Experience sheer luxury and unashamed opulence within the walls of this former palace of the maharajas. Originally built in 1835 as a hunting lodge and royal guesthouse, it was converted to a palace in 1925 as the residence of the Maharaja of Japiur, before becoming India’s first palace hotel in 1957. Today it’s a 5-star spectacle, one of the jewels in the crown of the Taj hotels group.
All beautifully restored rooms have rich, opulent interiors with four-poster beds, walk-in wardrobes and luxurious bathrooms. But the whole hotel is brimming with antiques and artefacts from the days of the Raj, including beautiful Oriental rugs, crystal chandeliers and rich fabrics. With impressive arches, ornate wall decorations, pillars and courtyards, not only is the palace spectacular, it’s imbued with a tangible sense of history.
Dining options include the Suvarna Mahal, which specialises in classic Indian cuisine, and the laidback Steam Bar – a converted steam locomotive serving everything from Middle Eastern shawarmas to Italian wood-fired pizzas. For afternoon tea with a champagne sparkle, the Verandah Café is the perfect place to perch. For post-prandials, the Polo Bar has shelves stacked with rare single malts, cognacs, whiskies and Cuban cigars.
An array of signature experiences is on offer, from arriving in style by vintage car, sweeping up the driveway to be met by camels, horses and elephants in full livery, to sumptuous treatments at the Jiva Spa, whose tented spa suites are embellished with all the trappings of royalty – traditional rugs, glowing chandeliers, royal pennants and regal Indian love swings.