Editors' Picks

Rajmahal Palace

Palace, modern, glamorous

Sardar Patel Marg, C Scheme, Jaipur 302001

91 11 4617 2700

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At a Glance

A royal guesthouse with a hip twist that is perfect for design aficionados and those who prefer boutique properties.

Review

Built in 1729 as a private retreat for a favorite Rajput queen, the Rajmahal Palace has served as a residence and a guesthouse for the royal family of Jaipur for centuries. When Jackie Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth II visited Rajasthan, they stayed here, as did Lord Mountbatten. In its latest incarnation, after a two-and-a-half year, multi-million-dollar renovation, the property is now arguably the top boutique hotel in India.

This RAAS-managed property welcomes guests to stay in grand surroundings with a staff that serves up hospitality more akin to that of a private house than a hotel. A vintage Thunderbird sits before the pale pink palace and many more family treasures are on display in the main salon where guests are greeted amid ancestral portraits and black and white family photos. But there’s nothing musty about these palace rooms. Princess Diya Kumari commissioned designer Adil Ahmad to breathe 21st century life into the historic structure and the vibrant wallpapers and rich velvet fabrics of the salon scream that this is not a monument to the past but rather a gateway to a new, hip India. Ahmad, who is the creative director of Delhi’s housewares shop Good Earth, created 35 custom wallpapers that were inspired by the City Palace and has mixed them with vintage chandeliers, modern furniture and family heirlooms. Each of the fourteen guest rooms is different but all testify to Ahmad’s love of color, pattern and history. In addition to the fabulous wallpapers, common elements of the rooms include wicker luggage trunks, beveled mirrors, oriental carpets and massive marble bathrooms. The Maharani suite has a bedroom almost the size of a tennis court and may be too richly decorated for non-royals’ taste, but it, too, features family treasures including a Mughal carpet, Indian miniature paintings and Art Deco antiques. Our favorite suites are a bit lighter in their color schemes and are those dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II and Lord Mountbatten.

As cosseting as the suites are the glamorous public spaces beckon. Guests must explore the Chinoiserie hallway and climb the marble stairway carved with lion heads and lined with paintings of the famous doorways of the City Palace to see the curved colonnade on the second floor. Beyond the three dining rooms (The Collonade, The Orient Occident and 51 Shades of Pink) in a manicured garden is the pool pavilion where chaise lounges are set with tiger pillows.

Who Should Stay

Rajmahal Palace is a perfect place for those who want a more intimate experience than they’ll find in a large palace property like the Rambagh or Rajvilas and creative types who will appreciate the modern magic of the aesthetic.

Written by Melissa Biggs Bradley

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