Last Updated: January 31, 2020 Anil Rana
The princely state of Rajasthan has always been known for its magnificent forts and opulent palaces that were built in the times of Maharajas. While today, most of the palaces have been converted into heritage hotels and resorts, they still retain and showcase the grandeur of the Rajputana architecture and hospitality. Needless to say, these heritage resorts surpass all the bounds of luxury and offer a royal stay that you might have never even imagined in your lives. So, if you are planning a holiday in Rajasthan and looking out for some exclusive options for a luxury stay here, do check out for the following heritage resorts that stand as a pride of this state of Maharajas.
Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
A five-star Taj Heritage Resort, ‘Umaid Bhawan Palace’ is an epitome of luxury, magnificence and opulence. That is the reason, this heritage hotel has also been awarded with the honour of ‘World’s Best Hotel’ at the ‘Traveller’s Choice Award’, organized by TripAdvisor in April 2016.
Built in 1943, the palace is set amidst 26 acres of lush gardens and a part of it, still serves as a residence to the royal family of Jodhpur. The breath-taking beauty of the palace, made using the golden-yellow sandstone and Makrana marble, takes you in its complete awe as soon as you set your eyes on it; its sheer size and grandeur is magical enough to hypnotize you fully. Exquisite interiors, decked up in art-deco style, complete with beautiful murals, antique furnishings and elaborate carvings on walls and pillars, also add to the royal charm of the palace.
Starting right from the grand welcome, showering you with rose petals to flawless personalized services offered by the hotel staff leaving no stone unturned in making you feel like real kings and queens; you would sense the vibes of royal hospitality at every inch of your stay here.
For great food connoisseurs holidaying at the ‘Umaid Bhawan Palace’ and looking forward to tantalize their taste buds with Continental and Indian fusion cuisine, ‘Risala’, a fine-dining restaurant at the hotel makes for a perfect choice. Embellished with royal furnishings, complete with attention to detail and coupled with impeccable services offered by personalized butlers, savouring a meal at Risala would be an unforgettable experience in itself. Overlooking the finely manicured gardens of the palace, at Risala, you might even get a chance to enjoy beautiful views of the dancing peacocks who often fly here to mesmerize guests with their enchanting beauty.
‘Pillars’ is another great restaurant at ‘Umaid Bhawan Palace’ that satiates the taste buds of gastronomes craving for some authentic Rajasthani delicacies. Set amidst a gorgeous colonnaded veranda and offering some spectacular views of the ‘Mehrangarh Fort’, the restaurant is also perfect for couples who intend to enjoy a lovely sunset meal.
Your stay at ‘Umaid Bhawan Palace’ is incomplete without relishing an eclectic cocktail at its exotic ‘Trophy Bar’. Set in complete regal style and adorned with wildlife trophies and artefacts collected by the erstwhile Maharajas of Jodhpur, this place provides you with a deep insight into their imperial hobbies and wildlife passions.
For those seeking a rejuvenating experience at the ‘Umaid Bhawan Palace’ hotel, head to the ‘Jiva Grande Spa’ and soak yourselves in ultimate luxury while simultaneously getting pampered with holistic treatments and wellness therapies by expert therapists. As you lay on the massage bed, see for yourselves, the beauty and wellness secrets of queens being unveiled to you at Jiva.
During your stay at the ‘Umaid Bhawan Palace’, you just cannot miss the heritage walk tour of the palace and the museum. As you walk past different sections of the palace, hearing the intriguing stories of past from a well-dressed man escorting and covering you with an umbrella to protect from the scorching heat, you are sure to be overwhelmed by his warmth and cordiality. Museum is the main highlight of this tour and once you reach here, feel yourselves to be taken back in times of Maharajas and Maharanis; marvel on the exotic collection of artefacts, jewellery, royal costumes, portraits and off course, the premium vintage cars that stand as a testimony to elite taste of the erstwhile Jodhpur kings.
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Taj Rambagh Palace, Jaipur
Considered to be one of the most luxurious and expensive hotels not only in Rajasthan and India, but, all across the world, the ‘Rambagh Palace’ is a jewel of Jaipur and undoubtedly, a glittering gem in the crown of Taj Group of Hotels. You would be amazed to know that this palace finds its place amongst the esteemed early few of the opulent Indian palaces that were converted into heritage hotels in order to preserve their Rajputana legacy.
Steeped in ultimate luxury, royalty and richness, a stay at this heritage hotel makes for a delicious icing on the cake of your luxury holidays in India. Built in mid-19th century, the palace once served as the official residence for the Maharaja of Jaipur, Sawai Mansingh II and his beautiful queen Gayatri Devi. Today, this royal heaven provides for an indulgent getaway to rich travellers and businessmen from different corners of the globe, seeking to experience the magnificent Indian hospitality at its best; needless to say, it is one place in the world where even your thoughts are taken care of.
The magnificence and grandeur of this royal palace can be seen and felt through its extravagant architecture adorned with intricate latticework, exquisitely carved cupolas and cenotaphs, plush marbled corridors and a series of beautiful gardens ornamented with water channels and fountains, always full of peacocks and other colourful birds. The luxury rooms and suites of the palace also feature a royal and classy look with elegant furnishings, silk draperies, period décor and antique furniture that exude a heavenly charm from every corner, providing a fairy-tale experience to every guest.
The dining experience at the ‘Rambagh Palace’ is also one of the finest in India. Savour a royal Indian feast at ‘Suvarna Mahal’ and get awed with the restaurant’s exquisite beauty ornamented with huge crystal chandeliers. For those looking for multi-cuisine options, can make their way to the ‘Rajput Room’ and indulge themselves in delectable flavours specially created by the executive chefs.
Spend a day at the ‘Rambagh Palace’ like a king and a queen and go for a city tour in a chauffeur-driven Pontiac, from Maharaja’s own vintage collection. For a more royal experience, walk down the palace’s polo grounds and enjoy a game sitting on top of a decorated elephant. Take your royal retreat a notch further and indulge in some holistic treatments at the Jiva Grande Spa.
By far, one of the best luxury hotels in India, the ‘Rambagh Palace’ stands as a symbol of true royal hospitality and is definitely a place from where you are sure to carry along thousands of fairy-tale moments to be cherished through your lives.
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Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur
The magnificent ‘Taj Lake Palace’ of Udaipur is yet another of the most famous luxury retreats in Rajasthan. Nestled in the heart of beautiful ‘Lake Pichola’ and flanked by majestic Aravalli Hills, the palace was built in 1746 by Maharana Jagat Singh II and was then called as ‘Jag Niwas’. Entirely constructed from pure white marble and adorned with elaborately carved pillars, inlaid floorings and exquisite terrace gardens lined up with beautiful fountains; the palace was an architectural marvel of its times. After the death of Maharana Jagat Singh II, the palace continued to serve as a summer resort for his successors. Later, in second half of the 19th century, weather and time took its toll on this extraordinary palace and it was left abandoned to decay and deteriorate. It was during 1960’s when Maharana Bhagwat Singh, the then ruler of Udaipur decided to restore the palace to its pristine glory by converting it in a luxury palace hotel. In 1971, the palace was taken over by the Taj Group of Hotels and since then, it has lured thousands of national and international tourists wanting to feel and experience the royal hospitality of Rajasthan.
Spread across a rambling 4 acres of land, housing 66 luxury rooms, 17 grand suites, numerous open courtyards and well-manicured lawns, the hotel offers spectacular views of the hills and the surrounding lake. In the evenings, folk performances and cocktails under the star-lit sky, just add to the romantic aura of the place. No wonders, the ‘Taj Lake Palace’ has been accredited with the status of being the most romantic hotel in the world and that is the reason why this palace hotel is also a favourite hotspot for destination and fairy-tale weddings.
The heritage Lake Palace hotel also spoils its guests with an endless array of exotic choices of Indian and Western cuisines that can be savoured at one of its elegant fine-dining restaurants: Neel Kamal, Bahiro, Jharokha and Amrit Sagar. While ‘Neel Kamal’ specializes in serving authentic flavours of Udaipur right from the royal kitchen, at ‘Bhairo’, you can feast your taste buds with delectable flavours from Europe. Set on the rooftop and offering mesmerizing views of the lake, especially at sunset, ‘Bhairo’ is also an ideal choice for couples looking forward to spend a lovely and romantic evening with their better-halves, soaking themselves in the serenity and tranquillity of the place. ‘Jharokha’ is yet another great restaurants of the Lake Palace Hotel where you can relish on cuisines from Asian and Mediterranean regions. For those with a penchant of tasting exotic wines and spirits from across the world, ‘Amrit Sagar’ is an apt spot in the hotel where you can sit back, relax and relish drinks of your choice amidst a congenial atmosphere.
Like all the luxury resorts of the Taj Group, the ‘Taj Lake Palace’ also offers a never-ending choice of leisure facilities to its guests that include a luxury spa, 24-hours fitness centre, shopping arcade, business centre and games room. With such extensive options, you can easily spend an eventful yet a relaxing day at the hotel itself. For those interested in learning more about the palace’s history and other intriguing facts, can opt for a guided heritage walk tour of the palace, specially organized by the hotel staff.
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The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur
Spread out in a complete fort setting with pink stone facades, lush gardens criss-crossed with onion-domed pavilions, reflection pools and fountains, the ‘Oberoi Rajvilas’ takes royalty and magnificence to an absolutely new level. The interiors of the palace are as splendid as the exquisite exteriors, exuding vibes of richness and grandeur from every corner; the luxury guest rooms feature unique blend of Mughal and Colonial touches with Italian white marble floorings, four-poster beds, finely crafted furniture and latticed window panels. The luxury tents emanate their own royal charm and feature timber floorings, elegant hand-embroidered silk fabric with block prints – a signature Rajasthani art and a private patio with comfortable lounge beds; one can have an absolute relaxing time here amidst serene beauty of nature, sighting numerous colourful birds and even peacocks.
Like every luxury hotel, the ‘Oberoi Rajvilas’ also leaves no stones unturned in delighting its guests with an out of the world gastronomy experience. The two fine-dining restaurants of the hotel, Raj Mahal and Surya Mahal, serve some of the most exotic delicacies of Rajasthan and from remote corners of India. Decked with wall to wall glass windows and a crystal chandelier, the splendid beauty of Surya Mahal is just beyond words. At night, the stone courtyard of the restaurant comes to life with phosphorescent moonlight transforming it into a romantic amphitheatre with live folk Rajasthani music playing in the background. If you are in the ‘Oberoi Rajvilas’ during winter months from late October to early March, experience an extraordinary culinary journey at Raj Mahal when the expert chefs of the hotel present you with some of the most unusual and delectable delicacies, specially created and reinvented to feast your palates. Lit fireplaces in the chilled nights of winter, just add that touch of warmth and cosiness to the atmosphere.
Besides restaurants delighting you with their heavenly delicious delicacies and impeccable services, the ‘Oberoi Rajvilas’ also spoils its guests by offering them with an extensive array of leisure facilities that range from a luxury spa to a fitness facility, a tennis court and a vibrant swimming pool. The spa at the ‘Oberoi Rajvilas’ is truly an epitome of luxury, adorned with exquisite red-sandstone floorings and marble walls decorated with beautiful Mughal style frescoes made from natural vegetable dyes. Offering re-vitalising body therapies, specialty baths and Ayurvedic inspired beauty rituals; a spa experience here leaves you completely relaxed and rejuvenated.
On its spree of delighting the guests, the ‘Oberoi Rajvilas’ also, on regular basis keeps on coming up with different programmes and events such as special sunset dinners for honeymoon couples, exotic breakfast amidst their striking herbs gardens, private yoga & meditation sessions and cooking and block printing sessions for kids; you can be part of these exclusive sessions and I am sure, you will be left completely overwhelmed.
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The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur
Spread across a sprawling 50 acres of land that once served as hunting grounds for the Maharana of Mewar, ‘The Oberoi Udaivilas’ captivates all the onlookers with its crème-coloured façade and intricate layout of domes that can be seen looming over the sparkling Pichola Lake in Udaipur. Historic and romantic settings of this magnificent hotel, combined with all modern day comforts of life, makes it one of the dream resorts for many travellers and vacationers. Its regal architecture complete with beautifully manicured lawns dotted with vibrant flowers that often invite peacocks, exotic dining spaces emanating the charm of splendid Mewar architecture, an ornate swimming pool and a world class spa; no wonders ‘The Oberoi Udaivilas’ has been aptly described as a ‘royal retreat’ by almost all its guests.
Redefining luxury, the guestrooms and suites of ‘The Oberoi Udaivilas’, all feature plush decors, elite furnishings and elegantly carved wooden furniture that reflect the taste of royalty. While all the rooms are soaked in ultimate luxury and offer you a sense of deep indulgence, it is still the royal suites that stand class apart; elaborately decorated with mirror mosaics, miniature paintings, silken parasols and boasting a private pool, a private courtyard and a private dining space with breath-taking views over Lake Pichola, these luxury suites are an absolute ‘dream come true’ for any luxury traveller and are sure to transport you to a completely different world of richness and opulence.
The al fresco dining scene of ‘The Oberoi Udaivilas’ is also something that needs a special mention. Serving finest Western and Indian cuisine, the restaurants at Udaivilas are a true amalgamation of stupendous architecture and delectable food. Executive chefs here leave no stones unturned in delighting you with some of the rarest delicacies of Rajasthan. Needless to say, enchanting views of Lake Pichola and the 400 years old City Palace from these restaurants are truly awe-inspiring and can leave anyone hypnotized for hours. At night, soft candle lights and traditional Rajasthani music fills the entire ambience with love and romance; perfect to grab yourselves a table at a quiet little corner and enjoy a lovely romantic evening with your beloved.
At ‘The Oberoi Udaivilas’, there is also no end to leisure activities that you can indulge into during your stay here; be part of their exclusive yoga sessions, learn the art of Henna, take a culinary lesson from an executive chef or hop on for an enchanting lake cruise combined with an interesting tour of the Udaipur city in a private chauffeur-driven car and a well-experienced tourist guide at your disposal.
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The Leela Palace Hotel, Udaipur
Yet another magnificent hotel topping the list of best places for a luxury holiday in Rajasthan, is the stunning ‘Leela Palace Hotel’ that stands tall in its majestic glory on the landscaped grounds adjoining Lake Pichola. The sheer beauty of the hotel is just beyond description whether you see it radiating golden hues in the early morning sun or when it stands glittering under the canopy of a star lit sky. The interiors of the hotel are as hypnotic as its exteriors; colourful frescoes and mirror work can be seen adorning the walls giving them a traditional Rajasthani touch. The rooms and suites are class apart with great attention given to even minutest of detail, decorated with authentic Rajasthani artistry and equipped with all modern day amenities such as flat-screen TVs and iPod docks.
For those with great love for food are sure to have a wonderful time at the ‘Leela Palace Hotel’ in Udaipur. The all-day dining restaurant at the hotel offers an eclectic mix of cuisines and flavours from around the globe and the executive chefs here make sure to give their personal touch of creativity to every dish served to their esteemed guests. At the dining room, as you savour the masterpieces created by the chefs, do soak your spirits in some magical views of the lake and the City Palace Museum standing a distance away. If you are on a honeymoon vacation at the ‘Leela Palace Hotel’, soak in an aura of romance at ‘Amrit Mahal’, a private dining arena adjacent to the lake. Offering spectacular views of the City Palace Museum and the lake, ‘Sheesh Mahal’ is yet another gem of the ‘Leela Palace’ and by far the best in the hotel. Entirely made of reflecting glass mirrors, this open-air fine dining restaurant elevates the dining experience to a completely new level. Serving authentic Indian flavours that directly make their way out from a royal kitchen, at the ‘Sheesh Mahal’, you are sure to experience a culinary journey that is just out of this world.
For those who believe in maintaining a healthy regime even during holidays, the exclusive sunrise and sunset yoga sessions organized by the hotel are just for them.
There is also a world-class spa at the hotel for those seeking a rejuvenating experience after a tiring day of sightseeing and city tour. Providing a never-ending array of therapies ranging from aromatherapy, reflexology and holistic beauty treatments to head, body and facial massages, the spa by ESPA is sure to take you through a journey of self-discovery and revitalization.
One of the most opulent properties in Udaipur with warm and welcoming staff who are always ready to go out of their ways to make you feel the most special, the ‘Leela Palace Hotel’ is sure to treat you with a touch of royalty at every twist and turn; from an impressive private boat ride from the jetty offering you some spectacular views of the lake and surrounding Aravalli mountains to a traditional Rajasthani welcome with folk music, smearing your forehead with a teeka and showering you with fresh rose petals, at the ‘Leela Palace Hotel’, you are sure to take back some most beautiful memories of your lifetime.
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The Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambore
Spread across a sprawling 20 acres of lush, landscaped land near the famous ‘Ranthambore National Park’ in Rajasthan, the ‘Oberoi Vanyavilas’ is an apt destination for those who want to combine the thrills and chills of wildlife spotting with a luxurious and indulging stay, providing them an unmatched feel of a true royal hospitality. All the rooms at the hotel are setup in traditional tent style and are embellished with elegant fabric and draperies. Also, polished teak-wood floorings and canopied beds provide with a regal setting to all the tents. Further, beautifully manicured gardens dotted with tall trees and paved with pebbled pathways, just add to the rustic splendour of these tents.
Epitomising luxury, ‘The Oberoi Vanyavilas’ also offers a splendid spa experience to all its guests; one can choose from an extensive range of therapies including but, not limited to Ayurvedic massages, facials, specialty baths and holistic beauty rituals. Exquisite interiors of the spa rooms, overlooking the beautiful green lily pond just add to the aura of peace and tranquillity filled in the air. As the trained masseur attends to your body’s every need, you are sure to leave from here, with a calm mind and an invigorated body.
For fitness freaks, this luxury hotel also has a special air-conditioned fitness suite where they can continue with their daily fitness regimes of cardio-vascular exercises and weight-lifting.
In the soaring heat of Rajasthan, nothing can be more relaxing than taking a rejuvenating splash in a pool full of water. At ‘The Oberoi Vanyavilas’, azure waters of the outdoor pool provide you with a nice opportunity to take a dip in its temperature-controlled waters, simultaneously enjoying the sip of a cool, refreshing cocktail ordered at the pool-side bar.
At ‘The Oberoi Vanyavilas’, you would also be spoiled by the choice of cuisines, the chefs offer on their menu cards; from signature local Rajasthani to Pan-Indian to Continental, you can choose from an extensive range suiting your palettes. Besides food, what really captivates your hearts is the royal ambience of the restaurant that is embellished with exquisite hand-painted murals and large glass panelled doors. On winter nights, a traditional bonfire and a soft, folk music just adds to the romantic aura of the place. If you are on a honeymoon vacation in Ranthambore, go for an exquisite private dinner served at the hotel’s spectacular amphitheatre or amidst the verdant mango orchards and get yourselves soaked in deep romance and love under the star-lit sky.
A stay at ‘The Oberoi Vanyavilas’ is incomplete without going for a game safari expedition at the ‘Ranthambore National Park’. You can get all the details regarding bookings and arrangements for the safari from the hotel staff, always courteous and happy to assist their guests.
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Devigarh Fort Palace, Udaipur
An 18th century royal palace turned into a luxurious heritage resort, the ‘Devigarh Fort Palace’ needs no introduction. Located just a few kilometres from the city centre of Udaipur, nestled in the lap of Aravalli Mountains and situated atop a hill in the village of Delwara, this fort palace is an ideal getaway for those looking for a luxurious stay that at the same time, also provides with a rustic feel. To give you a slight insight into its history, this royal empyrean once served as a residence to Delwara rulers between mid-18th and mid-20th centuries. Left abandoned for many years, the palace was restored to its original splendour by the RAAS group of hotels and the property was officially opened for guests in the year 2000.
The flawless mix of ancient architecture and modern comforts of this royal palace hotel truly represent it as an icon of traditional and contemporary India. The imposingly grand exteriors with parapets of domes, turrets and balconies speak of its sheer grandeur and magnificence. Contrasting the royal exteriors, are the sophisticated interiors laid out with simplicity and minimalism that provide the property with an unmatched charm. Talking about the facilities available for guests in this luxury boutique hotel, it comes complete with a plush spa, lavish suites embellished with semi-precious stones and marble, multi-cuisine fine dining restaurants, a conference facility, a fully-equipped gym and an outdoor pool with heated water.
Besides serving as a luxury resort, the ‘Devigarh Fort Palace’ hotel also serves as a wellness retreat centre owing to its natural and tranquil settings dotted with greenery all around and fresh breeze of air flowing in throughout the day; indulging in a yoga session on the rooftop of the palace with the rising rays of the sun, is sure to melt away all your stress of daily life.
Whether you are at the ‘Devigarh Fort Palace’ for a honeymoon vacation or a family outing, a stay here is definitely going to leave you with endless memories to be cherished throughout your lives. Don’t forget to take an excursion to the beautiful and fascinating temples of ‘Eklingji and Nagda’ that are located close by to the property.
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The Gulaal, Jaisalmer
A luxury heritage boutique resort that reminds of royal ancient mansions of the erstwhile wealthy merchants of Rajasthan, ‘The Gulaal’ is located just at a walking distance from the magnificent ‘Jaisalmer Fort’, beautiful ‘Gadisar Lake’ and two famous ancient mansions of the golden town – ‘Patwon-Ki-Haveli’ and ‘Nathmalji-Ki-Haveli’. Resembling a typical regal ‘Haveli’ style of architecture, built entirely from famous golden sandstone of Jaisalmer and dotted with two massive open courtyards, each ornamented with intricate lattice work, traditional ‘Jharokhas’ and awe-inspiring stone carvings on the pillars, the resort stands as a true testimony to the lavish taste of legendary Rajput Princes and rich businessmen of the bygone era. Every room of this luxury hotel, adorned with antique furniture and decorated with signature Rajasthani hand-crafted room draperies, provides its guests with a feel of unsurpassed luxury and opulence. For those looking forward to savour the taste of a traditional Rajasthani meal blend with an ambience soaked in an aura of richness and indulgence, the roof-top restaurant is just perfect and is sure to leave you delighted with not only the supreme flavours of the Rajasthani food but, also with the warm hospitality of the staff and needless to say, some bewitching views of the Jaisalmer Fort nearby.
Besides providing all its guests with a feel of a traditional Rajasthani lifestyle, ‘Gulaal’ is also equipped with all modern-day facilities including a spa & wellness centre, a grand outdoor swimming pool, a coffee shop and a 24 hours concierge. Truly an oasis in the vastness of the golden Thar Desert, a stay at ‘The Gulaal’ is sure to be a lifetime experience in itself and once stayed here, you would definitely want to return here every year.
While there are many more luxury hotels and resorts in Rajasthan, the above list describes only the few elite ones that have always charmed and inspired the guests with their splendid architectures and unmatched hospitality. If you feel, we are missing on few, do let us know through your comments in the section below.
Published: 18 Aug, 2016