaon last week for work. it is a business hotel next to a highway. It is a business hotel. Rooms are nice and I was upgrade to a suite but there is nothing else around the hotel. I know the hotel is on top of a mall but I do not think there is much there. The only reason I stayed there is that it is a 6 min car trip to the office. It is also a 10 car trip if you are getting the BA early morning flight. It is about 20 mins by car during rush hour - mainly due to queues at the toll gate on the highway. The hotel is about 1 min after the toll gate.

You might wish to look up the Trident Gurgaon which is just across the highway from the Leela (I could pick up their very strong internet signal from the Leela). I think you will find that this is more a resort type hotel in keeping with Oberoi Rajvillas or the Amarvillas. There is still nothing around the hotel (there is nothing in Gurgaon fullstop apart from traffic) but it is close to the airport.

I'll PM you an India firm I used which works off the internet. I just specified the places and hotel and types of rooms/suites I wanted (I am fussy) and they did all the rest and gave me a quote. Just be aware that at times, while this maybe a private tour for the two of you, on the trip from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri, expect one driver, one tour guide for Fatehpur Sikri and one tour manager who speaks English be in the car with you. You drop off the tour guide for Fatehpur Sikri at the train station after the visit before continuing your journey.

My view is that that the Taj hotel chain is fine but the Oberoi hotel to me are usually one step better since we are talking honeymoon here.
Sorry, but this information is completely out of date now.

The Taj hotel chain has seriously surpassed Oberoi in the past 3 years. You would not recognise Taj Lake Palace (now with tourists banned entirely and everything fabulously refurbished). They have a new arrival jetty which is palatial, and frankly, if the lake is going through a drought, then this affects The Oberoi Udailvilas just as much. The Rambagh Palace, too, is completely renovated and is now sensational. It is much 'newer' than some of the tired accommodation at The Oberoi Rajvilas, which really needs a major re-fit.

I agree that it is much better taking the Shatabdhi Express train to Agra - the drive is very taxing. I also agree that the Oberoi Amarvilas is by far the best option.

Trident Gurgaon (operated by Oberoi) is a much better option than the Kempinski.

This itinerary is much too busy. I would cut out a couple of destinations and spend more time really taking in one or two places. Amanbagh, definitely - a splendid choice. Umaid Bhawan Palace, too - utterly unique.

I would also fly rather than drive - these drives of 6 hours or more are ridiculous and very tiring. You can fly instead (Jet Airways or Kingfisher - both excellent, but especially Jet).

I would let the hotels organise all your sightseeing as they are much more knowledgeable and will take you to more unusual places. For instance, you do not need a tour operator at Amanbagh - the resort will look after everything and do it with far more panache. Same goes for all the others.

I would get Greaves Travel to book exactly what you want, but leave out the tours - ask the hotels instead.

At Rambagh and Lake Palace, it would be worth splurging on suites, especially as this is a honeymoon. You will never forget the experience.
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