While relaxed, accessible beach accommodation is what you’d expect at Mahabalipuram, the InterContinental is contrastingly grown-up and restrained, set back from the shoreline behind its carefully manicured gardens. It’s lean, almost ascetic, and a 20-minute drive outside Mahabalipuram, standing aloof from other luxury resorts near the seventh-century UNESCO World Heritage Site. A surprisingly compact courtyard-like driveway leads to the equally startling lobby, a dusky, top-lit enclosure sealed with lofty Mahabalipuram granite walls, perhaps recalling a temple sanctum. The hotel is decidedly monumental, with most rooms facing a great central courtyard bisected by a raised granite walkway. This is flanked by an Aman-esque pool (itself protected by granite walls) on one side and an enormous lotus pond sprouting palm trees on the other. If references to temple architecture are sometimes more oblique than obvious, they’re absent from the spacious ultra-modern rooms, where a palette of white and splashes of gold—offset by timber elements and polished black furnishings—creates a soothing environment for bedding down. And if the in-room toiletries from L’Occitane leave you wanting a little more, you can always melt your worries away with a candle massage at the spa. (91/44-7172-0101; ihg.com; doubles from US$140).
This article originally appeared in the December 2016/January 2017 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“The Luxe List 2016: InterContinental Hotel Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort”).