Agra, being home to the Taj Mahal, sees more than its fair share of tourists. There are many hotels near this grand monument to love and it can be confusing knowing which are the better ones. Particularly which are the better hotels near the Taj Mahal. As we discovered, Agra is best enjoyed over at least 2 days as there is more to this ancient capital than just visiting the Taj Mahal.
You can take in the Taj Mahal on a day trip from either Jaipur or Delhi but I recommend staying in Agra if your itinerary permits. Particularly as the best time to visit the Taj Mahal is at sunrise and this will ensure you beat the crowds, and the heat, to a certain extent. We spent most of our trip in Jaipur, with a side trip to Agra. If you are looking for tips for top places to visit in Jaipur with kids, my post outlines what we did while in Jaipur.
There is a variety of accommodation options ranging from basic digs to 5 star hotels in Agra. Most of the main hotel chains are familiar to us. Top of the hotel picks is Oberoi Amarvilla Agra. I was very keen to stay here as its located right outside the east gate and every room has a view of the Taj Mahal. On this occasion, due to price, we had to give it a miss.
We chose to stay at the Four Points by Sheraton Agra, a relatively new 5 star hotel in Agra having opened only 12 months prior. Our room had a view of the top of the Taj Mahal from our window. On this occasion we had two adjacent rooms. Alannah and I shared one room and lucky for Craig, he got to share with the little ones.
The hotel is located in Tajganj which is about 2kms away from the East Gate making it one of the closer hotels to the Taj Mahal. Agra Fort is about 4.5kms away and it’s about 7kms from the Agra Fort Railway Station for those coming in by rail. Navigating the Indian IRCTC e ticket booking system is a bit tricky but perserving pays off! Most of the 5 star hotels in Agra are located in or close to Tajganj. The West Gate is closest to the budget accommodation area and is much busier than the East Gate. My advice is to enter via the East Gate when visiting the Taj Mahal regardless of where you are staying.
I found it really difficult to locate a suitable hotel with a family room for our budget. On this occasion it was cheaper to have 2 rooms than have a family room. This meant that Craig and I had to sleep in one room each I couldn’t imagine leaving the 3 of them in a room on their own! It wasn’t ideal but seeing as it was for only one night we were happy to do it.
Both were standard king rooms, the ensuites were basic with shower, toilet and vanity. It was not really what I would class as a luxury 5 star hotel, I would say its more of a business style 5 star hotel. It had everything you needed but it wasn’t luxurious like many of the hotels I’ve had the opportunity to stay at. Don’t get me wrong, it was very clean and the bed was very comfortable. The mini bar was well stocked, there was a safe in the wardrobe and hairdryer in the bathroom. So everything I needed just more like what you expect in central city hotel.
One thing I really liked about our rooms were the very large windows. I sat on the couch in the window and took five minutes to take it all in. This was also our first day in India, we arrived early the morning before, like 2am early and had a 9am transfer to Agra that same morning. While this seems rushed, it enabled us to maximise our time in Agra and looking back I’m glad I did it exactly the way I did.
We had a view of the top of the Taj Mahal from our room and I loved that the porter took us to our room and immediately opened the window for us and pointed it out. When you arrive in Agra the first sight of the Taj Mahal from any distance is very exciting, until you see it up close! I was super excited about the view from the window and quickly FaceTimed home for the rest of the family to see it as well. As you do these days! Both rooms were exactly the same and as it was very early in the busy season, it was still reasonably priced for what it was.
I was surprised to see that each time we arrived at our hotel the gate was closed. Once open our driver would enter and stop so the security guard could check for explosives with a mirror on a trolley. I was told this is common practise in Northern India. So don’t be surprised if this happens when you arrive at your hotel.
Not only does this hotel have views of the Taj Mahal from many of the hotel rooms but it has an amazing view from the roof top. We had dinner at The Roof Top Bar on our only night which offers Indian and International grill menu options to enjoy under the stars. We enjoyed Indian favourites and the kids had their first of many Butter Chickens! We went up after dark and didn’t realise we were dining with an amazing view of the Taj Mahal until the next day when we went to collect our insect repellent I had left there the night before.
The roof top pool was clean and inviting given the weather was nearly 40 degrees each day. It has a shallow end for the little ones and lounges with umbrellas around if you don’t want to sit in the sun. There is a bar for you to order drinks while taking a refreshing dip. Also on the top floor was the gym and Spa, unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to check out the Spa.
If you are looking for somewhere to have a drink that’s not on the roof top in the heat, Henry’s Bar is located on the ground floor next to the reception. It’s an American themed bar that’s air conditioned and stocked with all the usual drinks, try a Kingfisher Beer, it isn’t bad.
The buffet breakfast is served in the foyer restaurant, it’s your stock standard 5 star hotel breakfast buffet with both local favourites and the classic American cooked breakfast items including eggs how you like them, pancakes, waffles and my kids favourites pastries and fresh fruit. There is definitely plenty to choose from I assure you, you won’t starve.
I feel the price was pretty reasonable, although I do prefer having all of us in one room or adjoining rooms, I really struggled to find somewhere with what I wanted in our price range and at our standards. Four points by Sheraton served it’s purpose as we were only there overnight. When staying longer I do prefer a resort style hotel were we can walk around outside the building.
My preferred booking site is Agoda.com, I have always found their rates to be the most competitive within Asia.
I would stay at the Four Points by Sheraton again if I was in Agra. The location is good for visiting the Taj Mahal with or without kids! It is also very close to Agra Fort which is another must see when visiting Agra. Our room included buffet breakfast which was another thing I didn’t have to worry about considering I was time poor and the staff were very friendly towards the kids.
It’s really more about location in the end and this hotel ticked all my boxes for what I was looking for at a reasonable price. Have you been to the Taj Mahal, where did you stay?
Sal, Craig & Our3kids.