Managed by the Taj Hotels, the 19th-century Rambagh Palace is the best address in town—and the place where I had the privilege to taste the real lifestyle of Jaipur’s last maharaja, if only for a few days. But before you plan on visiting Jaipur here is a list of all the things you need to know before visiting The Pink City
The Rambagh Palace used to be the Maharaja and Maharani‘s home. In its heyday, the palace hosted many international celebrities and dignitaries and the royal couple turned it into a hotel in the end, while still treating it as their home. At least for a while. This heritage shapes the experience of Rambagh even today. The hospitality here is a way of life, making the stay at Rambagh Palace very special indeed.
I surrendered to the royal treatment from the moment of arrival. First sprinkled with rose petals, then rested on a cozy chaise lounges, I was offered welcome drinks and cold towels to refresh after a tiring road trip journey. The check-in process followed and it itself was relaxing, despite taking place in the somewhat imposing lobby. Vintage cars, horse-driven carriage, and an actual steam locomotive with carriages which is converted to a restaurant along with the fabulous gardens populated by peacocks — every corner at Rambagh is bursting with history and character. The palace maintains its vintage details well, from the backdrop of its architectural glory and grandeur of the colossal ceilings and domes to expansive and luxurious rooms. The marbled corridors from each wing of the hotel lead to the several arcaded courtyards surrounding the hotel with gardens punctuated by fountains, several long colonnades with flank lawns and lavish patios.
The Rambagh Palace not only preserves its heritage, but also provides contemporary luxuries to it.
For a large property such as Rambagh, the number of rooms and suites is surprisingly low. There are seventy-nine rooms, all beautifully restored with period furniture, rich fabrics and hand-painted motifs. Formerly the chambers of the Maharaja and his guests, today they are of course air-conditioned and equipped with plasma TVs, and WiFi. The property also has a spa center, with a heritage indoor swimming pool (built in the 1920s) as well as a very scenic new outdoor pool. The spa treatment rooms are set in pavilions, freestanding among lush gardens. There are also four fine-dining restaurants and a large bar called Polo Bar, where I’d end up having cocktails almost every night, followed by dinner at the casual Verandah restaurant — my favourite. Overlooking the gardens, it restaurant has a very relaxed atmosphere. The delightful Steam restaurant, set within a restored 1915 railway carriage, serves only light meals and pizzas.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Suvarna Mahal, the palace’s former banquet hall and today the choice for stately dining. With crystal chandeliers and large alabaster marble lamps, Suvarna is well in the realm of the past extravagances of the Maharajas. In fact, Suvarna Mahal is emblematic of the Rambagh experience. The hotel is filled with memories of the bygone era, but especially brings to life its lavish luxuries — updated to the 21st century and with the five-star standards of service to match —offering us a window to the fantastic wealth of the Maharajas.
What I loved
- The Rambagh Palace is one of Jaipur’s finest buildings and a great place to experience the palatial style for which Rajasthan is famous.
- The location: in the heart of the city yet very quiet and isolated. The grounds are vast and well maintained and brim with birdlife, which includes dozens of regal peacocks
- The public areas and especially the restaurants have decor that reflects the place’s historical opulence. The aroma of roses fills the hotel, due to well-placed oil burners
- The rooms are tastefully decorated using period furniture as well as expensive fabric and silk drapes, all locally sourced from Rajasthan
- My suite had a large balcony looking out to the gardens and I woke up to the cries of peacocks!
- First class service and experience of genuine hospitality
- The very large indoor swimming pool which has an original feel of a 1920-s era
- A relatively small number of rooms as compared to the overall size of the hotel meaning that it will never feel busy.
What you should know
- There is a horse carriage in the gardens and guests can just hop in for a ride around the gardens. The same applies to a vintage car parked in front of the lobby. The driver will take you for a spin in the hotel vicinity. It’s fun!
- We heard opinions that the hotel feels too modified and not retaining its heritage beauty, however to the extent that this is true it actually adds to the experience of luxury. It’s one of the best-updated heritage property in Rajasthan
- Rooms above the Verandah restaurant can pick up some noise. We say stretch your budget and book one of the Historical Suites which have terraces overlooking the gardens
- The hotel is located in the city but is not at a walking distance from any of the tourist sites
- Both the Rajput Room and Suvarna Mahal restaurants offer excellent food (Western and Indian) however they are not as atmospheric as the Verandah. For the ultimate romantic dining book a special set-up marquee for dinner in the palace’s beautiful gardens
- The steam locomotive restaurant is closed on Tuesdays so plan accordingly
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