A family holiday in India opens young eyes to a country bursting with possibility! In such a buzzing, diverse and, frankly, huge destination, it can be difficult to decide where to focus your time, so our India Specialists have picked out a few of their favourite hotels and experiences as inspiration for your family adventure…
Jawai’s beautifully preserved wilderness sits between Jodhpur and Udaipur, offering families the chance to experience Rajasthan’s wild side. Stay in one of the swish camps dotted around the outskirts, like the Sujan Jawai or Bera Safari Lodge, and head out on guided jeep safaris in search of the area’s coolest cats: the leopards. Seeing a leopard in the wild is guaranteed to be an experience that kids will treasure, and the safari-style luxury camping puts you right in the centre of the action. Thanks to relaxed access, you’re free to head off for irresistible wildlife spotting adventures from sunrise to sunset.
On the subject of big cats, Ranthambore National Park is one of the easiest places in northern India for families to see Bengal tigers. These famous felines roam through almost 400 km² of protected grasslands and forests in Ranthambore, alongside striped hyenas, macaques, sloth bears and many other fascinating species. Unusually, Ranthambore’s tigers are well known for being active during the day, making multiple sightings more likely. Stay at The Tigress or Oberoi Vanyavillas within the park, and set off on wildlife-spotting safaris to catch sight of these magnificent cats, or explore ancient forts and go birdwatching around the lakes.
Rajasthan’s historic landscape holds many forts and palaces which have found new life as heritage hotels. Now beautifully renovated to combine their evocative history with modern facilities, they still look like buildings from legends. What could fire a kid's imagination more than staying in a fairy-tale castle? In rural Jaipur, the Alila Fort Bishangarh is a fantastic option for families, combining an extraordinary collection of hilltop turrets with a sumptuous spa, kids club and outdoor activities in the surrounding countryside. Alternatively, the Dera Mandawa is a great place for kids and adults to get hands-on with traditional activities such as sari tying, kite flying, cookery and games.
Just an hour’s drive from Agra, surrounded by lush Udaipur countryside, the Chambal Safari Lodge is an ideal base for an India family holiday. It’s blissfully tranquil, making it fantastic for taking time to relax together. There are eye-widening wildlife opportunities, from riverboat trips to see gharials and turtles, to jeep safaris in search of deer and birdlife. Take short drives out to explore nearby forts, temples and villages, or head a little further to Agra to see the magnificent Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Back at the lodge, it’s all about curling up on cosy sofas, chatting around campfires, and eating home-cooked meals under the trees while the kids explore the garden.
With heads full of forts, markets, temples and tigers, take a few days to decompress with some laid-back beach time in Goa. Explore a different side to Indian culture, as you see how local traditions and Portuguese influences blend to create the region's unique character. In North Goa, the Aashyana Lakhanpal has two-bedroom cottages, sheltered gardens and a shady pool just moments from the beach, while the Coco Shambala is the quintessential Goan chillout haven with a secluded spa. Further south, the Alila Diwa combines thoughtful family-friendly facilities and a swish atmosphere, well away from the tourist rush.
A couple of weeks in Kerala shows the slower side of India, full of super-chilled retreats, local homestays, spice plantations and palm-lined beaches. Take a tuk-tuk tour of Cochin’s historic port, stay with a local family in Palakkad, investigate Neolithic cave paintings and watch wildlife in Wayanad. Feel the sand between your toes on Neeleshwar Beach, and get a taste of backwater life with a stay at the welcoming Philipkutty’s Farm. Take walks around the farm with the owners, learn to cook Keralan dishes with locally-sourced ingredients, help to haul in the day’s catch, and go on birdwatching boat trips on the backwaters.