As far as Rajasthan palaces go, this is the real deal. Managed by the Taj Hotels, the 19th-century Rambagh is the best address in town—and the place where we tasted the real lifestyle of Jaipur’s last maharaja.
This is not a hyperbole. Rambagh was the Maharaja’s (and the maharani’s) home, and until relatively recently at that. In its heyday the palace hosted many international celebrities and dignitaries and the royal couple later turned the place into a hotel—while still treating it as their home. At least for a time.
This heritage shapes the experience of Rambagh even today. Hospitality here is a way of life, making the stay at Rambagh very special.
We surrendered to the royal atmosphere from the moment of arrival. First sprinkled with rose petals, then rested on a cosy chaise longue, we were offered welcome drinks and cold towels to refresh after a journey. The check-in process was eminently relaxing, despite taking place in the somewhat imposing lobby.
Vintage car, horse carriage, a real steam locomotive with carriages converted to a restaurant and fabulous gardens populated by dozens of peacocks—at Rambagh every corner bursts with history and character.
The palace maintains vintage details in context of its architectural glory and grandeur. Colossal ceilings and domes top expansive rooms, marbled corridors lead to arcaded courtyards and gardens punctuated by fountains, long colonnades flank lawns and patios.
The Rambagh Palace preserves its heritage, but it provides contemporary luxuries too.
Rooms and beyond
For a spread-out property the Rambagh is, the number of rooms and suites is surprisingly low: only 79. Formerly the chambers of the Maharaja and his guests, the rooms are beautifully restored with period furniture, rich fabrics and hand painted motifs. They are of course air-conditioned and equipped with plasma TV, and WiFi.
The property also has a spa centre, with a heritage indoor swimming pool (built in the 1920s) as well as the new outdoor pool, which is very pretty. The spa treatment rooms are set in pavilions, freestanding among lush gardens.
There are also four fine-dining restaurants and a large bar called Polo Bar, where we’d end up having cocktails, followed by dinner at the casual Verandah restaurant—our favourite. Overlooking the gardens, it has very relaxed atmosphere. So does the delightful Steam restaurant, which offers Lebanese cuisine. Set within a restored 1915 railway carriage and serving light meals and pizzas, it is geared for families with children.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Suvama Mahal, the palace’s former banquet hall and today the choice for stately dining. With crystal chandeliers and large alabaster marble lamps, Suvama is well in the realm of the past extravagances of Maharajas.
In fact, Suvama Mahal is emblematic of the Rambagh experience. The hotel is filled with memories of bygone era, but especially its lavish luxuries—updated to the 21st century and with the five-star standards of service to match—offer a window to the fantastic wealth of the Maharajas.