In January this year I fulfilled my dream of visiting the Taj Mahal in India. I travelled to Agra from Mumbai for a short trip with my husband and parents-in-law. To make the most of our three days in Agra we decided to book two nights at the Luxury Collection ITC Mughal Hotel.
Millions of visitors from India and all over the world travel to Agra every year to see the Taj Mahal. Many of them come for a day, but to spend just a few hours in the city would be a mistake. Agra has a lot more to offer for sightseeing, relaxation and food. Luxury 5-star resorts such as ITC Mughal have turned Agra into a sought-after destination for a relaxing break during your tours of India.
ITC Mughal is part of Starwood The Luxury Collection, a selection of unique hotels that span five continents, 60 cultural centers and seven centuries.
ITC Mughal is situated just outside Agra and just 2.5 miles from the Taj Mahal (10-15′ drive). Other city attractions, such as Agra Fort and Sadar Bazaar, are within a 5-minute drive.
The interiors of ITC Mughal are jaw-dropping gorgeous! They perfectly showcases the opulence and grandeur of the Mughal Dynasty that ruled over this part of India. The sandstones and brick exteriors and marble interiors take inspiration from Agra Fort and Taj Mahal and are a fitting tribute to the great Mughal builders of the past.
The ITC Mughal was awarded the prestigious Aga Khan Award for its excellent representation of Mughal architecture, the only Indian hotel to have ever won this.
I loved the beautiful executive lobby, decorated with marble, black and orange furniture. This lobby overlooking the front gardens is reserved to guests of the Royal Mughal Suites.
The hotel comprises of 233 rooms and suites elegantly appointed with wood and marble features. I stayed in one of the 45 Royal Mughal Suites (67 m2) which comprised on an entry corridor, living room, bedroom, walk-in wardrobe, and a bathroom with bathtub and shower.
My suite was huge and beautifully furnished in a modern, yet elegant and warm style. I loved the embroided cushions and carpets, the dark wood coffee table and the silver light pendants on the side of the bed.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of in-room amenities offered by ITC Mughal, such as eye mask, pillow spray, extensive selction of toiletries, bathrobes and slippers, French press cafetiere and Sunbean gourmet coffee, free bottled water, free newspaper and turndown service.
ITC Mughal is surrounded by 35 acres of luxurious gardens, something you woulnd’t necessarily guess at first as most of the greenery is located at the back of the hotel.
My husband and I went for a little wonder one afternoon and found this secret spot on top of one of the towers. There was a swing to sit on and a great view of the Taj Mahal!
There are several outdoor swimming pools scattered around the vast gardens of the ITC Mughal, I am not even sure I saw them all. We got a bit lost around the courtyards and gardens and secret towers of the property.
It was too cold in January to use these pools, so we booked a visit to the hotel spa instead!
ITC Mughal has a full-service spa, Kaya Kalp The Royal Spa, the largest spa in India at over 99,000 square feet. There are channels of running water, fountains and outdoor rain water showers and interiors decorated with stone latticework, mother of pearl, inlay and mirror work, in true Mughal style.
My husband and I tried the 60-minute Kaya Kalp Massage, the spa’s signature relaxation treatment done with aroma-therapy and a blend of essential oils personalized to your specific needs. We first used the spa pool and sauna and then we had the massages at the same time in the couple’s treatment room. It was absolutely blissfull (I even heard my husband snoring at one point)!
Entrance to Kaya Kalp and use of the spa pool, steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi is free of charge for residents of the Royal Mughal Suites or to any guests who book a treatment (highly recommended)!
ITC Mughal offers several dining options, buffet and A La Carte, catering for all of their guests’ needs. I had dinner both nights at the Mughal Pavilion, an all-day buffet restaurant serving Indian and International cuisine.
The Indian food I ate at the ITC Mughal was probably the highlight of my stay. The first night we ordered from the restaurant’s menu, choosing some the local Agra specialities recommended by our waiter. Even my parents-in-law, who are usually picky with restaurant food being so used to homecooked Gujarati food, loved it.
The second night we indulged in traditional meal of the city of Agra: a 9-course tasting menu cooked especially for us by the Head Chef Rajvir. As I was travelling with my parents-in-law, we requested fully vegetarian dishes. Some of the highlights of our wonderful meal at ITC Mughal:
The hotel also offers a lounge bar overlooking one of the outdoor pools; an all day lobby cafe (Maikhana Bar) serving light fare, coffee and afternoon tea; Peshawari restaurant serving Northwestern Indian cuisine for lunch and dinner. I tried Peshawari at ITC Maratha in Mumbai and it was absolutely fantastic, so I am sure the quality at the Agra hotel is the same.
Like everything else, also the breakfast at ITC Mughal did not disappoint. Served at the Mughal Pavilion, guests can choose between the large buffet of continental and Indian food, and the A La Carte menu. They offer a number of signature breakfast dishes such as Eggs Benedict and the Waffle & Fried Eggs. I enjoyed them, but not as much as the Indian food.
My favourite was the traditional Agra style breakfast with pumpkin curry, pickles, poori (unleavened deep-fried bread) and this amazing radish paratha.
ITC Mughal is one of the most stunning hotels I have ever been too. Every single one of our needs was taken care of by our butler and by the amazing staff of the hotel (taxi transfers, Taj Mahal tour, restaurant and spa bookings, etc.). I have never felt so spoilt and looked after by a hotel before!
The food was fantastic, from the buffet dinner to the breakfast to the fine dining set menu dinner we had on our last night. The hotel also organises bespoke food tours of Agra, Food Sherpa Trails, for which I am going to share a blog post about soon.
I highly recommend staying at the ITC Mughal during your visit to Agra, India.
Stay in a Mughal room at ITC Mughal, Agra from £148 per night based on two people sharing. For more information, please visit the hotel website.