India offers a huge range of accommodation from the highest levels of luxury to more basic options. Overall, the quality you get for your money is extremely high. Here are a few notes to help you choose based on my personal experience.
In the large cities we stayed in chain hotels which are of a high, international, standard but tended to lack character like similar hotels around the world. The rooms were high quality and the food provided was good, and very diverse, with international options available. The basic price for bed and breakfast is good but extras such as non-included meals, drinks and laundry tend to be expensive.
A piece of advice, is to ask your driver to take you to a local restaurant for dinner which is likely to be much lower cost and more interesting than eating in the hotel.
In the regional cities such as Udaipur, Agra and Jaipur there are some very pleasant more individual hotels. These will have good facilities typically including swimming pools and spas. Extras are expensive, as above.
In planning my last trip I was keen to try Indian home stays and, after staying in three of them, I have to say, I was very impressed. The standard was generally very high, at a very reasonable cost, and it did allow us to get away from the international hotels, which, whilst being good, could be anywhere in the world. The environment in the home stays was very sociable with dinner being taken with other guests. Also, the host worked as a personal guide and advisor for the local area. We found there was no need to have a car and driver as our host could arrange all transport for us, in fact, in our last stay our host drove us around and guided us through Kochi at no extra cost. We were also taken to the airport for our flight home.
The accommodation, in all cases, was set in the community so taking a walk around the houses was a great experience and a chance to see, and interact, with local people who were very friendly and pleased to see us.
The home stays we tried were deliberately different and they ranged from basic to very luxurious but they were all good and tremendous value for money. The more basic stay had small bedrooms and no real extra facilities. The high end stay was set in beautiful grounds and had its own private swimming pool and the rooms were large and very well furnished.
If you want to get closer to real India I suggest you include home stays to your trip.
High End Home Stay Kochi
View from the garden
National Park Lodges
For each of the national parks, I have stayed in a specialist lodge in, or near, the park. The accommodation is outside the Indian national parks, and privately run, in most cases (Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Tadoba Nagarhole and Bandipur, etc). The quality of the food and accommodation, as well as the service, is fantastic with a genuine desire from the staff to please. The accommodation is individual with its own character, without the feel of a hotel chain. All the lodges have a swimming pool and spa facilities and are set in their own grounds which you can stroll around and bird watch.
Corbett Park is the exception, as it has government run accommodation within the park and this is much more basic, but adequate, but the big advantage is you are staying in the core of the park and your wildlife viewing starts even before you set off for the game drive. For me, the trade off is worth it.