Once grand palaces, these regal hosts invite guests to step inside their timelessly elegant Indian Hotels. Rajasthan, India’s desert state is synonymous with many things: tales of pride, valour and sacrifice, epic romances, bright and bold colours, and the place to go if one is on the hunt for truly exceptional jewels. It is also one of India’s most gloriously royal states: from its many dynasties and forts where historic battles were fought to opulent palaces that could shame all others. It is this and much more that brings the world to Rajasthan.
Indian Hotel – Rajmahal Palace, Jaipur
Set behind rich gardens and celebrated as Jaipur’s most sought-after boutique hotel, Rajmahal Palace is rose-pink perfection. Set behind rich gardens and celebrated as Jaipur’s most sought-after boutique hotel, Rajmahal Palace is rose-pink perfection. Owned by H. H. Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur, this country-house-style retreat began life as a pleasure palace, built by H. H. Sawai Jai Singh II in 1729 for his beloved wife, Chandra Kanwar Ranawatji. The palace soon became a playground for the rich and famous, hosting Queen Elizabeth II, along with such lauded names as Jackie Kennedy, and Earl and Countess Mountbatten.
In 2008, Princess Diya Kumari decided that the much-loved property, then operating as a minor hotel, needed a new lease of life. She turned to friend and designer Adil Ahmad and to Jaisal Singh, the owner of the prestigious hotel group SUJÁN.
The result is a 14-suite hotel that opened to great excitement in 2015. The faded Rajput grandeur has been replaced with an extravagant mix of design styles that sing of colour and contrast. Forty-six bespoke wallpapers line the space, right up to the high ceilings; they display patterns of polo ponies, peacock arches, and a brass sun, taken from the royal crest.
The suites in Rajmahal Palace are a striking symphony of colours and patterns – blending colonial, art deco and contemporary in sumptuous maximalism.
Indian Hotel – Samode Mahal, Rajasthan
Offering an enticing insight into the lost world of Rajput royalty, 500-year-old Samode Mahal still captivates all who enter through its studded elephant doors. A descendant, Rawal Sheo Singh, prime minister of Jaipur, further enlarged the Palace: this opulent Indian Hotel now has 43 guest bedrooms, including four royal suites. He created the durbar hall that is still the glorious heart of Samode Mahal today and was described at the time as ‘an extravagantly florid and hand-painted affair’.
Indian Hotel – Raj Niwas Palace, Dholpur
Post-independence, Dholpur merged with the young nation of India, and in 1956 the princely state ceased to exist. Nevertheless, magnificence still reigns at Raj Niwas Palace. The property is now owned by Dushyant Singh, the son of the erstwhile maharaja and Vasundhara Raje Scindia, the current chief minister of Rajasthan. Inside, amongst the maze of high-ceilinged rooms and up the winding floral-muralled staircase, are eight bedrooms, clad in tiles from Europe – most strikingly, a fish-and-water motif, glazed in cobalt and ochre in the Maharaja Suite. The interior of this opulent Indian hotel is a theatrical set piece with Victorian baths and art nouveau light fittings.