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Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Rathambore & ?

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We are just beginning to plan a two-week trip to India. I have spent a good deal of time reading numerous posts on itineraries, places to stay, etc. and have concluded that Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Rathambore are must-does for us as first timers. We will be using United FF miles to fly Business Class to Delhi on Star Alliance member Lufthansa from the east coast, USA. We are trying to put together a budget for this trip and it looks like the Imperial in Delhi and the Oberoi hotels (Vilas) for the other destinations are the way to go. I have the following questions:

1. The return flight departs Delhi at 3:15 AM (Uggh!). Is there a nice hotel near the airport where we can stay? Does anyone know what Lufthansa's business class lounge is like? I know that Lufthansa shares this lounge with other airlines but would it be a comfortable place to stay for several hours?

2. If we do 3 nights Delhi, 2 nights Agra, 3 nights Jaipur and 2 nights Rathambore, we feel we would have 3 additional nights to spend somewhere else. Udaipur? Any other suggestions? Alternatively, we could shorten our trip and/or spend another day in Delhi. We don't want to stay longer than 13 nights.

3. I have checked Asiahotels.com and the room selection appears to be rather limited (just standard rooms). I have also checked the Oberoi web site. It seems that in high season (between Nov. and March) we will pay on average $350-$450/night for a better room (or tent) at these hotels. Is this reasonable? Or can I do better by contacting the hotels directly? Is there a reliable discount hotel site that provides better room selection than asiahotels.com?

Thanks in advance for your help.

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    Sounds like a good plan so far. Here are my comments on your questions:

    1. There is a Radisson Hotel about 1 mile from the airport. I have not stayed there, but it opened about 2-3 years ago and seems nice from the public areas I have seen.

    Radisson Hotel Delhi
    NATIONAL HIGHWAY 8
    NEW DELHI
    tel: 91-11-2677919
    Radisson.com

    Alternatively, at that hour of the morning, traffic is really not bad, at it would take you at most 45 minutes to get to the airport from a city center hotel like the Imperial. Be warned, departure at New Delhi is an absolute zoo even that early in the morning, as most international flights depart between 1 ? 3 am.. You are going business class, so you will be somewhat better off, but get there at least 2.5 hours before your flight, as immigration/customs can take some time You have to show your ticket to get into the entrance doors. Also, when you enter the airport, people will be queued up for miles (at least it seems so) to have their baggage x-rayed, you can usually skip that if you are business class and it will be taken care of when you check in.

    Unless they have built a new first/business class lounge in the last 2 years, the lounge is very inadequate. It is basically a small restaurant with some couches, and as all the international flights are taking off at the same time, it gets very, very crowded, standing room only is not uncommon. (I did a lot of business in India until 2002, and spent way too much time in this very uncomfortable lounge.) No PC terminals, no place to plug in a laptop, no desks, just couches and some TVs. I would not plan on spending any time here. Others on this site may have been to the airport in the last 2 years and may be able to confirm if there is a new lounge.

    2. Everyone will have different opinions on your itinerary. I would personally suggest adding one more night in Jaipur as there is a lot to see and do, the shopping is great, and you could get into the outlying desert areas if you wanted, like toward the Samode Haveli hotel. If you like Ranthambore, maybe you can leave your options open to stay another night there. Udaipur is beautiful, but you really need to fly there, and with flight times, etc you may only end up having 2 days there, which might not be enough. You say you have 2 nights in Agra, but if you have less than 2 full days in Agra, you might want to add a night here. (Esp if it is a full moon, to see the Taj! Take a look at sunrisesunset.com for moon phases.) Also, to the best of my recollection, the Taj is closed on Fridays, so you would need to work this into your schedule if you had planned to be there on a Friday. You say you have 3 ninths in Delhi, but does that include the night you arrive (usually at 2 am in the morning?) If so, you might want to add 2 nights to Delhi at the end, so you can get in last minute shopping and/or just relax a bit before heading home.

    3. I would contact the hotels directly by fax or e-mail, and tell them what you have found on various websites. They should be able to match or better those prices (assuming the same rooms). You are going in the high season, so prices will be up. I am not aware of a discounter for the Oberois.

    I would also recommend having a hotel care (Imperial or other) meet you at the airport when you arrive. You will be arriving late in the night, to a strange country and airport, and you will be a target for touts wanting to carry your luggage, etc (perfectly safe just tiresome after a while?.) It is so worth the small extra expense to have someone waiting to take care of you and your luggage.

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    sameera_anand@hotmail.com

    Couple of suggestions.

    U could consider a night at the Neemrana Palace Fort Hotel - if u are driving del-Jaipur it is en route. it is actually on the airport road so check with them how far it is from the airport and whether they will give yoou a rate for a day room. radisson is a normal 5 star hotel, quite adequate in all respects.

    imperial is def the most unqiue del exp so stay with that.

    How are u doing Ranthambore? Ranthambore-Delhi is an excellent overnight train. Check which direc works with your itinerary. Will also give u the full day there and one less night to pay for. Trains in india if u book 1st class sleepers are comf.

    If Udaipur flts work for u consider it - then u will have done all of Rajasthan and your next trip india can focus on something else e.g. leh or kerala.

    i had suggested to someone else on this forum - if u want to try non vilas properties there is something called sher bagh in ranthambore which i have heard is even better than vanya vilas. u could also consider the samode properties in jaipur. stick to amar vilas in agra. if u do udaipur one option to udai vilas is devi garh fort palace. another boutique hotel and in its own way equally unique.

    the vilas properties do NOT aggregate rooms on any discount site and would rather go empty - when I stayed at udai vilas dec 2002 occupancy was 30%. if u want to bring prices down consider the option of booking some non vilas properties - i have mentioned a couple above. in that case u could do a meal at the vilas property to get an exp of the place. we did this in jaipur - went for lunch to raj vilas, they showed us around the whole place.

    if u want separate delhi shopping or restaurant tips e-mail me re what u are looking for.

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    hi,

    you can check out this new hotel near delhi airport known as "uppals orchid" its suppose to be a very good airport hotel.

    regarding the rates at the oberoi properties they do offer good deals the best way is to catch hold of a good local agent in india they have all the deals. i have stayed at rajvilas in nov 2002 and had got a fantastic deal through my agent in india. he does all my hotel booking whenever i visit they have an excellant service with good chauffer cars and english guides. if u need his name just write a mail to me i will send u his details

    regarding devigarh palace i recommend u not to go in for that hotel as it is away from the city almost 30kms and it is a bit difficult to go to the city now and then for sightseeing and shopping.
    it is much better to stay in the "lake palace" it is the only palace hotel in the world which is surrounded by water. and they have excellent service and is managed by the TAj hotels who are the leaders in indian hotel chain.

    ranthambore vanvillas is a very nice option and no other similar accomodation is available.

    agra amar villas is also the best hotel out there. however u may try mughal sheraton also a good option by not as posh as amarvilas.

    delhi imperial is a good option too. but if u are ready to go in for a moder hotel try Maurya Sheraton (ITC One rooms) they are just toooo good. i have stayed there and it is like a hotel in a hotel by itself. everything is personalised and all comfort are there in the room they even have a massage chair in every room. butler service, lounge , etc are just a few other features they give.

    if u need any other help from me just write back to me, i will give u as much as info i can as i have travelled to all these places.
    and to get the best bargaing catch a reliable local agent who has good rates for hotels.

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    I lived at ITC One for about 3 weeks straight when working on a project. I agree that it is very nice and luxurious, with large rooms, which gives it an advantage of the Oberoi, IMO . It is a great business hotel. My only objection as a tourist is that the hotel is not conveniently located, you will spend more time in taxis getting to where you want to be; i.e. where the Imperial is located. The Imperial is in a great location, turn right and you can walk to Raj Path and the Secretariat's buildings, turn left and you can walk to the fantastic Cottage Industries Emporium and on to Connaught Circus. I also like the colonial charm of the Imperial and its history.

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    Hello Craig..YOur trip planning so far looks very good. The Imperial is one of my favorite Hotels in Delhi, and is definately the most centrally located luxurious property..It is quite intimate, and exudes colonial charm!..Plus, it has great resturants and even a couple bars. It would be a wonderful place to start a Indian JOurney. In terms of your itinerary and the amount of time you have, I would be happy to help you plot and plan and make some suggestions..I have been to all the destinations mentioned and am intimately familiar with all properties, and the Oberoi Villas are absolutely beautiful. I also really love Udaipur, as it is different then all the other places you will be visiting, and there are both the UdaiVillas and the lake Palace Hotel which are beautiufl Properties, but as Cicerone mentioned, that would involve flying in and flying out..However, the flights are quite economical and two nights may be a worthy visit, if you have the time..Also, if you do not mind flying, you can also fly from AGRA to Varanasi and then back to Delhi, if that city sounds appealing to you..It is incredibly fscinating..About your flight home, all international flights leave at late hours, and it is really not a problem to get to the airport, 45 minutes-to one hour..Also, I imagine you will be comming back to Delhi via AGra, so tht would be another day and a half in Delhi, as i imagine you would not want to fly home the day you return from the road..There are a few airport Hotels, but probably much nicer to leave from a city Hotel!..Craig, i am a American woman who lives in Delhi and would be happy to help you so feel free to contact me at Dreamingofindia@aol.com I have been in and out of India for 15 years......Also, i do know some very good local Operators in Delhi who can definately assist you with all your your itinerary and definately get you much better prices at the Oberoi properties or any other....I would be happy to help with reccomendations.

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    I just got back from India (not that I can help much as I was there for only 6 nights, mainly to attend a cousin's wedding, visit my gran and do a little shopping.

    I am curious as to the number of nights given to Agra. Whilst the Taj Mahal is truly magnificent I can't imagine the need for 2 let alone 3 nights there.

    I'm thinking about planning a longer trip there in the next couple of years - Lake Palace in Udaipur is on my list.

    Would second suggestion for lots of time in Delhi and Jaipur, especially if you itend to shop!

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    I just returned from India and we stayed at the Radisson in Delhi the night before our departure. It's a beautiful hotel with very good restaurants and excellent service. However, the noise from the highway at night it horrible. The trucks make quite a racket honking horns and it doesn't let up. If you stay there (it's close to the airport) ask for a room facing away from the highway.

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