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This Luxury Hotel in India Looks Straight Out of a Movie — With Unobstructed Views of the Taj Mahal From Every Room



The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, is a hotel like none other. The splendor of the views is complemented by the splendor of the luxury hotel’s Moorish and Mughal architecture, and the design takes deliberate care to maximize the property’s biggest advantage: its extreme proximity to the world-renowned Taj Mahal.

Arguably India’s most famous monument (and one of the most famous in the world), the Taj Mahal is the centerpiece at Amarvilas, with the hotel carefully carved into the hillside to give guests the best visual access to the famous sight from several elevations. I felt like I was in a movie, leaving reality for fantasy. It’s the type of exotic hotel you’d see in a Wes Anderson film, and immediately Google to find out if it’s a real place you could actually visit. From the second you step into the palatial front pavilion, with decorative pools bordered by scalloped archways over floral wall murals, to the impressive back exterior above the reflective main pool and colorful deck, it’s magical.

Courtesy of The Oberoi Group


As you check-in, you’re ushered through the main lounge, full of plush furniture that looks as soft as it does elegant, to the outside verandah that connects the lounge to the bar and grants you your first unobstructed view of the Taj Mahal. I was in awe coming face-to-face with a legendary world monument I’d heard about my entire life so suddenly and clearly without being on an official tour — it was such an unreal moment that I joked with my husband it might just be a giant green screen. Gazing out with fluffy orange marigold strands around your neck, you can sip welcome drinks and get acclimated to the property and your surroundings.

Sophisticated and abundant with beauty, The Oberoi Amarvilas is an other-worldy property that marries luxury with local authenticity. It’s at once refined, with velvet couches beneath a golden-domed ceiling and a lavish crystal chandelier in the lounge, and wild, with monkeys rustling in the trees between buildings and birds landing on your room balcony to enjoy the views right alongside you.

Courtesy of The Oberoi Group


All guest rooms are built on the same side of the hotel so that everyone gets a front-row view of the renowned Mughal mausoleum, which is likely their entire reason for visiting Agra. The hotel’s interiors also pay homage to the Taj Mahal, with lattice-lined staircases and floors made of white marble. Local artisans are featured prominently in the rooms, from rugs to furniture, infusing the grand and historical aesthetic of the Taj Mahal with beauty more specific to present-day Indian culture.

The staff is genuinely hospitable, which aligns with the core characteristic of The Oberoi brand: “heartfelt.” There are thoughtful gestures throughout your stay, like petal-drawn baths waiting for you upon your return and messages spelled out in flowers on your floor. Conveniently for conversion rate-fatigued travelers, the hotel does not allow tipping individuals. Still, you can leave gratuities at the end of your stay with a note listing staff members you found particularly helpful. We wrote down almost everyone’s name, deeming them all helpful and caring enough for special shoutouts (but especially Bhole, who saw us trying to adjust an umbrella at the pool and ran — yes, ran — over to help us). When we left, staff members lined up outside holding signs that said “We will miss you” and “Come back soon” — and I felt like they might mean it.

There’s not much to do in Agra for tourists besides sightsee (and souvenir shop, especially marble knickknacks, decor, and homeware), which means time spent at the hotel is a big part of your trip. From your room’s perched vantage point, you’ll get a unique view of the densely packed homes in the surrounding area juxtaposed with the openness of the property backing into the Taj Mahal, giving you a one-of-a-kind perspective you won’t see on foot.

Below, I break down specifics from my experience staying here. Read on for my full review of The Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra, India.

The Oberoi Amarvilas

  • The property is designed to overlook the Taj Mahal from several vantage points, both inside and al fresco.
  • Guest rooms are built exclusively on one side of the hallways so that each faces the Taj Mahal, offering every guest a private view of the legendary mausoleum.
  • The dreamy pool deck, dotted by bright and whimsical sun umbrellas, is backdropped by the impressively designed hotel exterior. It features dramatic columned archways leading to a covered lounge section and a large golden painting of the Indian god Ganesha.
  • The staff is incredibly attentive and will run over to you before you can lift a finger.
  • The hotel offers a variety of unique experiences, allowing you to customize your stay and create unique memories exactly suited to your preferences and the occasions you’re celebrating.

The Rooms

Courtesy of The Oberoi Group


Every room has an unobstructed view of the Taj Mahal and features design elements from local artisans, like wood-inlay furniture, hand-knotted rugs, and embroidered headboards. There’s nothing quite like hitting a remote button to draw back your curtains and being greeted by one of the New Seven Wonders of the World first thing in the morning.

There are 102 guest rooms and suites, with five levels before the pinnacle, the Kohinoor Suite: Premier Rooms, Premier Rooms with Balcony, Deluxe Suites, Deluxe Suites with Balcony, and Luxury Suites. Having the balcony is exceptional, with the private outdoor space allowing you to enjoy the view and nightly performances as the sun sets. Unique dining experiences on your balcony can also be arranged.

To help you get the best sleep possible while traveling, Oberoi Amarvilas offers a menu of complimentary pillows with five options, including a body pillow. Butler service is available 24 hours should you need anything.

Food and Drink

Claudia Fisher/Travel + Leisure


There are two restaurants, as well as a bar and lounge. Bellevue offers more family-friendly, all-day dining and an international menu spanning Italian to Asian cuisine. Guests will come here for their complimentary breakfast, which includes both the continental buffet and menu options.

Then there’s fine dining at the Indian specialty restaurant Esphahan, which offers two seatings nightly and has low-key performances by local musicians in a candlelit space. Children above 8 years old are welcome. Here, the presentation is as meticulously curated as the dishes, and we enjoyed a gold foil-topped local lamb dish, with smoke flooding over the plate as the glass cover was lifted, accompanied by the plucky trills of live santoor music.

The bar, decorated by expansive windows that frame the Taj Mahal, is a swanky spot for pre- or post-dinner drinks, an afternoon coffee or tea, or a cigar. The lounge offers tea, coffee, and homemade pastries.

Activities and Experiences

Courtesy of The Oberoi Group


The main activity in Agra is sightseeing (the Taj Mahal, of course, and also Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri), but The Oberoi Amarvilas has offerings on the property to help you relax, unwind, and experience local culture when you’re done with your daily excursions. Like the other Oberoi properties, there’s a spa and a 24-hour gym, and you can take advantage of the lush 9-acre property with long, ambling walks surrounded by fragrant flowers or lounge by the beautiful pool under one of the bright and whimsical sun umbrellas.

Claudia Fisher/Travel + Leisure


Special experiences, like bespoke menus for breakfast on one of the balconies or a private poolside dinner under the stars, can also be arranged. Couples can renew their vows with a Hindu priest at a temple in the Joshua Mahal Courtyard.

In the evenings, a traditional dance and music performance is set atop a roof beneath the Taj Mahal backdrop. You can watch it from your private balcony, the outdoor dining deck, or the lounge terrace. Glittering lanterns fleck the undulating grounds as the sun sets, and the scene is quite remarkable.

The Spa

The spa offers respite from Agra’s bustling tourist hotspots and busy roads (made more narrow by groups of cows, fruit stands, and market stalls) with a menu of Western and Eastern treatments. There are conventional offerings, like massages and facials, and more unusual — to Westerners, at least — options that harness singing bowls, stones, and Ayurvedic techniques. There are also special Oberoi experiences that string a few treatments together for ultimate pampering, like the three-hour “Taj Romance at Amarvilas” package for couples.

After a full day on your feet, entering a zen environment for a little physical and mental restoration feels good. Both the men’s and women’s locker rooms have steam rooms, which guests can enjoy regardless of if they’ve booked a spa treatment. There are four therapy rooms at the spa level, off the lower lobby, and three therapy suites on the hotel’s fourth floor that feature Taj Mahal views. The treatment suites also have their own steam area, two massage beds, bathtub, shower, and bathroom.

As with the other Oberois throughout India, you can also book a personalized yoga or meditation session at Amarvilas.

Family-friendly Offerings

The Oberoi Amarvilas offers two unique experiences catered to younger guests. One is the “Little Chefs” culinary experience, a 45-minute activity making cookies, cupcakes, or tandoor in a traditional clay oven. The second is called “Little Bartender” and focuses on concocting creative soft drinks with an expert mixologist.

Accessibility and Sustainability

The rooms at The Oberoi Amarvilas are ADA compliant and the hotel is equipped with electric vehicle charging stations.

Location

The hotel is less than 2,000 feet from the Taj Mahal. Cars aren’t allowed within a kilometer of the historic site, though, so you’ll take a quick golf cart ride to get there. You can also walk the section where cars aren’t allowed; it’s just over half a mile.

How to Get the Most Value Out of Your Stay

Your reservation at The Oberoi Amarvilas includes complimentary breakfast at the all-day international restaurant Bellevue, which serves both continental and Indian fare.

While not a discount opportunity, the spa is very reasonable compared to luxury hotels in other parts of the world. A 75-minute Oberoi Signature massage costs 9,000 INR, which is roughly $108.

Booking directly with The Oberoi will get you 10% off, and you can enroll in the free membership program, Oberoi One, to access more benefits and special rates.



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