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Updated: December 14, 2022
The Best Area to Stay in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore)
Often ignored because it’s not as historic as Mumbai or as glamorous as Goa, Bengaluru – formerly known as Bangalore – is still one of the country’s largest and dynamic cities. The most Westernized and fastest-growing, it is also known for its fine weather, IT-related industries, and notorious traffic. As the state capital and regional transport hub, Bengaluru is the natural gateway to the magnificent national parks and other sites across Karnataka, but it’s worth staying a while for its sophisticated shopping, dining, and nightlife, in addition to the parks that lend Bengaluru its moniker ‘Garden City’.
The modest collection of sights – including temples, markets, and museums, as well as the majestic palace and renovated fort – are spread all over the city, so there is no convenient base for sightseeing. Therefore, it makes sense to stay in the inner suburbs, close to the shops, cafés, and bars for which the city is known, and handy to the metro. And a range of great-value accommodations from family-run guesthouses to apartments within a world-class mall is conveniently located within the city center.
One of the nicest areas is along and around St. Mark’s Road. This stretches between two other major thoroughfares which are dotted with shops, hotels, and other facilities useful to tourists: M.G. Road, which has a few top-end hotels and impressive malls, and Residency Road, which starts at Richmond Circle. Another major road, Richmond Road, also branches out from this roundabout and is home to several hotels. Express buses to the airport stop here.
Spacious streets and several upmarket hotels are located near the city’s ‘lungs’, the 300-acre Cubbon Park. Adjacent to one section of the park, the world-class UB City Mall offers several floors of boutiques, an appealing alfresco level of bistros, and even a hotel with serviced apartments. Most top-end hotels, which can feature larger gardens and more facilities than those in the city center, are located around the inner western suburbs. These hotels – which include the extraordinarily beautiful and historic Taj West End – are convenient to the racecourse, golf course, and major bus and train stations.
The Best Places to Stay in Bengaluru
- Best Luxury Hotels in Bengaluru
Taj West End • ITC Gardenia • Oakwood Premier Prestige • Oberoi • Four Seasons • Shangri-La • Ritz-Carlton • Leela Palace
- Best Moderate/Boutique Hotels in Bengaluru
St. Mark’s • Adarsh Hamilton • Ibis City Centre
- Best Cheap Hotels in Bengaluru
Casa Cottage • Justa MG Road • Laika Boutique Stay
Best Area in Bengaluru for…
- Best Area in Bengaluru for Sightseeing: Cubbon Park
Local tourist authorities naturally hype up the city’s attractions but, in reality, these are far more modest than those in Mumbai and Delhi, and rather inconvenient. Staying near Cubbon Park allows easy exploration on foot of the major inner-city parks within the ‘Garden City’ and of other attractions within the park, such as the State Library and Government Museum. And the area is part of the expanding metro network which connects to the major bus and train stations.
- Best Area in Bengaluru for Shopping: UB City Mall
The city has several sprawling markets but these aren’t easy to reach, and shops along the main commercial precincts of M.G. and Residency roads are far apart. The great news is that the world-class UB City mall is very convenient to a cluster of hotels. Classy, with dangling chandeliers and marble floors, it offers three levels of boutiques selling designer labels along with numerous tempting cafés and trendy bars.
- Best Area in Bengaluru for Families: M.G. Road
This major thoroughfare through the inner city runs parallel with the metro for over 2km, which also conveniently connects to the main bus and train stations and city parks, including Cubbon Park. Among the top-end hotels facing M. G. Road and charming guesthouses just off it are internationally-known fast-food outlets and coffee shops. In particular, families would probably appreciate these two attractions, maybe within a short walk of the hotel: the manmade Ulsoor Lake, which offers boat trips and picnic spots, and the excellent 1MG-Lido Mall, home to a games arcade, inviting eateries, and a wonderful supermarket.
- Best Area in Bengaluru for Food & Restaurants: UB City Mall
The cluster of delightful bistros along the outdoor Piazza level at the top-notch UB City mall offers more than a dozen different cuisines, as well as a few internationally-known fast-food options. The excellent range of food and drinks can be relished while being distant from Bengaluru’s infamous traffic and noise. Also, cafés within a few minutes’ stroll east of the mall offer traditional snacks such as idlis (steamed rice cakes with coconut chutney) and appams (rice pancakes with stew), as well as the fiery chicken and pork curry dishes for which the city and region are renowned.
- Best Area in Bengaluru for Transport: Near the Racecourse
The airport is at least an hour by bus or taxi from the inner-city hotels. In contrast, the main bus station and railway terminal are adjacent to each other, only about 2km from Cubbon Park and M.G. Road, and linked by the expanding metro network. The closest cluster of hotels to the bus and train stations is near the racecourse in the inner western suburbs. About 10-15 minutes by auto-rickshaw or taxi from the city center, this area is sprinkled with international-brand hotels, including the remarkable Taj West End. This hotel boasts history, ambiance, and gardens that make it a must-see for anyone not lucky enough to be staying there.
- Best Area in Bengaluru for Nightlife: UB City Mall
With an increasingly affluent middle-class, the nightlife around Bengaluru is renowned, and government regulations are more relaxed than other Indian cities. Trendy tapas bars vie for space and patronage with beer gardens offering microbreweries and nightclubs featuring hip DJs. Understandably, some tourists rarely venture further after dark than the familiar environs of the outstanding UB City mall. The alfresco Piazza level at the mall is packed with delightful cafés, bars, and clubs famous for cocktails and city views, and the amphitheater also features regular musical performances. Maybe, continue the pub crawl down Vittal Mallya Road for only 300m east of the mall to a prominent corner where competition among the pubs is fierce and happy hours long. Also, look out for musical performances – modern and traditional – at various halls.
- Best Area in Bengaluru for Vibe & Culture: Richmond Town
Within a convenient section of the inner city, Richmond (General KS Thimayya) Road stretches for 3km from Richmond Circle (where express airport buses stop) to a junction with M.G. Road (where the excellent 1MG-Lido Mall is located). This area, generally known as Richmond Town, is not as historic or interesting as similar sections of Mumbai or Delhi, but offers a likable vibe, especially around the backstreets. Expect to find family-run guesthouses in converted colonial-era mansions and quaint eateries ranging from French-style bistros to authentic Chinese cafés. About 500m northwest of Richmond Circle, the Ibis hotel is in front of an affluent suburban area resembling a village which is ideal for exploring the genuine middle-class Indian city life.
- Most Romantic Area in Bengaluru: Cubbon Park
While offering expansive gardens and ancient temples, and probably more trendy clubs and chic bars per capita than other Indian cities, Bengaluru is not a destination for honeymoons or romantic getaways. Mumbai and Goa offer far more. One area that does provide a respite from the unrelenting traffic – and its noise and fumes – is around the city’s ‘lungs’ that lend Bengaluru its moniker ‘Garden City’. While not as impressive as some parks in other cities, Cubbon Park is well-designed, extensive, and sprinkled with interesting colonial-era buildings. Another attraction is its proximity to the first-class UB City mall which is packed with tempting bistros and appealing boutiques.
- Best Area in Bengaluru for First Timers: Near the Racecourse
The inner western suburbs around the racecourse are able to provide more space than the city center, although no respite from the traffic. The numerous top-end hotels – including the incredible Taj West End (worth a visit if not staying) – offer gardens, a pool, and a chance to escape (to some degree) the crowds, noise, and pollution of downtown. Being so close to the major bus and train stations allows a quick transfer, but these hotels are still only 10-15 minutes by auto-rickshaw from the excellent UB City mall and extensive Cubbon Park.
- Safest Area of Bengaluru: UB City Mall
The potential dangers that exist in every Indian city can be substantially minimized by taking the usual precautions and staying close to the developed inner suburban areas. The streets around the UB City mall and within 500m to the east are well-lit after dark, and round-the-clock security guards outside the numerous hotels, restaurants, and office buildings help ensure maximum possible security. In reality, the main danger is the never-ending traffic, but these streets also have far fewer vehicles and even some sidewalks. And always remember: pedestrians do not have the right of way in India, except (usually) at a red traffic light.
The 5 Best Neighborhoods in Bengaluru for Tourists
One of the most convenient areas for transport, shops, and hotels is Richmond Road, officially renamed, but rarely called, General KS Thimayya Road. This major inner-city thoroughfare stretches from a junction with M. G. Road (where the excellent 1MG-Lido Mall is located) to Richmond Circle, a major roundabout (where express airport buses start/stop). While the traffic around this area, generally known as Richmond Town, never seems to cease, the quiet backstreets are pleasant for walking and home to charming guesthouses and laidback eateries.
Best Luxury Hotel: ITC Gardenia Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels: Casa Cottage • Laika Boutique Stay
The section to the east (around The Oberoi hotel) is lined with banks and government buildings of minimal interest to tourists – except for the fabulous 1MG-Lido Mall, just around the corner. The western end of M.G. Road is home to a wider variety of classy places to eat, drink, and shop, but doesn’t offer as many hotels. One advantage of staying along or, far better, just off M.G. Road is that the metro (which is expanding rapidly) parallels the road for more than 2km, allowing easy exploration of the vicinity, as well as connections to the major bus and train stations.
Best Luxury Hotels: Oberoi • Taj MG Road Best Cheap/Moderate Hotel: Justa MG Road
The 300-acre Cubbon Park is a popular escape among locals from the traffic and noise. The park is at its finest on Sundays, alternate Saturdays, and major public holidays when surrounding roads are closed to traffic, and during the flower shows on and around Republic Day (26th January) and Independence Day (15th August). The beautifully-restored government buildings within the gardens include the State Library and Government Museum, while close by the fantastic UB City mall offers three levels of fashionable places to eat, drink, and shop. Vittal Mallya Road heads east from the mall for about 600m through a shady and upmarket area of shops, bars, and cafés as far as St. Mark’s Road (see below).
Best Luxury Hotels: Oakwood Premier Prestige • JW Marriott Best Cheap/Moderate Hotel: Southern Star
Often ignored, this road is conveniently positioned between Richmond Town and Cubbon Park. This, and other shady streets in the immediate area, particularly Vittal Mallya Road, feature sidewalks and are lined with upmarket eateries, charming guesthouses, and classy boutiques. St. Mark’s Road is also within a pleasant walk of the first-rate UB City mall and metro stations along M.G. Road.
Best Luxury Hotel: Ritz-Carlton Best Boutique Hotel: St. Mark’s Best Cheap/Moderate Hotel: Treebo Trend Edge
The attraction of this area not far west of Cubbon Park is its proximity to the main bus and train stations and the fact that most hotels can offer more space, including genuine gardens, than downtown hotels. There are few facilities of interest to tourists within walking distance, but hotels are only 10-15 minutes by auto-rickshaw from the extensive gardens at Cubbon Park and top-end shopping in UB City mall.
Best Luxury Hotels: Taj West End • Four Seasons • Shangri-La Best Cheap/Moderate Hotel: Royale Senate Race Course
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- St. Mark’s
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- Taj West End
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