01 of 08
Umaid Bhawan Heritage Hotel, Jaipur
India has some opulent palace hotels that were once lived in by royalty. However, unfortunately, they are often pricey and staying there may be out of reach of the average traveler. You don't have to miss out on the experience altogether though. There are some affordable heritage hotels in India that have great ambiance. Here are eight of the best ones, in popular destinations, that won't burn too much of a hole in your pocket! Options range from a regal stay in Rajasthan to French feel in Pondicherry. The rates stated are the lowest during the year.
Umaid Bhawan Heritage Hotel, Jaipur
Umaid Bhawan, conveniently located in Jaipur's leafy Bani Park area, is possibly the most popular heritage hotel in the Pink City. And, not without good reason. The hotel's classic architecture features elegant archways, courtyards, and balconies. Its interiors are decorated with glorious murals, historic photos, handicrafts and antiques. Facilities include a small swimming pool, rooftop restaurant, and souvenir shop. Rajasthani entertainment, including music and puppet show, is provided in the evenings as well.
There are 40 uniquely-styled rooms. Rates start from 2,200 rupees per night for a double, including free wireless Internet. Expect to pay 3,500 rupees per night upwards for the Royal Suite. These are special summer and monsoon season prices with a 50% discount. Tax is additional. Family rooms, sleeping four people, are available.
02 of 08
Ratan Vilas, Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Ratan Vilas, in Rajasthan's Blue City of Jodhpur, is a heritage mansion built in 1920 by Maharaj Ratan Singhji of Raoti. His descendants still live in the property, which they've converted to a superbly-managed heritage hotel. A new wing was recently added but it doesn't lack any of the charm of the rest of the place.
The hotel is very warm and welcoming. Old family portraits fill the drawing room and you may even encounter the owner, who will fill you in on his fascinating family history. (Maharaj Ratan Singhji of Raoti was apparently one of the best horsemen and polo players of his time). Facilities include a swimming pool and garden restaurant where you can dine under the stars.
There are 20 rooms. Rates start from 3,690 rupees per night for a double, including breakfast. Tax is additional.
03 of 08
Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel, Udaipur
One of the best budget hotels in Udaipur with lake views, the Jagat Niwas Palace hotel is a restored 17th century mansion. It was built at the same time as Badi Mahal, which is located in the Udaipur City Palace complex and was used for royal banquets, and has typical regal Mewar-style architecture.
The hotel's 29 rooms are situated around a large central courtyard, and the best ones (the Heritage and Pichola suites) face Lake Pichola. The rooftop restaurant has a panoramic view across the lake to the luxury Taj Lake Palace Hotel. Colorful murals, mirror work, and antique furniture complete the picture.
Rates start from 1,850 rupees per night for a double, plus tax. The cheapest rooms are located in a separate wing adjoining the hotel and don't have any views. However, they're newly renovated, spacious, clean, and have air-conditioning. If you want to splurge, expect to pay 4,250 rupees per night upwards for a lake-facing Heritage room and 6,750 rupees per night upwards for a Pichola suite.
04 of 08
Emerald Isle Heritage Villa, Kerala Backwaters
Experience the culture of Kerala's famous backwaters at this characterful 150+ year old ancestral property, which retains its original architectural features including teak wood carvings. Emerald Isle is situated in a secluded spot on the edge of the Pampa River near Alleppey, surrounded by paddy fields. All kinds of activities are possible, ranging from cooking lessons to village visits (and of course backwater excursions).
There are five guest rooms, including three air-conditioned heritage rooms in the main house. Rates start from about 4,500 rupees per night with breakfast. It's also possible to stay in the granary or separately in a luxury cottage (which was once the coconut storeroom and stable).
Kodianthara Heritage Farm House: A Cheaper Alternative
If Emerald Isle is too costly, Kodianthara Heritage Farm House on the backwaters in Kumarakom is a recommended alternative. This tranquil ancestral home dates back to 1850 and has been passed down through five generations. Farm plantation tours, canoe and houseboat trips along the backwaters, and cooking lessons are offered. There are six guest rooms. Expect to pay 2,500 rupees per night upwards, although it can be possible to get a room for as low as 1,700 rupees per night during the off-season. Breakfast is included.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
The Old Courtyard, Fort Kochi, Kerala
Fort Kochi has some evocative heritage hotels but most of them are quite expensive. The Old Courtyard is an exception. What's more, it has a fantastic location in the heart of the action on Princess Street, close to the Chinese fishing nets and promenade.
The hotel was once the residence of an eminent Jewish family in Fort Kochi. After being abandoned, it was purchased by its current owners (graduates of the prestigious Les Roches school of hotel management in Switzerland) in 1999 and converted to an intimate hotel with eight guest rooms. The owners' love of art and antique furniture is reflected in the many personally-collected pieces the that fill the hotel. The owners are also passionate foodies and the desserts at the hotel's restaurant are legendary.
Rates start from 2,000 rupees per night, plus tax.
06 of 08
Hotel Du Parc, Pondicherry
Hotel Du Parc is one of the best places to have a heritage stay in Pondicherry's historic French Quarter without paying too much. This 17th century villa was previously the residence of many French governors. It has been completely remodeled, seamlessly blending old and new, and retaining its French Colonial flavor.
The hotel's central location next to the Governor's house is close to the Promenade, Aurobindo Ashram, market, and Ganesh temple. Guests also appreciate the hotel's friendly staff.
There are 10 individually decorated rooms. Rates start from 3,300 rupees per night for a double, including breakfast. Tax is additional.
07 of 08
Panjim Inn, Panjim, Goa
Asia's only Latin Quarter, known as Fontainhas, can be found in Goa's capital city, Panim. Dating back to the time of Portuguese rule in the early 1800s, it was declared a UNESCO Heritage Zone in 1984. Panjim Inn was one of the first big Portuguese mansions to be built in Fontainhas. It's been owned by the same family for five generations and nostalgically restored to retain the feel of the bygone era.
A couple of days are recommended to explore the Latin Quarter, and it's possible to take a walking tour. Panjim Inn has a leafy restaurant that serves up some of the best Goan cuisine in the area, and an in-house art gallery and cafe.
There are 24 rooms, uniquely decorated with period furniture and antiques. Rates start from about 3,500 rupees per night for a double. Breakfast is included.
08 of 08
The Green Hotel, Mysore, Karnataka
The sprawling Green Hotel, with its extensive gardens, was built as a palace for Mysore's princesses in the 1920s. It later became a major film studio before being opened as a community-focused and eco-friendly hotel. Many energy-saving initiatives have been implemented, and all of the hotel's profits are given to charities and environmental projects in India. In addition, its acclaimed coffee shop and bakery is run solely by underprivileged women.
Guests can use the whole the palace, including drawing rooms, library, and sitting areas. The hotel is particularly popular as an initial place to stay for people coming to Mysore to study yoga.
There are 31 rooms. Expect to pay about 2,500 rupees upwards per night, including breakfast. Book the Maharani Suite (6,000 rupees upwards per night) for a really regal experience.