Kolkata, dubbed the ‘City of Joy’ by French writer Dominique Lapierre, is often considered India’s cultural, artistic, and intellectual capital. The city has spawned a litany of artists, writers, poets, and filmmakers, all of whom have beautifully captured its crumbling grandeur. It’s densely populated and while you really can’t ignore its squalor, Kolkata is also home to stately British-era architecture, expansive parks, trundling old-fashioned trams, and the striking Howrah Bridge which crosses the River Hooghly. Basically, this grande dame of a city seems to be stuck in a time warp, and therein lies its charm. Below, our favorite places to stay in Kolkata now.
Best Overall: The LaLiT Great Eastern Kolkata
Built in 1841, the LaLiT Great Eastern Kolkata is one of the oldest continuously operating luxury hotels in Asia. Though it has retained its Edwardian façade throughout, inside it’s done up in contemporary style. With 215 rooms and suites, it’s also one of the larger hotels in the city center. Lodgings are spacious with entry-level Deluxe Rooms beginning at 350 square feet and huge bay windows which look out over the terrace garden or pool. For the ultimate luxury, book the Victorian or Edwardian suite, both of which are outfitted with restored furnishings, traditional handicrafts, and local artworks.
Grab a drink or two at Wilson’s – The Pub, a classic English pub named after David Wilson, who built the hotel. After that, head to the lobby-level Alfresco Restaurant, an all-day, multi-cuisine eatery that serves international and local Bengali fare, or try a steak done to perfection at The Legacy Grill. The hotel’s award-winning Rejuve Spa is spread over 13,000 square feet and offers a range of aroma, herbal, and Ayurvedic therapies. Relax by the outdoor pool where you can enjoy light snacks and drinks from the adjoining juice bar.
The restaurant, Threesixtythree°, offers a variety of Indian and European dishes as well as a popular Sunday Brunch. Baan Thai is one of the finest Thai restaurants in the city while The Bar is perfect for a sundowner, whether you’re after bespoke cocktails, fine wines, or single malts. Hit the well-equipped gym or unwind at the spa (with exquisitely chandeliered therapy rooms) or simply relax by the 60-foot outdoor pool — the centerpiece of the hotel’s quadrant garden.
Located in a calm residential neighborhood in Ballygunge, Roland Hotel is one of the best budget hotels in central Kolkata with a wide range of shopping, entertainment, and dining options nearby. The hotel’s 27 rooms are spacious, air-conditioned, and come with a work desk, sitting area with coffee table, flat-screen TV, safe deposit box, and minibar. Bathrooms are clean and the showers are reasonably good. The rooms are great value for money offering free breakfast (choice of buffet or in-room), Wi-Fi (though it can be a bit patchy in some rooms), toiletries, snack basket, ironing services, and more. The hotel even offers a suite with a king bed and bathtub.
The hotel’s restaurant serves everything from Continental, American, and Indian breakfast, to sandwiches, snacks, and Indian mains. There’s even a kids’ menu available. Roland Hotel is known for its warm hospitality and courteous staff. They can help you with pick-up and drop services for the airport or train station, and can even assist you with tour bookings.
Its sleek, contemporary design is at odds with Kolkata’s old-world charm, but nestled amidst acres of greenery and languid pools dotted with water lilies, ITC Sonar offers some of the best luxury digs in this crowded, often noisy city. The lobby and corridors are lined with replica statues from the Pala era (8-12 AD), considered to be the golden era of Bengal and Kolkata. ITC Sonar’s 237 rooms and seven suites all look out over the vast estate giving you the feel of staying in a resort. The suites are especially splurge-worthy and come with a massage chair, deep-soaking bathtub, and butler service.
Dining options include five restaurants, one lounge, and a gourmet deli — both the ITC premium brands Dum Pukht and Peshawri are represented, serving up the grand cuisines of India. Other facilities on offer are the signature Kaya Kalp Spa, a salon, and a fully equipped, 24-hour fitness center. The hotel has no fewer than five swimming pools and a Jacuzzi, so you’ll have ample opportunity to soak with your beau.
Alipore, the heart of Kolkata’s cultural heritage, is the apt setting for the palatial Taj Bengal. Many of the city’s landmark attractions like Victoria Memorial, Eden Gardens (a popular cricket ground), and the horticultural and zoological gardens are within walking distance. The grand, five-storied marble and stone atrium is the centerpiece around which the hotel is built, while genuine antiques and priceless art adorn its interiors. Here, 229 rooms and suites offer panoramic city views; some of the suites overlook the pool, while others offer a view of the magnificent Victoria Memorial in its domed marble splendor.
The hotel has five restaurants that specialize in everything from Indian and Chinese to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern. Enjoy a drink at The Junction, the railway-themed bar, as a live band serenades you. There’s also a poolside grill and barbeque restaurant, and a patisserie/deli. The lobby-level Promenade Lounge showcases artworks by young, local artists who sometimes even drop by to paint. Kids will love the various activities lined up for them such as cooking, baking, and art lessons with visiting local artists.