A long time wish list destination and no better way to do it than with A&K!
India is a country shrouded in so much history which I never realised how far back its history went.
I was actually surprised that the poverty was not as bad as I thought. The people seem happy and there appears to be plenty of food. I found the people to be lovely and kind. The colours of India in the clothes, fruits, vegetables, flowers and spices are absolutely beautiful.
Rajasthan (Golden Triangle) is the best area for first time travellers to India to visit. Weather wise the best time is October to March as it is cooler. It is best to avoid the 10 days from Christmas to approx 6th Jan due to fog in Delhi & Agra.
A&K are definitely the leader of the 5 star luxury market offering a seamless service from start to finish with their ground arrangements, staff and hotels.
I was actually surprised how much open space there was outside of the cities in the countryside with very beautiful scenery. The cities of course offering the beautiful architecture and buildings.
A pretty good economy class service, meals were quite good, spirits and wines are complimentary and they still give you refresher towels!
This was my first time in the new BKK Airport. It is huge and I found it a bit confusing at first to navigate my way through transit to the next departure gate.
A low cost airline which were very good, similar to Jetstar, except they are renowned for being on time! Buy food/drinks on board.
AIR INDIA: JODHPUR/DELHI
I was pleasantly surprised with them. They were quite good. Aircraft was OK, crew were attentive & friendly and they even served a sandwich and drink complimentary.
On arrival in Delhi we were met at the gate by a Plaza Lounge Representative who escorted us to visa/passport control. We were fast tracked through here in a matter of minutes, collected our bags and proceeded straight through customs where we were handed over to the A&K Rep. Lovely car with driver and Rep, cold bottled water. It was peak hour at 10.30am but then I think it always is!!
The traffic is crazy busy, no lines on the road, everyone beeping horns (just to let you know they are there), everyone cutting in on each other, no road rules are obeyed however there is no aggression/road rage or abuse and amazing not many accidents considering how close they come to each other.
The Lodhi Hotel
A beautiful corporate modern hotel. Our Suites were huge with a King Bed, desk, 2 sofas, dressing room and dressing table, 2 basins, separate shower and bath, full sized bottle in mini bar and a private balcony with own plunge pool and day bed.
We commenced with a sightseeing tour of Old Delhi – “Organised Chaos”! This was a vast contrast to New Delhi like entering another world/another time. We drove past the Red Fort, there are ancient monuments, narrow streets and bustling bazaars. We rode on Rickshaws through the Chandni Chowk Market and shopped for spices and teas at a spice market.
We drove through the boulevards of New Delhi which are. surprisingly very green and clean. Viewed government buildings and Parliament House. We visited the Mughal Emperor Humayan’s Tomb and the 12th century Qutb Minar complex.
Taj Palace Hotel
Site inspection of this beautiful hotel, big open light lobby and spaces, huge grounds. They have an Orient Express Restaurant where part of it is like one of the train carriages.
We were hosted a multi course Chinese lunch in the Spicy Duck Restaurant.
Leela Palace Hotel
Beautifully decorated, ornate & opulent and the most amazing floral and fragrance arrangements on every floor. It has one of the top restaurants (Japanese) in Delhi and also Le Cirque.
Site inspection, Old Colonial Style similar to Raffles in Singapore. Rooms here were a little small.
We were hosted a Thai dinner in The Spice Route, one of the Top 10 Restaurants in the world.
This restaurant is beautifully decorated with Wood pillars, wall art, painting, ornaments with A Hindu story if “The Circle of Life” behind it all.
Drove 3.5 hours from Delhi to Agra. We had a full size coach with a toilet, so plenty of room for 9 of us. Driver and a male host who served cold bottled water and cans of soft drink, offered hand sanitiser everytime we came back on the coach. He was also there to clean the coach.
On arrival in Agra we toured the Agra Fort, a massive walled city that took 7 years to complete.
We checked in to the Oberoi Amarvilas set among lush and serene Mughal-inspired pools and terraced gardens 600 metres from the Taj Mahal by golf buggy. A luxurious hotel. Our richly detailed rooms had a huge terrace with views of the Taj Mahal. All rooms have a view of the Taj Mahal. The hotel hosted a Western dinner.
We finished the day in splendour at India’s most magnificent monument, the Taj Mahal just as the sun was setting. It was an absolutely awe inspiring experience to visit. I got some wonderful photos. I had been told it was beautiful at sunrise as well however we did not see it but it was raining and overcast that morning so just as well we saw it the afternoon before.
N.B. TAJ MAHAL IS CLOSED ON FRIDAYS FOR PRAYERS
AGRA – JAIPUR
Approximately a 5 hour drive. On arrival we had a site inspection and lunch at The Oberoi Rajvilas. This hotel is a bit out of town, vast grounds with lovely rooms as well as tented rooms.
SUJAN RAJ MAHAL PALACE
We extremely fortunate to stay in this magnificent Palace owned by The Royal Family. It has 11 rooms/suites (2 interconnecting) all individually decorated. It has a combination of old British Victorian influence with a mix of classical & contemporary pieces. It is like a museum.
Beautiful big manicured grounds, fresh water pool. The 2nd night here we had a presentation by the Sujan Hotel Rep and dinner was hosted by the hotel by the swimming pool with what seemed to be like 1000’s of tea light candles all around us. A gorgeous setting. A delicious French inspired meal.
The first night we dressed up in traditional Indian outfits and transferred by vintage cars to the City Palace where we watched a Sound & Light Show about the history of the Royal Families, a tour of some of the private rooms of the palace and then an Indian “Thaili” dinner which is a tasting platter. This was a wonderful evening and experience which is a unique Insider Access opportunity offered by A&K.
Sightseeing in Jaipur included the Amber Fort, completed in the 18th century and gave an insight into the lifestyle of the Mogul ruling families, Palace of the Winds and the Janitor Mantar Observatory. We also had a motorised rickshaw ride through the streets.
RAMBAGH PALACE: Site inspection and lunch. Another opulent hotel, with huge beautiful gardens, rooms are very grand and palatial. We dined in a very decadent restaurant, international cuisine.
We flew with SpiceJet which is like a low cost airline however they are giving all the airlines a run for their money and have quite good reviews. Maximum luggage allowance is 15kg.
Sightseeing tour of Udaipur this day included the City Palace Complex with its inlaid work, mirrored walls and marble balconies, Sahelion-ki-Bari Gardens and the Crystal Museum.
THE LEELA PALACE
Site inspection and lunch. This hotel is fairly new and modern and I’d describe it as “overstated luxury”. Great views of Lake Pichola. Lunch was Indian “Street Food” contemporary food, ie. samosas, wraps etc with a modern twist.
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS
Overlooking Lake Pichola, Taj Palace Hotel & City Palace. We stayed in rooms with semi-private infinity pool access from private courtyard. Understated Luxury, amazing staff, food, hosted dinner was contemporary cuisine outside on the terrace. Fantastic breakfast. No housekeeping trolleys in corridors, lovely green spacious grounds, wildlife sanctuary and adults only pool.
An old Fortress a lady bought in 1989 for $15,000 to renovate for her use and art collection. She spent millions of dollars on it and sold it for $25,000,000. Now run by RASS Hotel Group for the last 2 years. A beautiful outlook over valleys, Hills & town, 45 mins from Udaipur. We are hosted lunch and site inspection. Rooms are very minimalist.
LAKE PALACE HOTEL
Traditional Historic Colonial style, in the middle of Lake Pichola accessed by boat. They have a nightly Indian Dance and Music performance. Rooms are smaller but all have a view and some with balconies. We had an Indian Dinner on the roof top overlooking the Lake & City Palace which was very special. I would stay here for a 1 night stay but not for longer stays as it’s a bit isolated and small.
We stopped here for a hosted lunch. It’s a gorgeous Lodge with only 4 rooms with their own pool. Decorated Colonial style, lovely gardens. The owner is a character and plays old music from the 1940’s. A very British Colonial feel.
JAWAI LEOPARD LODGE
We stayed for 2 nights. 10 Luxury tens and 1 larger with a private pool. Furnished with local furnishings, private ensuites, all inclusive of game drives, food & drinks any time you want. We had a cooking lesson and there is a lovely pool area. We did an early morning game drive and afternoon we say a leopard through binoculars from a fair distance. It was a great experience seeing such open spaces, driving through the villages seeing the people and local Shepherd Indian men herding their cattle, however this cannot be compared to Africa. You see so much wildlife in Africa and I felt this was a little disappointing however great if someone wants to completely chill out.
TAJ UMAID BHAWN PALACE – JODHPUR
We did not tour here and all I could see was a Fort. An amazing huge Palace with vast grounds. Opulent Art Deco style & furnishings. Hotel was very full so we only saw 1 of the top suites.
A magnificent hosted lunch which we unfortunately had to rush to catch our flight back to Delhi.