The Oberoi Amarvilas: A Palatial Luxury Hotel with Taj Mahal Views

by Sash
a pool in a hotel

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The Oberoi Amarvilas Hotel is a stunning, palatial luxury hotel in Agra, India. Inspired by a traditional Mughal palace design, it is the only hotel that offers breathtaking Taj Mahal views from every room. With beautiful gardens, green terraced lawns, majestic fountains, reflection pools, and pavilions, the Oberoi Amarvilas looks like it was taken right out of a storybook.

During our week in India, we visited Agra to see the Taj Mahal, a historic monument my daughter was eager to see. The Oberoi Amarvilas was our base in Agra, a splurge that was worth the money.  This review shares my 1-night experience at one of the most luxurious hotels in India. It is the 7th part of a series covering my recent trip to Singapore, Thailand, India, and the UAE.

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Oberoi Amarvilas – History

The Taj Mahal, one of the most beautiful buildings in the world was erected by India’s Shah Jahan in 1631, in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth.   Crafted from shimmering white marble that is domed and minareted, the Taj Mahal has inspired the awe of generations of travelers, writers, and artists. It is the reason for most visits to Agra if not India itself.

a large white building with a dome and a pool of water with Taj Mahal in the backgroundThe Oberoi Group, which owns and operates luxury hotels in Asia, Australia, and Africa, challenged architects to build a hotel on 9 acres of land located 600 meters from the Taj Mahal.  The hotel was required to be a haven for guests and would embody the exotic grandeur of the Taj Mahal while lapping them in luxury and serenity.

a pool surrounded by green grass and trees

The Oberoi Amarvilas, source:

The result is a hotel that is just as romantic and dreamlike in its own right, connecting itself to the spirit of the Taj Mahal at every opportunity.

a building with a dome and a garden

The Oberoi Amarvilas, source:

Oberoi Amarvilas – Booking

I booked the Oberoi Amarvilas under a Virtuoso rate and received the following benefits:

  • Guaranteed upgrade to a Premier Room with Balcony
  • Complimentary Breakfast
  • One complimentary lunch
  • Daily fruits
  • Early check-in by 10:00 and late check-out until 16:00
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability

Booking Virtuoso rates are excellent because elite-type benefits are given without being an elite member of the hotel’s reward program. Plus, Virtuoso rates generally do not cost more than a regular rate.

If you have never heard of Virtuoso, it is a leading global network of agencies specializing in luxury and experiential travel.  Virtuoso is partnered with many of the world’s best travel companies and independent travel advisors who can use their personal connections and firsthand expertise to craft bespoke trips for clients, including unique experiences, complimentary perks, VIP treatment, and rare access.

a logo with a red line

A Virtuoso travel advisor elevates every trip. They know how to get the best value for your time and money, and, thanks to their global connections, they can VIP you at hotels, on cruise lines, on tours, and more.  

As with my Bangkok Four Seasons and Taj Lake Palace bookings, I booked The Oberoi Amarvilas through The Luxury Traveller. Jarvis Marcos, the founder, has built relationships with many exclusive luxury hotels worldwide and is highly recommended by my peers.  He certainly assisted in making our stay extra special.

The room cost was 62,000 INR (~750 USD) / night.

This may be understandably expensive for many, including myself.  However, the opportunity to experience such a fine hotel with stellar Indian hospitality could not be passed on. Plus, I offset the cost using my Scotia Scene Points.

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Oberoi Amarvilas – Arrival and Check-in 

a gate with flowers on the side of it

Hotel Entrance, source: Oberoi Amarvilas on Facebook

We arrived at the gates of the Oberoi Amarvilas after a 4-hour journey from Delhi. The property sits in the middle of the densely populated city of Agra.  Entering the Oberoi Amarvilas grounds is like entering another world, and we were greeted like royalty by a herd of staff who welcomed us as we exited the car.

a man in uniform standing next to an elephant statue

A Royal Welcome, source: Oberoi Amarvilas on Facebook

a stone building with elephants in front of it

Hotel Entrance, source: Oberoi Amarvilas on Facebook

We were then escorted towards the lobby for check-in through the entrance courtyard that was lined with fountains and stone bridges; truly a sight to behold

a large building with a pool of water

The Entrance Courtyard

Oberoi Amarvilas

Palace-like entry courtyard

a building with a stone walkway and a tiled floor

The main doors to enter the hotel

The royal welcome continued as we were draped with flower garments around our necks while a musician played in the lobby.

Oberoi Amarvilas

The welcome experience

The hotel lobby was a sight to behold, with an enormous Mughal-style dome, painted in cobalt blue and gilt gold geometric design with a large crystal chandelier hanging in its center.

Oberoi Amarvilas

Hotel Lobby

We continued past the lobby into The Lounge, where we were seated to complete check-in formalities. We were offered cold towels and drinks during the check-in process.

Oberoi Amarvilas

View of the Taj Mahal from the Lobby

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The Lounge – Oberoi Amarvilas

It was hard to remain focused on the task on hand (checking in) when I could see the vistas of the Taj Mahal through the enormous arched windows (which were not captured due to the bright lighting outside in the above picture).

a room with a large window

The Lounge with Taj Mahal views, source: Oberoi Amarvilas on Facebook

The Lounge was a visual wonder, lending an aura of majesty to the space. Teal paneling, hand-knotted silk rugs, a golden-domed ceiling, Mughal-inspired artworks, and ornate wall designs were throughout the space. I noticed that teal was the color often found throughout the property, which seemed fitting to complement the polished timber floors and creamy sandstone walls.

Oberoi Amarvilas – The Room 

Once check-in was complete, we were given a brief property tour and then escorted to our Premier Rooms on the 2nd floor. The hotel only has 3 levels as regulations forbid building higher than the domes of the Taj Mahal. There are 102 rooms in total on the property, including 7 suites that are all built on one side of the hotel to ensure each room has views of the Taj Mahal.

Oberoi Amarvilas

Premier Room with Balcony

We were thrilled to have been upgraded to the premier room with a balcony as part of the Virtuoso rate. Despite being essentially the same as the base Premier Room, it was located on a higher floor and came with a private balcony, which we found to be a significant upgrade. In fact, the balcony turned out to be the room’s highlight for us!

Oberoi Amarvilas

Premier Room with Balcony

Oberoi Amarvilas

Premier Room Balcony

The room had a design inspired by the Mughal era, featuring polished timber floors, hand-knotted rugs, a comfortable cotton silk armchair, a wood inlay desk, a walk-in wardrobe stocked with printed dressing robes, a luxurious marble ensuite bathroom, and original artwork adorning the walls. To top it off, there was a butler on call with a dedicated button, which I had never seen before.

a red button on a metal surface

Dedicated Butler Button

Oberoi Amarvilas

Premier Room Walk-In Closest

The balcony is what made this room unique. It provides incredible views of the Taj Mahal.

Oberoi Amarvilas

Premier Room Balcony View

We received our welcome amenities during the turndown service. My parent’s bedroom was set up with rose petal decorations and an anniversary cake, while my daughter and I were given a white chocolate Taj Mahal.

a white castle on a black plate

Welcome Amenity – White Chocolate Taj Mahal

a chocolate cake with strawberries on a plate

Welcome Amenity – Chocolate Cake

Overall, I was pleased with the room and its design. It combined contemporary styling synonymous with the Oberoi brand, with Mughal and Ottoman influences that were fitting for this palatial property, making it feel luxurious.

Oberoi Amarvilas – Public Spaces & Pool

Throughout the property, traditional crafts and materials that are hallmarks of the Oberoi style lighten the grandeur of the spaces comprised of chandeliers and opulent furnishings. The creamy sandstone walls are frescoed or finished with lime plaster, teak panelling, silk rugs, and block-printed draperies that soften the contours.

a room with a checkered floor and a wood staircase

Oberoi Amarvilas Public Spaces

a room with a staircase and a large window

Oberoi Amarvilas Public Spaces

If the balcony was the highlight of our room, then the hotel pool was the highlight of the hotel. I had seen pictures of the pool before our arrival but was awestruck when I saw them in person. This may be the most stunning pool I have ever encountered!  Situated at the bottom of terraced gardens, the pool presented its grandiose from almost any angle or height when you looked at it.

Oberoi Amarvilas

Hotel Pool

Access to the pool was through a reception hall and down a flight of stairs through the upper terrace.

a white staircase with a white railing

Pool Reception Hall

Oberoi Amarvilas

Staircase down to the pool

After our early morning Taj Mahal tour, we spent a few hours by the pool to relax and take in this spellbinding pool. Service at the pool was perfect as elsewhere on the property. Fresh water and cold towels were provided, along with frozen fruit. I ordered a traditional Indian snack, Papri Chaat, that was delicious. I completed this with a watermelon Martini. Yum.

Oberoi Amarvilas

Snack by the pool: Watermelon Martini and Chaat

If the heat is too much for the guests who still want to enjoy the pool, there is a shaded lounge area from which you can also use to access the pool.

a man standing in a pool of water

Shaded Pool Lounge

Afterward, I took a walk through the terraces that flanked the pool and captured some great shots showcasing the property.

a pool with people in it

View of Hotel Rooms and Pool

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Terraces that flank the hotel pool

a pool with a large building and flowers

Oberoi Amarvilas – Entertainment                 

Every evening, there is a traditional folk dance performance and lantern ceremony that can be best viewed from the balcony terrace of the bar or down by the pool. While it was interesting, no information was provided about the dance itself, something that many foreign tourists would benefit from.

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Traditional Folk Dance

Oberoi Amarvilas – Dining 

The Amarvilas has 2 dining venues and a bar. We had the opportunity to eat at both restaurants.

Bellevue – Breakfast

a room with tables and chairs

Bellevue Restaurant: source: elle decor india

a blue counter with many pots on it

Breakfast @ Bellevue

Breakfast (and all-day dining) is available at the gorgeous Bellevue restaurant, which just recently opened after undergoing a renovation. The architecture is something to behold, with its royal blue accent wall embellished with a gold mural. The restaurant is a perfect marriage of richness and elegance.

The breakfast offered was either a buffet or a la carte. Here is the menu:

a menu of a restaurant

a la carte dining options for breakfast

a plate of food on a table

Dosa for Breakfast

Esphahan – Dinner 

We chose to have dinner at Esphahan, the hotel’s signature restaurant. Esphahan is a tandoor dining space where the senses are tantalized by smells and sounds. The tandoor dining space features live traditional music filtering through the mosaic of candlelit tables, where we enjoyed a delectable Mughal cuisine passed down from the Mughal Emperors’ kitchens.

a room with red chairs and tables

Esphahan Restaurant

Unfortunately, the Thali we ordered was not up to the same calibre as the hotel, which was a disappointment.

a plate of food on a table

Thali Dinner

The dessert, however, was quite good. 4 items were presented, each one explained on a piece of paper.

a plate of food on a table

Deesert Tasting

Oberoi Amarvilas – Taj Mahal Visit

Our visit to the Taj Mahal would be at 6:30 AM, before sunrise, to beat the crowds. What a sound decision this turned out to be!  Since most guests had the same idea in mind, the Amarvilas provided a pre-breakfast: a selection of complimentary juices, sweets, and coffee. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to try this as we slept in a little bit.

One of the property’s key selling points is the highly privileged access to the Taj Mahal. We were transported via golf cart from the Amarvilas to the east gate entrance of the Taj Mahal. I had purchased tickets online prior, so there was no queueing required. If you forget, the hotel concierge can arrange the tickets for you in advance.

a couple of people driving a golf cart in a courtyard

Golf Cart Transportation, source: Oberoi Amarvilas on Facevbook

The golf cart transportation to the Taj Mahal entrance may not seem like a selling point, but when you see how busy and overflowing the street is with touts and street vendors, you only appreciate the service.  Our guide was also with us that we had arranged from Delhi. I would highly recommend a guide for anyone visiting the Taj Mahal.

a group of people walking in a park

Sunrise on the Taj Mahal grounds

a large white building with many arches and columns

Appreciating the sheer size of the Taj Mahal

The visit to the Taj Mahal was mesmerizing, and my daughter thoroughly enjoyed taking in one of the world’s wonders. Our visit lasted about 2 hours with some souvenir shopping, after which point we returned to the hotel on the same golf cart that the hotel sent to pick us up.

After returning to the hotel, we headed straight for breakfast at the Bellevue restaurant.

Oberoi Amarvilas – Service

Service at the property was top-notch and some of the best I have ever experienced; very hospitable and personable. There was never a request that they did not try to fulfill as promptly as possible. At departure, they even packed us a lunch for our long journey back to Delhi.

a hand holding a white box with a handle

Final Word

India is known for its exceptional hotels, and the Oberoi Amarvilas is undoubtedly one of them.  It is a palatial luxury hotel that feels like a palace at every turn. Embodying the magic of the Taj Mahal, the Oberoi Amarvilas complements the historic monument perfectly. Whether it’s gazing from the private balcony of guest rooms or having a moonlight dinner out on the terrace, the Taj Mahal is always the central theme of everything at the property.

I would highly recommend this property to anyone visiting Agra. The convenience of being so close to the Taj Mahal is worth the hefty price tag in addition to the pool, a beautiful central architectural masterpiece that is a sight to behold! Do yourself a favour and stay at this hotel and experience the finest Indian luxury and hospitality; you won’t regret it.

a man and a girl sitting on a bench in front of a large building with Taj Mahal in the background


Sarah R. February 23, 2024 - 8:14 pm

Loved your write-up. Thank you.

Sash February 25, 2024 - 1:55 am

Thank you Sarah!


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