Best Palace Hotels in India: Where to Stay Like Royalty

  • 01 of 07

    Overview of Palace Hotels in India

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    ••• Izzet Keribar/Getty Images

    A highlight of any visit to India, and a unique way of experiencing the country's fascinating heritage, is a stay in one of India's magnificent palace hotels.

    These hotels were actually once home to India's royalty, and in some cases still are, but have been converted into accommodations in recent years as a way of sustaining their existence. The necessity for this, and the rise and fall of India's palaces, can be traced back through India's ever evolving history.

    Hundreds of years ago, India was a vastly divided country that consisted of an incredible 565 kingdoms. The richest and most grandiose of these were the Rajput kingdoms, located in what is now known as the desert state of Rajasthan. This is where India's most opulent palace hotels can be found.

    The British also contributed to extensively to the building of lavish residences, particularly in India's hill settlements where they retreated during the summer months to escape the relentless heat.

    After the...MORE British left and India achieved independence in 1947, all states merged into the Republic of India. Many of the British mansions were purchased by India's royal families, who used them as summer palaces for themselves. Then, in 1971, the Constitution of India abolished the status of royalty in the India and all royal privileges were withdrawn.

    Some palaces and mansions were retained by the once royal families, some sold off or leased to hotel chains, and others were assumed by the Indian government. However, the end result is that India now has some exquisite palace hotels where guests can stay and experience how royalty once lived.

    Browse the following pages for palace hotels to suit all budgets, from luxury five star to smaller more intimate places.

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  • 02 of 07

    Palace Hotels in Jaipur, Rajasthan

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    ••• Samode Palace. BOISVIEUX Christophe/Getty Images

    Some of India's oldest and finest palace hotels can be found in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, reflective of the city's particularly wealthy royalty that once occupied them.

    Luxury Palace Hotels in Jaipur

    Jai Mahal Palace
    This beautifully restored luxury hotel, operated by Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces, dates back to 1745 and was once the residence of the Prime Minister of Jaipur. It opened its doors to guests in 1955, making it one of India's first palace hotels. The hotel is located not far from the train station, to the west of the Old City. Read reviews & compare prices at TripAdvisor.

    Raj Palace Hotel
    The remarkable Raj Palace Hotel was built in 1727 and is Jaipur's oldest mansion. Its breathtaking Durbar Mahal Suite, acknowledged as "Asia's Leading Suite" in the 2008 World Travel Awards, was used by the Maharaja himself. The hotel is centrally located in a quiet area to the north of the Old City, heading towards Amber Fort. Read reviews &...MORE compare prices at TripAdvisor.

    Rambagh Palace
    Another impressive Taj Group hotel, the Rambagh Palace is often referred to as the "Jewel of Jaipur". It's Jaipur's most magnificent palace hotel, and was home to the royal family for over 30 years. The hotel is set among 47 acres of gardens to the south of the Old City and has a long string of awards to its name. Read reviews & compare prices at TripAdvisor.

    Sujan Raj Mahal Palace Hotel
    Following on from an extensive renovation and reinvention, the Raj Mahal Palace Hotel became Jaipur's most contemporary palace hotel when it re-opened its doors to guests in early 2015. The hotel was built in 1729 as a royal pleasure pavilion. It was subsequently loaned to the British and remained in their hands until after Independence. The royal family reclaimed it as their private residence in 1957.  From the 1980s onwards, it operated as a budget palace hotel that had seen better days. Now, you can expect to pay $1,000 per night for a room! Read reviews & compare prices at Tripadvisor

    Samode Palace
    The well maintained Samode Palace is built into the Aravali Ranges, around one hour north west of Jaipur. The flagship property of luxury heritage Samode Hotels, it was opened as a hotel in 1987 after being meticulously restored. The property, built nearly 500 years ago, is a wondrous example of regal Rajput-Mughul architecture. Its richly decorated palace rooms, with intricate frescoes and mirror work, are stunning to explore. The hotel is enchantingly lit up at night, making it a lovely romantic getaway. Read reviews & compare prices at TripAdvisor.

    Samode Haveli
    Also part of the Samode Hotels group, Samode Haveli is hidden away in Jaipur's Old City. This royal family manor was built over 175 years ago and has apartments arranged around a series of intimate courtyards. Food is big focus there, as the owner (who is a descendant of the royal family of Samode and still lives there) is a passionate cook. Another special feature is its elephant ramp.  Read reviews & compare prices on TripAdvisor.

    Budget Palace Hotels in Jaipur

    If you're visiting Jaipur on a budget, check out these more affordable heritage hotels and get the best price:

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  • 03 of 07

    Palace Hotels in Jodhpur, Rajasthan

    Facade of a palace, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
    ••• Facade of a palace, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur. Exotica.im/Getty Images

    The blue city of Jodhpur doesn't have as many palace hotels as other cities in Rajasthan, but it does have the extraordinary Umaid Bhawan.

    Umaid Bhawan Palace
    A stay at the Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel is not likely to be forgotten in a hurry! This very grand and imposing Taj Group hotel, made out of yellow sandstone and located on a hill above the city, was completed in 1944 after 15 years in the making. Designed by renowned Edwardian architect Henry Lanchester, it was one of the last great palaces to be built in India. The royal family of Jodhpur still occupies a section of it. The palace has 347 rooms, including 67 guest rooms and suites. Guests have access to many areas such as the private museum, squash courts, recreation room, underground and outdoor swimming pools, libraries, ball rooms, whispering gallery, turret rooms, and terraces with city views. Such grandeur doesn't come cheap, of course. You can expect to pay around $750 upwards per night to stay there. The Umaid...MORE Bhawan Palace was voted the World's Best Hotel by Tripadvisor users in 2016. Compare prices & read reviews at TripAdvisor.

    If your budget doesn't extend that far, the authentic Bal Samand Lake Palace is another luxury option.

    Bal Samand Lake Palace
    The red sandstone Bal Samand Lake Palace hotel is a quiet and peaceful place, located around 10 minutes from the city. It was built as a royal summer residence in typical ornate Rajput architectural style. The hotel's expansive gardens and lake are soothing places to unwind. Compare prices & read reviews at TripAdvisor.

    There are also a few smaller hotels in and around Jodhpur where you can have a regal stay. Some of the best are:

    Ajit Bhawan
    Ajit Bhawan is a mansion that was built by Maharaja Ajit Singhji of Jodhpur. The hotel's accommodations comprise a range of suites, luxury tents, and rooms. It's a charming but not lavish mid-range place to stay, located a short distance from the city center. Compare prices & read reviews at TripAdvisor.

    Fort Chanwa Luni
    Not a palace but a fortress built around 100 years ago by Maharaja Dalip Singh, this tranquil hotel is located around 40 minutes from Jodhpur. Compare prices & read reviews at TripAdvisor.

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  • 04 of 07

    Palace Hotels in Udaipur, Rajasthan

    Sunset terrace, Fateh Prakash Palace Hotel, Udaipur.
    ••• Paul Panayiotou/Getty Images

    Romantic Udaipur, known for its beautiful lakes and palaces, is possibly the best city in India for a stay that's reminiscent of royalty. There are many palace hotels to choose from.

    Luxury Palace Hotels in Udaipur

    RAAS Devi Garh
    Devi Garh is a rambling old 18th century fort-palace, located around 45 minutes from Udaipur city. It's been restored in modern style with 39 sumptuous suites for guests. Compare prices & read reviews at TripAdvisor.

    Lake Palace
    The Lake Palace, part of the Taj Group of hotels, is often referred to as one of the world's most romantic hotels. It's a magical 250 year old white marble and mosaic summer palace, located in the middle of Lake Pichola. Compare prices & read reviews at TripAdvisor.

    Fateh Prakash Palace
    This hotel is an original palace full of antique furniture and paintings. It's part of the famous City Palace complex, where the Mewar royal family still lives, located on the banks of Lake Pichola. Compare prices & read reviews...MORE at TripAdvisor or read more about the Fateh Prakash Palace hotel and take a visual tour.

    Shiv Niwas Palace
    Originally the residence of Maharana Fateh Singh, and also used to accommodate royal guests, the stylish Shiv Niwas Palace hotel is part of the City Palace complex as well. Compare prices & read reviews at TripAdvisor or read more about the Shiv Niwas Palace hotel and take a visual tour.

    Shikarbadi
    Shikarbadi is a former hunting lodge of the Royal Family of Mewar. Its quiet location in the Aravalli hills around 15 minutes from the city is full of wildlife, including spotted deer, monkeys, peacocks, and migratory birds. Compare prices & read reviews at TripAdvisor.

    Budget Palace Hotels in Udaipur

    For those on a budget, a cheaper but popular alternative is the Jagat Niwas Palace hotel, and it has picturesque lake views!

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  • 05 of 07

    Other Palace Hotels in Rajasthan

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    ••• Prism/Getty Images

    The Rajasthan countryside is dotted with captivating fort and palace hotels, which make wonderful escapes away from hectic city life. These include:

    Gajner Palace, Bikaner
    Spread over an incredible 6,000 acres, the Gajner Palace is located around 30 minutes from Bikaner on the embankment of a lake. It's a gorgeous former hunting resort of the Maharajas and was also visited by British dignitaries during the Raj. Compare prices & read reviews at Tripadvisor

    Laxmi Niwas Palace, Bikaner
    This grand and picturesque royal palace hotel is located within the walls of the Lallgarh Palace Complex at Bikaner. It was the personal residence of Maharaja Ganga Singhji of Bikaner. Rooms have gold plated paintings. Compare prices & read reviews at Tripadvisor

    Bikaner House "The Palace Hotel", Mount Abu
    This hotel, built in 1893, was once the summer residence of the royal family of Bikaner. The best thing about it is its vast and serene grounds. Compare prices & read reviews at...MORE Tripadvisor

    Deogarh Mahal, District Rajsamand
    The 17th century fort-palace Deogarh Mahal is full of history and run by the royal family themselves. Perched on a hill between Udaipur and Jodhpur, it's a fabulous place to stop and break the journey. Compare prices & read reviews at Tripadvisor

    Neemrana Fort Palace, Village Neemrana
    This atmospheric hotel is a genuine hilltop fort, constructed in 1464. It's located on the Delhi-Jaipur highway, around two and a half hours drive from Delhi in Rajasthan's Alwar district, making it perfect for exploring India's Golden Triangle. Compare prices & read reviews at Tripadvisor

    Udai Bilas Palace, Dungarpur
    Idyllically located between a lake and a forest around two hours south of Udaipur, the Udai Bilas Palace features graceful Rajput architecture. The main attraction in the area is the deserted 13th-century Juna Mahal palace. Compare prices & read reviews at Tripadvisor

    Hotel Castle, Bijaipur
    This 16th century castle was built by Rao Vijay Singh, descendent of great Rajput warrior Shakti Singh, the younger brother of Maharana Pratap. It's located in Bijaipur village, at the foot of Vindhyanchal Hills, 40 kilometers south of Chittorgarh. Compare prices & read reviews at Tripadvisor

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  • 06 of 07

    Mountain Palace Hotels in India

    Oberoi Wildflower Hall.
    ••• Oberoi Wildflower Hall.

    India's mountain palace hotels have a distinctly British feel to them as most originate from the time that the British Raj ruled India. They were built and used as cool summer retreats.

    Fernhills Palace, Ooty
    Fernhills Palace is located on 50 acres of land in the rolling hills of Ooty, in south India's tea growing district. It became the summer palace of the Wadiyar royal family from Mysore after it was acquired from the British. The hotel retains much of its colonial charm, and each room has a delightful open fireplace for guests to warm themselves by a log fire during winter. Read reviews & compare prices at TripAdvisor.

    Kasmanda Palace, Mussoorie
    The small but elegant Kasmanda Palace hotel is one of the oldest buildings in Mussoorie. Built in 1836 as part of a church complex, it has an interesting history that's seen it used as a sanatorium for the British forces and a school, before being purchased by the Kasmanda Royal Family as their summer retreat. The royal family...MORE still owns the hotel. Filled with memorabilia, and with a picturesque elevated location slightly above the town of Mussoorie (at the foothills of the Himalayan ranges), the hotel provides a wonderful glimpse into the bygone era. Read reviews & compare prices at TripAdvisor.

    Wildflower Hall, Shimla
    Wildflower Hall, now a luxury award winning Oberoi hotel, was once the home of Lord Kitchener during the rule of the British Raj in India. It has an enviable fairytale setting high in the Himalayas, amidst 23 acres of dense pine and cedar woods. The hotel provides a tranquil sanctuary with panoramic views of snow covered peaks. You can do as little or as much as you want there -- relax at the spa, take walks in the wilderness, or enjoy the thrill of adventure activities such as white river rafting. Read reviews & compare prices at TripAdvisor.

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  • 07 of 07

    Other Palace Hotels in India

    Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad
    ••• Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad

    Some other notable palace hotels in India with royal connections include:

    Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad
    Perched 2,000 feet above Hyderabad, the opulent and incomparable Taj Falaknuma Palace is the former residence of the Nizam of Hyderabad. It boasts large Venetian chandeliers, rare furniture, grand marble staircases, priceless statues and art works, stained-glass windows, a world-class collection of crystal, library that's a replica of the one at Windsor Castle (it has one of the most acclaimed collections of the Holy Quran in India, selected and brought back by the Nizam himself), as well as Mughal, Rajasthani and Japanese gardens personally conceived by the Nizam. Compare prices & read traveler reviews at TripAdvisor.

    Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai
    The iconic Taj Mahal Palace & Tower is one of Mumbai's best luxury hotels. It was built in 1903 to accommodate a range of royal guests and other important persons, including maharajas and princes, various kings, and...MORE presidents. The hotel's impressive architecture comprises many archways, domes, turrets, and chandeliers. Inside there's an interesting collection of paintings, artifacts, and works of art of the era. Compare prices & read traveler reviews at TripAdvisor.

    Chandra Mahal Haveli, Bharatpur
    The Chandra Mahal was built in 1699 by the Nobles of Emperor Akbar. This carefully restored mansion is located in a village on the Jaipur Agra Road, around one hour from Agra, and is convenient for going bird watching at Keoladeo National Park. It's a simple property, but is also extremely alluring and comfortable, and a delight to explore. Live traditional music and dance performances are often held in the evenings. The upstairs terrace rooms are recommended for their natural light and air. Compare prices & read traveler reviews at TripAdvisor.

    Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore
    The striking white Lalitha Mahal, located on a hill just outside the city, is Mysore's second largest palace. It was built in 1921 by the king to house his royal guests. The main drawback is that this glorious property is owned and operated by the Indian government. As a result, much of it remains in original condition and is becoming a rather worn. Guests shouldn't expect a luxurious stay. However, it's a very authentic and exotic palace, which exudes a great deal of charm and history. Compare prices & read traveler reviews at TripAdvisor.