India has a hospitality industry which is world renowned and underpinned by the ideal of ‘Atithi Devo bhava’ – the guest is like a god. How can you go wrong then at any one of the magnificent and opulent luxury hotels in India, especially those that were once stately palaces and homes to erstwhile Maharaja? Since British India encompassed over 600 princely states on the eve of independence, each with its own ruler, it is not at all surprising that so many Indian palaces exist. A great many of these absolutely magnificent palaces have been converted into luxury heritage hotels allowing visitors to experience royal lifestyles, authentic architecture and supreme opulence up close and very personally, butler included.
With the introduction of the e-Tourist, e-Business, and e-Medical Visas by the Indian Government, traveling to India became even simpler. Foreigners can now apply online for their Indian Visa from the comfort of their own home or office and have an eVisa in hand within 3 business days. It is even simpler for those citizens of the 11 eligible countries who can apply for the Visa on Arrival (TVoA) to visit Indian shores.
We promised you palace hotels, and now we will tell you a little about those India has to offer before touching on other Indian Luxury Hotels that may tempt overnighters sampling the country’s ultimate hospitality.
Taj Lake Palace
The lake city of Udaipur surrounded by the majestic Aravalli mountains is inarguably India’s most romantic city, and it is home to the Taj Lake Palace. The floating palace of white marble was originally built in 1746 in the center of Lake Pichola, as a pleasure palace for Maharaja Jagat Singh II. Of course, the view is enchanting enough to be romantic without the elaborately decorated rooms. Guests are treated like the Maharanas of yesteryear from the time they board the boat to be escorted to their lodgings by the hotel staff until they leave by the same means.
In times gone by the Rambagh Palace was used in various roles by the Maharajas of Jaipur since its construction in 1835. Peacocks now strut their pomposity in the royal gardens where once a hunting lodge stood in the years after it served as a handmaid’s residence. The royal guesthouse metamorphosized into 47 acres of a luxury hotel, boasting a labyrinth of quixotic courtyards, two pools, a grand spa, boutique shops, and a Polo Bar. Guests have the escort of a Palace Butler at will and are entertained on the palatial front lawns with musical fare and live performances.
Taj Falaknuma Palace
This jewel of Hyderabad portrays a resplendently gilded past having started its existence as the palatial residence of the Nizam of Hyderabad. Its transformation from 19th-century palace to a gem in the crown of the Taj Hotels was ably and lovingly assisted by Princess Esra, the present Nizam of Hyderabad’s former wife. The authenticity is devotedly preserved in the stucco work, Venetian chandeliers, antiques, upholstery, and paintings to be found in and about the 60 extravagant guest rooms. The resplendent labyrinthine gardens, stables, croquet lawns, and original statues and murals form a living museum perched regally on its 21 acres. Guests arrive in a golden, horse-drawn 1890s carriage replete with the hotel’s coat of arms on the door. They are welcomed on the front lawns of the palace by a commander who leads them up to the white marble staircase while being showered with scented rose petals. Once settled, guests have access to a few of the 5970 rare books fondly minded within the inspirational library, where the first edition of Titanic is to be found. The palace features the world’s longest dining table, which seats 101 diners beneath crystal chandeliers, with place settings intimately and meticulously laid out.
Umaid Bhawan Palace
The Taj Hotels’ Umaid Bhawan Palace remains the residence of the Jodhpur royal family still today. Named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, this golden sandstone masterpiece of Art Deco architecture dates back to 1928. The 347 roomed palace was converted into a heritage hotel offering 64 elegantly appointed rooms/suites, majestically set within the lush 26 acres atop the highest point in Northwest India’s Jodhpur or Sun City.
SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace
Dating back to 1729, the palace was created by Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur as a garden for his beloved queen. The beatific structure with its marble staircases, pristine lawns, bay windows, and glamorous décor went on to serve as the Residency of the British Political Agent to Rajputana in the 19th century. Suján Rajmahal Palace is of the most treasured and oldest of the palaces in Jaipur, set in leafy gardens; it is a secluded verdant oasis in Rajasthan’s busy capital. With just 13 rooms and suites, two of which are Royal apartments, the palace caters to every need and want. Spectate at a polo match in the Royal box, soak in the Indian sun beside the pool, or have the concierge plan you a memorable Indian experience.
For something completely different, consider experiencing:
- SUJAN The Serai, a wistful outpost in the golden Thar desert, with 21 tented suites in 100-acres of an oasis.
- The Oberoi Vanyavilas beside the Ranthambore National Park offers 4-poster beds in royal Raj caravan-like tents in Bengal tiger country set within 20 acres of manicured hotel gardens.
- Wildflower Hall, at 8,250 feet in Shimla overlooking the Himalayas.
Visit, experience, and languish in India.