Discover palace hotels across India, complete with all the opulence that royals were known to enjoy.
By Ravleen Madan Singh
Few countries compare to India when it comes to her wealth of history, culture and colour, and the sheer variety offered from one destination to the next. Thanks to India once being divided into 565 different kingdoms, different cities and towns offer attractions worlds apart. One thing they have in common, however, is a wealth of royal history. Many of these magnificent palaces, once exclusively home to India’s royal families, have been converted into luxurious five-star hotels — where one can holiday, and experience first-class service, one-of-a-kind facilities, and luxury beyond imagination. So why not take a short retreat, and vacation like a royal?
Taj Falakuma Palace
Nestled in the state of Telangana, and now part of the renowned Taj hospitality group, is Falakuma Palace – once home to the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad. Its vast estate stretches over 32 acres of lush green land, and boasts some of the most exquisite paintings and statues. Additionally, the palace library’s delicately carved roof is a replica of the one at Windsor Castle. This property vaunts six dining options, with highlights including afternoon tea at The Jade Terrace and royal Hyderabadi cuisine at Adaa. The estate’s standard room, The Palace Room with Garden View, is still a vast 56 square metres in size, but if you are in the mood to be pampered, opt for the opulent Grand Royal Suite with stunning panoramic views of the landscaped grounds.
For more information, visit www.taj.tajhotels.com/en-in/taj-falaknuma-palace-hyderabad
No palace list would be complete without the mention of the richest and most grandiose empire of them all – the Rajput Kingdom. Once the residency of the Maharaja of Jaipur, the Rambagh Palace is one of the oldest mansions in India, originally built in 1835, and is also known as the “Jewel of Jaipur”. Guests are greeted inside this spectacular estate with decorated elephants, camels and horses. Additionally, upon arrival, one can relax at the Verandah for afternoon tea, champagne or a pre-dinner cocktail. Accommodation is truly like no other, with expansive choices available — from the Historical Suites, which are tastefully restored to resemble rooms from the royal era, to the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh Suite, inspired by his Highness himself, and the Suryavashi Suite, also known as the presidential suite, boasting high ceilings and exquisite chandeliers.
For more information, visit www.taj.tajhotels.com/en-in/taj-rambagh-palace-jaipur
Also one of Rajput Kingdom’s treasures, the newly cosmopolitan Jodhpur offers some of the most lavish and tranquil palace stays in the country — the crème de la crème being Taj’s Umaid Bhawan. The grand Yellowstone structure, featuring Renaissance design, stretches over 26 acres of land. The hotel offers a unique ‘Champagne Museum Walk’, which allows guests to appreciate a collection of exclusively hand picked art with a glass of champagne in hand. Pamper yourself at the award-winning Jiva Grande Spa, which offers rejuvenating and healing treatments, including Ayurveda and Indian therapies, as well as body wraps and scrubs, yoga, meditation and beautifying facials. The luxurious suites offer picturesque views from their private terraces, where one can opt to have breakfast — perfect for winter and spring.
For more information, visit www.taj.tajhotels.com/en-in/umaid-bhawan-palace-jodhpur
The Oberoi Grand
Exuding elegance and colonial charm, The Oberoi Grand offers tranquility in the hustle and bustle of vibrant Kolkata. Like all hotels in the Oberoi chain, this property offers stellar dining options, including Baan Thai, which offers signature Thai delicacies. Wine enthusiasts can partake in the exclusive ‘Indian Wine Trail’ to learn more about the subcontinent’s vineyards, indigenous grapes and wine pairing. To discover more about Kolkata, one can also participate in the ‘European Walk’, which covers the city’s famous landmarks, including St. Andrew’s Church, Lal Dighi and the Dead Letter Office. Rooms and suites are traditional but lavish, inspired by the Victorian era.
For more information, visit www.oberoihotels.com/hotels-in-kolkata
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
There is no doubt that Mumbai’s leading hotel is the iconic Taj Mahal Palace — with its grandeur and architecture, it stands unrivalled as Taj’s flagship luxury hotel. Initially, the hotel’s clientele were mainly Europeans and Maharajas upon its opening in 1903. Its strategic location and stunning views of the Arabian Sea, coupled with the hotel’s excellent spa, landscaped pool facilities and restaurant choices, make the property truly outstanding. Guests are spoiled with award-wining culinary choices, and they should definitely dine at Wasabi by Morimoto for innovative Japanese creations, and the Golden Dragon Restaurant for delectable Chinese delights. Rooms and suites are elegantly and traditionally furbished. Opt for a weekend stay at the whimsically lavish Ravi Shankar Suite, which stretches over 120 square metres and includes memorabilia from the artist; or perhaps the extravagant Tata Suite with authentic colonial furniture, and fine detailing, created in honour of the founder himself.
For more information, visit www.taj.tajhotels.com/en-in/taj-mahal-palace-mumbai