This long weekend, satiate your travel bug and ring in the new year while receiving the royal treatment. From well-restored heritage forts to grand palaces, we’ve rounded up a list of the best stays in the country that come with the promise of a luxurious New Year’s Day. By Eshita Srinivas
With opulent architecture, dreamy decor, extravagant offerings, and expansive lawns, heritage hotels in India truly reflect its erstwhile wealthy, royal culture. They also make for the perfect luxurious beginning to the new year. After all, many cultures believe that the way you spend your New Year’s day sets the precedent for the rest of the year. And what better way to set a prosperous tone for the days to come than to spend it in the lap of luxury. Whether you’re feeling auspicious or are just in the mood for something indulgent this impending long weekend, we’ve curated a list of the best hotels for you to get a taste of the lavish life.
Head to these royally stunning spots this New Year’s weekend
Appealing to wildlife enthusiasts and adventurers, a stay at Aman-I-Khas in Ranthambore involves daily safaris that bring you closer to Ranthambore National Park’s inhabitants, such as tigers, gazelles, and leopards. Don’t be fooled by the rugged itinerary and landscape though because the space is characterised by elegant, imperial pyramid-roofed tents that are inspired by the ones that housed royals during the Mughal era. Inside each is opulent furnishings, complete with a daybed, dining space, and free-standing bathtub. Relax after a day out at the spa and library or head to the dining salon for a bite of delicious Indian and Western fare, made with produce from the camp’s own organic gardens. Don’t forget to step out onto your private sun deck to take in the environs and watch the birds pass you by.
Address: Sherpur Khiljipur, near Ranthambore National Park, Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan 322001
Call: +91 7462 252 052
Image: Aman-I-Khas, Ranthambore
Steeped in history and tradition, Ahilya fort was first built to house the highly revered queen Ahilyabai Holkar and held her personal residences, offices, and audience hall. In 2000, Prince Richard Holkar, son of the last king of Indore, converted his home in the fort into a guest residence. The property now offers 19 rooms that are spaced out across six 18th century buildings, all of which merge old-school charm and grandeur with modern-day amenities. A leisurely walk through the acres and acres of courtyards and gardens that house fountains or reading a book in a secluded spot in the area come highly recommended. Breakfast at this stunning spot is made with produce grown in-house and comes with a side of stunning views of the Narmada river down below. A two-hour drive away from Indore, this one’s a must-visit.
Address: Ahilya Wada, Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh 451224
Call: +91 11 4155 1575
Image: Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar
For when you’d like a taste of royalty without having to travel long distances, ITC Grand Bharat is the place to head to. Housed on the Aravalli range, the structure is built as a blend of ancient, mediaeval, modern influences. Both the exteriors and interiors of the space are inspired by the rich royal history of India and its circular shape seeks to represent completeness. The service here is just as royal and indulgent. Guests can relax in one of 104 suites with vibrant Indian decor, handmade details, marble flooring, and stunning woodwork that represents Indian craftsmanship. Amenities here include a walk-in wardrobe and round the clock butler. It doesn’t get more stately than this.
Address: P.O. Hasanpur Tauru, Gurugram, Haryana 122105
Call: +91 1267 285 500
Image: ITC Grand Bharat, Gurgaon
A 300-year old palace-turned-hotel, Chomu palace is brimming with Rajasthani culture. The space has 70 distinctive suites that merge regal furnishings with contemporary amenities. Established by the descendants of king Prithviraj Chauhan, the former fort, built to keep enemy forces out, was converted into a palace in 1863, giving the space a unique look of rugged strength and royal opulence. As you browse through the art in the Darbar Hall and take in the property with a walk on its thick walls, you’ll notice European and Mughal influences in the architecture as well. Interestingly, the hotel is designed according to the principles of vastu shastra. This is the spot to come to when you’d like to transport yourself to the era of kings and queens while being treated to some warm Rajasthani hospitality.
Address: Sikar Rd, Naya BaJar, Chomu, Rajasthan 303702
Call: +91 1423 220 707
Resting high on the banks of the river Indus, Stok Palace is a crash course in Ladakhi royal history and culture. What’s better is that it still is home to the royal family of Ladakh and guests have access not just to the private quarters of the family, but also the current king himself, making the experience truly authentic. Built in 1820 by King Tsepal Namgyal, the space is opulent and colourful, with rooms that are all about simple luxury and antique furnishings. Time spent here will involve admiring the murals that adorn its walls, feeling the chants of the monks from the in-house monastery, and exploring the rich heritage and culture of Ladakh.
Address: Stok, Ladakh
Contact: +91 96228 27727
Although Hampi is often synonymous with bouldering and historical ruins, it’s also home to the pride and joy of the Sandur Ghorpade kingdom. The Shivavilas palace is both luxurious and cosy. The grandeur of the lush surroundings is offset by the comfort and quiet of the 12 unique rooms that the property offers. The architecture of the space is reminiscent of the erstwhile monarchs with relics, elaborate designs, and high ceilings on display. Don’t hesitate to approach the staff for tips on where to go and how to get to Hampi. We recommend gorging on the delicious fare that’s served here, starting with holige, enne badanekai, and shenga chutney to kempu khara, and mosaranna.
Address: 97, Palace Rd, Sandur, Karnataka 583119
Call: +91 94808 15521
Image: Shivavilas Palace, Hampi
Rising in all its glory from the dunes of the Thar desert, Suryagarh is a boutique hotel that promises sprawling views, ornate interiors, and the most luxurious stay. The rooms here are spacious, elegant, and well thought out. Highlights include modern amenities that are shrouded in an air of all things royal, colourful interiors, and stunning views of the desert. For a more immersive experience, opt for the Havelis which are a short walk from the main property. If you decide to leave behind the royal comfort of your room, you could go on a guided tour of Jaisalmer, go mountain biking, or just gorge on delicious local fare at its restaurant.
Address: Kahala Phata, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan 345001
Call: +91 78271 51151
Image: Suryagarh, Jaisalmer
Proudly displaying Marwari murals, mirrored ante-chambers, and marble bowls of flowers, RAAS Devigarh is an 18th-century palace-turned hotel that calls the Aravalli Hills home. Established under the reign of king Sajja Singh II, the space offers 39 unique, stately suites, complete with minimalist decor, private gardens, balconies, and hot tubs, and covered terraces. Guided excursions that give you a taste of Udaipur’s royal culture and rich history are available at the property. When you’re not out exploring the property or Udaipur itself, head to one of its lounges, bars, or dining areas for a bite of something delicious and indulgent.
Address: NH8, Near Eklingji Temple, Delwara, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313202
Call: +91 99289 72211
Samode Palace knows a thing or two about the royal experience, having played host to several celebrities, artists, and royalty themselves. The property has the most stunning murals on its walls, which reflect the 425-year old structure’s rich history. The Mughal influences are evident in its decor as well. If you’re on the lookout for a romantic spot to ring in the new year, this is the place to be. The four-poster beds draped in delicate fabric, delicate prints on the billowy curtains, and endless petals of roses in every corner from the bathtub to the beds, are the very embodiment of a royal romance. Do carve some time out to watch the sunset against the Aravali range while you’re here.
Address: Tehsil, Village Samode, Chomu, Rajasthan 303806
Call: +91 141 263 1397
Image: Samode Palace, Jaipur
Built in 1931 by King Krishnaraj Wadiyar Bahadur IV to host his most important guests, Lalitha Mahal Palace looks out at sprawling landscaped gardens and is a white, double-columned and domed structure. The 54 rooms and suites here are airy and large, with high ceilings, antique furniture including four-poster beds and velvet-covered armchairs, and Belgian mirrors. Get acquainted with the royal family through the life-sized portraits in the central hall or head out to play a game of golf as the staff, dressed in traditional attire, assists you. The property is also housed on Chamundi hills, giving guests the luxury of looking out at a panoramic view of the verdant valley down below. If you’re driving down to Mysore, don’t miss out on this.
Address: Lalithmahal Nagar, Siddhartha Layout, Mysuru, Karnataka 570028
Call: +91 821 247 0444
Image: Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore
A 19th-century palace that was built as a private residence by king Fateh Singh and then converted into a guest house for the guests of the House of Mewar, the royal family of Udaipur, Shiv Niwas Palace offers an experience that’s authentically regal. A part of the larger city palace, this structure is brimming with Mewari art and gold latticework and has a large, expansive courtyard that is shaded by two large trees. 17 charming suites with private balconies, open-to-sky terraces, ivory doors, marble flooring, antique wooden furniture, and coloured glass chandeliers compliment the grandeur of the property itself. At night, head on over to grab a lovely dinner with local fare and traditional music.
Address: Lake Pichola, The City Palace Complex, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313001
Phone: +91 294 252 8016
Image: Shiv Niwas Palace, Udaipur
A drive away from Delhi’s hustle and bustle, we’d be remiss to leave out this local favourite option for a quick and regal weekend getaway. Home to the former ruling Chauhan family until 1947 and one of the first fort-palaces to be converted into a hotel, the space has 71 stunning and elegant rooms cut into a hill and while there are two lifts to ease exploration, the property demands some physical fitness to be wholly discovered. When you’re done walking around, choose from a range of activities such as ziplining, vintage car rides, and camel safaris to really round out your weekend.
Address: Delhi-Jaipur Highway 122nd Milestone, Neemrana Fort Rd, Neemrana, Rajasthan 301705
Phone: +91 1494 672 800
Image: Neemrana Fort, Delhi-Jaipur