Fond memories of a previous trip drove my decision to book a weekend’s stay at the ITC Mughal, Agra a second time. The stunning entrance leading to a larger-than-life reception area donned with chandeliers and yellow roses offer a grand welcome to a clientele that consists mostly of international tourists. Everything about this massive property rings luxury- a spa that opens up to the pool, royal suites that comes with their own private pools, and an observatory to watch the sun rise and set over the Taj. There’s no doubt this hotel has been created to deliver a royal experience to its guests. Lush green lawns and gardens, a massive pool area and beautifully lit up alleys around the property are testament to the art and skill that went into designing the ITC Mughal. But while prices have shot up within the year, the property has lost a little of it’s charm to average food and poor room size.
As I was visiting the second time, I was instinctively drawn to making comparisons between my visit a year ago and the present one. A hotel that left me pining to return a second time, was seriously lacking in upkeep this time around. This stunning property seems to have deteriorated with time or under the pressure of the busy weekend I chose to make my visit. The staff at the reception was scanty and the rooms weren’t ready 3 hours after the check-in time.
The base category room I booked this time around was far too tiny for comfort. Two people sharing a room as small as that one made it a little too crowded and stuffy. A minor upgrade could land you in a room that is far superior though, and my experience staying there the last time was simply amazing! A living space that opens up into a bedroom and a dressing room that opens up into a large bathing area, it’s an upgrade worth the bucks. The royal suites though, are the very essence of a luxurious stay- with large bedrooms that open up into a private pool and cabana.
Breakfast was a delicious affair with pancakes, fresh juices, a mix of Indian dishes, baked items and continental cuisine. Sadly, the lunch was a massive disappointment- even the desserts were poor. I ended up ordering simple dishes through Room Service, and the Aglio Olio was nothing special nor was the hummus anything close to the real dish. The food is expensive- unnecessarily so, and it’s best to stick to authentic Indian dishes here: a little surprising, given that most guests are international travelers and their palates don’t take too kindly to Indian cuisine.
The one thing that has consistently remained warm and welcoming has been the service at ITC. The hospitality begins right from housekeeping and extends to the restaurant, the valet staff and even the Spa and Salon. The service is prompt and the staff seems truly happy to help out.
A weekend at the ITC Mughal is worth a visit for it’s property and service, but the hotel is a little overpriced for the experience it offers- specially for base-category rooms. Jaypee Palace Agra offers a luxury experience similar to the ITC at a considerably lower price and is right down the road, making it another recommended option in the vicinity.