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A tale of two cities, a walk along the streets of Calcutta is like turning the pages of history. Aging mansions and crumbling colonial facades are interspersed between ramshackle slum dwellings. The former capital of British India, Calcutta has witnessed the country’s greatest grandeur and worst poverty. Today, Calcutta has emerged as India’s intellectual and cultural capital. Start a conversation with a Bengali on almost any topic and be prepared to be there for while. Calcutta’s inhabitants can wax lyrical on just about anything and with some of the best universities in the country they are qualified to do so. Our pick of the best places to stay in Calcutta reflect both its history and sophistication.
Located along the banks of the Hooghly River are two of Calcutta’s main sights: The resplendent Victoria Memorial, a mirage in white marble, and the Belur Math whose shady grounds are a picture to perambulate.
As well as their heritage, Bengalis are mad about their food, in particular fish. There are countless ‘must go’ dining options but our favourites would have to be Oh! Calcutta, for delectable local dishes and the family run Kewpies for some home cooked cuisine.
A visit to the Kumartuli Idol-makers’ village is to witness Hindu culture in practice. These small clay moulded effigies are immersed in the Hooghly River during Hindi festivals (which are in such abundance you’ll have a good chance of catching one). The Durga and Kali festivals are a carnival of colour and noise.
Our pick of the best places to stay in Calcutta are all centrally located and immersed in the city’s heritage.
For historic charm
- A stay at Fairlawn Hotel is like taking a step back in time. Built in 1784 its walls are lined with black and white photographs and even the odd portrait of Her Majesty. A family run property you will be sure to get many a story on the hotel and Calcutta’s history.
For a boutique stay
- A reflection of Calcutta’s new artistic identity, The Corner Courtyard juxtaposes antique furnishing with modern fabrics. It also houses one of the most popular restaurants in town – a favourite of both locals and tourists alike.
- A lesson in five star luxury. Built in 1880 The Oberoi Grand evokes both Calcutta’s past and present opulence. It is known for its 200-year-old grand piano in the lobby. A ‘grand’ stay in every sense of the word.
Still not sure which to book? From boutique to luxury browse through our list of the best places to stay in Calcutta to start to plan your trip. Althernatively you can widen the net and check out all our West Bengal recommendations, or contact one of our friendly gurus for advice.
Best Hotels in Calcutta
Fairlawn Hotel from $48Calcutta
This delightful family owned hotel is brilliantly located in the heart of Kolkata. It is one of the few places in the centre that has truly managed to retain its colonial charm and ambiance. Inside it provides space and comfort, lovely decor and just the right amount of quirkiness.Sights nearby - Near all the major tourist spotsFull of characterLocal markets - Good for local colour.Quirky - An experience!
The Corner Courtyard 7 rooms from $55Calcutta (Hazra)
A quirky but hip boutique hideaway in the centre of Kolkata, with a top-notch fine-dining restaurant that’s as much a favourite with locals as guests. Bursting with charm, style and character.Sights nearby - Close to Victoria Memorial, Maidan, Park StreetFull of characterLocal markets - Good for local colour.Four poster beds - For romantics.
Taj Bengal 229 rooms from $155Calcutta (West Bengal)
Classic hotel embodying all of the Taj chain's luxury and style. Cream rooms with colour pops. Boasting several excellent dining options from Indian dishes at Sonargaon to afternoon tea at The Promenade Lounge - plus Chinese and Mediterranean in between. There is an inviting outdoor pool plus a spa.Local exploring - In a historic part of town, walking distance from many of its sightsSights nearby - Walking distance from The National Library and the Victoria & Albert MemorialSailing - A sunset boat trip on the Hooghly RiverSwimming Pool - Outdoor pool
The Lalit Great Eastern 229 rooms from $155Calcutta (West Bengal)
Enjoying something of a facelift in recent years The Lalit Great Eastern now boasts chic, modern interiors. It is however still home to 'The Great Eastern Bakery and Wilson's pub: some of the local's favourite establishments. A spa, pool and gym make this a five star stay.City Style - One of the oldest and most stylish hotels in townFoodies - Home to some of Calcutta's most iconic eateriesSights nearby - Walking distance from Raj Bhawan and St. John's ChurchSailing - A sunset boat cruise on the Hooghly River is a must
The Oberoi Grand 209 rooms from $229Calcutta
A beautiful, luxury hotel built in the 1880s. It is easy to see why it was the choice of leading historical figures. Even now it hosts grand functions for Heads of State. Elegant, lavish rooms, a lobby known for its 200 year old handmade piano and iconic chandelier, spa, pool, gym. Indulge yourself.City Style - The ultimate stay in Calcutta. Why do things by halves?Sights nearby - Kolkata has many historical landmarks. From the Victoria Memorial to Tagore House, The Indian Museum to Mother Teresa's memorialSwimming Pool - Stunning 18m pool. The centrepiece of the wonderful quadrant garden, surrounded by palm treesViews - Great views from hotel