6 Sensational Spa & Wellness Retreats in India
As the birthplace of Ayurveda (natural, holistic healing), yoga and home to countless ashrams, India is the ultimate holiday destination for those looking to revitalize both mind and body.
While travellers have always headed to the Indian subcontinent for spirituality and silent meditations, it’s lesser known as a spa and relaxation destination. But the proliferation of high-end accommodation in this rapidly-growing market has seen an exponential rise in unique and sumptuous spa offerings.
There are now a number of serene tropical retreats and mountain hideaways offering rejuvenation alongside indulgence and pampering. We used data from the real travel experts, Booking.com customers*, to narrow down India’s abundant spa options into the following list. Read on to discover the best spa and wellness accommodations that India has to offer.
Kerala is widely known for its mesmerizing tropical backwaters, a collection of lagoons and lakes lying slightly inland and lined with lime green, lush vegetation. But it’s also a hub of resorts boasting Ayurvedic specialists. Niraamaya is a lavish hotel that offers world-class, healing Ayurvedic treatments. In a surreally stunning setting overlooking the Arabian Sea and with its own private beach, you’ll find traditional Keralan cottages with wooden décor dotted amongst the greenery. In addition to the wide range of Ayurvedic treatments, based on 5,000 years of ancient Indian tradition, there are also plenty of pampering, contemporary options. For a spot of gentle activity try a cooking class or take part in some yoga atop the scenic cliff-edge platform.
In the shade of mango trees, surrounded by paddy fields and a short walk from the Arabian Sea, this is Goa at its best. A relatively new accommodation, Alila Diwa Goa is tremendously stylish. Subtle hues and simple design lend it a peaceful atmosphere. The spa features a wide range of soothing and healing Ayurvedic and Balinese spa treatments, while the sea-facing infinity pool and palm-fringed verandas are immensely relaxing. The setting feels particularly special at night when the outdoor area is lit up to dramatic effect.
The sunken, temple-style infinity pool at the Heritage Madurai is utterly brilliant and a major selling point. Layers of symmetrical stone steps lead down to the mirror-like water, to stunning effect. The whole hotel is a masterpiece - it was designed by Geoffrey Bawa in his ‘tropical modernism’ style, a design movement in which sensitivity for local context is combined with the principles of modernism. Incorporating local architectural styles such as elegant granite pillars and rich overtones of wood, the result is pure elegance. Everything is spacious and tranquil; private villas have their own plunge pools and guests can dine under a 200-year-old banyan tree. And the spa offering everything from a Swedish massage to aroma therapy is the cherry on the cake.
The award-winning Kumarakom is widely regarded as one of India’s best resorts. Its impressive range of accommodation spread out around a winding pool – from houseboats to luxury pavilions – have attracted many high-profile guests, including HRH Prince Charles. Opulent but tasteful and respectful to traditional Keralan architecture, each room, villa and suite has been carefully constructed to resemble manas, the 16th-century traditional homesteads. The open-roof bathrooms in dainty courtyards draped with greenery are a highlight. The Ayurmana is the name given to the resort’s Ayurvedic spa. The spa building itself has a long Ayurvedic history, having been home to a family of renowned practitioners for many years. And this history is upheld well, with experts offering a plethora of rejuvenating therapies for the body and the mind. There are also yoga and meditation classes for extra relaxation.
In the colourful and chaotic city of Kolkata, the Oberoi Grand is a sumptuous sanctuary that tends to surpass expectations. The staff here have got service down to a fine art and the inside of the hotel certainly lives up to its name. Outside, the garden pool framed by palm trees is magical. The sophistication continues into the separate wing of the hotel that is dedicated to the spa. With rich teak floors and antique furnishings, the spa guarantees one of the most luxurious pampering experiences you’ll find in India.
The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai is an eternal favourite for good reason. The staff exude all the warmth of Indian hospitality and execute everything to perfection. Even a cup of tea in the Sea Lounge is served with an hour-glass so that you get just the right length of brew. The place is brimming with history, charm and character, treating its guests like gods since it opened in 1903. And suffice to say that the spa is an utter delight too, offering a variety of traditional Indian treatments alongside contemporary therapies.
*Booking.com analysts looked at accommodations with an excellence rating that were also tagged by Booking.com reviewers for ‘spa’ and ‘wellness’.