6 Breathtaking Boutique Stays

These stunning boutique resorts Across India offer great views, immersive local experiences and all the Luxuries you would want on a vacation
The Royal Heritage Suite in Bari Kothi is adorned with antique furniture and plush fabrics
The Royal Heritage Suite in Bari Kothi is adorned with antique furniture and plush fabricsCourtesy: Bari Kothi

Bari Kothi

There are few places that have the uncanny ability to sweep you off your feet and plop you into the past. Bari Kothi in Azimganj, West Bengal, aces that. Located four hours from Kolkata, the property stands as the symbol of a unique period in Bengal's history, when Murshidabad used to serve as a global trade centre in the 1700s. During this period, many business families from Rajasthan migrated to Murshidabad, adopting the name "Sheherwalis," meaning "city dwellers." The Dudhorias, who built the Bari Kothi in 1774, were one of them. Even then, the Kothi was a structure of remarkable beauty, finding mentions in seminal works, such as the "Musnud of Murshidabad" (1704-1904) and the famous "Cyclopedia of India" (1908). However, after the British took over and Murshidabad began losing its glory to become "the Forgotten Wealth Capital of the World," Bari Kothi and other mansions were abandoned and left to decay. It was only in 2015 that Darshan Dudhoria and Lipika Dudhoria, the seventh generation of Rai Bahadur Budh Sing Dudhoria, decided to restore the mansion to its former glory.

The Space

The Dudhoria siblings never considered converting Bari Kothi into a boutique stay. "We only decided to turn it into a stay after we received appreciation from a few international guests who had stopped by to witness the restoration process of the first block," says Darshan. Throughout the five years of the restoration process, the siblings and architect Dr Samar Chandra teamed up with members of the local community to resurrect the Kothi. "Maintaining authenticity and utilising traditional materials were central principles of the restoration project," explains Darshan.

Currently, the property houses 15 suites adorned with 250-year-old antique furniture, wood beamed ceilings and carved archways. In addition, Bari Kothi also boasts three gardens, seven courtyards, and five dining areas.


The Sheherwali cuisine is as rich as its 300-year-old history, and across Bari Kothi's three dining halls—Zareen Mahal, Darbar Hall, and Naubat Khana—you can taste its authentic flavours. The all-vegetarian cuisine is distinct for its unique blend of Rajasthani culinary tradition and Bengali ingredients.


Bari Kothi offers up to 50 curated experiences. Opt for a guided tour of the region and visit the Charbangla terracotta temple, Hazarduari, and the local markets. Guided morning walks take you through the other havelis nearby (such as the Nowlakha Kothi, Rajbari, Singhi Kothi, Marble Palace) and the Jain temples.

Tariff: From INR 17,000 per night (not inclusive of experiences/excursions)

Getting There: Fly or take a train to Kolkata and then embark on a four-hour drive.

Website: barikothi.com

The private villa is ideal for large groups
The private villa is ideal for large groupsCourtesy: Kahani Paradise

Kahani Paradise

Gokarna may not come to mind when you think of a family holiday, but this home turned boutique property might just make you want to reconsider. Located in the south on a hilltop and overlooking Om Beach, Kahani Paradise emerges out of the lush greenery like a gem. Its imposing architecture is almost impossible to ignore.

The estate spans 20 acres, but for Anthony Bellm, the man behind Kahani Paradise, the vision was to make it feel like a “home away from home.”

“I want the guests to feel at ease. Kahani Paradise has been designed to exude ultimate luxury, but it is not meant to feel stuck up. I want people to feel relaxed when they go back from here,” says Bellm. With only greenery stretching out for miles, unique bird species as regular visitors, and stunning views, the villa ensures exactly that.

Enjoy yoga in the great outdoors
Enjoy yoga in the great outdoors

The Space

The property, which houses six rooms that open up to spectacular views, was designed by Philip Sybon. Talking about what served as inspiration, Bellm says, “We worked very closely together, and it was a collaboration from the very beginning. Our idea was to fuse Thai and Konkan architectural styles, and that is prevalent throughout the estate.”

In Kahani Paradise, each suite follows a unique theme and houses accents and antiques collected from all over the world. From vintage magazines to a Naga boat that has been repurposed into a coffee table to woodcarved Gujarati stallions, Kahani Paradise boasts an eclectic mix of things that will pique your interest. However, the ultimate showstopper is the view of the confluence of the river and the sea that can be seen from every room.


The food at Kahani Paradise is comforting yet indulgent. Expect to be treated to lavish spreads for all three meals, and if you have any special requests, the kind staff is ever-ready to rustle up something for you. The Gokarna-style coconut fish curry is a proven hit.


Gokarna presents a unique mix of experiences that cater to the likes of every travel lover. Visit the nearby Paradise and Om Beach, where you can try water sports like kayaking. The estate also lets you rent their vintage Royal Enfield or Jeep that you can take into the town and explore the many temples, the most notable being the Mahabaleshwar Temple, a 4th-century CE Hindu temple.

Within the property, you must treat yourself to a massage by the in-house therapist or ask the staff to guide you to their “secret spot” where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the sunset or simply spend time in the plunge pool while enjoying a glass of champagne.

Tariff: From INR 15,000 per night

Getting There: To reach the property, fly to either Mopa Airport in Goa, Hubli Airport or Mangalore Airport. From Goa and Mangalore, it takes approximately four hours by car and from Hubli, it takes three-and-a-half hours.

Website: kahaniparadise.com

The Garden Suite at Jalakara
The Garden Suite at JalakaraCourtesy: Jalakara


Imagine waking up to swaying palm trees, the sound of the ocean waves, and a faint birdsong in the distance. In Jalakara, on Havelock Island in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, it is a regular day.

Years ago, when Mark Hill and Atalanta Weller came across an abandoned banana and betel nut plantation while exploring the quiet bylanes of the island, the couple knew they found just the right place for their “off-grid paradisical hideaway,” as Hill likes to put it.

While the Island will please an adventurist, Jalakara is just the right place to be if you want to unwind. The rooms don’t have WiFi and audio-visual entertainment options. “We want our guests to feel re-energised by their stay at Jalakara and leave with a renewed lust for life. Our name means “the source” in Sanskrit—and we want the property to be the source of happy memories and rejuvenation,” says Hill.

Enjoy beautiful sunset views by the pool
Enjoy beautiful sunset views by the pool

The Space

The property housing three rooms, three suites and one private villa, is an ode to the natural beauty surrounding the property. Designed by the celebrated Indian architect Ajith Andagere and inspired by the works of Geoffrey Bawa and Oscar Niemeyer, each room is spacious and airy, reflecting the aesthetics of “tropical modernism” brilliantly. “We wanted to blur the lines between the interiors and the outside—so open-to-sky showers, tropical prints, and well-furnished, expansive verandahs are common throughout,” says Hill.


Hill’s training as a chef shines through in Jalakara’s unique culinary offerings. “We have designed a menu that is truly an island-to-table gastronomic experience with l tropical ingredients gathered from the forest; spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables that we grow at the property and ultra-fresh seafood,” says Hill.


You can go snorkelling at the nearby Radhanagar, Elephant and Turtle beaches. You can also take a boat trip around the uninhabited island of Ritchies Archipelago and to the Rani Jhansi Marine Nature Reserve. The staff at Jalakara can also arrange for guided forest walks through Havelock’s rainforest.

Tariff: Rooms from INR 19,000; suites from INR 26,500; the private villa from INR 49,000

Getting There: Flights to Port Blair are available daily from major cities. Havelock Island is 90 minutes away by ferry from Port Blair. The last boats from Port Blair leave at 2 pm, so book flights accordingly.

Website: jalakara.info

Listen to bird song and savour the richness of nature at Amaya
Listen to bird song and savour the richness of nature at AmayaCourtesy: Amaya


Having grown up in Chandigarh, the sukoon of the hills was always a few hours' drive away for Deepak Gupta, the man behind Amaya. While corporate life took him to different places, Gupta’s yearning for the peace and quiet of the hills only got stronger, prompting him to set up Amaya.

The 10-room boutique property is ensconced in a 20-acre terraced forest in Darwa, Himachal Pradesh. "I wanted to create a space where people have to deliberately slow down and think about the life they are leading. I want guests to truly relax, spend time in nature, and have a good meal.”

The Space

When it came to finding somebody who could articulate Gupta's vision, renowned architect Bijoy Jain was his pick. Having won various accolades for sustainable architecture, Jain, who had never created a resort before, intuitively understood Amaya’s essence. “My brief to Jain was to build a space where if I evacuate everything in 40 years, nature should be able to take over,” says Gupta. Keeping this in mind, Jain built Amaya using only local materials—from local stone and wood to handcrafted copper roofs. While the walls are made of stone, Jain invited Reudi Kerbs to finish with lime plaster, an ancient technique preserved by the Swiss artisan himself.

For the decor, Gupta and Jain harnessed interior design elements from all over the world to strike the perfect balance of luxury minimalism. Gupta describes Amaya’s 10 spacious villas as “Japanese ryokan, combined with the Scandinavian minimalist design.”


Like all things at Amaya, the food finds its roots in simplicity. “I believe that if you want to be truly sustainable, food should not travel. So, I wanted to create a food programme that is seasonal and truly fine dining,” says Gupta, who partnered up with renowned chef Prateek Sadhu to curate a menu that fused global techniques—from French to Japanese—and locally grown ingredients. While most of the produce is grown on-site, anything that is not is sourced from around the region—be it vegetables and fruits from a farm in Solan or cheese from a venture started by an Indo-French couple in Mashobra, everything is traceable to its point of origin.

Though you can start your day with sourdough bread baked in-house and enjoy freshly plucked fruits—from mulberry to figs to pears, the traditional Himachali Dham experience at Amaya stands out. “We call in expert cooks from different parts of Himachal who specialise in making particular dishes in the Dham, and the complete meal is cooked outdoors in old copper utensils on a firepit. We set up seating right next to it, overlooking the dense forests, to give our guests the complete traditional experience,” says Gupta.


If you are interested in culinary experiences, you can opt for a horticulture workshop or relish a 12 to 14-course spread curated by Amaya Test Kitchen and treat yourself to a meal at Prateek Sadhu’s newest offering, Naar, which is located within the property. If you want to explore the region, you can go on a guided village walk, sunrise/sunset hike or a two-hour guided walk to Gamber River.

Tariff: From INR 30,000 per night

Getting There: Fly into Chandigarh or take a train to Chandigarh Junction and take a cab.

Website: theamayalife.com

Left and right: Have a royal rendezvous at Sawantwadi Palace
Left and right: Have a royal rendezvous at Sawantwadi PalaceCourtesy: Sawantwadi Palace

Sawantwadi Palace

Sawantwadi Palace—a boutique art hotel located in Sindhudurg, Maharashtra, was built between 1755 and 1803. The palace still exudes the grandeur of the past but with a contemporaneity instilled by the young couple—Yuvrani Shraddha Lakham Sawant Bhonsle and Yuvraj Lakham Sawant Bhonsle—who helmed the palace’s restoration.

“The process of converting the palace into a hotel began in 2019 when Lakham and I got married. Since we met at the Culinary Institute of America, we had an understanding of the hospitality industry,” says Shraddha. The couple brought their passion for culinary arts to turn the property into India’s first-ever chef-owned palace hotel.

The Space

Across most palace stays, the legacy of the reigning family is the axis around which everything revolves. But in Sawantwadi Palace, the royal family has let the region’s legacy in art shine.

While one part of the palace continues to be the royal family’s residence, the Taisaheb Wada, built by Raghunath Sawant in the 1800s for the five queens of Sawantwadi, was chosen to be converted into a boutique hotel after being shut for almost 30 years.

When the restoration process of the wada began, Lakham and Shraddha discovered antiques dating back centuries that now adorn the six suites and the pathway leading up to it.

The six suites uses Ganjifa art to represent the various avatars of Vishnu. “Ganjifa originated in Persia and so the art on it represented the King and his court. When it was brought to India in the 16th century, the art was adapted to depict the story of Vishnu’s many avatars,” says Shraddha.


“We are very emotional about food and so our menu is extensive. From Konkan food to Japanese and Korean-inspired tasting menus, we do everything,” says Shraddha. “A must-try is the Sawantwadi Special eggs benedict (a croissant topped with poached eggs, coconut chilli chutney and dry curry leaves chutney). For lunch, we recommend our Konkan thaali.”


Opt for a private Ganjifa art workshop where you can learn to create your own playing cards or connect with the royals over tea. Go for a picnic at Amboli Ghat, visit the home of a Sawantwadikar to enjoy a traditional homemade meal, and take an excursion to Chitari (famous for pangara wooden toys).

Tariff: From INR 15,000 per night

Getting There: Fly into Mopa Airport in Goa and take a private taxi to Sawantwadi. The closest railway junctions are Mumbai, Pune and Mangalore.

Website: sawantwadipalace.com

The Palace has an in-house monastery
The Palace has an in-house monasteryCourtesy: Stok Palace

Stok Palace

If Ladakh is on your wishlist this summer, take the experience a notch above by going a little ahead of Leh and booking a stay at the 200-year-old Stok Palace. The Palace, belonging to the Namgyal Dynasty, was built by Ladakhi craftsmen in 1820. Situated atop a hill and overlooking the Singey Sangpo valley, the Palace still exudes a silent power that once echoed throughout the region and even Nepal.

While the Palace continues to be home to the current royal members of the 400-year-old dynasty, a part of the heritage building was restored and opened up to visitors in 2007 by HRH, HRH Gyalpo Jigmed Wangchuk Namgyal.

One of the rooms inside Stok Palace
One of the rooms inside Stok Palace

The Space

The Stok Palace Hotel is made up of six restored suites located in the heritage building and three large villas that are spread within the palace grounds, hidden by the surrounding apricot, walnut, and willow trees. However, it is in the former that you are truly transported to the past through the original frescoes and the vernacular architecture that have been painstakingly preserved through the ages.

"I first started offered one room and, based on the response, went on to develop the other suites. I wanted to retain the space's authentic charm so that the guests could relive the past," says Namgyal. But that is not all; Namgyal also wanted to ensure that the Palace is preserved in a way that communicates the importance of understanding vernacular architecture.

"Since Ladakh is a dry and arid place, stone and wood are primary materials that work well. However, as the shelf life for everything here is so little, I wanted to show that something like the Stok Palace can survive hundreds of years," says Namgyal.


Stok Palace keeps you rooted in the region through authentic Ladakhi dishes made by following heirloom recipes. The traditional kitchen takes you beyond the usuals, like Thukpa, to treat you to special creations like namthuk, gyathuk, skyu, paba with tsimek and phemar—they are also all made with locally grown ingredients.


Visit the Palace's Buddhist Temple and witness the resident monks' enchanting evening and morning prayer rituals. You must also visit the Palace Museum, which houses an extensive collection of costumes, jewellery dating back thousands of years ago, artefacts and household antiques. You can also see the Royal Throne Room, which is usually out of bounds for day visitors. In addition, the team at Stok Palace are happy to arrange a guided village tour for you, where you can interact with the locals and learn about their sustainable way of living.

Tariff: From INR 20,000 per night

Getting There: The Stok Palace is located about 20 km from Leh Airport, so the best option is to fly into Leh and then hire a private taxi to the hotel. The drive usually lasts up to 45 minutes.

Website: stokpalaceheritage.com

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