India Survival Guide

How to Avoid Bad Hotels in India

You pay for what you get. Nowhere is this truer than in India. In India, everything, not only accommodation, is available at prices ranging from super budget to super luxury.

Sometimes it seems like a competition to see who can sell the cheapest and the worst quality product. You can buy a dirt-cheap pair of scissors, but they aren’t going to cut well, if at all. Or you can buy a sturdy steel pair that will last for decades with regular sharpening.

A lot of the time, if prices for self-rated “3 or 4-star” hotels look too good to be true, they probably are. The photos and description will look great, but when you arrive, it’s an entirely different story.

My great experience staying at Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram in India.

Here is what you can expect for your money in India:

Budget Hotels (₹300 – ₹2500)

The sheets may have stains, the room and bathroom won’t be that clean, the WIFI will be intermittent at best, and it’s unlikely to have a clean restaurant.

If it is a ₹300 a night hotel, then the bed is likely a piece of plywood with a thin mattress and dirty sheets.

Backpacking hostels and highly rated Airbnbs are the exceptions in this price range. They are my choice when I want a cheap and clean stay.

One caution about staying in Hostels, look after your belongings.

Also, the smaller the city, the cheaper the hotels are. So, it’s possible to have a good 3-star stay for ₹1500-₹2000 in a small city.

If you’re after a recommendation, I usually try to stay at Zostel hostels when I want a cheap and clean stay. I like to stay at hostels so I can meet and hang out with other travellers. They’re more social places than hotels.

3-Star Hotels (~₹2500 – ₹4000)

Spending above ₹2500 gets you a decent, clean, and comfortable 3-star stay.

When 14 members of my family came from New Zealand we stayed in this category and were happy – we didn’t spend much time in the rooms anyway.

Make sure you choose the right areas to stay in India!

Luxury Hotels (₹10,000+)

If you want to experience opulence, and you should, even if just for one night, stay in one of the many heritage hotels in India – such as a palace.

I’m not a luxury traveller, but my friend who is in the travel industry in Dubai says nothing beats the luxury hotel experience in India. I’ll take her word for it and hopefully experience it one day.

Tips to avoid and get out of bad hotels:

  1. Do not pay the full amount in advance!
    • Online photos vs. reality can differ.
    • Getting your money back in India is a major hassle.
  2. Do not be shy to ask questions.
    • Before checking in, ask to see the room.
    • Don’t be afraid to find somewhere else if the room isn’t up to your standards. Use sites like, Trivago, or just Google Maps to find nearby hotels.
  3. When checking in…
    • Don’t pay for your full stay. They’ll try to get you to. Push back and agree to either pay daily or for half your stay upfront. Just in case something goes wrong or you decide to leave the hotel early.

Share your hotel nightmares or your favourite experiences in the comments!

India Survival Guide Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Travel Essentials: Before You Travel to India
  3. Arriving in India: Getting to Your Hotel & Airport Amenities
  4. Tourist Scams to Avoid in India
  5. Avoiding Fake Money & Ripped Notes in India
  6. Avoiding Bad Accommodation
  7. How to Bargain, Get Refunds, and How Much Rickshaws Cost
  8. Avoiding Counterfeit Souvenirs in India
  9. How to Be Street Smart in India
  10. Buses and Trains in India Explained
  11. Food and Drink Safety for Travellers
  12. What to Do If You Get Sick in India
  13. How to Deal with Air Pollution in India

By Karl Rock

Karl Rock, is a Hindi speaking Kiwi ex-pat who take viewers behind the scenes of incredible India and its neighbours. He has visited every state and union territory in India, and its culturally similar neighbours – Pakistan and Bangladesh, and aims to make others fall in love with India and the subcontinent.

8 replies on “How to Avoid Bad Hotels in India”

Thanks, so much Karl. I have travelled all over the world and plan on going to India for 10 weeks, next February. India is the country I’ve wanted to see the most. Your guide makes me feel like I’m on track!

Hi, I believe there is a typo.
“You can buy a dirt-cheap pair of scissors, but they aren’t going to cut well, if at all. Or you can buy a sturdy steel pair that will **large** for decades with regular sharpening.”. I think large should be “last”!

So far enjoying this read – I dont have any plans to travel to India any time soon but it’s so intriguing regardless.

Thanks Karl
I love reading your guide and watching your videos. I am finally visiting India in October. Going to be as a solo traveller. So much to work out!
I’m flying into Delhi at 2am, do most hostels/hotels have 24/7 transfer and customer service? And what would you recommend as a young 28 y.o traveller ? I plan to stay in Delhi for 1 night, then move around and do the golden triangle!

Hey Thomas. Thank you. All good hotels will have a 2am pickup. There’s a number of hotel just outside the airport which you could stay at, they should all have free transfers. The area is called Aerocity. Whichever hotel you choose, just message them in advance to make sure they can do a 2am transfer. Have a great trip!

Thank you Karl for your very informative India travel advice. My husband and I are planning our first trip to India and land in Mumbai at 1am. We think we’ll stay in the Fort area near Colaba. Any thoughts on this, or do you still think Bandra or other suburbs would be a better choice. Thanks again!

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