If the Taj Mahal can satisfy one Mughal Emperor’s endless love for his beloved queen then the ITC Mughal, Agra will likely satisfy today’s modern day wanderluster in search of divine experiences.
In Agra, the city beholden to the most magnificent landmark that tops nearly every wanderluster’s bucket list this undiscovered hotel jewel deserves to be at the top of the accommodation bucket list.
British royalty like Prince Charles and Princess Diana have enjoyed the ambiance. Popular among Heads of State, even James Bond a.k.a. Sean Connery have been past guests. While the ITC Mughal, Agra, part of the Luxury Collection of the ITC Hotels is not on many US travelers radar it should be.
This particular grand old hotel (it’s 42 years young) is affiliated with Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), the award-winning loyalty program, so guests can get Starpoints and enjoy ITC Hotels other perks.
Evoking the majesty of the Taj Mahal nearby, India’s premier chain of luxury hotels, promises to indulge its guests in experiences one can only cherish in the Great Land of the Taj Mahal.
Agra, once the capital of the mighty Mughal Empire at the peak of its power, is the crown jewel in India’s Golden Triangle. It’s also synonymous with one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal.
For a fitting guest arrival sari-clad staff shower you in an Indian ceremony fit for nobility draping a luxurious scarf around your shoulders as female guests receive the hallmark bindi on their forward.
The hotelier celebrates the rich Mughal dynasties of yesteryear as soon as you step onto the polished marble covered bridge by the lily ponds. A uniformed brigade led by a sword-wielding head guard perform a greeting ceremony as they hold flowing fabric fluttering above your head while you’re entering the greenest luxury hotel chain in the world. Every ITC Hotel is LEED platinum rated. This location, in particular, bears the award “First on Earth,” a plaque the hotel proudly displays in the main lobby detailing its sustainable accolade. Guests toast champagne glasses of pomegranate juice, the elixir of health, as a refreshing welcome drink.
Expect daily surprises from treats inside your suite to your personal butler assisting in every need from retrieving sunglasses to laundry requests.
On weekends, a dancing duo of bangle attired ladies clad in bright flowing teal and green saris perform in the lobby accompanied by local musicians.
Off from the main lobby which is dedicated to the great King Akhbar, the room wings veer off into separate worlds of enchantment accessible by exclusive bridges named after one of the Mughal Queens.
With a nod to the grandeur of Mughal culture, the interiors radiate luxe riches with an accent on the pomegranate, the hotel’s ongoing theme as seen on the bedding patterns, marble floor inlays, and other areas.
The Suite Pluses:
Six unique room categories offer their own special experiences. The Presidential Suite of which there are two are named after two legendary courtiers from Mughal Emperor Akbar’s court like the Raja Mansingh Suite and the Tansen Suite (room of Prince Charles and Princess Diana and the Dalai Lama).
Picture five Grand Presidential Suites named after famed Mughal queens with two suites boasting in-room spa therapies.
My Mughal fantasy world hit all the high notes. For my Royal Mughal Suite, my gracious butler Trevor led me down a marble-enclosed walkway called the Manumati Bridge. For good sleeps, the hotel has a sleep bar with anti-oxidant rich sleep aids guaranteed for a good night’s sleep.
Among the finds, there is an elegantly appointed trio of almonds labelled, “Intake of almonds soaked in water is beneficial for healthy hair, glowing skin and good eye sight” to the slice of lemon and honey bearing the tip, “Lemon juice along with honey is good for obesity, cold, constipation, and expelling toxins from the body.” The “Sleep like a Baby” hotel spray line had an elixir for stress relief and a handy pillow mist.
Dining: Choose from three dining options. The Taj Bano is the hotel’s anchor buffet restaurant open for all meal services and serves local and international fare. The Mughal Pavilion is elegant and offers Indian and Continental cuisine. Lastly, no one visiting Agra should skip out on a meal at Peshawri. The highly acclaimed resto is theatre on its own. Diners are served generous portions of tandoori barbequed specialties inspired by India’s northwest frontier cuisine. Think lots of meaty kebabs, tandoori prawns and lentils. It’s street food casual seating in a five star property. The menu hasn’t changed in decades.
The Bar: Unwind at the Bagh-E-Bahar Lounge, a modern-day royal inspired retreat overlooking a three-tiered water garden replicated from the famous Nishat Bagh garden in Kashmir. This secluded spot has floor to ceiling windows, wood paneled walls with clusters of golden lighting fixtures that stand out from a geometric marble floor of black and white stripes. The other, equally sumptuous lounge is the Maikhana. From this lobby perch you have a fabulous nook to reminisce on the extraordinary sightseeing and personalized service at the ITC Mughal as you sip on a signature cocktail like the Great Mughal Martini made with raisins, honey, rose petal and rose water.
Amenities: Experiences can be personalized from hand-picked in-room menus to a spa therapy. For fitness, the Fitness Center is fully stocked with state-of-the-art gym equipment from treadmills and StairMasters to stationery bikes and weight machines.
For wellness seekers, register for a morning yoga class or spend a day at the Kaya Kalp, The Royal Spa revered as the largest luxury spa in India with 43 treatment rooms and two pools. Signature treatments include the Ayurvedic rituals and the Royal Mughal Hamam. ITC Mughal was the first hotel to introduce the Hamam concept in India.
Jogging Tracks, Mini Chip and Putt Golf, Two stunning Swimming Pools, All Terrain Vehicle, Children play area and Recreation room with table tennis, a pool table, air hockey, and a Play Station.
For a peekaboo surprise head to the Grand Observatory Jharokha-e-Taj. My fabulous butler Trevor lead me on a tour which culminated in a jaw-dropping bucket list worthy view of the beloved Taj Mahal seen sparkling in the distance.
Surprises: Tantalize the taste buds with mini menu items called, “One Bite Wonders.” The healthy locally sourced snacks are curated platters. Glass bottles of purified herb-infused drinking water in either basil or a fennel and cinnamon blend are replenished daily in your room.
Get whisked away to Agra’s Taj Mahal, the Red Fort and see the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fatehpur Sikri, “the City of Victory” which was the short-lived Mughal capital. Sign up for a Foodie Sherpa Tour with a personal hotel guide who introduces you to the local treats like Agra’s famous chaat and the aromas of the biryanis.
Overall Impression: Feel like a modern day Mughal Royal at this enchanting sustainable luxury property where personal butlers provide the most attentive service you will not find anywhere else. The lavish green setting with its symmetrical ponds and fountains emit more royal touches that add to the magic of this beautiful place. Take a break for a night, give time to yourself and spend a night here before you continue your India journey across the Golden Triangle.
You can make your reservations at the ITC Mughal website
For the ITC Mughal Rooms nightly rates start at $175 based on double occupancy. The Royal Mughal Suite is from $510 per night for two persons. Compare rates at Expedia.
Photography: Ilona Kauremszky and ITC Mughal, Agra
Ilona Kauremszky was a guest of ITC Hotels which did not review the story.