Palaces of India

These hotels provide the royal treatment

By: Judy Koutsky

This is the first Image
In Mumbai, clients will marvel at
the Taj Mahal Palace hotel.
India has some of the world’s most luxurious hotels, including opulent palaces, where guests can stay and feel like royalty. Steeped in history, palace hotels offer unique experiences that can transport guests back hundreds of years with their one-of-a-kind rooms that once housed royalty, excellent views of surrounding towns and world-class restaurants.

Have clients start a palace itinerary in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) with a stay at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. Overlooking the Gateway of India, Mumbai’s principal landmark, and the Arabian Sea, it’s no wonder why royalty set up shop here.

Since its opening in 1903, this palatial hotel has played host to kings, presidents and maharajas. The architecture alone makes this building one of the highlights of Mumbai. To really feel like royalty, book clients in the Presidential Suite where the likes of Bill Clinton and Cindy Crawford have stayed; not only is the room spacious, but the views are arguably the best in the city. The Taj Club rooms are also an excellent choice, and they include private butler service.

The hotel features some of the most sought-after restaurants in Mumbai, including the Masala Kraft, offering a lavish spread of contemporary Indian dishes. To relax like royalty, tell clients to visit the Jiva Spa; they have jet-lag recovery packages that will have visitors rejuvenated and ready to tackle the city.

This is the second Image
The Rambagh Palace in Jaipur is popular
with American VIPs and celebrities.
In Mumbai, the hotel can arrange exclusive excursions such as private tours to Elephanta Caves, the beautiful Hanging Gardens park (a must for anyone traveling with kids) and shopping excursions to bazaars and high-end Indian boutiques.

From Mumbai, have clients fly to Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan. Jaipur is the famed “Pink City,” so named because of the pink hues of its buildings. This city is home to palaces, temples and forts, and this is also one of the best shopping areas in India.

Here, American celebrities such as Steven Spielberg and Jacqueline Kennedy have chosen the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur. Make sure to request the Grand Presidential Suite, which is spacious enough to accommodate large families (butler service is available). The views of the surrounding garden make this room a winner.

All three of the Royal Suites are also worth booking; rooms are spacious, with high ceilings and luxury baths. The hotel can arrange for a variety of extras including vintage car transfers, Hawa Mahal dinner (romantic dinner for two in one of the palace gardens) and for the true wow experience, a Maharaja Welcome (with elephant, horses and camels). Of course the spa is not to be missed particularly the Ayurvedic massage. (Ayurveda was invented in India.)

This is the second Image
The Devi Garh Fort Palace has a palatial
exterior, but the rooms are actually quite modern.
Also located in Rajasthan is the Devi Garh Fort Palace. Book the Devi Garh Suite or the Aravali Suite, which offer spectacular views of the mountains and, upon request, private butler service.

The outside of the hotel is palatial in look, but the rooms are modern in design. The spa has an array of Ayurvedic treatments, the perfect way to start a visit here. The dining at the Devi Garh is not to be missed. Highly recommended is the olive tapenade betki, a flavorful fish dish that’s popular in the region.

There is also a shopping center on the premises offering beautiful collections of Indian clothes. The hotel is located far enough from the bustling city of Jaipur to make guests feel like they are in private, royal quarters. Room bookings should be made at least two months in advance.

The hotel can arrange for a variety of VIP excursions. A must is a tour of the City Palace, the former residence of the royal family, which is now a museum housing the royal observatory. Another interesting cultural spot to recommend is the Amber Fort, a classic, romantic Rajasthani Fort Palace. For the ultimate experience, arrange for an elephant ride up to the fort just make sure to get the first booking of the day; the sun can be pretty intense as the afternoon wears on.

Jaipur is also one of the shopping capitals of India, famous for its jewelry, gemstones, carpets and silks. Private shopping excursions can be arranged through the hotel concierge.


Devi Garh Fort Palace

Rambagh Palace, Jaipur

Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai

Room bookings should be made at least six months in advance for the high season (November to February).

All three hotels offer 10 percent commission.

Annual Camel Fair

The annual camel fair in October or November (the dates fluctuate since it’s tied to a full-moon cycle) brings thousands of camels to Pushkar, located in the state of Rajasthan. Make sure to book up to a year in advance as this festival attracts over 200,000 visitors. Originally, this fair was for local farmers and breeders the men traded camels, while the women traded textiles and jewelry but the festival has expanded to include horse and camel races, music, parades, dancing and wonderful insight into local village life.