India’s Best of Luxury Palaces and Countryside Retreats
If you’re lucky enough to be planning a trip to India, whether on tour with an award-winning company like Vancouver, Canada’s Explore India Journeys Inc., or on your own, you will be able to choose from a bewildering number of some of the most enchanting places to stay in the world. One might lean toward the more familiar Western style 5Star hotels because you think you know how your stay there will unfold, however, take it from someone who has travelled like a queen with Explore India, if you didn’t get the opportunity to experience some of India’s traditional heritage hotels you would be missing out on one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience in India.
Some of you might like the comforts of home with a modern room featuring sleek lines, nice views, and of course a big television plunked in as the focal point of the space, yes, the type of room you can find anywhere in North America – nice, but wouldn’t you rather indulge yourself in a world unlike any you’ve ever experienced before? Such a wondrous world awaits you in India, and, surprisingly, many of the luxurious Indian hotels, palaces, and spa resorts that are far superior to our Western equivalents, are far less in price too. Do I have your attention? Then keep reading as I highlight 5 of India’s most luxurious palace hotels and 5 of India’s most amazing countryside, sanctuary, and wildlife retreats.
5 of India’s Best Palace Hotels
Taj Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur is one of the most awe-inspiring palace hotels in the world. Originally, a royal pleasure palace for Maharaja Jagat Singh, the opulent palace is now open for travellers to Udaipur to experience the decadence of living like a royal. Lake Palace, formerly known as Jag Niwas, was built between 1743 and 1746 as a summer house and in 1971, the reigning Maharana at that time, converted the palace into the 5Star Lake Palace Hotel, the first luxury hotel in Udaipur.
The famous movie scene of boats racing around the fabulous palace in James Bonds 1983 classic ‘Octopussy’ put the iconic hotel on the map as one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Unlike many of its rivals though, Taj Lake Palace floats majestically atop Udaipur’s Lake Pichola, making it in a class of its own as being one of the most breathtakingly beautiful for its location as well as design.
Step back in time as you step aboard your boat which will transport you to a world of decadence as it delivers you to the steps of Taj Lake Palace Hotel. Your new home away from home is a dream on water, however, at your new home, every wish is granted as the hospitable staff are ready to cater to your every need. A leader in luxury hospitality, the guests of this Taj Group of hotels is literally treated like royalty the moment they arrive for their stay. Aside from the impeccable service, the spacious rooms are charming and offer glorious views of the crystalline waters of Lake Pichola. The décor coupled with the welcoming views of the lake, make the experience of staying at Taj Lake Palace all the more memorable. Decadence at its best, Lake City Palace is a must see on any trip to India and, if you’re lucky enough to stay there, it will be one of the most enchanting experiences of your life.
On an Explore India tour you have the option to stay at the mesmerizing palace which boasts of Medieval, Mughal, Rajasthani, Oriental, and European architecture. Despite this variety of architectural influences, the palace is a wonder to experience as a seamless flow of beauty transcends you to another world in each section. The many paintings that decorate the elaborate rooms tell a story of a time gone by yet the energy of those years seems to linger in the magnificence of the space.
Taj Falaknuma Palace Hotel in Hyderabad is one of the few 7-Star hotels in the world and is located in India’s southern state of Telangana. In the 1890’s it was the royal guesthouse of Nizam Mehboob Ali Khan (Nizam is the name given to a hereditary ruler in Hyderabad). He entertained many guests at the lavish 32-acre pleasure palace such as King George V, Queen Mary, and Edward VIII.
After 10 years of restorative work which began in 2000, the palace is now part of the Taj Group of Hotels and houses guests in its 60 impressively opulent rooms. Rich with history, colour, and life, the property features 22 stunningly colourful halls elaborately adorned with some of the Nizams artifacts like paintings, statues, sparkling chandeliers and even some of his books. Marble staircases and 24-Karat gold wall mouldings are also seen throughout this grand palace hotel that is open for the guests to wander through freely.
Resting atop a hillock in the surrounding area of Falaknuma, one can enjoy pleasant city views from anywhere within the scorpion shaped palace. Whether taking a stroll around the immaculate grounds or a little pampering in the hotels world class spa, the elevated services and facilities are rated as consistently exceeding expectations. One thing you will notice about India straight away is that the people in general, but the hotel and restaurant staff most assuredly, are naturally moved each and every moment to ensure the traveller is happy and enjoying every moment of their journey to India and this is an absolute certainty at Taj Falaknuma Palace Hotel.
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai is our next top palace hotel and is again one of the Taj Group Hotels. The beauty of the Taj collection of hotels is that regardless which Taj property you are at, there is an absolute essence of India and you will be experiencing the best that Indian culture and heritage has to offer. The combination of staying at one of these beautiful heritage palaces and enjoying everything that makes India wonderful can be found in the Taj collection of hotels. From the extravagantly rich Indian décor to the music that gently streams through the space, to the personal service of all hotel attendants to the delectable cuisine in the hotel dining rooms, Taj Hotel Group and its many properties throughout India, know how to create the best and most memorable atmospheres and experiences for their guests.
The grand Taj Mahal Palace is situated in the heart of the bustling financial sector of Mumbai, India’s largest city and a popular stop on many of Explore India’s tours. The iconic hotel was built in 1903 when Mumbai was referred to as ‘Bombay’ but the city name was changed to Mumbai in 1995. Acknowledged as a world leader in hospitality, the Taj Mahal Palace has a longstanding reputation and history as the desired location for visiting dignitaries as well as royalty too. Nothing quite compares to the hotels fantastic location being near many historical sites and museums, but it also boasts of 285 traditionally adorned rooms fit for those who relish in nostalgic elegance.
Some of the finest restaurants and bars are also conveniently located in the beautiful palace hotel, offering both Western cuisine as well as the delights of the delicious Indian gourmet fare too. If you fancy something a little different for dinner, Mumbai’s best Japanese and Chinese restaurants are in the Taj Mahal Palace hotel as well. On an Explore India afternoon tour of Mumbai, after visiting the famous and educational Dharavi slums and seeing the massive local fish market, you can sit back in one of the hotel’s lounges and enjoy a cool sweet tea or even a cocktail or two before heading out on your next Explore India adventure. One thing is for sure though, regardless whether you enjoy the tranquility of your room or relaxing in one of the many hotel restaurants or lounges, you will feel like royalty while staying at this spectacular Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai.
Rambagh Palace in Jaipur is next on our list as we venture off to the Rajasthani capital city of Jaipur. Known as the ‘Pink City’ Jaipur earned this name as most of the cities buildings and houses are painted a pleasant terracotta pink colour which is known as the colour of hospitality. In 1876, to prepare for Prince Alberts royal visit, the ruler Maharaja Sawa Ram Singh II had the whole city painted pink to show the prince how welcome he was.
This level of hospitality spills over at the stunningly beautiful Rambagh Palace in Jaipur. Built in 1835, this royal palace was home to the queen’s loyal handmaiden before being transformed into a royal guesthouse, then a royal hunting lodge, and later becoming the main residence for Maharaja Sawa Ram Singh II and his wife the queen. Yes, another jewel in the Taj Group chain of hotels, Rambagh Palace in now a luxurious Taj retreat that offers the ultimate in hospitality and incredible, expansive views of Jaipur too. This setting features many fine spots to dine as some of the best restaurants in Jaipur are located in the hotel, all opening out onto stunning patio settings where you can enjoy refined and elegant dining.
The sophisticated charm of the palace is seen in the exquisite furnishings and décor throughout the fabulous hotel. Despite the elaborate settings of grand halls and ornate living spaces, there is a serenity in the hotel that creates a unique balance between extravagance and the splendour of simple and serene design. This balance can be experienced very well at the palaces Jiva Grande Spa which realizes the need to enjoy a healing, calm space during your busy touring days. On an Explore India tour, the travel specialists will book your wellness treatments ahead of time to ensure Jiva Grande Spa is ready for you. You can also indulge in the hotel’s yoga and meditation classes too, all you have to do is arrive, everything else is looked after for you. Regardless how you spend your time at this ‘Jewel of Jaipur’ you will cherish your memories of feeling like royalty while at Rambagh Palace in Jaipur.
Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur is last on our top 5 luxurious palace hotels in India. This dream of a heritage hotel is located in the city of Jodhpur, commonly referred to as ‘The Blue City’ as many of the houses are painted a lovely pale blue colour. As you stand at certain vantage points in Jodhpur, you really do see the skyline blend with the city scape as the houses delicately dance amongst the sky in the picturesque scenery of the city. Off in the distance, one might be able to spot Umaid Bhawan Palace, the most enchantingly beautiful heritage palace hotel in Jodhpur, and, perhaps in all of India. Most unique to this particular palace hotel is the fact that the Maharaja still lives in a section of the palace, making it all the more interesting to note as you sip a refreshing drink out on the opulent patio while peering over at the Maharajas private residence. A royal residence indeed as the massive buildings that make up the palace resemble that of a university setting or even the parliament.
The pale-yellow sandstone structure was built between 1928 and 1943 and spans across 26 acres of mostly garden and flower filled walkways. Not surprisingly, Umaid Bhawan Palace is the largest private residence in the world but a significant section of the property is owned by Taj Group Hotels and operated as a 5Star retreat for travellers and guests.
On an Explore India tour you will be able to visit the grand palace and see the stunning Renaissance and Art Deco design of the buildings. Notice the exquisite detail and well thought out plan of Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel as it looks out over Jodhpur. Featured everyday at the hotel is the Champagne Museum Walk where guests can partake in a tour of the Victorian and Edwardian antiques in the palace all while sipping a delicious glass of champagne. Truly an experience just visiting this grand residence and palace, even if you are not going to stay there, it is well worth a visit to see while you are in the delightful city of Jodhpur.
5 of India’s Best Countryside Resorts
Amanbagh Alwar Resort in Ajabgar, Rajasthan is truly in a world of its own and from first glance, it’s a world we would all love to be. The former hunting grounds of the Maharaja of Alwar, Amanbagh Alwar Resort is an outstanding feat of architecture because despite its massive size it captures the essence of the lands in which it sits. A soul-searching nature lovers paradise, Amanbagh Alwar Resort feeds the spirit as it welcomes the explorer of India into the natural oasis in which the resort sits.
The ornate hotel rests peacefully at the foot of the Aravalli Hills near Alwar in Northern India. Situated on this spectacular setting lends to one who enjoys the finer and more natural aspects of life. The Sanskrit word for peace is ‘Aman’ and the Hindi word for garden is ‘bagh’ and Amanbagh resort is truly a naturally beautiful resort seemingly floating on the lush land on which it resides. The Maharaja of Alwar built the walled area to be able to hunt the elusive tigers which roamed there freely for 1000’s of years. While the tigers in this area are gone now, the lush trees and vegetation continue to thrive making this countryside resort one of the most captivating places on our list.
On a custom Explore India tour, you too can enjoy this amazing resort. Complete with a reception hall, dining room, roof terrace, swimming pool, and a lovely shaded courtyard area for relaxing and taking in the scenery, there is plenty of space for you to enjoy. Well maintained and perfectly preserved, Amanbagh Alwar Resort is the perfect destination offering spacious rooms and glorious views of their lovingly landscaped gardens and is recognized as one of the most inviting and tranquil palace hotels in India.
Mountbatten Lodge in rural Rajasthan is a quiet paradise retreat nestled in the rustically majestic Aravalli hills and is bordered by the Kumbulgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. The two prominent attractions of the Ranakpur Jain Temples and the Kumbulgarh Fort are easily accessible while staying at the uniquely private hideaway of Mountbatten Lodge. Away from the rural noise of the cities, Mountbatten Lodge offers a chance to enjoy horseback riding Rajasthani style, a safari jeep ride through the jungle, and the chance to even spot a leopard.
This hideaway style sanctuary is great for honeymooners or anyone who longs for a private setting. The lodge offers 4 main guest suites with options to expand the suite to meet the needs of more than two people. Most travellers prefer a two to three-night stay as there is so much to enjoy in the area that day trips away from the lodge can be arranged. If you feel like a refreshing dip in the swimming pool, you can delight in taking a swim in the unusually shaped triangular pool which is a great spot to lay back and listen to the songs of nature.
Dining at the lodge is an experience unto itself as guests are given many choices of sumptuous local Indian dishes as well as delicious Western options too. If you feel you would enjoy being surrounded by graceful forests with the melodic hums of nature strumming through the air, this is the place for you. Come and experience the ultimate in Raj hospitality at the amazing Mountbatten Lodge and add this stay to your collection of the best experiences of your life.
The Tree of Life Resort & Spa is idyllically located in the Aravalli hills and conveniently just moments away from the Amber Fort in Jaipur. Experience this peaceful natural retreat that offers the best in relaxation and unparalleled service. With just 13 luxury villas spread out over seven acres of beautifully manicured lawns and garden, The Tree of Life Resort & Spa will rejuvenate your soul and invigorate your mind.
Reflecting traditional Rajasthani architecture and design, the villas were built with extensive use of lime and sandstone and are tastefully adorned with gorgeous modern touches too. Each villa is named after a flower and the suites décor colours reflects that of the flower as well. Hues of pink, purple, yellow, and orange, brighten each space with the essence of India. Offering over 2200 square feet in each villa, there is more than enough room to enjoy all the luxuries of home in these beautiful and private suites.
Whether you would like to lounge in a relaxing massage at the world-renowned spa at the resort or perhaps you would like to stick close to your villa and enjoy your private hot tub, you will be transported to a world of luxury at The Tree of Life Resort & Spa. On an Explore India custom tour of India, request a stay at the fabulous resort and let the specialists at Explore India handle all the booking details for you.
Aman-i-khas is the epitome of understated elegance as the immaculate grounds feature luxury tent stays in the wildlife sanctuary of Ranthambhore. Situated amongst some of the most spectacular wildlife settings in India, Aman-i-khas is the perfect stop for an Indian wildlife safari as the thrilling beauty of Ranthambhore is yours to explore.
The luxury safari tents of Aman-i-khas are situated on the edge of Ranthambhore National Park offering the absolute best in access to the parks viewing of wildlife. The largest wildlife reserve in India, Ranthambore National Park is one of the best places to view wild animals as it covers an area of approximately 1300 square kilometres. One can spot sloths, deer, marsh crocodiles, leopards, and even tigers. Ranthambhore is home to the largest number of Bengal Tigers and on an Aman-i-khas wildlife safari, they will determine which zone of the park is best to spot a tiger.
The tents at Aman-i-khas are no ordinary safari tent as these luxury tents are large open spaces fully furnished with all the comforts of home and more. With privacy in mind, the tents are positioned in such a way that you feel as though you have been transported to a utopian world all of your own. Reflecting nature’s finest elements and colours, the tents are tastefully decorated in honey and almond hues that adds to the suns warm rays that fill the rooms. Complete with a sitting room, bedroom, and even a washroom area with a bathtub, one can roam freely through the 1100 square foot space and enjoy complete privacy as well.
Gourmet cuisine is included in your inclusive stay at Aman-i-khas and meals are served Mughal style in the comfort of the Dining Hall tent on the property. Delicious Indian cuisine is served daily as well as many Western favourites too. No request is too great at the resort either as the hospitable chefs and staff are always eager to ensure you have everything you would like during your stay. After a day of safari life, retreat to the open-air fire pit and reflect back on the days events as you enjoy the tranquil space and views of the lush jungle.
There are several Explore India tours which include a few days in Ranthambhore National Park and if you would like to stay at the amazing Aman-i-khas Resort, an Explore India travel specialist will be happy to arrange that for you. Similarly, many Explore India travellers request private tours which include two to three nights at Aman-i-khas and this is an option as well.
Kumarakom Lake Resort in Kerala is our last, but definitely not least, of our top 5 countryside resorts. Located in the divine setting of South India, Kumarakom Lake Resort is a top pick for travellers wanting to experience the serenity of the south. Situated on the banks of Vembanad, guests enjoy a sublime mixture of untouched beauty in the lush greenery and the tranquil backwaters of Kerala that envelopes the tropical 5Star resort.
The luxury heritage resort was built in 2000 and has celebrated many hospitality industries awards over the years. Prince Charles celebrated his 65th birthday at Kumarakom Lake Resort in 2013 bringing much added acclaim to the resort as well as the area of Kerala. The heritage rich resort was chosen as the location for Prince Charles as it boasts of some of the finest architectural heritage of Kerala and it is also notably the ‘greenest’ in the area with regards to preservation and eco-friendly alternatives.
With a blend of traditional and modern décor, the private rooms at the resort are a welcome retreat after busy touring days through India. Most of the rooms offer a private pool to cool off after a morning walk through the tropical gardens of the resort. Surrounded by natural plantation and bird life makes the experience of staying at the resort even more enjoyable. Complete with an Ayurvedic treatment spa, one can enjoy a traditional Indian massage or other treatments offered at the resort. Unlike any massage you have had before, an Ayurvedic massage is one of the most incredibly enriching and rejuvenating experiences you can have and I fully recommend you take advantage of the opportunity when at Kumarakom Lake Resort.
While in Kerala you cannot miss taking a tour of the backwaters in one of their amazing houseboats. The Kumarakom Lake Resort is situated on the waterfront of the backwaters of Kerala offering the perfect opportunity to take a ‘Kettuvalom’ or houseboat for a cruise on the water. The backwaters are a network of lakes and lagoons lying parallel to the Arabian Sea and floating along these chains of waters is an amazing way to spend an afternoon or even an overnight trip can be arranged. Experience Indian culture and the beautiful scenery as you escape and recuperate on a wonderful experience of houseboating in the backwater of Kerala during your stay at the most wonderful tropical vacation destination of Kumarakom Lake Resort in Kerala.
Explore India includes or offers all of these amazing stays either within a small group tour, an extension of any tour, or a private tour. Regardless which Explore India mode of touring you decide on, you can be sure that all of your dreams can come true in India with Explore India Journeys Inc. Call us today at 1-800-515-3808 to find out about our exclusive offers for 2021 and 2022 and how you can experience these incredible palaces and resorts of India soon.
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