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7 of India’s most romantic spots

India may perhaps seem a place to be tackled, rather than somewhere to relax or romance, but we have had some of our most memorable moments with loved ones on the subcontinent. There is a wealth of places to escape to, whether for a honeymoon, anniversary or birthday celebration. What could be more passion-kindling than a private villa with a plunge pool overlooking the tranquil Arabian sea? Or indulging in the queen’s suite at a Rajasthan palace complete with alcoves and a thousand antique mirrors? We have handpicked some of our favourite destinations for an amorous getaway. SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace, Jaipur This rose-pink boutique palace in the heart of Jaipur will take your breath away. A delight for all the senses with no detail overlooked, SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace is the perfect choice for a romantic city break. Book the Maharani’s Apartment which overlooks the picture-perfect pool and has its own dining room as well as private butler and chauffeur. While in Jaipur, take in the glorious Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds, dine al fresco with peacocks at Bar Palladio and have a nightcap (or three) at the glamorous Baridari set in the royal palace. Raas Devigarh, Delwara Make for the hills and savour the first breathtaking glimpse of this converted 18th century Maharaja’s palace. Raas Devigarh is set like a jewel in a landscape reminiscent of Andalucía, just a 40-minute drive from the beautiful lake city of Udaipur. The presidential pavilion suite has a private pool and carved terrace overlooking the surrounding village. Watching a sunset here with a gin and tonic in hand, is a memory to long linger over. Each room is exquisitely designed, with joyful contemporary touches set off against the Rajput architecture. The menu is seasonal and largely sourced from the palace kitchen garden. Actress Liz Hurley was proposed to here and many celebrities have made the pilgrimage to this most discreet and heavenly of romantic retreats. Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur What could be more memorable than being whisked to your hotel in a canopied boat, complete with turbaned and white-gloved attendant? This deeply luxurious hotel is set across Lake Pichola from the ancient city of Udaipur, away from the bustle and a serene choice. From the arrival at the frescoed domed entrance (and showered with rose petals) to the candlelit terrace dining, each moment here is a joy. The Oberoi touch is as light as a feather and refined to perfection – prepare to be utterly seduced. We love the couples’ spa treatments, indulge in the ‘royal treasures’ signature therapy which culminates in a fragrant milk and rose petal bath. Fort Cochin, Kerala Fort Cochin is a fascinating place; Ampersand Director Ellie Boulstridge calls it ‘The Venice of the east’. A colonial heritage island off the coast of Kerala and the oldest European settlement in India, Cochin is a tranquil destination for a romantic getaway laced with history. Stay at the airy white-washed Brunton Boatyard hotel overlooking the waterfront. The rooms are enormous – soak in the bathtub while watching the lazy river traffic out of the shuttered windows and have your own Merchant Ivory moment. Days can be spent wandering through the tangle of flower-lined streets with Dutch and Portuguese villas and boutiques. The beach has ancient Chinese fishing nets and delicious fresh fish which can be cooked to order. Have dinner on the Taj Rice Boat restaurant and watch for dolphins gambolling in the sunset waters. Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu Another South Indian treasure, perched on the balmy Coromandal coast, Pondicherry is a kaleidoscope of pastel houses, carved verandas and Indo-French influences. Nicknamed the Indian ‘cote d’azure’ but decidedly more relaxed, Pondicherry has romance in spades. Make for the charming 19th-century manor house hotel, La Villa, with its six suites, swimming pool and tropical garden. The bedrooms are symphonies of teak wood, muted colours and crisp linens. Mornings can be spent exploring the Old French Quarter, look out for the blue enamelled street signs and policemen in red kepis, and enjoy café crème at the lovely Cafe des Arts. As the sun sets, experience dinner à deux in the fountain adorned courtyard of the 18th century Les Dupleix, former home of the mayor. PONDICHERRY The Bhuj House, Bhuj The setting of a love story across cultures – that of owner Jehan Bhujwala and his British wife, Katie, The Bhuj House, ancestral home of Jehan’s family, is run by the couple who live here along with their two children. Set in the Rann of Kutch and close to border with Pakistan, Bhuj is a fascinating frontier town with a strong craft heritage. The 19th century property is both wreathed in history and a vibrant family home. Guests dine in the outdoor Bougainvillea covered courtyard under the desert starred sky and enjoy delicious home cooked food – inspired by the family’s Parsi and Kutchi past. The atmosphere is simple but captivating with every textile and artefact telling a story. Explore the local area; rich bird life, lakes and salt plains are all to be found alongside tribal villages. The block printing or ‘ajrakh’ at Ismail Mohamed Khatri’s workshop in nearby Ajrakhpur is well worth a visit. Jalakara, Havelock Islands The Andaman & Nicobar Islands are an archipelago in the shimmering waters of the Bay of Bengal. The scattering of paradise islands are becoming a hot destination for in-the-know travellers seeking a romantic retreat. Azure waters, white sand and tropical jungle awaits here – ideally visited between December-April. JALAKARA Hailed by The Sunday Times Travel Magazine as ‘the coolest new hotel on the planet’, Jalakara on Havelock Island, owned by British couple Mark Hill and Atalanta Weller is a seven-room boutique property that perfectly captures the ‘eco-chic’ island spirit. For the last word in privacy, take the private villa clad wrapped in woven teak and cantilevered into the surrounding hill, other gorgeous choices include the Tower Room with its 360-degree panoramic views of the sea and distant islands. The aromatherapy massages are serenaded by birdsong and the fragrance of jasmine and sea-salted air – bliss! James Jayasundera is Founder and Managing Director of Ampersand Travel. Ampersand Travel create bespoke and luxurious travel experiences to Asia, the British Isles and Southern Africa. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

James Jayasundera

James Jayasundera is Founder and Managing Director of Ampersand Travel in London. Ampersand Travel is an award-winning tour operator specialising in tailor-made holidays to Asia and Africa. James was raised in Rome by a Sri Lankan diplomat father and British mother, and from an early age he was travelling throughout the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Although he loves comfort, he is not blinded by five-star luxuries – the Ampersand motto is “luxury is in the experience” and it is that indefinable quality that makes something special which James is always on the look-out for. James founded Ampersand Travel in 2003, and since then the company has developed an excellent reputation for in-depth knowledge of its destinations, candid and impartial opinions on hotels and locations and a formidable network of contacts within the industry and its destinations.

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  1. What a delight Pondicherry seems! It looks like such a cultural mélange. Your description of it as a relaxed Côte d’Azure is strongly drawing me to it.

  2. I love the pink glow of the SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace! Must be beautiful at dawn or dusk when the light is just right. The next time I’m in Jaipur, I’ll definitely be looking that one up!!

  3. Great post! We love the Bhuj house hotel and the amount of effort they have put into lovingly restoring the historic family home. Its great to see history being so well preserved through tourism. Havelock island is very much on our list for the future!

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