TAJ FALAKNUMA

 Hyderabad (Telangana)

Why is it here?

For the walk of royalty, which allows you to retrace the steps of Nizams, begums and diplomats while experiencing the royal treatment they received.

 

 

 Built in 1894, this former palace of the Nizam (rumoured to be the richest man in the world at the time) needs no introduction, thanks to the Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas wedding. The palace exudes romance and grandeur – you literally arrive at the property in a horse-drawn carriage and are then taken care of by palace butlers. We recommend that you walk the walk of kings through the Grand Staircase to retrace the steps of Nizams, European royalty, enchanting begums and diplomats. If that doesn’t satiate your appetite, you can always visit the stunning Durbar Hall, Jade Room and massive 101-seater dining hall. You can also visit the Jiva Spa, for rituals that are rooted in a traditional Indian approach. For outdoorsy folk, tours can also be arranged to see landmarks like the Charminar and Mecca Masjid.

Tajhotels.com, from Rs 25,000 to Rs 4.25 lakh per night

 

AHILYA FORT HOTEL

Maheshwar (Madhya Pradesh)

 Why is it here?

For its staggering riverside location and unique approach to food and drink.

 

 

The Ahilya Fort Hotel is a little gem, tucked away in Madhya Pradesh, but not too far from the capital, Indore. The former seat of power of Rani Ahilyabai Holkar, the property used to be her personal residence, office and darbar hall. In 2000, Richard Holkar, her descendant, converted it into a boutique hotel with 19 character-filled rooms, suites and tents, set in six 18th century buildings. The hotel also has three acres of courtyards, fountains and gardens. Snag the Narmada Suite if you can – it hovers over the Narmada river, offering the most breathtaking view imaginable.

The food here is divine, and Richard Holkar helps to plan the daily menu himself, depending on what is available in the kitchen garden. Your tariff includes all meals, snacks and alcohol; the unique part is that you can wander up to the kitchen and ask for a bite to eat, You can explore the temple complex just below the fort, or take a boat to the fascinating Baneshwar Temple, in the middle of the Narmada, and considered to be the centre of the universe. Holkar and wife Sally helped revive the art of weaving Maheshwari saris, so you can visit the looms and buy some of these exquisite garments. A short drive away are the ruins of the 15th century fortified city of Mandu, one of India’s most romantic sites, courtesy its Mughal architecture.

Ahilyafort.com, from Rs 13,550 to Rs 26,790 per night

 

JUDGE’S COURT

Pragpur (Himachal Pradesh)

 Why is it here?

For its 300-year old legacy, which makes it a hidden treasure sitting in the heart of a heritage village.

 

 

The Judge’s Court is a 300-year old ancestral cottage located in the medieval hamlet of Pragpur, in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh. A lavish Indo-European manor stands alongside the cottage, which sits amidst 12 acres of orchards overlooking the breathtaking Dhauladhar mountains. It was constructed in 1918 by Bhandhari Ram for his son, Justice Sir Jai Lal. The property was therefore commonly referred to as Judge Sahib Ki Kothi, from which the name ‘Judge’s Court’ was derived.

 

 

The cottage is self-sufficient, as they grow their own fruits, vegetables and wheat, so you can be assured that the food you will be served is all organic. Milk is acquired from a dairy on the premises, while water comes straight from a mountain spring. Judge’s Court, which includes the cottage and the manor, comprises 10 elegant rooms and suites, which capture its days-of-past glory, tranquillity and legacy of a 300-year old structure, through its marvellous furnishings and architecture.

Judgescourt.com, from Rs 7,500 to Rs 9,350 per night

 

TAJ NADESAR PALACE

Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)

Why is it here?

For the experience it offers, which makes your stay in Varanasi not only spiritual but also a stately affair.

 

 

Overlooking the Ganga, and privately cradled among several temples and religious monuments in Varanasi, lies the illustrious 19th century Taj Nadesar Palace. It was built in 1835 by James Prinsep, for the then British residents, but it eventually became the abode of the Banaras royal family, which named it after Goddess Nadesari, the consort of Shiva. The palace has hosted its fair share of royal and influential guests, like the Prince and Princess of Wales, Lord Mountbatten, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Queen Elizabeth, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many more.

You can choose from 10 lavish suites, all of which radiate a royal experience, through their dignified décor and furnishings. If you’re in the mood to be treated with more royalty, the hotel offers a horse carriage ride around the palace lawns, which are also home to peacocks.

Tajhotels.com, from Rs 30,000 to Rs 58,000 per night

 

LALITHA MAHAL PALACE HOTEL

 Mysuru (Karnataka)

 Why is it here?

For its gothic architecture and the opportunity to truly explore the majesty the city of Mysuru has to offer.

 

 

Lying at the foot of the Chamundi hill, just outside the city of Mysuru, stands a shimmering white structure called the Lalitha Mahal Palace. It was built in 1931 by the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wadiyar Bahadur IV, to host his most special guests. The architecture of this magnificent building is based on the lines of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, and it is considered to be an iconic landmark in the city.

 

 

 It’s a two-storey composition of twin Ionic columns, with a projecting porch on the ground floor and a beautiful and imposing Belgian glass dome placed right above the central entrance hall. Once you make your way inside, you will walk over intricately embroidered carpets placed over marble floors, pass by priceless artwork and marvel at the ornate rosewood furniture. The palace was converted into a heritage hotel in 1974, and it now consists of 54 stately suites and rooms, all of which promise a regal stay. In case you feel energetic, it also has a swimming pool, a jogging track and a tennis court.

 

 

Lalithamahalpalace.co.in, Rs 2,500 to Rs 23,000 per night

 

THE IMPERIAL

 New Delhi

Why is it here?

 For its history, stunning architecture and collection of art.

 

 

Situated in the heart of the nation’s capital, The Imperial is an oasis of calm in the middle of urban chaos. Its walls provided a safe space for leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten to take monumental decisions, like the partition of India.

 

 

It is located in Janpath and is just a few steps away from the shopping districts and major attractions of the city. The 235 rooms and suites, with high ceilings, impeccable décor and modern conveniences, overlook lush gardens. The Imperial showcases different forms of art in its rooms, corridors and public areas, like 18th and 19th-century paintings, lithographs, sculptures and intricately painted murals.

Theimperialindia.com, from Rs 12,000 to Rs 32,000 per night

 

THE OBEROI GRAND

 Kolkata (West Bengal)

 Why is it here?

For its illustrious history and unique guided tours of Kolkata.

 

 

Referred to as the Grand Dame of Chowringhee, The Oberoi Grand is an icon of architecture in Kolkata and has been so for more than a century. You can choose between Deluxe Rooms that offer a view of the pool or the Quadrant garden, Luxury Rooms or Premier Rooms. As for the suites, there’s the Executive Suite and the Classic Suite, but if money’s not an issue, you should give the Presidential Suite a go for sure.

 

 

One of the most interesting things offered by the Grand Dame is the European Walk. Starting from The Great Eastern Hotel, the guided tour takes in original British architecture, churches, government offices and the notorious Black Hole of Calcutta, with an optional extra visit to The Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation and the High Court.

 

 

Oberoihotels.com, from Rs 9,000 to Rs 1.25 lakh per night

 

NETUK HOUSE

Gangtok (Sikkim)

Why is it here?

For its unique location – at once exclusive but with easy access to the bustle of the commercial circuit – and its splendid array of dishes

 

 

 Netuk House in Gangtok is more than just a palatial home stay – it is an experience. What makes it stand out, besides its architecturally enchanting complex, is the riveting accounts of history and tradition associated with it. The house was built in the late 1950s by Gellong Netuk Lama, who was the then-executive counsellor to the Chogyal, or monarch. Netuk House was uniquely placed for silk traders involved in the historic silk route and today, it is placed close to the market, which makes it convenient for guests, but also untouched by its hustle and bustle.

 

 

We recommend that you opt for rooms in the A Block annexe in order to experience the majesty of the Mt. Kanchendzonga range. If that’s not your scene, go for the B Block, which is characterised by large French windows and furniture made from locally sourced pine wood. Fans of Himalayan fusion dishes will find Netuk House close to paradise – the menu ranges from yak to stinging nettle to delicately crafted momos.

Netukhouse.com, from Rs 6,200 to Rs 10,099 per night