10 Dazzling Palace-Turned-Hotels Across India For A Royal Holiday
We have all dreamt of living the fairy-tale life: a huge castle with soaring towers; a spacious, luxurious bedroom with a lofty, comfy bed; a long dinner table with all kinds of food waiting to be savoured; lush green lawns that extend till as far as the horizon, to take long walks. As much as we’re likely to be crushed by reality, there’s a sure reason to chin up! India has a long legacy of sweeping castles overlooking a picturesque scenery that has been used rather well by the hospitality industry. Meaning, royal structures that are now transformed into opulent hotels are a promising stay to experience life king-size.
These palatial hotels with massive doors and ornate windows indeed treasure a royal charm, and the lavish service brings with it a pampering that’s second to none. The elegant decor sure makes you feel like royalty, several cuisines conspire to cosset you appetite, and the passages take you back in time for a walk amid India’s regal past. Living in their splendid rooms would be living not only the history, but also the immaculate art and architecture that have been the crux of shaping the royal life. Here’s the HG guide for knowing more about a holiday in India’s royal heritage wonders:
I. Fort Jadhavgadh, Pune
Built by the Maratha General PIlaji Jadhavrao in the 16th Century, Fort Jadhavgadh still stands strong and proud like the lasting legacies of the Marathas. Its sturdy stone walls enclose stylish rooms that offer a royal indulgence. Royal tent accommodations that are equipped with contemporary furnishings also offer a delux stay while bringing guests closer to nature.
To take you deeper into the rich past of the Fort, there’s an in-house museum that displays several artefacts that were central to the life of the royalty back in the century. The fort-hotel also vouches to provide a panoramic experience for its guests, such as a performance with the dand-patta or the gauntlet-sword. Trekking and bird-watching amid the lush landscapes surrounding the Fort can be arranged. If you wish to revive in luxury, you can opt for a spa session at the hotel, or simply sit back in the pool.
II. Sujan Rajmahal, Jaipur
Jaipur’s royal seat, The SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace, opened doors to the world as a boutique hotel earlier this year. The fifteen rooms, redesigned by Adil Ahmad, are the epitome of fine royalty amalgamated with a particularly modern luxury. From Queen Elizabeth II to Lord Mountbatten, the hotel has hosted numerous noble dignitaries in its lavish chambers, which are today, named after their guests. Once a British residency, the palace has been a home to Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur, who was lauded for her beauty and glamorous style. The hotel now attracts the crème-de-la-crème of travellers from India and abroad.
III. Mud Fort Kuchesar, Kuchesar, Uttar Pradesh
The palace was the erstwhile seat of the powerful Jat Kingdom of Uttar Pradesh, a symbol of their affluent lifestyle and love for art. Built in the mid-18th century, the Palace still retains the absolute charm of its snowy-white facades. Extensive gardens that converge to a chess-floor courtyard inside the Palace and the impeccable dining room are evidences of style in the middle of overwhelming decor. There’s space dedicated to enjoy outdoor sports such as tennis and football, and outdoor touring activities to explore the local villages and beautiful landscapes can be arranged.
IV. Shivavilas Palace Hotel, Hampi
The Shivavilas Palace is a series of striking architectural elements organised together in harmony: the central dome forms the most imposing element of the structure, while the beautiful arches render their enclosures a royal allure. These charms, of course, unveil themselves slowly and tastefully as guests approach the Palace through a lawned pathway fringed with manicured trees. Apart from the mandatory facilities of a palace-hotel, Shivavilas Palace houses a vintage car museum to take its guests through the transportation history of the royals. An up close and personal with the regal lifestyle is received almost immediately upon spotting the Palace’s lavish furniture.
V. Chidambara Vilas, Pudukottai, Tamil Nadu
Chettinad architecture revives itself with a polished note inside the affluent, 110-year-old Chidambara Vilas. Royal, luxurious living finds its peak in the well-furnished rooms of the palace-hotel down to the last detail. You time here is bound to take you to the bygone era, with carved, wooden bed-posts and antique electrical switches giving you a glimpse into the Chettiyar lifestyle that belonged to the nobles. Their experiential dining is not something to overlook; age-old recipes served on plantain leaves do take a contemporary turn, letting you taste authentic flavours that have been handed down from the royal kitchen.
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VI. Chapslee, Shimla
While most of India’s palaces are monumental and stately, Chapslee is amongst those that are modest and homely. Summer home of the late Honorable Raja Charanjit Singh of Kapurthala, it houses the exact warmth in its ornate interior decor as one might expect it to. The exteriors are no less captivating; the pretty house looks like it has stemmed up right from the tasteful landscape that surrounds, and the sloping roofs topped with finials render it that unmistakable charm of a Victorian summer palace. There’s a royal touch spinned in every fabric and pieces of furniture come with a rustic elegance. Perched on top of a hill, its gardens offer several vantage points to view the gorgeous hill-town of Shimla.
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VII. Amet Haveli, Udaipur
Amet Haveli is yet another from the embellished palaces of Udaipur, with their beautiful jaali windows and jharokhas that offer a panoramic view. As you traverse the spacious entrance courtyard with the customary tulsi kund, you approach an imposing arched gateway topped with beautiful chattris, the key elements of Rajasthan’s royal architecture. The sparkling white walls bring in plenty of natural light in the luxurious rooms, while the windows lined with several decorative elements open up to the most breathtaking views of the City of Lakes. Built in the 16th Century out of materials left after construction of the famous Lake Palace, Amet Haveli is the epitome of living and experiencing regal heritage.
VIII. Fort Heritage, Kochi
While most Indian palaces bring with them a grandeur that descends from the Indian royal families, Fort Heritage spins a different fabric. A Dutch palace of the 17th Century, this hotel magnifies what might be regal living and dining, amid clean structural lines topped with the traditional fish-tile roof. The rooms and other spaces are furnished with a style that is mostly European, but grandiose nevertheless. With its Indo-Portuguese museum and culinary flavours that include those the Syrian Christians – Kochi’s earliest foreign settlers – the Hotel takes you through Kochi’s history, albeit with style and taste.
IX. Stok Palace Heritage Hotel, Ladakh
India is home to countless palaces, each designed with local architecture styles and infused with luxury. Ladakh’s Stok Palace is certainly an astounding example, with Ladakh’s vernacular architecture shaping every beam, column, door and window of the imposing hotel. Warm and earthy colours adorn the walls and furnishings, along with intricate and exemplary murals. Multi-level courtyards inside the Palace create an interesting arrangement of spaces and a unique experience of living. A more intimate encounter is housed in the rustic Heritage Villas, where you’re assured to be left undisturbed, in the company of Ladakh’s spectacular landscape.
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X. Chateau Garli
Garli in Kangra Valley houses a heritage stay that is not quite the likes usually found here, and in that sense, Chateau Garli is indeed unique. Built in 1921, it has been revived as a luxurious heritage hotel. Its stained glass windows and soaring gabled roofs bring a blast from India’s Portuguese colonial past with the influences of the local Kangri architecture. With the picturesque Dhauladhar mountains as the backdrop, Chateau Garli offers a cosy stay in heritage premises. Experience local food at its best, along with the famed beverage Kangra tea, that are all available and readily served by the stay’s well-appointed staff. While one of the rooms overlooking the lovely swimming pool might be the best buy, others that open to Kangra’s stunning landscape are no less splendid.
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