As a country once ruled by myriad royal families, India is the undisputed king of palace hotels. But opulence can be all too obvious and the best luxury hotels across the Subcontinent are those outstanding places that have something different to say.

Whether contemporary city bolthole, palace conversion brimming with character or boutique country hideaway, real luxury is quietly lavish – a glorious view, exquisite finishing touches, an impromptu experience. It’s something magical when you least expect it.

As well as superb food and sumptuous comfort, you can count on exceptional service given with genuine warmth and interest, which strikes the right balance between personal and unobtrusive. All in all, imagine the relaxed and intimate feel of a country house hotel or your favourite restaurant. 

How much do they cost?

Long gone are the days when a budget traveller could head to India to indulge in unfamiliar luxury for a song. India’s high-end hotels are up there with the best in the world – with prices to match. While the country still has plenty of low-budget places today, after luxury taxes are added the rate for a basic room at many of top hotels starts at $700 – and suites in peak season may cost thousands.