We used Gets Holiday to plan our trip and organize travel, hotel and guides. They were very patient with all the questions I had (I had hundreds literally.) They responded within a couple of days each time and apologized any time they did not respond the same day. Sanjeet was wonderful, so sweet and made me feel comfortable about all the choices I made. Our driver in Rajasthan, Vijindra was key in us having such a great time, he could be a guide himself he knows so much and taught us much about the Indian culture. Gets Holiday also called us everyday to make sure we were ok which was nice. Anytime anything went wrong, they were very quick to respond which was amazing.
This was our itinerary and hotels:
Delhi (Leela Palace) - Delhi is great, so much going on, we thought the shopping was expensive. I had been before but it is very difficult to avoid Delhi since you really need to fly into Delhi. Leela Palace was gorgeous, modern and luxurious. We loved our food tour in Old Delhi though it took a little getting used to at first since Old Delhi is crowded and dirty (even compared to NY!) Even though I had specifically asked for no tourist shops, the guide still brought us to one, I chewed his ear off for it but otherwise, our guide was great. He told us about the caste system which I thought was very interesting.
Jaipur (Oberoi) - Jaipur has many shopping options but other than that, very commercial and not sure I would return here (although this was my second time.) Amber Fort is a must see and Oberoi organized great things for us to do as well. Tip: if you are going to fly, fly after 10am because there is fog and the flights get cancelled! If you drive, leave EARLY, 6am could be good.
Bikaner (Laxmi Niwas) - We stopped here because it was a center point and cut up a long drive. This hotel has a gorgeous roof top which I would recommend for sunrise and sunsets. The hotel is gorgeous for the most part but the rooms are very old though very large, you padlock the door from the outside which takes getting used to. Used tuk tuks to get around which I loved. Our guide did not seem to understand that we did not need time to relax though and when we arrived, we asked him to take us shopping which he refused to do and took us in the morning which really put our schedule behind. Tip in India: know what you want and PUSH for it, no one listens otherwise.
Jaisalmer (Serai) - I thought Jaisalmer was a highlight of the trip. I loved the desert, it is so beautiful and Jaisalmer town is also lovely. There is nothing to do at the Serai, if I had it to do all over again, I would have skipped the Serai (I love the idea of staying in a tent but I wanted it to be more exciting, with dancers and lots going on.) That being said Serai is gorgeous and the service there was the best that we had on the trip. They comped our private dinner at night which was very generous.
Jaisalmer (Suryagahr) - I LOVED Suryagahr for many reasons. It was one of the best priced places we stayed and yet was gorgeous, (rooms small but nice) had peacocks walking around, music and dancing on the terrace at night, flute player in the morning and the best excursions of any hotel - I would recommend doing everything they offer. I wish we had stayed longer. Camel ride and time in the dunes was one of the best parts of the trip as was having breakfast with the peacocks. I wish we had done dinner in the desert, sounds like Suryagahr plans an unforgettable one.
Jodhpur (Umaid Bhawan Palace) - Jodhpur, the blue city is a great place to visit for a day. They have great shopping and restaurants and this hotel was fabulous! It reminded me of a hotel in Las Vegas! The service was amazing, the rooms we had included balconies and ridiculous views and we only booked standard rooms! The hotel also offers dinner in the Fort which I wished we had done. We loved our tour guide in Jodhpur, he took us to eat in the clock tower and told us wonderful stories, no forced shopping here!
Udaipur (Lake Palace) - Another highlight. Udaipur is breathtaking and Lake Palace is part of that. I would recommend this hotel to anyone staying in Udaipur. The Lake is stunning, we did a private boat ride wachting the sun rise which started the day off perfectly. The room where they serve breakfast is so gorgeous. The service and every inch of this hotel is gorgeous. I could have stayed a whole week! We stayed two nights. We did a private dinner on Mewar Terrace with a view of the City Palace, it was stunning. Great shopping in Udaipur too. Just a great place to visit overall.
Mumbai (day trip, did not spend the night) - Loved Delhi, saw the open laundry, slums, hanging garden, wish we went somewhere fabulous for lunch, just went to a casual place, food was good but it was my only time in Mumbai. GREAT and well priced shopping, this is the place to shop if you want to shop.
Next we went to Kerala which I was not sure about when planning but it ended up being absolutely beautiful. I have not seen natural beauty like this before! It's stunning!
Cochin (Brunton Boatyard) - was fine but not as great as the reviews say. Cochin has great shopping, the sights are just ok. Check out the fishing nets and go shopping
Kumarakom (Kumarakom Lake Resort) This was another highlight in our trip. You cannot believe your eyes it is so beautiful. We had Villas with our own pools and views of the lake.
Houseboat (Rainbow) - The guys on the boat were great. We saw some boats in the water that we thought were nicer than ours where we chose the nicest category that Rainbow offered. Everything was fine, it is just that we had stayed at really nice places so this was more like staying in a 3 star hotel. Food was great. We hired musicians and a dancer to come on the boat and that was special except the dancer was about 14 so she had to have a whole crew with her - parents, brother, etc. It did not feel comfortable having them on our boat. If they had told us that would happen we would have said no to the dancer. We had valuables and they have no safe on the boat. The performance was wonderful though.
Though we had our hotels and Gets holiday organize lovely excursions, I do wish we had done more as these made the trip really special but Gets Holiday does not specialize in this: Food tour in Old Delhi, Private cooking class at Oberoi Jaipur, Breakfast in the Herb Garden at Oberoi Jaipur, Naila Safari with an elephant ride through a quaint village and breakfast in a beautiful fort owned by Mr. Oberoi, Camel Ride during sunset was a highlight and gorgeous but I wish we had done dinner in the desert (Suryagahr sounds like they organize a stunning one,) private bonfire dinner at Serai (which is in the desert but does not look like what you think is the desert,) Breakfast with the peacocks in an old fort watching the sunset, private boatride on Lake Pichola, private dancer and musicians on the houseboat.
If I could recommend an itinerary to someone their first time in India, I would say: Delhi (2 days,) Agra (day trip,) Jaisalmer (2 days,) Udaipur (2 days,) Mumbai (1 night,) Kumarakom (1 night,) Allepey (1 night,) Thekady (wish we went, heard the waterfalls are not to be missed, I wish someone told me before!)
If anyone has any questions, please send me a message. I can recommend sights, shopping, restaurants, etc. I love helping people plan their vacations! It's a hobby of mine.