In amongst India’s 1.2 billion population, this extraordinary country enthralls its visitors with ancient inhabited cities, astonishing colourful festivities and beautiful landscapes; it’s a real overload of the senses. To add to the many incredible experiences India has to offer, the country is home to a number of undeniably luxurious palace hotels, all of which have their own unique charm and character. There is no better way to travel through the country than by spending a night or two in these grand properties, many of which were previously owned by Rajasthan royalty.
If you wish to follow in the footsteps of royalty, here are my top 5 palace hotels:
Built between 1743 and 1746 as a royal summer palace, the Taj Lake Palace is an iconic property in India thanks to its romantic location in the middle of Lake Pichola, in the beautiful city of Udaipur. Overlooking the city palace, this hotel is a truly delightful place to stay, and serves as the perfect conclusion to a trip exploring other parts of Rajasthan.
You will find yourself gliding across the lake by boat to reach the Taj Lake Palace entrance, before being showered with flower petals as you are welcomed into the hotel. It is true to say that this is one of the most romantic and exceptional places to stay when exploring this part of the world.
Set in the heart of the Pink City, the Rambagh Palace is the former residence of the Maharaja of Jaipur and is often considered one of the best hotels in the world. Boasting 47 acres of perfectly manicured gardens, this luxury property is a welcome oasis from the hustle and bustle of Rajasthan’s capital city.
Each room here is lavishly designed and it’s easy to imagine yourself a part of its royal history. Don’t miss out on a tipple or two in the polo bar.
Situated high above the city of Jodhpur sits the almighty Umaid Bhawan Palace in all its grandeur, looking down on the desert landscape below. This art deco designed palace is one of the world’s largest private residences and serves as the principle home to the former Jodhpur royal family. Part of the palace is managed by Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, and is run as an opulent property for those looking to enjoy the Blue City in utmost luxury.
The palace is colossal and offers a range of facilities such as a tennis court, indoor swimming pool and an impressive spa. If you like vintage cars, you may also wish to visit the gallery here which showcases the royal family’s most prized automobile collection.
Located in one of the oldest inhabited cities on the planet, Nadesar Palace has hosted royalty and statesmen since 1845. The city of Varanasi is a once in a life time place to visit and the Nadesar offers an equally impressive place to stay. With just 10 rooms it has an air of exclusivity, and if you’re feeling regal you may wish to arrive at the entrance in the hotel’s traditional horse and cart.
Due to its size, you receive a very personal service and may find it hard to pull yourself away from your luxurious surroundings. But don’t miss out on the chance to see the nightly Ganga Aarti down by the River Ganges. In this busy and remarkable city, the Nadesar Palace is without a doubt the most luxurious hotel to spend a night or two.
Opened in 1909, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is not strictly a historical palace but it is still a grand hotel with a rich history and an interesting architectural design. Overlooking the Gateway of India, this property is one of the most recognisable hotels in the world and offers all of the facilities you would expect from a top luxury hotel.
Walking through the hallways of the property you will notice the many famous faces who have stayed here before, from prime ministers and presidents to rock stars and Bollywood actors. The hotel itself claims to offer the highest level of service in India and is one of the best places to stay when in the bright city lights of Bombay.
Craig Burkinshaw is a Founder Director of Audley Travel.