PRICE: Worth maxing out for
The Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra is pretty unique among hotels; it offers a view with a room. E M Forster, who knew a thing or two about India, would have been impressed. The Amarvilas has all the trappings of the finest Oberoi hospitality, but with the unique bonus of a direct view of the Taj Mahal. Could there be a better combination?
For most people, Agra is their first destination outside Delhi and if you wind up at the Oberoi Amarvilas you’ll happily feel that your Indian adventure has got off to a flying start.
As with all the Oberoi Vilas properties, there is a huge sense of grandeur. Amarvilas is one of the older properties but has been meticulously maintained to ensure its ridiculously high standards don’t drop.
It has an imposing entrance, a symmetrical Moghul inspired water feature courtyard, and then never-ending roof domes give a palatial feel to the property. As soon as you arrive, attentive female reception staff dressed in fine silks will welcome you amid the sumptuous surroundings of the white marble lined lobby.
The whole orientation of the hotel is towards the Taj Mahal, which is visible from much of the lobby and bar area. The two restaurants, one international and one a speciality Indian, are every bit as brilliant as one would expect. The waiters, in their pristine white tunics and long red turbans, will be flawless in their attention and yet melt into the background when not needed, despite their distinctive outfits!
Amarvilas has rooms in a variety of categories but what they all share is exquisitely appointed in-room facilities with views towards the Taj. All have superb bathrooms with separate bath and shower liberally dressed in beautifully contrasting jade green against ivory marble. The bedrooms have king-sized beds, colourful rugs, antique indian wall hangings and occasional furniture in which to kick back and relax.
And we must not forget the pool area. Conceptually, it’s is a sunken step well. In actual use, it is the most fabulous combination of flowing water courses and decks cascading down to a pool that has to be a serious contender in our Top 10 of all time.
There is nothing more special than waking up to a distant view of the ultimate monument to love. Surprisingly, the Taj is not lit up at night, so enjoy the daylight views.
On your doorstep
The Oberoi Amarvilas is inside the Taj Mahal buffer zone, a very short private golf buggy ride to the entrance. Guests from other hotels have to get the government operated communal shuttle bus.