ROYAL RETREATS: TOP PICKS OF THE BEST PALACE HOTELS IN INDIA
These hotels’ lavish interiors, magnificent rooms and tranquil ambiance showcase a sumptuous level of luxury
By Pallavi Mehra
India is home to some of the best palaces in the world. Luckily for us, a number of these erstwhile royal homes have been converted into spectacular boutique hotels. Here, are our five favourite Indian palace hotels that not only showcase breathtaking architecture and regal interiors, but also offer impeccable service and an experience of a lifetime! These properties are currently taking reservations and are open for business, maintaining all recommended health and safety measures.
Umaid Bhawan Palace is a stand-stone, Art Deco-inspired structure
UMAID BHAWAN PALACE, JODHPUR
The Umaid Bhawan Palace is the epitome of splendor, grandeur and magnificence. The palace’s luxurious design, on-site amenities and regal accommodations display an extravagant level of lavishness. Umaid Bhawan Palace is named after Maharaja Umaid Singh from the Rathore Dynasty. The sprawling palace, designed by the well-known Edwardian architect, Henry Vaughan Lanchester, is still Umaid Singh’s grandson Gaj Singh’s private residence. However, a part of the palace has been transformed into a luxury hotel, managed by the Taj Hotels.
Umaid Bhawan Palace displays a blend of Eastern and Western architecture
The hotel interior includes 64 guest rooms, including 22 well-appointed rooms and 42 magnificent suites. The extensive palace grounds cover over 26 acres of land, and the palace itself is a stand-stone, Art Deco-inspired structure. The Umaid Bhawan Palace is a perfect blend of Eastern and Western architectural designs. The palace’s grandiose dome is influenced by Renaissance architecture, whereas, the stately towers are constructed in Rajput design tradition. Each majestic guest room is unique, and is strewn with objects that have a sense of personality. Moreover, the palace grounds boast of ornate swimming pools, a luxurious spa, manicured lawns, croquet facilities, squash and tennis courts, a fitness centre, yoga facilities and two restaurants.
Ahilya Fort is situated on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Narmada River
AHILYA FORT, MAHESHWAR
A two-hour drive south of Indore is the glorious Ahilya Fort. This stunning boutique hotel is perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sacred Narmada River. The 250-year-old Ahilya Fort is enclosed within the massive walls of the 16th-century Maheshwar Fort. This heritage hotel features 19 luxurious rooms, suites and tents that are scattered among buildings, which are interconnected by a web of stone walkways. The spacious rooms are exquisitely furnished with one-of-a-kind furniture pieces and antiques.
Ahilya Fort's interior décor showcases the age-old crafts of the region
Steeped in heritage and culture, Ahilya Fort houses serene gardens, hidden terraces, ancient turrets and battlements, and even a stunning swimming pool. The hotel's awe-inspiring interior decor exhibits the age-old crafts of the region. Every room and suite features distinctive furnishings and has a unique character. Additionally, Ahilya Fort was the backdrop for some key scenes in Mira Nair’s Netflix miniseries—'A Suitable Boy.'
Belgadia Palace Hotel is nested atop a hill, amid a lush green natural landscape
BELGADIA PALACE HOTEL, ODISHA
About a 3.5-hour drive from Kolkata is the splendid Belgadia Palace. The erstwhile royal family of Mayurbhanj has transformed a part of their ancestral palace into a charming heritage hotel. Built in 1804, the Belgadia Palace is nested atop a hill, amid a lush green natural landscape. The property features a white, double-storey façade and a striking Corinthian column designed in Greek and Victorian architectural styles. On the inside, the hotel exhibits luxury interior design with high-end furnishings.
Belgadia Palace Hotel houses a number of artworks showcasing the royal family's rich history
In 2016, architect and interior designer Pooja Bihani of architecture firm Spaces and Design worked with the royal family to restore the Belgadia Palace. Presently, this boutique hotel comprises five deluxe rooms and four boutique-style suites. Every room displays a unique colour palette. The hotel houses a number of exquisite artworks showcasing the royal family's rich history. In addition, the Belgadia Palace Hotel features a billiard and bar room, a library, a spa, a modern dining room, a tearoom, a majestic living room, a temple and a games room.
RAAS Devigarh is an 18th-century palace hotel
Hailed as one of the most opulent hotels in the world, RAAS Devigarh is not to be missed! Nestled in the majestic Aravalli Hills of Rajasthan, in Udaipur, RAAS Devigarh is an 18th-century palace hotel. Located amid a scenic rural setting, this palace is an all-suite luxury boutique hotel. The legendary king of Mewar—Maharana Pratap built the original structure as a maze of rooms on various levels. Currently, the hotel exhibits ancient and ornate architecture and minimalist interiors with a muted colour palette, which is a refreshing change from the dark interiors of traditional Rajasthani palaces.
RAAS Devigarh features sumptuous interiors
RAAS Devigarh houses 39 sumptuous suites offering panoramic views of the Aravalli Hills. The large suites have bright marble floors, plush furnishings and luxury bathrooms. The hotel grounds also comprise a heated pool and a spa, a billiard room, a hot tub and multiple dining venues. In addition, RAAS Devigarh offers a wide range of activities such as morning yoga sessions, private cooking classes, guided treks through the mountains, outdoor picnics and village tours.
Falaknuma Palace is the former palace of the Nizam of Hyderabad
FALAKNUMA PALACE, HYDERABAD
You cannot help but be ecstatic when you arrive at the Falaknuma Palace in a gold horse-drawn carriage and spot the grandiose palace building. Meaning ‘Mirror of the Sky,’ the Falaknuma Palace is reminiscent of the architecture of the White House and the Buckingham Palace. Built in 1894, this hotel was the former palace of the Nizam of Hyderabad. Spread over 32 acres of landscaped gardens, the palace hotel features 60 rooms and suites that were beautifully refurbished by Her Highness Princess Esra, the Nizam’s Turkish wife.
The Falaknuma Palace houses a dining room that is fit for a king!
Falaknuma Palace’s interiors feature French Baroque ceilings, walnut floors Art Deco chandeliers, marble staircases, stained-glass windows and artworks from the Nizam’s personal collection. Along with the lavish rooms and suites, the hotel also has a regal dining room, a library, a spa, a lounge and an outdoor pool. In addition, Adaa is Falaknuma Palace’s famous Hyderbadi restaurant and Celeste serves delectable Mediterranean fare.