Rajasthan is one of the most popular travel destinations in India. With its rich history, cultural heritage and royal offerings, the state is very popular with domestic as well as international travellers. Drawing its name from the rajas and Rajputs that inhabited it, the beautiful forts, palaces and buildings constructed by these royals are all famous attractions.
A lot of these royal buildings have now been converted, either fully, or partly, into ‘heritage hotels’. These heritage properties offer their guests an experience of a lifetime by recreating the atmosphere and lifestyle of their former inhabitants. Even though the title of Maharaja is now just customary, the opulence and idiosyncrasies of Rajput warrior princes could easily be experienced by choosing a magnificent palace hotel for accommodation.
It is not that other states or regions in India did not have kings or rulers, but Rajasthan has the distinction of having a larger number of such palaces than any other state in India. There are almost two dozen royal palaces in Rajasthan that have opened their doors to travellers. For someone looking for a firsthand experience of Rajasthan’s rich history and hospitality, there is no better idea than booking a stay at any of the heritage hotels in Rajasthan. Regal splendour coupled with the best of hospitality – heritage hotels of Rajasthan promise you the best of everything. These tastefully revived heritage hotels recreate the romance of a bygone era and give a peek into the indulgence of the Maharajas. As a repository of art and culture, these heritage hotels in Rajasthan offer a glimpse into the age of chivalry, legends and decadence. Here are 5 Best Palace Hotels of Rajasthan that are as grand and beautiful as they are luxurious.
Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel, Jodhpur, Rajasthan
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The Umaid Bhawan Palace, that made recent news with Priyanka Chopra’s wedding has been a popular draw for the jet set of the world and was built between 1928 and 1943. Located in the desert capital of Jodhpur, this is a sandstone monument that is slightly yellow and therefore stands out among the rest of the royal hotels of the country. Not just appearance, but even its scale and size is mammoth – this huge 347-room palace took 15 years to complete!
The palace is a perfect blend of eastern and western architectural influences. There is also a Renaissance-inspired 105-foot high cupola surrounded by other towers built-in the Rajput tradition. This is one of the few mansion hotels in the country that offers you an authentic royal Rajasthan experience.
Rawla Narlai, Rajasthan
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Rawla Narlai, originally built in the 17th century as a royal retreat has been painstakingly restored into one of Rajasthan’s most frequented heritage hotels. The ‘Rawla’ (Manor) is in ‘Narlai’ village, a quaint little hamlet situated on what were once the dusty dirt-roads between the erstwhile states of Marwar & Mewar (Jodhpur & Udaipur), and is surrounded by an assorted landscape that offers rocky outcrops, lakes & forests. A sprawling country house, romance oozes from every beautifully restored room. There are 32 rooms in all – all set around courtyards of blooming flowers. Each room is different and full of surprises: delicately painted arches framing a bed; original murals of a royal procession; a bathroom that opens onto a tiny private terrace with a view over the town. There is even a walled garden that encloses a pristine pool. Dinners under the stars, drinks in the lamp-lit lobby among traditional performers, liveried staff bowing in respect – one feels like royalty during every moment of stay here!
Laxmi Vilas Palace, Bikaner, Rajasthan
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Housed in a majestic palace built in 1902, this heritage hotel features Indo-Saracen architecture with its filigree and latticework. Laxmi Nivas Palace in Bikaner catered exclusively to princelings, select statesman and architects of history. It is considered to be one of the most royal palaces in India. The original drapery, the original grandeur, the antique artworks, gilt-embossed gold panelling, hand-painted walls, and the regal feel, all have been kept intact in the guest rooms. The historical suite, called Karni Vilas has not changed from over a century, even a bit from the time when it was the bedroom of the prince. Some of the highlights of this suite are the teak ceiling with gold inlaid carvings, stunning usta art in blue and gold, and the walls that are adorned with paintings of the royal hunt or indigo motifs of amphoras. Each antique is handpicked. The blue upholstery adds a character. The bathroom and the dressing room are spacious too. Gaze at hand-painted friezes and gold-laden walls, admire from up close the inspiration behind Lutyens’ and Baker’s architectural style, walk in the lush green gardens alongside peafowl, be witness to traditional folk music and dance performances or enjoy a Royal Themed dinner at the Manuhar Restaurant – there is nothing ordinary about a holiday at Laxmi Vilas Palace.
Samode Palace, Jaipur, Rajasthan
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One of the most splendid places for the ultimate royal experience, the Samode Palace is architecturally fascinating, visually enchanting and sensually captivating. The Samode Palace is located near the Samode village on the outskirts of Shekhawat. The paradisiacal structure was built 475 years ago, in a beguiling concoction of Rajput and Mughal styles of construction, setting an impeccable standard in luxury and charm. Located about 42 kilometers from the Jaipur City, Samode immediately puts an enduring impression with its beauty and majesty. The palace is a wonderful example of Rajput-Mughal architecture. Hotel Samode Palace re-creates the glorious era of the Rajputana culture in every way. Dining in the heritage hotel is a cherished memory. The gastronomy comprises of traditional Rajasthani flavors, Indian specialties as well as cuisines from all over the world. Drinks from the extensive wine cellar, with a handpicked and expert choice of both International and Indian variety are available at your asking.
Enjoy meals in the courtyard under the shade of trees with the music of chirping birds or the indoor restaurant. Spend the evening with cocktails by the poolside. Enjoy a romantic candle-lit dinner at the terrace garden under the starlit skies.
Shiv Niwas Palace, Udaipur, Rajasthan
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When it comes to relishing the life of the erstwhile royalty of India, Shiv Niwas Palace Udaipur is simply the best place to be. Indulge in impeccable services and world-class comforts in one of the prominent heritage hotels of Udaipur. The crescent-shaped building of Shiv Niwas Palace was erected in the first-half of the 20th century, during the rule of Maharana Fateh Singh. It was set aside for visiting guests and dignitaries of the Mewar royal family. This royal guest house has been transformed into a heritage property and is famed as one of the most luxurious heritage hotels of India, offering every world-class facility along with an opulent old-world setting. The spacious rooms and suites of this property are a perfect blend of history, luxury, modern amenities, and excellent personalized services. Each guest room has a unique amazing décor, period furniture, king-size bed, and every other world-class facility. The walls of the rooms and suites are adorned with and portraits of the royal family. Shiv Niwas Palace of Udaipur is located on the banks of Lake Pichola and was featured in the James Bond movie Octopussy. The palace is run by the HRH Group of Hotels and played host to Queen Elizabeth II.
Sariska Palace, Alwar
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Constructed as a royal hunting lodge by Maharaja of Alwar, Sariska Palace was turned into one of the most popular heritage hotels of Rajasthan. It boasts of an amazing architecture that is a mix of Rajasthani and French styles. The property spans over an area of 120 acres of land, and offers a royal stay amid all the modern facilities and amenities. The guests can savour lip-smacking delicacies of Indian and popular World cuisines at the restaurant and enjoy the finest of drinks at the on-site bar. The spacious rooms and suites of Sariska Palace are well-appointed and have opulent interiors. The rooms and lodges are perfectly renovated and restored to provide the true glimpses of the royal opulence. An added attraction is the location of the palace – just a kilometre away from the Sariska Tiger Reserve.
Gorbandh Palace, Jaisalmer
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One of the best palaces in Rajasthan, Gorbandh Palace features awesome yellow sandstone architecture, magnificent artwork, décor, and world-class amenities. The yellow sandstone structure and beautifully carved balconies of Gorbandh Palace go perfectly with the feel of the ‘Golden City’ of Jaisalmer. It is located on the route of the well-known Sam Sand Dunes and is one of the most popular heritage hotels in Jaisalmer. Gorbandh refers to a harness that is decorated with buttons, colorful threads, beads, sequins and shells by desert women for the camels of their husbands as it is a proud thing for them. It is a mark of honor for the animal and their hardworking men who work in the desert. The 83 luxurious rooms are well-appointed and the garden is decorated with beautiful fountains, statues, and sculptures that attract thousands of tourists.
Phool Mahal, Kishangarh
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Located near Ajmer on the banks of Lake Gundalo—Phool Mahal is a renowned heritage palace of Rajasthan, which boasts of its stunning floral motifs on the walls, beautifully designed windows and pillars. In 1870, Maharaja Prithee Singh constructed this palace as his monsoon retreat. The palace lies by the side of Lake Gundalao. The palace is the bright example of the glorious past of Rajasthan and its rich art and architecture, clubbed with world-class comforts for the visiting guests. The guest rooms of the hotel are very well-appointed and have a traditional décor, with furniture from the colonial era. Multi-cuisine food served at the dining hall is sumptuous. Phool Mahal is now amongst the top palace hotels in Rajasthan.
Khimsar Fort, Nagaur
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Nestled in a small hamlet with the same name, Khimsar Fort is one of the best luxury heritage hotels in Rajasthan. The Khimsar Fort, now a premium heritage hotel, was constructed by Rao Karamsiji, the 8th son of Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur. The construction of the fort began in the year 1523. Later, a zenana (ladies) wing, and a private regal wing built by Thakur Onkar Singh for himself. A part of the fort still forms the residence of the royal family of Khimsar. The property spreads over 11 acres of lush land and has huge courtyards and orchards, making it an interesting setting, amid sand dunes. Founded way back in the 15th century, today this heritage hotel is a winner of a number of accolades for offering a royal stay, with world-class comforts. The hotel has luxurious rooms and huts as accommodation, serve the finest of food and beverages, and has all the modern comforts. The carved hanging casements attached to the rooms, the elegant period furniture and the latest amenities available makes Khimsar Fort a popular option for leisure tourists who want to experience tradition with a difference.
Dadhikar Fort, Alwar
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The famous heritage hotel in Alwar, The Dadhikar Fort is one of the most stunning heritage properties that truly reflect the authentic forms of Indian culture and arts. The historical Dadhikar Fort was constructed approximately 1100 years ago in the 9-10th century as a residential camp. It was constructed right in the middle of thick forests surrounded by Aravali Hills by the deserted King Chand and his family. He was forced to leave his capital city Abhanagari (now Abhaneri) and live in the forests because everything he owned was lost in the massive floods at the time. It was named as “Derakar” as “Dera stands for camp denotes camp “kar” means to do. So “Derakar” stood for “doing a camp” or making a camp. Surrounded by Aravalli hills on all sides and lush green forests nearby, this hotel is a complete paradise for nature lovers. All the basic requirements of tourists are fulfilled with a stay in here. The rooms, the dining hall and even the business center in this hotel are designed according to traditional Rajasthan architecture which just gives this hotel extra charm and attraction. All the 18 rooms in the hotel are designed very traditionally to portray the real colors of Rajasthan. The rooms are named, after the nearby forests, as Dandhkarnya, Sundervan, Mahavan, Kadambvan, Kalanjar, Madhuvan, Chitrakoot, Nandavan, Rishayamoonk, Himgiri, Kadlivan, Dronanchal, Mainak, Kokilavan, Malya, Pampapur Parn Kutir, and Paarijaat. The rooms are designed and furnished very sophisticatedly so that one could feel the rich heritage of India blending in with the modernity of the country.
This list is just indicative. Follow this as a guide to discover your own treasures, and do comment about your favourite royal hotels of Rajasthan.