Bangalore: Will the Real Historic Hotel Please Stand Up?

Courtesy Leela Palace Hotel

Bangalore appears to have two fabulous heritage hotels, but only one is the real deal—really old, that is. Otherwise they’re well matched, offering exceptional service and impeccable accommodations.

Set on a sprawling 20-acre estate near the racecourse at the Bangalore Turf Club, the 117-room Taj West End ($480–$4,500; Race Course Rd.; 91-80/6660-5660; tajhotels.com) has true history: Founded in 1887, it’s the city’s oldest hotel. Book a Taj Club room on the first floor of the Reginae wing, eat at the alfresco Indian barbecue restaurant Masala Klub, by one of the two small pools, and look out for the new spa, set to open by year’s end.

Across town sits the impostor—the 352-room Leela Palace ($415–$4,500; 23 Airport Rd.; 91-80/2521-1234; theleela.com). Built in 2001 to evoke south India’s centuries-old royal architecture, with a pink-stone façade and gilded domes, the hotel has become the stay of choice for the kings and queens of expense-account travel, and its spa is the best in town. The top rooms are those in the fifth-floor Royal Club, which comes with access to amenities like a Champagne lounge and a personal butler.