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Formerly known as Madras, Chennai — Tamil Nadu’s capital — is a laidback, cultured city. Despite being a sizable metro area, it moves at a slower pace than say Mumbai or Bengaluru and is certainly more genteel than Delhi. The city retains its South Indian sensibilities even as it embraces a cosmopolitan glamor — there are luxury hotels, arty shops, and quirky cafes to keep you occupied. Poke around the Government Museum, pay your respects at the multi-colored Kapaleeshwarar Temple, and buy silk saris at Nallis. In the evening, join the locals for a promenade on the Marina Beach, preferably with roasted corn on the cob or a mirchi bajji (deep-fried chili fritters) in hand. Below, we explore our favorite hotels in Chennai.
Best Overall: The Leela Palace
Located on the Adyar sea face, Leela Palace is a Chennai landmark thanks to its status as the city’s first and only seafront hotel. The 11-story property stands on 4.8 acres of land and features 326 rooms and suites. Guestrooms look out over the city or the sea, while all suites have sweeping views of the Bay of Bengal. Rooms are stylishly done up with traditional Indian design blending effortlessly with contemporary décor. All suites come with a personal butler at your service.
The hotel has three restaurants — the all-day dining, multi-cuisine Spectra (which also offers a popular Sunday Brunch), Jamavar, the Leela group’s signature Indian specialty restaurant where you must try the Raan-e-Jamavar (spice-marinated lamb leg), and China XO, which does a pretty authentic Peking duck. The Library Blu lounge bar with its neo blue lighting and fabulous sea views is the perfect place for a sundowner. Other facilities include the 12-room ESPA spa with a salon and vitality pools, a fully equipped fitness center, and a swimming pool.
Best Budget: Hotel ibis Chennai Sipcot
Whether you’re traveling for business or leisure, Hotel ibis Chennai Sipcot is the ideal economy option. It’s located at the heart of Chennai’s IT Corridor on the Old Mahabalipuram Road and in close proximity to Sipcot IT Park. The airport is 15 miles away and it is well connected to the Sipcot area. The hotel’s 176 rooms are compact and well designed, with minimalist décor and excellent soundproofing. All rooms include free Wi-Fi, mini bar, HD TV, safe, and tea/coffee-making facilities. ibis’ signature ‘Sweet Bed’ with big fluffy pillows, a soft duvet, and an ergonomic mattress is sure to make your stay very comfortable. Some of the rooms include a free shuttle to Sipcot IT Park.
The hotel has extended breakfast hours from 4 AM to noon at the Spice It restaurant, which has a choice of Indian, Oriental, and European cuisines. The Hub bar is open most of the day serving cocktails and a range of small bites. The hotel has a well-equipped fitness center that’s open 24/7, three meeting rooms, and a business center. It also offers bicycles on hire for you to explore the city.
Best for Families: Savera Hotel
Chennai’s first four-star hotel opened in 1968 and 50 years later is still a popular option — especially for families. Located in Mylapore, the hotel is less than 10 miles from the airport and just a couple miles from the city’s popular Marina beach, which is a favorite among traveling broods. Savera Hotel has both old and new wings, offering a total of 230 rooms, many of which have been recently refurbished. Rooms are modern and tastefully appointed with all the amenities you’d expect in a four-star hotel like free Wi-Fi, in-room safes, tea/coffee-makers, a mini bar, and more.
Savera Hotel has a choice of three restaurants — the bright and airy Piano restaurant with a multi-cuisine buffet, the rooftop Curry Town for North Indian cuisine, and Malgudi for local cuisines from Southern India's five states. Other amenities include a large outdoor pool, a state-of-the-art gym, and an in-house spa and salon. Guests often rave about the warmth and friendliness of the staff at this hotel. Their Wanderlust lounge will help you plan your sightseeing in and around the city by customizing travel packages, car rentals, and more.
Best for Romance: Taj Connemara
One of the oldest hotels in Chennai, the Taj Connemara recently reopened after a yearlong renovation and redesign. The 120-year-old property is an ode to the city’s colonial past — as evidenced by its elegant architecture and Art Deco elements in the ‘Tropical Modernism’ style of celebrated architect Geoffrey Bawa. The hotel stands amidst 4.5 acres of landscaped greenery and has several enclosed atriums. Its 174 rooms and suites channel an English mansion vibe with high ceilings, light pastel walls, and dark wood accents. The pool-view Colonial Rooms with Victorian-inspired tiles, floor-to-ceiling windows, antique fittings, and a private sit-out are especially charming.
The pool-view Verandah restaurant is the elegant setting for an eclectic menu inspired by the royal kitchens of the Nawab of Arcot with a dash of Anglo-Indian cuisine thrown in, while the award-winning Raintree restaurant serves regional Chettinad cuisine. The Taj Connemara Afternoon Tea Service served at the Lady Connemara Bar & Lounge is very popular as are the colonial-inspired cocktails like the signatures, ‘Since 1891’ and ‘Madras No. 1’. Wind up the day with a quick workout at the 24/7 gym, simply relax by the outdoor swimming pool, or pamper yourself at the Jiva Spa. The hotel also offers curated experiences like a walking tour of Chennai’s British-era buildings with a side of the city’s history.
Best Boutique: The Raintree Hotel, St.Mary’s
Nestled in a quiet residential neighborhood, The Raintree Hotel lives up to its name with a canopy of trees in its lobby atrium and rooms looking out over tree-lined streets. The hotel delivers contemporary décor with terrazzo floors, polished glass fixtures, and warm wood paneling. Its 108 rooms (including two suites) are done up with neutral palettes and occasional pops of colors, giving them a lively, young vibe. From using recycled paper and as little plastic as possible to eco-friendly bath products, the hotel wears its green label proudly.
The Raintree has two restaurants including the lobby-level Colony, which is an all-day, multi-cuisine restaurant, where apart from the food, the centerpiece is a gorgeous art installation inspired by the South Indian spice box. The second restaurant, Chap Chay, offers Thai and Chinese cuisines as well as a DIY stir-fry station. Other facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, and a health spa. The hotel is just eight miles from the airport and transfers are provided.
Best for Singles: Hilton Chennai
Located in Guindy, near the main shopping, business, and IT districts of the city, and just five miles from the international airport, Hilton Chennai is ideally situated for the solo traveler. The stay has 204 rooms, all with modern furnishings, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, luxurious beds, and powerful rain-showers. Spacious suites are located on higher floors and give sweeping views of the city.
Hilton Chennai offers several dining options. The breakfast buffet at the all-day Vasco’s is large & plentiful, as is the lavish ‘Bingeful Sunday Brunch’. For pan-Indian delicacies, head to Ayna or to Est for light snacks, cakes, and handmade chocolates. Sit under a gazebo at the rooftop Q Bar as you sip sundowners and relish succulent grills as the resident DJ keeps the beat. For a classy wine and cheese affair, try the sophisticated Vintage Bank bar, which comes alive with live jazz every Friday evening. Keep up with your gym routine by hitting the round-the-clock fitness center, and later, unwind with a dip in the rooftop infinity pool fringed by swaying palm trees and overlooking the Chennai skyline.
Best for Luxury: ITC Grand Chola
One of the most spectacular of ITC properties, the ITC Grand Chola is a sprawling modern palace that is an ode to one of India’s greatest empires. Step inside and the sweeping grand staircase will catch your eye followed by the impressive art collection through the lobby and common areas. It offers 506 rooms, 16 suites, and 78 service apartments, all of which are luxuriously appointed with sumptuous furnishings, iPad controls for in-room features, and local artworks on the walls.
The hotel has no fewer than seven restaurants serving a variety of cuisines like northwest frontier cuisine at Peshawri, Italian at Ottimo, and Oriental at pan Asian. The signature restaurant is Royal Vega, which offers vegetarian cuisines from the erstwhile royal kitchens of India. The elegant Tranquebar is perfect for a round of cocktails or try The Cheroot for an evening of cigars and fine malts. Apart from in-hotel dining, ITC Grand Chola arranges ‘Food Sherpa’ trails in the city, which includes market visits and meals at carefully selected local restaurants.
Best for Business: Grand Chennai by GRT Hotels
Centrally located in T Nagar, the 133-room Grand Chennai by GRT Hotels is the ideal accommodation option for business travelers. The international airport is less than 10 miles away and the business and IT hubs are easily accessible by road and public transport. Rooms are spacious and well appointed; book a relaxing stay in one of the Serene rooms which come with calming interiors, mood lighting, a Posturepedic mattress, and spa amenities. The elegant suites are located on higher floors and have great city views.
The hotel has four dining options catering to all taste buds. J.Hind presents authentic Indian flavors in a contemporary manner while Bazaar, the all-day multi-cuisine restaurant, has a lively street market vibe and serves up salads, pizzas, and more. Step back into 1920s San Francisco at the three-level Steams & Whistles Bar, which is perfect for after-work cocktails. After a long day, relax at Bodhi Spa and get pampered with a range of aromatherapy, Ayurveda, and deep tissue massages. The hotel also offers a fitness center and a pool.
Best Hostel: Elements Hostel
Located in Kilpauk, with easy access to the airport, train station, and city center, Elements Hostel is a good-quality budget accommodation geared towards backpackers. It’s in a residential part of the city and is housed inside a Tamil townhouse. The hostel offers six rooms, each of which are named after a city in Tamil Nadu. The rooms are divided into one 8-bed mixed dorm, one single room with a shared bathroom, three en-suite twin rooms, and one en-suite king room. Rooms are clean, air-conditioned, and painted in bright colors with funky wall art. Each room offers comfortable beds, clean linens and towels, a water dispenser, storage space, and free Wi-Fi. Some of the rooms have a balcony and a flat-screen TV. The dorm room has a no mobile phone use policy.
There’s a common reception room, but the rooftop terrace is a nicer hangout spot. It has an attached kitchen so you can order freshly cooked breakfast or Tamil-style thali (platter) meals (at additional cost). The staff is friendly and helpful and can arrange car or rickshaw hire for sightseeing or transfers to the airport or train station, as well as laundry service, luggage storage, and more — just ask.
Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular hotels in Chennai. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 20 different hotels overall, read over 60 user reviews (both positive and negative), and stayed in 2 of the hotels themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.