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PALACE HOTELS - India's Luxury (R)Evolution

June 28, 2018

India is, without doubt, one of the most exotic places on the planet - a traveller's dream. But it seems that, for decades, India was mostly for the adventurous set. A place that was more about experience and adventure than luxury holiday.

India is mostly still such a place. A country of almost unimaginable diversity and colour and noise and smells - a relentless multi-sensory cacophony. A place that almost demands that you put effort into your travels. And the more you put in, well, you know how that equation works. In fact, many will tell you that it's not unusual to return from a visit India and feel like you need a holiday.
 
Much of India's magic swirls around tales of Maharajas, Maharanis, riches, gems, palaces, nobility and empires. There's a richness of history here with few rivals and that history is evident everywhere you travel in India. The great forts of Delhi and Agra are well-known examples of this living heritage. But all over this country are forts and palaces that are enjoying a second life as posh hotels, extending the luxury travel experience out into the regions, beyond India's urban centres and bucket-list visits to the Taj Mahal.
 
India's 'palace hotels' are playing a key role in the country's luxury travel (r)evolution. Stunning, regal buildings are being brought back to life through thoughtful renovations, bringing an entirely new traveller to parts of India that were previously the territory of backpackers or adventure tour operators.
RAAS Devigargh hotel, Udaipur. Image credit: RAAS Devigargh(RAAS Devigargh hotel, Udaipur. Image credit: RAAS Devigargh)

Here we take a look at some great examples of hotels making themselves very much at home and thriving in the old residences of Maharajas and Maharanis through time. They bring a unique, utterly regal travel experience to some of India's remote, wild places.

Planning your Indian holiday can be a daunting experience. After all, it is such a vast country with dozens of major airports and regional experiences waiting for you. Your ATAS accredited travel agent can offer the expert advice and tools you need to create the perfect, unforgettable trip to India.
 Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel, Jodhpur. Image credit: Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace(Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel, Jodhpur. Image credit: Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace)

Welcome to your new bucket-list...

RAMBAGH PALACE

Location: Jaipur, Rajasthan
Nearest Airport:
Sanganeer (JAI)

Rajasthan is synonymous with romance, royalty and legends. Visit here and you will feel transported to another time. A time that comes alive at Rambagh Palace.
Rambagh Palace hotel exterior. Image credit: Taj Rambagh Palace(Rambagh Palace hotel exterior. Image credit: Taj Rambagh Palace)

Built in 1835, Rambagh Palace was originally a royal guesthouse, hunting lodge and foremost Royal Palace residence of the Maharaja. The property was named Rambagh, after the reining Maharaja of the time - Sawai Ram Singh II.

Rambagh remained the home of Rajasthan’s ruling family until 1957, when it was first converted into a luxury hotel. Wonderfully, the region's current Maharaja still resides in a section of the Palace complex.
 Rambagh Palace hotel. Image credit: Taj Rambagh Palace

(Rambagh Palace hotel. Image credit: Taj Rambagh Palace)

Located close to the walled ‘Pink City’, stunning forts, and shopping bazaars of Jaipur, Rambagh Palace evokes the rich culture and history of Rajasthan.
 Rambagh Palace hotel. Image credit: Taj Rambagh Palace

(Rambagh Palace hotel. Image credit: Taj Rambagh Palace)

Rambagh Palace has 78 stunningly restored luxury hotel rooms and suites which were the chambers of the former Maharaja.

FALAKNUMA PALACE

Location: Hyderabad, Telangana.
Nearest Airport: Chennai Airport (HYD)

A 10-year restoration has given Falaknuma Palace a new life as a 60-room, private, palace hotel offering a glimpse of the imperial lifestyle of the Nizams (monarchs) who ruled the legendary, 400 year-old city of Hyderabad.
 Falaknuma Palace hotel, Hyderabad. Image credit: Taj Falaknuma Palace

(Falaknuma Palace hotel, Hyderabad. Image credit: Taj Falaknuma Palace)

Built 2,000 feet above Hyderabad in 1894, Falaknuma Palace is the former palace of the Nizam, thought to have been the richest man in the world at one time.

Step inside the hotel and you'll journey to a refined age of opulence and excess, and a place that was once the sole preserve of visiting royalty. The palace has 60 unique rooms and suites, two restaurants, an outdoor pool and the Jiva Grande Spa.

TAJ LAKE PALACE

Location: Lake Pichola, Udaipur
Nearest Airport: Dabok (UDR)

The Lake Palace simply has to be one of the most romantic hotels in the world. Built in 1746 as a pleasure palace, it is now an iconic hotel that has been featured in films and has hosted Hollywood royalty.

Taj Lake Palace hotel on Lake Pichola, Udaipur. Image credit: Taj Lake Palace(Taj Lake Palace hotel on Lake Pichola, Udaipur. Image credit: Taj Lake Palace)

Guest arrivals at the Taj Lake Palace are legendary as you’re greeted by a shower of rose petals as you step off the boat and are escorted by guards beneath a sequinned umbrella. Once checked-in, you'll be treated, literally, like royalty by an entourage of palace butlers.
 

BEd Room, Taj Lake Palace hotel, Udaipur. Image credit: Taj Lake Palac

(Bed Room, Taj Lake Palace hotel, Udaipur. Image credit: Taj Lake Palace)

A physical expression of serenity and opulence in marble, Taj Lake Palace seems to float on the still waters of Lake Pichola. The hotel has just 83 rooms and suites.

UMAID BHAWAN PALACE

Location: Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Nearest Airport: Jodhpur (JDH)

The enormous Umaid Bhawan Palace is the residence of the current Maharaja, an important piece of Rajasthan’s heritage and currently the world’s sixth-largest private home. The property is set in 26 acres of lush gardens, and inside it sits the Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel.

Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur. Image credit: Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel(Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur. Image credit: Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel)

Perched on Chittar Hill – Jodhpur's highest point, the hotel has views of the historical Blue City, vast sand dunes and the Mehrangarh Fort.
 

Umaid Bhawan Palace pool, Jodhpur. Image credit: Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel

(Umaid Bhawan Palace pool, Jodhpur. Image credit: Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel)

The Palace was built between 1928 and 1943 for Maharaja Umaid Singh ji -  grandfather of the present Maharaja, and is considered to be the last of the great palaces of India. This sandstone edifice was imagined on the grandest possible scale and, intriguingly, designed in the fashionable Art-Deco style of that time.
 
(Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur. Image credit: Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel)
Construction took 15 years, and the 347-room palace was finally completed in 1943. It has served as the principal residence of the Jodhpur royal family ever since.

RAAS DEVIGARH

Location: Delwara, Udaipur – Rajasthan
Nearest Airport: Dabok (UDR)

The contemporary, sophisticated RAAS Devigarh hotel inhabits an imposing 18th-century palace bedecked with turrets and balconies, nestled in the Aravali hills, overlooking the village of Delwara, Udaipur.

 RAAS Devigarh hotel, Udaipur. Image credit: RAAS Devigarh hotel(RAAS Devigarh hotel, Udaipur. Image credit: RAAS Devigarh hotel)

Guests here experience an outstanding heritage property which has been transformed into one Rajasthan's premier five star hotels.

 Suite at RAAS Devigarh, Udaipur. Image credit: RAAS Devigarh hotel(Suite at RAAS Devigarh, Udaipur. Image credit: RAAS Devigarh hotel)

The palace building was restored in 1999 and converted into an all-suite luxury hotel incorporating a modern, minimalist interior with the ancient and ornate finishes of its exterior. The original palace was built using local marble, a material that was used - along with semi-precious stones - during its restoration.

 The Devigarh Suite private sun deck and Jacuzzi. Image credit: RAAS Devigarh hote(The Devigarh Suite private sun deck and Jacuzzi. Image credit: RAAS Devigarh hotel)

RAAS Devigarh has just 39 unique, luxury suites

JAI MAHAL PALACE

Location: Jaipur, Rajasthan
Nearest Airport: Sanganeer (JAI)
Built in 1745 on 18 acres of gardens, the Jai Mahal Palace is a stunning piece of Rajasthan’s heritage.
 Jai Mahal Palace exterior and grounds, Jaipur. Image credit: Taj Jai Mahal Palace hotel

(Jai Mahal Palace exterior and grounds, Jaipur. Image credit: Taj Jai Mahal Palace hotel)

Through its lifetime, Jai Mahal Palace has been the residence of three Prime Ministers of the state of Jaipur. Now painstakingly restored and recently refurbished, the property is now a luxury five-star Taj heritage hotel in the heart of the famous 'Pink City'.

Jai Mahal Palace, Jaipur. Image credit: Taj Jai Mahal Palace hotel(Jai Mahal Palace, Jaipur. Image credit: Taj Jai Mahal Palace hotel)

India's palace hotel revolution continues apace with divine luxury hotels popping up all over the country to meet the growing demand. With 'experiences' being the new 'luxury' we'd say India's palace hotels will have their moment in the sun for a long while yet.

Contact your favourite ATAS accredited travel agent for advice, airfares and the best palace hotel offers available.


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