Family Hotel Review: Oberoi Amarvillas, Agra, India
Boasting views of the Taj Mahal that would make Shah Jahan proud is this magical hotel belonging to The Oberoi group.
Best For: Rooms with a view; kids of all ages
Reviewed by: Katja Gaskell
Why You’ll Love It
Boasting views of the Taj Mahal that would make Shah Jahan proud is this magical hotel belonging to The Oberoi Group. Set within a whimsical landscape of terraced lawns, bubbling fountains and Moorish pavilions, the Obveroi Amarvilas provides a luxurious escape just metres away from India’s most famous monument.
The palatial interiors showcase the region’s artistic heritage as well as the expertise of local craftsmen; gold leaf patterns decorate the walls and ceilings alongside delicately carved jaali screens inspired by those found at the Taj. There’s a wonderful swimming pool, a holistic spa, two very good restaurants and a lobby lounge serving tea and a bar serving very good G&Ts.
But the truth is, the Mughal-inspired architecture and lavish interior design play second fiddle to the views, which are sublime. Here, all the bedrooms and suites, the lobby, bar and lounge area and even the swimming pool and spa enjoy unobstructed views of the Taj Mahal. Like we said, views fit for a Mughal Emperor.
Why The Kids Will Love It
As with many of the Oberoi hotels, Amarvilas excels at being a luxury property that also welcomes children. From the complimentary baby product kit and charming wooden cots to kiddie sized slippers and dressing gowns, and the personalised gooey cakes delivered to your room at tea time, children are very well looked after here.
The columns and arches at one of end of the swimming pool make for a fantastic place to play and colourful Rajasthani umbrellas provide shade for drinking milkshakes.
But the main drawcard is the location. Positioned just 600 metres from the entrance to the Taj Mahal you really couldn’t be any closer to Agra’s main attraction – perfect for sightseeing-weary kids!
The Oberoi Amarvilas has 102 beautifully appointed rooms and suites all with views of the Taj Mahal.
As you might expect, the rooms are extremely elegant with wooden furniture and kingsize beds with hand-embroidered headboards.
All guest rooms come with the following amenities: LCD TV, DVD player, satellite television, wired and wireless broadband internet access, a separate walk-in wardrobe with electronic safe, a personal mini-bar and complimentary Ayurvedic bathroom products. A personalised butler service is also available.
Premier Room: These base category rooms come with Burma Teak flooring, teak armoires and enormous marble bathrooms (with both bathtub and separate shower cubicle).
Premier Rooms with Balcony: For sundowners overlooking the Taj Mahal, these premier rooms are a good option thanks to their private open-air terrace.
Deluxe Suite: The suites come with a separate living room with sofa, coffee table and writing desk. Both the living room and bedroom overlook the landscaped gardens and the Taj Mahal.
Luxury Suite: Located on the top floor of the hotel, these suites enjoy a private entrance foyer, separate living room, a seated dining room and a spacious bedroom with a four-poster bed.
Kohinoor Suite: Soak in the tub and soak up the views in this regal suite positioned on the 5th floor. The Kohinoor has its own entrance foyer, a large living room, dining room, study and spacious bedroom. All rooms enjoy breath-taking views of the Taj Mahal. In fact, the bathroom of the Kohinoor Suite offers one of the hotel’s best Taj views! The suite also has a pantry and interconnecting twin-bedded room for families.
Best rooms for families: Only one extra bed is allowed per room providing that the child is under 12 years of age; children above the age of 12 will be required to take a separate room (an extra bed will not be provided for anyone over the age of 12).
Two children up to 8 years of age can stay in their parents’ room without an additional charge, however only one extra bed will be allocated. If you have two children aged between 8 and 12 then an additional room is also necessary and the rate of this room will be 50% of the parent’s applicable room rate.
There are no inter-connecting rooms but the Kohinoor Suite has interconnecting twin-bedded rooms. Amarvilas provides baby cots.
The two restaurants at Amarvilas are the Bellevue and Esphahan. Bellevue is the main restaurant and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring international and Indian cuisine.
The Esphahan is the hotel’s speciality Indian restaurant and is open for dinner only in two seatings; 7pm and 9.30pm.
Breakfast is served in the Bellevue restaurant and is fantastic. Enjoy a generous buffet of hot and cold dishes with both western and Indian meals available. Freshly baked breads and pastries, cold cuts, fresh fruit and homemade yoghurts, smoothies and more are all offered. An a la carte menu is also available.
Lunch is served in the Bellevue or outside near the pool area and is a choice of Indian or international cuisine. The food is vey, very good.
Afternoon tea is served in the lounge.
For Kids: There is a dedicated children’s menu offering soups, spring rolls, salads, mini hamburgers, toasted cheese sandwiches, pasta, fish fingers, chicken nuggets and more. A 24-hour in-room dining menu is available.
Activities for Parents:
Soak up views of the Taj Mahal; from your room, the lounge, the swimming pool and finally in person when you visit India’s most famous monument.
Lie by the pool and enjoy the complimentary iced fruit before cooling off in cobalt blue waters.
Indulge at the Oberoi Spa with any one of the many holistic treatments on offer; make sure to ask for a treatment room on the fourth floor with views of the Taj.
Unwind with a yoga lesson. The hotel offers beginner to advanced classes in addition to three-day rejuvenating Ayurveda and yoga programmes.
Visit the majestic Agra Fort and later the ghost town of Fatehpur Sikri, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Activities for Kids:
Splash, swim and play hide-and-seek among the columns of the hotel’s magical swimming pool.
Marvel at the magnificent Taj Mahal, which took more than 1,000 elephants and 22,000 workers almost 22 years to build.
Enjoy the plentiful supply of personalised biscuits and yummy cakes delivered to your door daily.
Enjoy a tonga (horse and cart) ride around Agra or find a friendly camel to carry you around instead.
Discover the tower where Emperor Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son at Agra Fort; just what did he do every day?
Air-conditioning, babysitting, common rooms, baby cots, doctor on call, the nearest hospital is 7 km away, 1 extra bed permitted per room, kids’ dining menu, laundry service, pushchair-friendly, shop, spa, swimming pool, wheelchair access, WiFi.
Rates vary considerably according to room type and date of travel. They generally start from approximately INR 41,000 / night. Please contact the hotel directly for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.
When to go:
The best time to visit is from November to February when the city enjoys sunny skies and daily temperatures of around 24C.
December and January can be chilly with temperatures dropping to 7C. Fog is not uncommon around this time as well.
From March onwards the mercury begins to rise and the summer months of May and June see temperatures reaching 40C and beyond.
The monsoon rains fall from July to August resulting in marginally cooler temperatures but high humidity.
The Taj Mahal is closed to visitors every Friday.
Location & Travel:
The Oberoi Amarvillas is approximately 3km from the Taj Mahal in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Commercial flights to Agra’s Kheria Airport have long been suspended. At the time of writing only charter flights are available.
The main railway station is the Agra Cantonment station. From Delhi, the shatabdi (express) trains take approximately two hours.
The Taj Express trains take approximately 3 hours although it’s not uncommon for trains to be delayed along this route.
Numerous trains ply the tracks between Delhi and Agra but you should still book tickets well in advance. A recently opened high-speed rail link now connects Agra with Jaipur.
Agra is 190 km from Delhi and a good drive takes 2.5 hours to the outskirts of Agra on the excellent Yamuna Express road. However, Agra is a very congested city, so we advise leaving at least 3.5 hours if you are driving to the airport for example.
Tip: Leave Delhi/Agra early (i.e. no later than 7am) to avoid rush hour.