If you're hell-bent on experiencing the blue blood of heritage properties, Rambagh Palace is both the largest (19 hectares/47 acres) and most elegant option in Jaipur. Its origins date back to 1835. What started as a garden developed by the maharani's handmaid, Rambagh has been a hunting lodge and a private boarding school (for a prince, of course). Converted into a hotel in 1957, it was the first heritage hotel in India, and remains a favorite of Bollywood stars and socialites: It's where Jaipur royalty celebrate birthdays, and where the elite gather to strike deals and friendships. It's worth visiting for a drink or dinner even if you're not staying here. Guests are treated to an early evening tour culminating with a glass of bubbly in the Polo Bar (one of Rajasthan's classiest watering holes). In recent years, a fortune has been spent upgrading all the guest rooms, so that a sense of grandeur accompanies every stay (even in the simpler, more affordable "luxury" rooms, which were enlarged and emptied of clutter in 2006 -- ask for one with a private terrace). If you want to feel as if you're actually living in a royal apartment, however, opt for a "palace" room (no. 317 is just fabulous) -- old-fashioned in a colonial rather than Rajasthani sense, with electric fireplaces and canopied beds, and most with comfortable, cushioned window seats. Bathrooms are relatively small, but feature delightfully concealed walk-in cupboards. Historic suites, while expensive, are disarmingly luxurious, with thoughtful in-room luxuries that make a big difference: a bedtime drinks menu, a selection of pillows and quilts, honey for your tea, and real filtered coffee. Then again, you probably won't spend a great deal of time in your room; you'll be too busy luxuriating in the beautiful palace buildings or lolling around the fabulous new outdoor swimming pool, tucked away some distance from the main palace buildings, alongside the spa and indoor pool. Dining at the swish Suvarna Mahal is a grand affair. The more recently opened drinking and dining venue, Steam, which inhabits an old train carriage, has quickly become popular on the local social scene. Certainly the hotel has every amenity you could wish for, and modern conveniences are wonderfully supported by the authentic atmosphere and welcoming staff.
Facilities: 3 restaurants; bar; indoor and outdoor pools; golf on request; tennis; health club; outdoor Jacuzzi; spa; concierge; travel desk; car hire; business center; gift shops, boutiques, jewelry store; 24-hr. room service; laundry; doctor-on-call; camel rides; astrologer; buggy rides; polo viewing in season; cultural performances; butler service; badminton; squash court; croquet; table tennis
- © Frommer's 2013
- Very Highly Recommended 2010