Given that it is one of the most-visited tourist destinations in the world, Agra's accommodations can be disappointing, no doubt a case of resting on the Taj's laurels. The big exception is Amarvilas, which -- even if it means scrimping elsewhere -- is worth every cent, not least for its proximity to the Taj and the matchless views.
Within the moderate price category, all located south and southwest (known as the Cantonment) of the Taj, there is incredible price parity; of these only the Trident offers good value. The best budget option, conveniently located within Tajganj (where the Taj is located), is the Hotel Sheela. (Note: Again we urge you to stay at one of the better properties; a bad hotel experience can really spoil the whole romanticism attached to the Taj. Check online for daily price variations, particularly for the Gateway and Trident hotels: You can sometimes get an ultralow bargain rate.).
Moderate -- If for some reason our reviewed recommendations are full, note that you can get a reasonably good deal at the Mansingh Palace (Fatehabad Rd.; tel. 0562/233-1771; www.mansinghhotels.com; doubles from Rs 8,000), where you'll have the option of getting a room from which you can (just) see the Taj. Styled as a faux fortress-palace, Mansingh Palace has similar amenities to the Taj-owned Gateway Hotel and Trident. For those on a more restricted budget, your best bet would be Howard Park Plaza (Fatehbad Rd.; tel. 0562/233-1870; www.parkplaza.com), conveniently located near the Taj (15-min. walk). With doubles from Rs 5,000, this is good value for the host of amenities offered (including a pool).
Inexpensive -- If you're watching your rupees but want to be near the Taj, the Hotel Sheela is less than 2 minutes' walk from the entrance; it's ideal for travelers who can put up with absolute basics. But our budget preference is for Hotel Amar (Tourist Complex Area, Fatehabad Rd.; tel. 0562/233-1884 through -1889; www.hotelamar.com). Away from the main hype, but around a 10-minute walk from the Taj, it offers clean but basic rooms with en-suite bathrooms; amenities include a pool, and there's regular hot water. All the rooms may be noisy given the proximity of traffic: Be sure to insist on an upstairs room looking toward the pool, which is well maintained and sets the Amar apart from the other faceless options along busy Fatehabad Road. Doubles start at Rs 3,600. (It may be worth checking the Howard Park Plaza rates before booking anywhere else though, as they sometimes offer specials that beat even the budget lodgings.)
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.