Eventually I'll get to an actual trip report, but I wanted to share a quick review of Castle & King, for those of you who are looking for guidance.
Just returned from a 12 day trip to the Golden Triangle organized by Castle & King, a tour operator based in New Delhi. I’d read about them from numerous sources on Fodor's and they’d always gotten good reviews for quality and cost effectiveness.
I knew what itinerary and most of the hotels I wanted and contacted Arvind, the owner, for costs and his recommendations for hotels when I wasn’t sure. He always responded in a very timely manner and often the hotel rates he could get were better than what I could get directly.
Based on prior reviews (mostly from Bob), I requested some specific guides and a driver and he met all my requests. We had the same driver throughout the trip, Krishna, and then picked up local guides as needed. The Toyota Innova that we used was in great condition, comfortable, and Krishna supplied cold water, soda and snacks, as needed. We were given the use of a cell phone with contact numbers in case of any problem or change in plans...very helpful to us!
Most times when we changed localities we were met by a company rep or tour guide who expedited our check-in process. We were always given a wonderful room or an outstanding table, the one time they made a dinner reservation for us. When we attended an evening dance performance in Udaipur, our guide walked us right past the long line to our seats and got us a great seat on the boat ride. In Agra, our guide knew when to get in line for the Taj Mahal so we got in before the crowds for a serene experience and had ideas for great photos.
All of the guides were knowledgeable,without being overwhelming with facts, personable, helpful and professional. Our driver, Krishna, drove excellently and safely in the chaos that is India’s traffic and was fun to talk to on our sometimes long drives or was quiet if we wanted to do something else.
Amazingly, Arvind booked all of our accommodations without requiring any money upfront, and we paid him at the end of the trip in New Delhi.
The price we paid was much less than if we’d booked through a high-end US tour operator and I feel the only thing we sacrificed was a fancy itinerary book. To give you an idea of where we stayed: Raas Haveli (Jodhpur); Devi Garh; Fateh Prakash (Udaipur); Shahpura Bagh; Samode Haveli (Jaipur); Oberoi Amarvilas (Agra); Leela Palace (New Delhi). Based on our experience, I would highly recommend Castle & King.
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