Although I’m based in Pune for a long assignment, I still need to travel to other parts of India for business trips. As a market leader in the telco domain my employer offers me and my colleagues 5-star accommodation during our stay. This was a bit new for me, as I never was a big fan of hotels in this luxurious segment. Sleeping in luxury was above my budget limits or there were other reasons not to go for the splurge. I have seen quit a lot of 5 star hotels during the first months of my stay in India and it’s time to make up the balance. What hotels serve the best breakfast? And where can you can the best service? To be very honest: these questions are not easy to answer. The Marriot, from the Courtyard to the prestigious JW, has it charm and is very stable. They simply perform very well. The Conrad (in Pune), although I’ve not been in one of the rooms, is very elegant and is less flashy than is main competitor in Pune, the JW. The Koregaon park based Westin is a very popular place with a lot of choices in food. Above all, the place, located between Koregaon Park & Kalyani Nagar and next to the river, is fantastic. The nearby O hotel has a very attractive rooftop bar, but the rest of the hotel is a little more disappointing (boring and outdated design). I have not visit all the 5-star hotels in Pune yet, as they are too far from the offices. However, I’m pretty sure that I have a good view about at least half of them. The best option in South-India megacity Hyderabad is the pricy Trident. It has a very contemporary design with beautiful decorated marble floors and walls. Then the latest catch, also in Hyderbad: the Sheraton. It is in the very modern looking but boring financial district and offers everything that you want as a demanding guest. I stayed there for 2 nights and dined in the restaurants. After my check out I backtracked the stay and compared it with (all the) other hotels. I found some competitive advantages in all the 5-star hotels. However, funny enough, I found even more similarities! All the hotels I have seen so far copy each other very aggressively. Yes, the beds are good in all the hotels, but that is not the point. Some of the offerings could feel as an advantage towards other hotels but they are similar everywhere. For instance the lobby restaurant. The menu, the service and the way they price the food and drinks? The Spice Garden in the JW Pune is an exact copy of the Lobby-restaurant in the Sheraton (or vice versa) and many of the 5-star hotels copied this concept. Another similarity is the executive rooms, in combination with the access you will get in the executive lounges. Pricing, concept, service: similar. Security check? The same, check. Car service, airport transfers, the way that hostesses in the lobby attend you, live music in the lobby, air-conditioning, design of the room, greetings by the concierge? It’s almost similar in every luxury hotel! No surprises! With this blog I want to encourage all the hotel-managers to read Youngme Moons book about being different. Please, do it and make my upcoming stay a little more excited!