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Best Palace Hotels in India
A formally feudalistic country, in almost every state you look you will find palaces ensconced by crumbling forts, opulent abodes owned by ruling Thakurs and art deco new builds home to modern maharajas. Today such dwellings can be more of a burden than a blessing and almost financially ruinous to maintain. Luckily for the rest of us, many a maharajah turned to hospitality and unbolted the gates to tourism. Some of the top palaces are now the the best palace hotels in India and providing mere mortals with a truly unique experience.
India's best Palace Hotels
For ultimate luxury
- Taj Palaces reign supreme in India and Falaknuma Palace, meaning ‘Mirror of the Sky’ is one of their finest offerings. Still owned by the royal family of Hyderabad it is awash with shimmering silks, astral chandeliers and enough marble to fill a quarry. Quite literally a shining example of a five star palace stay.
- Completed in 1943 and designed by British architect Henry Lancaster, Umaid Bhawan Palace is the ultimate in art deco opulence. Still the abode of the reigning Mahrajah of Jodhpur, Naomi Campbell famously took over the entire palace throwing a no expenses spared 50th birthday party. Unabashed five star luxury.
- For the best palace hotels in India offering sheer opulence look no further than The Oberoi Grand, whose alabaster façade overlooks Calcutta’s maidan. Built at the turn of the 19th century it maintains its gentleman’s club feel with plenty of polished wood and a two-hundred year old grand piano. The city’s most lavish hotel.
- Yet another luxurious Taj offering, the Rambagh Palace is a beacon in beautiful marble of a bygone era. The former residence of the Maharajah of Jaipur, it is a quintessential palace stay. Peacocks traverse lawns manicured to the millimetre, whilst guests can remain recumbent by the pool or the spa. Divine.
It doesn't get much more romantic than a stay in one of the best palace hotels in India. Here's our pick for an indulgent stay with your loved one:
- Often referred to as ‘The Venice of India’ a visit to Kashmir is a truly romantic stay. With views of the mirror-like the Dal Lake, The Lalit Grand Palace, former residence of the Kashmiri royal family, maintains its regal grandeur. Interiors appear to have stood still in time since its completion in 1910, save for a few mod cons, a spa and indoor pool.
- An hour’s drive from Jaipur, Samode Palace has remained in the family for generations. Boasting some of the finest frescoes and mirror-work in Rajasthan, it is a prime example of Mughal architecture. Sumptuous rooms and its secluded location, make it perfect for couples.
- Quite simply one of the world’s most romantic hotels, in one of India’s most romantic locations. Another five star offering, the Taj Lake Palace is testament to the hotel chain’s unbridled hospitality. Accessed by boat, lavish suites look out onto Lake Picola, as does the rooftop dining.
- With rooms located on top of the fort, overlooking the Narmada River, the 18th century Ahilya Fort enjoys a dramatic setting. The current owner has released several cookbooks, so the food is excellent. Enjoy candlelit dinners at surprise locations around the property or a boat ride for two on the river.
For a chic stay
"Chic" is not necessarily an adjective that springs to mind when imagining the best palace hotels in India. But they're not all period interiors........the design conscious amongst you need not be disappointed!
- A rose tinted palace in The Pink City, Sujan Rajmahal features stylish interiors courtesy of the acclaimed Adil Ahmed. Palettes of turquoises and pinks, blues with white are effortlessly photogenic. A design lover’s dream.
- Brought to you by the same owners of Jodhpur’s most fashionable hotel, RAAS Devigarh is a stylish palace retreat just 30 minutes drive from Udaipur. Modern minimalism is framed by Mughal arches and decorative latticework: a chic stay.
- A rare opportunity for a palace stay at an extremely affordable price. Laxmi Vilas Palace boasts a cavernous dining hall and landscaped gardens. Located within easy reach of Agra it is a great option for visiting the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri.
Off the beaten track
- Located in a less touristy corner of less touristy Tamil Nadu, Rajakkad nestles in an unspoilt spot overlooking the verdant Western Ghats. Cool climates and even cooler rooms (despite no AC) make it both ideal for an eco friendly and a year round visit.
- Bhopal is not a tourist’s obvious choice but Jehan Numa Palace is the gateway to Satpura Tiger Reserve. Great for families and well priced, it showcases a contemporary approach to a palace stay.
- As the tarmac road subsides you know you are getting closer to Ramathra Fort. Rising up out of the desert this 17th century palace fort has been converted into a luxurious hilltop hideaway. Choose from palatial suites and romantic tented accommodation. Easily one of the best palace hotels in India for those who want to experience the country away from the crowds.
For a boutique stay
- Still home to the reigning king of Ladakh (in all but name alone) Stok Palace is an experiential stay. Whilst interiors might not be to everyone’s taste, they are authentically Ladakhi and include hand painted thangkas and ancient artefacts. Modern bathrooms are a welcomed addition and a private audience with the king completes the stay.
- Another of the Maharaja of Jodhpur’s top-drawer hospitality ventures, Ranvas is located within the 500-year-old fort walls. The fruits of a loving restoration this chic desert retreat is well worth the journey. Ideal for couples. Visit during February for the annual World Sufi Spirit Festival.
- Overlooking Lake Gaibsagar, Udai Bilas Palace is a one of a kind. Bucolic surrounds, a stunning pool and idiosyncratic interiors ranging from traditional Rajasthani to art deco make this a charmingly quirky property.
Nothng amongst our pick of the best palace hotels In India that fits the bill? Check out our recommendations for Rajasthan's best palace hotels, expand your search to include all our India collections, or contact a friendly guru for advice.
Taj Falaknuma Palace 60 rooms from $349Hyderabad (Falaknuma)
If you are a fan of Taj palaces then this is the cream of the crop. Sitting 2000 feet above the city, resplendent amidst 32 acres of manicured lawns, Falaknuma takes your breath away. Perfect pastel bedrooms are brimming with antiques and India's finest silks. Foodies will love the grand dining.Great walks - Walk through the well maintained gardens surrounding the ancient Qutub Shahi tombs.Cooking classes - Learn the art of Hyderabad's famous biriyanis at Alka's Cooking Academy.Sights nearby - Chowmahalla Palace is well worth a visit for more historic charm.Local markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - Tablet
Umaid Bhawan Palace 64 rooms from $681Jodhpur
The only way to experience the real magic of Jodhpur. This exquisite Maharaja's palace is the ultimate in grandeur and luxury. Elegant rooms with Art Deco trappings, swimming pools, spa, billiards, yoga - the list goes on. A truly romantic and old-world setting.Spa breaks - The Taj's signature JIVA spa is the ultimate in indulgent spa breaks.Palace - Astounding art deco Maharaja's palaceRomantic Break - Opulent suites are made for romance.Sights nearby - Mehrangarh Fort is a must visit.Recommended by - Kiwi Collection
The Oberoi Grand 209 rooms from $229Calcutta
A beautiful, luxury hotel built in the 1880s. It is easy to see why it was the choice of leading historical figures. Even now it hosts grand functions for Heads of State. Elegant, lavish rooms, a lobby known for its 200 year old handmade piano and iconic chandelier, spa, pool, gym. Indulge yourself.City Style - The ultimate stay in Calcutta. Why do things by halves?Sights nearby - Kolkata has many historical landmarks. From the Victoria Memorial to Tagore House, The Indian Museum to Mother Teresa's memorialSwimming Pool - Stunning 18m pool. The centrepiece of the wonderful quadrant garden, surrounded by palm treesViews - Great views from hotel
Taj Rambagh Palace 79 rooms from $389Jaipur (Rambagh)
Royal treatment in the home of the former Maharaja of Jaipur. The interior decoration and surrounding grounds echo the magic of a bygone era - marble floors, beautiful colonnades, and acres of luscious gardens. A fabulous place to stay.Swimming Pool - Indoor and Outdoor PoolsSights nearby - The Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal and Jantar Mantar are all must sees.Local markets - Bapu Bazaar is awash with sparkling sarees and jewellery.Lively - Hip and happening.Recommended by - Tablet, Kiwi Collection
The Lalit Grand Palace 113 rooms from $190Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir)
Built in 1910, Grand Palace was the former residence of Kashmiri royal family. True to its regal roots rooms are decorated in an opulent, yet not ostentatious style: quilted bedspreads, artwork and some four posters and fireplaces. There's a walnut clad bar and North Indian cuisine at The Chinar.Spa - Provides complete holistic experience: aroma, ayurvedic, herbal & natural therapies, patented colour healing & yoga.Sailing - A private boat trip on the Dal Lake where you can see the floating gardens and villages is an unforgettable day.Birdwatching - Srinagar's lakes are a magnet for migratory birds as well as being home to many native duck species.Swimming Pool - Large indoor pool
Samode Palace 43 rooms from $259Jaipur (Village Samode)
A traditional Rajput palace just outside Jaipur. Wonderfully romantic rooms and suites, all individually decorated, but each as magical as the next. Terraces, pools, tennis courts, camel safaris, fantastic Rajasthani and European food. Regal and luxurious.Romantic - Good for couples.Local markets - Jaipur's famous textile market is great for fabrics and rugs.Sights nearby - The Amber Fort is 50km away but well worth a visit.Swimming Pool - Outdoor rooftop infinity pool and courtyard pool.Recommended by - I Escape, Mr & Mrs Smith
Taj Lake Palace 83 rooms from $386Udaipur (Rajasthan)
As iconic as Udaipur. A shimmering white and gold vision located on Lake Pichola it is accessible only by hotel boat. Rooms are quite literally fit for a maharajah: stained glass windows, plush velvets, gilt work, and intricate murals. Plus a pool, famous rooftop restaurant and novel 'spa boat'.Sights nearby - Located in the heart of Udaipur, most of its sights are within walking distance.Local markets - Bada Bazaar is a favourite amongst tourists and locals alike.Private Hot TubViews - Great views from hotelRecommended by - Fodors, Kiwi Collection
Ahilya Fort 13 rooms from $550Maheshwar (Madhya Pradesh)
An 18th century fort overlooking the Narmada River. Thirteen chic bedrooms with private balconies are spread across six buildings plus there is romantic tented accommodation with a private pool and garden. Continental and Indian dishes are served and what's more the hotel is all inclusive.Sights nearby - A two hour drive away the ancient 15th city of Mandu is worth a visit.Hideaway - Authentic, luxurious Indian experience without the crowds.Great walks - Along the ghats with views of the ancient fort above.Views - Great views from hotelRecommended by - I Escape
SUJAN Rajmahal Palace 8 rooms from $434Jaipur (Rajasthan)
A rose tinted palace in The Pink City. Eight desirable rooms have stylish interiors courtesy of the acclaimed Adil Ahmed. Rooms are decorated in chic palettes of contrasting colours: turquoises with pinks, blue with white (so photogenic). Dining is an equal parts aesthetic and tasty affair.Sights nearby - Enjoy a private tou or the City Palace.Romantic - Good for couples.Designer - Uniquely designed interiors.Swimming Pool - Indoor/outdoor
RAAS Devigarh 39 rooms from $293Udaipur (Delwar)
Majestic Five Star 18th century palace restoration outside Udaipur. Minimal interior designs frame original historic architecture. Luxury boutique suites combine stone floors, marbles, hot tubs, balustraded terraces with all the mod cons. Fabulous views, excellent restaurant, extensive spa and pool.Total relaxation - Away from the hustle and bustle of town it is a wonderfully relaxing location to explore Udaipur fromRomantic Break - Luxurious suites and a romantic ambience make this a perfect couples retreatSpa breaks - A spoiling spa providing both Western and traditional Indian treatmentsArchitectural - 18th century palace renovation.
Laxmi Vilas Palace 30 rooms from $59Bharatpur,, Rajasthan
A great place to stay when visiting the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri, without having to stay in chaotic Agra. Boasting an impressive dining hall, manicured grounds and rooms decorated with traditional furnishings. Largely North Indian dishes are served, plus a continental breakfast. Well priced.Value chic - A stay in a palace for under £50 is a serious bargain.Sights nearby - The former Mughal capital of India Fatehpur Sikri, and the Taj Mahal are a short drive.Four poster beds - For romantics.Spa
Rajakkad 7 rooms from $117Dindigul, Tamil Nadu
Ingenious and utterly charming. An 18th century palace constructed by the Maharaja of Travancore and re-erected in the Western Ghats by Jeremy Fry in the 1990s. Enjoying a cool climate there is no AC - just large sliding doors. Understated chic reigns supreme. Communal dinners are delicious.Eco break - On 60 acres of farmland most of the food is grown here. Green fingers plus green credentials makes this an ultimate eco break.Total relaxation - Time slows down here. There's no pool or TVs but there is a well stocked library. That is the point.Back to Nature - Surrounded by verdant hills enjoy guided nature trails, bird and animals spotting.Hideaway - A quiet spot in less touristy Tamil Nadu: the ultimate south Indian hideaway.Recommended by - I Escape
Jehan Numa Palace 100 rooms from $95Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh)
Owned by the royal family of Bhopal and providing easy access to the wildlife parks of Madhya Pradesh with all the comforts of a palace stay. Featuring a large outdoor pool, simple yet modern rooms and neat grounds. Italian dishes are available at La Kuchina whilst Under the Mango Tree is Indian.Families - Boasting a large pool and gardens. The gateway to Madhya Pradesh's wildlife parks.Sights nearby - The 'Museum of Man' is within walking distance.Swimming Pool - Outdoor Pool.Spa
Ramathra Fort 12 rooms from $188Rajasthan
Seventeenth century charm; twenty-first century luxury. This lovingly restored hilltop hideaway provides lavish accommodation for those prepared to venture the extra mile. Choose from palace or tented accommodation. Impossibly romantic, guests can enjoy candlelit dining and spa treatments.Hideaway - The tarmac roads disappear on the last 100km approach. A rural retreat totally worth the journey.Romantic Break - Escape with a loved one. Palace and tented rooms are made for romance.Birdwatching - Grey partridges, night jars, hawks, doves, peacocks, orioles, curlew, pelicans, kingfishers and cranes can all be spotted.Full of character
Stok Palace 6 rooms from $221Ladakh
Built in 1820, Stok Palace is still the abode of the remaining Namgyal dynasty. Now open to the public it houses a fascinating museum filled with family heirlooms. Rooms are decorated with authentic Ladakhi furnishings including hand painted mandala paintings. One of a kind.Great walks - There are some beautiful walking routes, across the Indus River, leaving directly from the property.Back to Nature - Surrounded by the Zanskar mountain range this property is ensconced by nature.Cooking classes - See how it is done in the traditional, open plan, Ladakhi kitchen.Hideaway - A historic hideaway with pristine rural surrounds.
Ranvas 34 rooms from $231Jodhpur (Nagaur)
Following a twenty year renovation by the Maharajah of Jodhpur this collection of havelis is a chic oasis in the heart of the Thar desert. Film set worthy rooms and impossibly romantic candlelit dinners make it ideal for couples. One of the best places to embark on a horse or camel safari.Honeymoons - A regal and romantic escape with candlelit dinners in the fragrant gardens and indulgent interiors worthy of the Maharaja.Total relaxation - Unwind in style in the frescoed halls, temples, and Mughal pleasure gardens, not to mention the spa.Sights nearby - The desert towns of Bikaner, with its incredible fort and Mandawa konwn for its painted havelis are a drive away.Great walks - Hike the perimeter of the 12th-century fort’s magnificent ramparts.Recommended by - I Escape
Udai Bilas Palace 23 rooms from $94Rajasthan
One of a kind. Handed down the generations each of the reigning maharajas has added their own twist - giving each room and wing a unique feel. There is a picture perfect outdoor pool, with lake views, plus two dramatic dining halls. Decor ranges from traditional Rajasthani to art deco chic.Romantic Break - The Maharawal Suite in particular is made for romance.Sights nearby - A visit to the family's former palace, the 13th century 'Juna Mahal' is just 15 minutes drive.Views - Great views from hotelRomantic - Good for couples.Recommended by - I Escape