India was our first long-haul flight. We were in transit for almost 20 hours each way and stayed in six different hotels while in the country (was supposed to be seven plus a night in the desert but as we mentioned in Our First Trip to India – Part 2, we had to rework the latter part of the trip due to illness).
We flew Emirates Airlines and have to say hands down this is one of the best airlines we’ve ever flown! We’ve long heard that some foreign carriers put American carriers to shame when it comes to experience and if this is any indicator, we agree! On the way there we flew coach, which really wasn’t bad at all. ICE in-flight entertainment was great, there was pretty good leg room and the plane and crew were extremely friendly. They kept us fed and comfortable the whole time.
On the way back, we traveled Business Class.
Now this has been a bucket list item for Cheril for years! She saw an ad for Emirates business and first class when we were in our 20s, ripped out the page and determined that she was going to be one of those smiling people one day! And so…we went for it. And it was EXCEPTIONAL! lol. Check out a few photos and a short video below.
Giant pod seats that change into three positions including a bed. This totally beats our American Airline’s First Class experience – not so much in service as both crews were great, but as far as looks and comfort. This is the way to go if you can!
The food and drinks seemed to keep coming the whole flight, along with warm towels before meals to clean our hands. The Bvlgari toiletry kit (partially pictured) was a nice touch, especially since on such long flights you do want to freshen up from time to time. If you’re going to spend almost an entire day on a plane, this is definitely the way to do it if you can!
Our Choice of Hotels
Radisson Blu Hotel New Delhi Dwarka – Our first stop – decent hotel even if we did have to drive over a dirt road to get to it. Nice service as was the case with every stay. This was a good, middle of the road choice to ease us into India. Check out a short vid of the bathroom, which was reminder that in some places, especially if it was one more for locals than tourists, were going to have a different set up as far as the toilet. (All of our hotel choices did, but some restaurants and mall bathrooms had the traditional “squat toilet,” which is basically a hole in the floor that you squat over before washing your bum and moving on. lol Logically it sounds like it might be cleaner—but that’s only if it’s not a PUBLIC bathroom, so um No Thanks to that experience.
Below is a pic of a squat toilet, which was what was available in the airport when Cheril had to go.
Ladies, this is where planning ahead comes in handy. There was no way I, Cheril, was going to use that toilet with the provided BAR soap to clean myself. One, I’m not trying to figure out how good my aim is in that position. Two, I DON’T KNOW HOW MANY OTHER PEOPLE TOUCHED THAT SOAP, and three. I just wasn’t interested—but I WAS prepared with this HANDY device that allows women to go while standing up. I think it’s really for camping but whatever. I had it on me in case I got into this predicament and yes, I went standing up!
Back to the hotels.
Next we stayed at the, Golden Tulip Amritsar, which was fine considering it was only bout $50/night.
And then there was the Tavisha Hotel, which we ended up not liking so much because of mosquitos in the room.
At this point was decided to forget about being economical (this too was less than $100 per night – and to be honest, there are places and hostels that people who travel on a tight budget choose but that’s not the route that’s right for us). It was worth trying the mid-level hotels for the price, however, but we have zero interest in anything less. What’s the point of going there with a strong dollar and not at least trying to take advantage of it?
Next up was the The Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Road, which was where we stayed after our day at the Taj Mahal.
Now we’re talking. This hotel was on beautiful grounds and was a nice reprieve from the madness that is Agra, India. Like the last two hotels during our stay, the grounds were in complete contrast to the poverty that was outside its gates. This was a very odd dynamic that we never got used to.
We had one more hotel that was okay (Cheril booked everything in advance on Hotels.com [every 10 stays gets you a free night]), which was the Royal Orchid Central Jaipur. Jaipur was probably the the one city that we wished we had more time to explore. If we ever go back to this part of India we’ll definitely spend more time there.
The Jai Mahal Palace was next on the list and it was fabulous!
Every single staff member we spoke to treated us like we were the most important people who walked in that day. The grounds were immaculate and they even had antique cars that they let you take a little spin in around the property.
This was also the weekend of Holi festivities so we were able to partake on the Palace grounds with our friend, other guests and staff.
The last stop, which we mentioned in our last post was The Oberoi, New Delhi. This was the perfect place to end our stay in India. In fact, between the amazing food, attentive staff, gorgeous grounds and poolside yoga classes with birds soaring above us, we didn’t want to leave. This is a chain that will be our preference going forward if it’s available.
Not to mention it came with a floor butler, which we haven’t had since we got married at Oheka Castle. Being the big kid she is, Cheril couldn’t help but push the button first.
All in all that’s our stay! Hopefully these tidbits gave some insight for your trip planning if you decide to visit India.
Until next time,
Cheril and Monica