Right in the heart of Jaipur, The The Raj Palace is an imposing palace hotel that holds you spellbound. The oldest mansion in Jaipur, originally called ‘The Chaumoo Haveli’, it was built in 1727. It was named after the last ruler of Chaumoo, Thakur Raj Singh. In 1996, Princess Jayendra Kumari converted it into a luxurious palace hotel. It still retains the splendour and a lot of artefacts from the bygone era.
It may not be as talked about as some of the other palaces in Jaipur, but it is definitely extravagance at its best. We were welcomed with the expected marigold garlands and with unexpected soulful music played right in front of us as we savoured our welcome drinks on an exquisite jhoola (Swinging seating) in the courtyard. This luxury hotel affords you some larger than life, unique experiences that you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere, making your stay an experience worth having. Below are a few that I found too irresistible not to write about.
Fast Facts First:
• The Raj Palace, Jaipur was acknowledged as the World’s Leading Heritage Hotel by World Travel awards consecutively for four years from 2007-2013.
• The Raj Palace’s restaurant, The Swapna Mahal was voted as one of the Best Restaurants in the World at the 32nd International Awards for Hotel and Catering by American Travel Association at Fitur, Spain.
1. Grandeur of the Next Level; 15000USD/night Gold & Silver Rooms
We have all heard of palatial hotels that are the epitome of luxury, but how many of us can claim to have slept in a pure gold or silver bed used by an erstwhile maharajah? Well, at The Raj Palace, anyone can, albeit for a price that could buy you a decent piece of regal jewellery (or a car for that matter). I’m talking about the Maharajah’s Pavillion at The Raj Palace, Jaipur. The royal suite is spread over four floors and contains everything from a private lounge with a bar, to a library, lavish dining room, private museum, and 4 bedrooms.
Above: Riches galore at the Maharajah’s Pavillion
The four floor apartment is spread over 16000 square feet (that’s right) and has a private elevator. The Fourth Floor of the complex was the pleasure pavilion in the past and now has a private roof top terrace with panoramic views of the city, a small jacuzzi, swimming pool, private bar and spa. The Durbar Mahal which was the private court of Thakur Sahib and is now the Palace Suite finds itself adorned with the same regality that it boasted of in its hay days. The walls are painted in gold stucco and the furniture is pure gold and silver. Despite all the glitter, it is anything but garish. Other suites also feature silk thread paintings, gold and ivory inlay work on furniture, and gold adorned walls. If this doesn’t convince you of the level of richness, what else will? The price at which this luxury comes, is around 15000 USD/night. (Don’t worry if you’re not a sheikh, they have beautiful regular priced rooms too).
While I didn’t stay in the Palace Suite, our room surpassed our expectations. Huge and very luxurious, it was everything we could ask for and more. A small sitting area with the provision for a bar, tea and coffee, lead to the room through a corridor. The huge bed had an equally huge mirror overlooking it from the ceiling, giving the room an even bigger look. A step down, there was a living room cum study with an impressive wood table that called out to the writer in me. The attached bath was about as big as the room and very richly appointed, complete with a regal clawfoot bathtub. In short, impressive.
2. Museum(s) & Rooms with Original Historical Artefacts
Sans the pretentiousness of a museum, the hotel is full of historical artefacts that can be found all around. There are specially designated spaces where things like locks, writing instruments, letter openers and other antique knick-knacks are housed.
The dining hall will dazzle you with its range of 200 year old crockery used by the royals, including the Maharaja and Maharani of Jaipur. The Maharajah’s Pavilion, the Durbar Mahal (Room where court was held), the Swarn Mahal (Golden palace) and the Historical Room all have bits and pieces of history attached to them as private in-room museums. Imagine being surrounded by handicrafts that once tickled the fancy of the Maharajas living in these very quarters.
3. One of the Biggest Chandeliers
There are chandeliers, and then there is “THE” Chandelier. The chandelier at Raj Palace is one of the biggest crystal chandeliers in India. Set in Swapna Mahal (the dining hall and the name literally translates to dream palace) where multi cuisine meals are served, it is definitely a highlight of the visit. The dining room used to be the formal reception area modelled on great British and French noble houses. The double height ceiling hall has beautiful silver jharokas (canopied overhanging balcony), arched windows, palatial furniture and equally royal food.
4. Living in Heritage Spaces used by Royalty of Yore & Celebs of Today
It is not every day that you get to live in quarters where royalty has lived and where celebrities have dined. Names of the league of Sawai Jai Singh, Maharani Gayatri Devi, Lord Mountbatten, Maharaja Man Singh, Rawal Sangram Singh of the Samode Palace, as well as other international royals have spent time here. Apart from that, today’s royalty, stars and celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Fredrick Forsyth, Elaine Page, Dominique La Pierre and many dignitaries from around the world have slept, dined or been here. Put your name in their hotel records and be on the same page as this celebrated list.
5. Centrally Located, Yet Far from the Crowds
The Raj Palace is located within the Pink City and close to many attractions such as Hawa Mahal, the bustling markets of Bapu Bazar, Johri Bazar, City Palace and Jantar Mantar. Yet, the hotel is away from the hustle bustle of town as it is tucked in a quiet corner (if you can call such a huge space a corner). It affords you peace and serenity, which is made particularly lovable, with the elegant spa and stunning swimming pool.
The sprawling lawns are an indulgence in the middle of the city and make it a great choice for celebrations. In the heart of the city, yet away from all the noise, you can spend hours strolling in the lawns and never even want to venture out. Even though the property is huge, any thing we asked for in our room was promptly delivered. So another plus is that the service cannot be faulted.
6. Global Gourmet Meals
The Swapna Mahal serves a faultless thali – The Maharani Thali (queen’s platter), which embraces not just Rajasthani specialties but also dishes from the Royal Principalities like Nepal. From a scroll, the very attentive and always smiling Kaan Singh read out a royal firman (edict) to initiate our meal for the evening.
The Vegetable Gulabi Kebab with beetroot was the melt-in-the-mouth winner in starters while the yummy Dal Rajwada (royal lentils), the chunky Vegetable Jalfrezi (mixed vegetables), the moreish Kofta Shahi Zafrani (dumplings in creamy gravy), the simple Subz Korma Kesariya (vegetables in saffron flavoured base) and the perfectly cooked Sultani Bhindi (ladyfinger) were all delightful. But the Royal Nepalese Potato – a delightful mustard seed tempering with a hint of tanginess – stole the show. Served with a side of salads and Shahjahani Raita, the meal is a vegetarian’s royal delight.
To sweeten the meal, a selection of cut fruits, ice cream and Shahi Jamun (small gulab jamuns or deep fried milk-solids based balls dipped in sugar syrup) were served. Between my friend and I, we could not finish even one Thali. Sumptuous and delicious!
The coffee shop, The Royal Lounge, offers a variety of international and Indian cuisines. Dosas, paranthas, sandwiches; each was good and served well. The breakfast buffet served here is delicious and consists of a decent range of dishes chosen to please every palette. The bar, Shikarbadi (hunters lounge), is striking in its decor with beautiful wall frescoes and antiques – a royal setting to savour the finest drinks.
All in all, every meal was an experience worth having.
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